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New Hampshire, United States
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sawteeth Mountain (ADK 16/46), New York, August 8, 2017

Sawteeth Mountain (4,150') via Weld and Sawteeth Trails, 8/8/2017.

Mileage:  12.3 (RT)

Elevation gain:

Trailhead: This hike starts at the St. Hubert parking area on Route 73 in St. Huberts, NY.  The parking lot is located 7.5 miles west of exit 30 off I-87; and 3.3 miles east of the Noonmark Diner (in Keene Valley).  Parking is on the corner of Ausable Road directly across from Roaring Brook trailhead parking. The lot fills up quickly and parking is not allowed along Ausable Road or at the Ausable Club.  It's a half-mile walk up a small hill to reach Lake Road (and the AMR gate). Walk up Ausable Road and turn left between two tennis courts - the gate is directly ahead.  No dogs or bicycles are allowed.  

Hiked with Jill, Ken and Ed today.  We rented a house in Keene for the week and today the owner allowed us to park at his cottage on Ausable Road, which shortened our hike by a quarter mile (and about 100' of elevation gain).  

Rain was predicted so we opted to hike to the summit of Sawteeth, a moderate to steep wooded hike.  At 3.3 miles up Lake Road we reached a sign pointing to the trailhead. This took us down to the dam and across the bridge.

Roadside sign.

Maintenance road (there's a shed at the bottom).

We'll check out Rainbow Falls on our way out.
Crossed the bridge.

There is so much signage here! Just follow the signs to Sawteeth (we opted out of the Scenic trail today because of the forecast).

We went right.

Taking the Weld trail.

Reports describe the path up to the col/trail junction as moderate. While the footing is good, it's steeper than we expected. The beginning of this trail flies up to the top of the falls, a stretch that really gets your blood pumping!

Along this portion of the trail are two unremarkable water crossings, some stone steps and a few switchbacks.  Some flat areas provide a welcome break from the climb.

The col/trail junction came up quickly.

The junction of Sawteeth and Pyramid-Gothics trails.

After a break at the junction we made our way left up a mellow path surrounded by sweet woods.

That doesn't last however, and soon we were treated to steeps - steeps that require scrambling and a bit of thought to scale. Fortunately the rocks aren't slippery, even when wet like today, and soon the views appear and they are fantastic!  Here you'll see views better than those on the summit so drink it in and take some photos!

Going up the steeps.

It's clear from this photo that it wasn't going to rain after all!

The trees shorten and at last the summit appears. There's no summit sign, no USGS marker - just a trail sign and small rock outcropping. I hiked another tenth of a mile farther to a second junction just to be sure we were on the summit.

We were.

Summit view.

Rock on the summit (popular place today).

After some lunch we headed back, carefully descending the slabs.

Heading down.

When we got back to the beginning we had some time so we hiked the short path to Rainbow Falls. Caution - the rocks at the falls are very slippery and you'll want to get as close as you can to this amazing sight!  The combination of sun and mist refuse you a clear shot; instead colors will "rainbow" your photo!

Awesome Rainbow Falls!

Although forecast, rain did not appear today - had we known we might've done a bigger hike but all in all we loved this peak!

I highly recommend this peak, the trip's quick for the mileage indicated and features provide much in rewards.

Ausable Club boathouse at Lower Ausable Lake.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

St. Regis Mountain (Saranac 2/6), July 22, 2017.

St. Regis Mountain (2,874') via St. Regis Mountain trail, 7/22/2017.

Mileage:  6.8 (RT)

Elevation gain:

TrailheadRoute 86 west from Lake Placid and turn right at the T-intersection in Saranac Lake, toward Paul Smiths, New York.  At Paul Smiths, turn right on Route 30 then take the immediate left onto Keese Mill Road. Follow Keese Mill Road for 3 miles - parking is on the left.

Hiked with Lindsley today. Our legs were tired so we chose an easier hike (see report on our Wright Peak hike the day before).   

I decided to work on the the Saranac 6 list, having already done Baker Mountain (see previous report); figured the Saranac peaks would be a good break from hiking the high peaks.  St. Regis Mountain fit the bill.

The trailhead is easy to find and parking was available even at 10 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday.

In case you had doubts, the sign says it all.


The trail is across the bridge and down the road to the right. This is a popular recreation area too (click here for more information), but today we were interested only in bagging the peak (and crossing it off my list).

We signed in at the register, headed past a small pond with lily pads and up a path with easy grade.

I'd read the description of this hike in "Day Hikes for All Seasons," which points out things to look for on the way to the summit.  We were able to spot the cairn that marks the boundary between Santa Clara and Brighton (two towns in the area), but couldn't find the large maple or the former site of the DEC fire tower observer's cabin.  

The trail markers are yellow, then red.

We did notice all the varieties of trees though, some very unusual with corkscrew trunks. This forest is beautiful!

