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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 quarter-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.  From Lake Road we reached a sign (3.3 miles from the gate) pointing in the direction of the trailhead.  So we headed right, down an old road to the dam and crossed the bridge.

Roadside sign.

Ahead to the right is a shed and building.

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, we found it to be pretty steep. The first part of this trail flies up to the top of the falls, a stretch that really gets your blood pumping!

Along this trail there are two unremarkable water crossings, some stone steps and alternating steeps and flats. And a few switchbacks.  

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!  At this point you'll see views better than those on the summit so drink it in and take some photos!

It's clear from this photo that it wasn't going to rain after all!
Going up the steeps.

The trees shorten and at last the summit appears. There's no summit sign, no USGS marker - just a trail sign. I hiked another .1 miles 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. 

Heading down.

At the bottom of the trail we had some time so we hiked the short path to Rainbow Falls. Caution - these rocks are very slippery and you'll want to get as close as you can to this amazing sight!  The sun refuses you a clear shot; instead colors will "rainbow" your photo!

Awesome Rainbow Falls!

Complete with "rainbow."
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 hike, it's quick for the miles and provides 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.