This hike was by far my favorite hike so far! I am a beginner so for me, this hike was definitely more challenging than the others, but I would still keep it at a moderate rating because if you are an experienced hiker, you will be just fine. The views are unbelievable, and there are many view-points along the way for you to stop and take a quick break if needed. The trail head was a bit tricky to find and the road is extremely narrow, but the trail itself is very clearly marked if you are paying attention. (Which is important because there are several points on the trail that don't resemble a path very well so you will be relying on them). It is definitely steep and rocky throughout a lot of the trail so hiking boots are a must for this one! Overall, very fun trail and completely worth it!
This is a great hike. Great views. However, I would hesitate to call it a moderate hike. The terain is steep and rocky. In winter it can be a serious hike, in January 2018 the trails had up to a foot of blue ice. We were on 12 point crampons with ski poles, several times I wished I had my ice axe. To put it in context we climbed Noonmark mountain around the same time and Crane was a bit harder. I am a very experienced winter hiker, skier and technical ice climber: My recommendation is bring crampons, headlamp, food and water and matches. Don't hesitate to turn around if you feel like you're getting in overall your head.
Crane is indeed a wonderful hike. A few updates:
-The trail was remarked in 2016; in previous years (and in 2016) someone has been stealing trail markers. I've hiked it twice so far in 2017 and right now I would say the trail is well marked.
-There are two trails up, one goes to the summit, the other to the pond, then the summit. Both are rocky and steep, but it's a relatively short hike. If you hike a lot you won't find it that challenging; if you are used to less altitude gain you may.
-Time wise hiking with my 7 year old I figure 4-5 hours for the "loop" (Ski Hi up to the summit, down to the pond, down to Putnam Junction, then back to the Ski Hi parking lot).
-Please note that their is only one official trail head, off of Ski Hi road. Crane Mountain Road leads to private property.
-Cell coverage is very spotty; as always have a paper map and know where you are / wish to go.
This was the worst hiking experience of my life. The trails are very poorly marked and all of the reviews on site have conflicting information. The map is dubious at best. I appears that there is a descent from the pond yet there is not and we had to hike all the way back up to the crossroad and decide at dusk if we wanted to go all the way up to the top and back down a trail we hadn't gone on yet or go straight back down the face. After 7 hours straight of confusing trail markers or lack there of we got out after going down a 50 degree incline in the dark. There should be much more cautionary information regarding the seriousness of this hike. It is anything but moderate. It is difficult and it should be stated as such. Please also find the time and resources to mark clear trails and paths. There are so many times that pathways fork and there are no markers to indicate which way to go.
Update- we hiked to Crane Mountain pond from Putnams Farm parking lot. This is a marked blue trail. This trail brings you to the west side of the pond. The blue trail then bears south around the pond where it intersects the yellow trail and joins the red trail. Coming down from the summit, it is not easy to see that the red trail continues beyond the yellow and turns into the blue trail. Approaching the summit using the blue trail to the red is a slightly easier hike. Still rocky, but not as steep. If you like to fish, we saw trout in the pond!