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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:
 1,250'

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.

Parking

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.




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