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So much snow

Newcomb has lots of snow. Deep snow. Up-to-your-eyeballs snow. Enough-to-submerge-me-in snow. It-looks-like-you’re-driving-your-car-down-a-bobsled-track-the-snow-walls-are-so-high snow. In fact they’ve apparently received somewhere around 90 inches of snow so far this year, and there is still a lot more winter to go. All of that snow means that my timing to explore SUNY-ESF’s Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb was spot on – although I was wondering as I drove how easy it would be to traverse the trails or whether I’d be pushing my way to navigate on my snowshoes.

Signs point the way along the AIC trails.

Luckily for me I arrived to find out that an outing club from ESF’s main campus in Syracuse had come up for a winter weekend, and the folks were busy on snowshoes tromping down the paths for other visitors. Even more fun for me was that I had taught a number of the students during summer courses at Cranberry Lake Biological Station, and we had a chance to catch up when they returned to the center.

A great set of trails

The students seemed to be having fun enjoying their Adirondack adventure – the AIC is a great place to explore, after all. Sitting on Rich Lake, the center offers over 3.5 miles of trails, which wind their way through mixed forests, along Sucker Brook, and along the shoreline of both Rich and Belden Lakes.

This canoe launch along Sucker Brook near Belden Lake will have to wait until spring and summer to realize its full potential.

The ESFers had covered much of the trail system – thanks in part to the snowshoes they had borrowed from the center’s stash (as anyone who visits can do free of charge), and I would later be the beneficiary of their work when I explored both the Sucker Brook and Sage trails myself. Had they not gone before me, the route would have been much more difficult and tiring. As it was, I later found that my poles were becoming submerged in spots as I pushed through deep snow on either side of the narrow path.

But that is part of the fun of winter exploration, and as I went on my trip I found myself standing high above the railing on the bridges along the trails thanks to the layers of snow which have built up there over the winter. This added several feet to my height as I crossed the bridges feeling like I was walking on stilts. Perhaps that’s the view of some players in the NBA.

The snow was so deep on the bridges (such as this one crossing Sucker Brook) that I felt like I towered over them.

Anyone interested in exploring the AIC’s trails during the winter must either head out on snowshoes (which again can be rented free of charge) or cross-country skis. The snaking and narrow nature of the trails makes them much more conducive to the former activity, but experienced cross-country skiers can manage the trip, but they should know the trails are tricky even for well-experienced skiers.

The AIC makes for great snowshoeing. Image courtesy of Newcomb AIC.

Inside fun (and relaxation)

And once the snowshoeing is done, the visitor’s center itself offers a place to warm up and a place to explore and enjoy. That not only includes a fireplace, restrooms (great for changing out of wet or cold clothes), and Saturday morning coffee and cake, but also hands-on tables of natural artifacts, and interpretive displays and educational materials to make wandering the trails even more enjoyable and fruitful. The catch is that the visitor center itself is only open on Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) during the winter – although the trails are open every day.

The center is a relaxing place to sit, read, eat lunch, and learn.

Interested folks should plan their weekend trip according, for when it is open, the visitors center is a great place for lunch, or for reading a book in front of the windows overlooking the bird feeders while the rest of your party is still off adventuring in the snowy woods. Of particular interest, the center’s bird feeders sometimes host Evening Grosbeaks, a species that has been found across the region this winter, but ironically has yet to show up in numbers at the AIC. Perhaps they will arrive in the coming weeks.

I enjoyed watching the Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches at the center's bird feeders.

Even without Evening Grosbeaks, in my time there I enjoyed watching the Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches flitting to and from the AIC’s feeders before I set to reading and wandering through the AIC’s interpretive displays as I prepared to head outside for my winter adventure. I was so comfortable and interested in what I was reading that I didn’t want to leave!

The AIC has some excellent interpretive displays.

But the snow still called me loudly enough that I (almost reluctantly) changed my boots and got my gear together to head out and explore the outdoors. The warm building was there with cold water and a chance to rest when I returned.

That’s the beauty of the AIC – it offers not only amazing outdoor adventure (and programs for the whole family), but also the chance to rejuvenate yourself with food, water, rest, and warmth indoors during a cold time of year. And that’s available not only for those who are wandering the center’s trails, but also for folks who may be probing nearby places such as the hike up Goodnow Mountain or the ski and snowshoe trail into Camp Santanoni. It makes the AIC not only worthy of exploration by itself, but also an excellent hub for such activities elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Folks can explore the natural world both outside and inside the AIC - including natural artifacts and molds of actual bear tracks.

And so with winter in Newcomb and the Central Adirondacks in full stride for you and your skis or snowshoes, it is time to plan your winter adventure to places like the AIC today. You can also check out our lodging and dining pages to learn more.






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