The 2,180-foot summit of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain is a popular hiking destination. The summit is topped with a fire tower and offers sweeping views of Lake Champlain, the High Peaks Wilderness and the Jay Range. It's also easy to get to: The mountain is in the towns of Lewis and Chesterfield, close to Plattsburgh and just a few miles from I-87.
With one of the largest exposed rock faces in the region, the mountain’s profile is distinctive. The name Poke-O-Moonshine is believed to be derived from the Algonquin words “Pohquis,” meaning broken, and “Moosie,” smooth. East-facing cliffs provide habitat for peregrine falcons and also draw rock climbers.
The mixed northern hardwood forests at Poke-O provide habitat for yellow-rumped warbler, scarlet tanager, black bear, whitetail deer and other birds and animals.
Hikers have two trail options to choose from. Both merge into a single trail at a site on which an observer’s cabin stood in the early 1900s.
In 2006 the Adirondack Land Trust purchased 200 acres that were added to Poke-O-Moonshine state forestlands. This addition enabled the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to establish the recently opened Observer’s Trail and a new parking area.
This trailhead is approximately one mile south of the Ranger trailhead along State Route 9. The distance to the summit from here is 2.4 miles. The trail follows a gentler gradient than the steep Ranger Trail. Read more about the new trail on the blog New York Outdoor News.
From the south end of the old campground at the base of the cliffs, the Ranger Trail is a short, steep climb to the summit. Since 2015, the state has been working in cooperation with the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine to upgrade this trail.