Even the steeper sections are mellow.

There's some mud on the trail from recent rains; we avoided most of it by rock hopping or stepping on branches laid down for us.   

The bugs were ferocious!  We picked up the pace to try to outrun them. After the hike I was so bitten I was convinced I'd gotten into poison ivy. 

After a series of alternating ups and flats the trail veers right, steepens considerably, meandering through downed trees and washed out waterbars - lingering evidence of the wrath of Hurricane Irene in 2011.  

The "Day Hikes" book describes carefully placed rock steps, waterbars and rock cribs on this steeper portion of the trail.  We saw the rock work but all but a few waterbars are washed down the incline (we assume from Irene).  Blow downs are all over - a general mess - though not on the trail, which works its way through all of this (thanks to cleanup work after the storm).  

The trail keeps going and we're wondering when it will end - it's only 3.4 miles afterall.  After a walk up a slab with a lookout to the right, there's a large rock outcropping to get over (easy) and the firetower is directly ahead.

Easy to climb over this!

Firetower was open today.

We took in the view (a bit hazy, I wrongly blamed Canadian wildfires), had lunch, and then proceed up and into the firetower.  It was open today and a steward was there, showing points of interest in the distance.

Summit steward.

Too many people were in the tower so after a few minutes we headed down and back to the car.

After the hike we drove to the end of Keese Mill Road, took a right and drove through the campus of Paul Smith College, then headed back to Keene Valley.

This is the perfect half day hike in good weather. The view includes dozens of lakes and we recommend climbing the firetower for an exceptional panorama of the Saranac area.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wright Peak (ADK 15/46), New York, July 21, 2017

Wright Peak (4,587') via Van Hoevenberg (61), Algonquin (64), and Wright Peak Spur (65) Trails, 7/21/2017.

Mileage:  7 (RT)

Elevation gain:

TrailheadThe Van Hoevenberg trailhead is located at the ADK/HPIC parking lot (at the end of Adirondack Loj Rd, Lake Placid). There is a fee for parking. 

Hiked with Lindsley today. The last time we hiked together was to bag North Brother, the mountain in Maine that was my finish of the New England 67 4k peaks (see previous report). I was excited to be hiking with her again and since Lindsley had never hiked in the Adirondacks, I chose Wright Peak for its easy access and spectacular views.  

We got to the High Peaks Information Center/ADK parking lot at about 8:30 and the lot was filling up fast.  The Information Center is under construction and there are port-a-potties outside. I would recommend that you NOT use these and go inside where there's a rest room. (I am all for accommodating the crowds with port-a-potties but these are the worst I've seen.)

We signed the trailhead register and headed up the Van Hoevenberg trail for just a mile. It's wide, like a well maintained dirt road.  

Van Hoevenberg trail.

The path to Wright Peak veers right at the junction (Algonquin trail). Here the ground changes; the path becomes narrow, rocky - more like an Adirondack mountain trail!

The trail steepens and there are a few tricky turns; look for obvious signs - erosion, footprints or evidence of wear on ground or roots.

Like many trails in this area, parts of it run up a brook but it's well marked with the DEC disks and easy to follow.

The higher you get the steeper the slabs, but when dry the rocks are sticky, easy to get up and over.

We went left when we reached the second trail junction (straight would take you to Algonquin Peak) and immediately negotiated a wet, steep slab.  This portion of the trail is pretty much steep slab and rock, you'll work for that summit view!

This slab greets you when you turn left.

The jumble of rocks and treeline disappear once you conquer this one grand rock formation (shown below). We noticed yellow blazes on the left, suggesting we go that way but instead went up on the right side, shown here, followed a horizontal crack and then up.

The one grand rock!

After that it's all slabwalking, baby!  It's fun. And of course the views wowed us.

Coming up on the summit.

The wind whined as we approached the summit. Wright Peak is famous for it's tough summit winds, sometimes requiring the determined peak bagger to crawl to the top!  

But not today. It was loud in our ears but perfectly walkable.

Hanging on the summit.

The 360° summit views are spectacular.  On top we talked with the summit steward a bit, had lunch and then poked around trying to see the wreckage of a B-47 bomber that crashed in 1962.

Aw, how cute! Starburst living in a vertical crack!

We headed toward the site of the plane wreckage but weren't motivated to hike down to it or the memorial plaque. I spotted a few pieces of wreckage, took photos and headed back to the summit.

Small piece of wreckage.

Getting down was quick and easy; we signed out and drove back to Keene Valley, where we were staying.

Hiking the McIntyre Range from Avalanche Lake is planned for next month but all in all I am glad to have Wright Peak done now. The spur trail puts you to work; the .4 miles is steep and rocky; I doubt my legs will want to "run" up there after Iroquois and Algonquin.

And, Wright Peak is one of the few Adirondack peaks that offer mad summit views in under four miles.  

NE 111 (84/115)