Newcomb is a wonderful destination for spring hiking. There is a mountain that is just the right height, historic sites to explore, and an entire complex of lakeshore and forest trails.
Top to bottom, it is Adirondack hiking that is all within the spring conservation guidelines that avoid damage to trails and delicate vegetation.
One sweet mountain
Goodnow Mountain is a fun trail that even children can handle. And, there's the additional scenic possibilities of a sixty-foot fire tower which commands one of the finest views in the Adirondacks. At 2690-feet tall, it even onforms with DEC requests to stay below 3,000 feet before June, yet offers plenty of hiking enjoyment.
The fire tower, built in 1922, has been fully restored and lets climbers view twenty-three of the forty-six High Peaks. The trail and tower are the work of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University (ESF) and the Town of Newcomb. The College also owns the 15,000-acre Huntington Wildlife Forest where the mountain is located.
It is part of the ADK Fire Tower Challenge.
The trail starts level, and at the half-mile mark there is a bench to signal the ascent is about to begin. There are boardwalks over boggy places, and an old horse barn marks the 1.6 mile point. Look for the open ledge at 1.75 miles, where there are more benches, and don't be fooled by the descent afterwards; this is to set you up for the final ascent to the summit. It is 3.9 miles round trip.
(photo courtesy Peakery.com)
The mountain was named for Sylvester Goodnow, a homesteader who claimed its base in the 1820s. What a rugged fellow he must have been. Get a brochure at the trailhead to add a self-guided nature experience to this hike.
Walk through history
There are two extraordinary hiking destinations that bring back a fabled past.
Adirondac/Tahawus Mines is the site of an entire mining complex devoted to special iron mines which contained titanium. Now a ghost town, abandoned in 1857, this place once housed mine workers and a forty-eight foot blast furnace for ore extraction.
The mines failed in part because it was difficult to get the right kind of iron from the ore when it was contaminated by titanium dioxide. Ironically, this was the same reason the mines were reopened in 1940; titanium was now far more valuable than the iron itself.
Titanium is a mysterious metal. It is highly resistant to both seawater and chlorine, and is both biocompatible (does not trigger allergies when used in the body) and able to osseointegrate; to knit itself into the bone. It is the preferred substance to use in dental implants. Forty million tons of titanium were mined out by 1989.
Theodore Roosevelt was in Tahawus in 1901 when President William McKinley, who had recently been shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, took an unexpected turn for the worst. He had set out for a hiking trip up Mount Marcy when he was intercepted by a mounted park ranger to hear that McKinley was now in mortal danger. Roosevelt set out for the train station in North Hudson to return to Washington DC, and assume the duties of the Presidency.
Camp Santanoni Preserve was once the Great Camp of Robert C. and Anna Pruyn. It is now a 32-acre historic area consisting of three Complexes; Gate Lodge Complex, Farm Complex, Main Complex, and the old carriage road (Newcomb Lake Road) that connects all of them, and provides the only access.
Hiking or mountain biking is allowed, and it is a popular cross-country ski trail in the winter.
Many of the buildings have been lost to fire or mishap, but the architecture is still a stunning sight. This was the first Great Camp to be entirely designed, as a coherent unit, by a professional architect, Robert H. Robertson.
Devoted to nature
The Adirondack Interpretive Center at Newcomb is a wonderful place to feel the beating heart of the Adirondacks. It is a natural history museum and a trail complex.
There are two great rooms with exhibits, comfy chairs, and big windows.
After exploring the displays, you are ready to see these elements in person. The complex has four trails that cover 3.6 miles over 236 acres. There are plenty of water views with Rich Lake, Rich Lake outlet, and Sucker Brook.
One of the things I love about hiking is that most of the time, the weather doesn't matter. Bring a jacket, wear comfortable boots in case of boggy patches, and protect areas that might get chilly if the wind picks up. I always have a hat, because that's where I feel a bit of cold, but others might want thick socks.
The last time I was there, it began to rain, and it didn't even matter. Because I simply retreated into the forest and didn't even get wet. I held off my shoreline walking until the clouds started to clear.
Then I got this picture.
Spring hiking. So dramatic.
From January 1st unitl Memorial day, the Adirondack Interpretive Center is open Friday - Sunday, 10am-4pm. From Memorial Day – Columbus Day, they are open daily 10am-5pm, and closed on Tuesdays.
In other ADK spring news: