During my college search, I knew that I wanted to go to a school close to rivers, lakes, forests and mountains. Part of this was because I’m a conservation biology major and love getting outside during lab to study the ecosystems surrounding campus. However, I also adore getting out to play in the great outdoors, and I have certainly been pleasantly surprised at the incredible outdoor recreation opportunities right near campus! Whatever you may be interested in, chances are you can do it at St. Lawrence. Within an hour’s drive from campus are miles upon miles of mountain biking, hiking, and nordic skiing trails, flatwater rivers, whitewater rivers, lakes and ponds, cliffs (and many that offer themselves to ice climbing), and so much more!
If there’s one thing that St. Lawrence students are great at, it’s getting after it any day of the week to go rejoice in the splendors of the great outdoors. This could be anything from a midnight hike of Mt. Marcy (the highest mountain in New York!), fly fishing the fall stealhead run in Pulaski, or sending the burly Twins Falls on the Grasse River in a tandem whitewater kayak. Or, perhaps this means a visit to our canoe shack for a relaxing evening paddle and swim in the Little River. Maybe even a sunset hike up the mellow Azure Mountain, or a trail running jaunt on the eight mile loop at Stone Valley. But fear not! If these activities sound a little intimidating or alien, St. Lawrence has what you need to get introduced to and play in the outdoors.
The Outing Club at St. Lawrence is the second oldest in the country, and sends out student-led trips for all ability levels every week to explore the surrounding bounty of nature. This semester, there have been many hiking trips taking students up into the Adirondack High Peaks (as well as smaller mountains), canoeing and fishing trips exploring the incredible rivers and lakes of the Adirondacks, and mountain biking trips heading off to the great trails of the North Country. These trips have been complemented with numerous overnight canoeing and hiking trips, not to mention a nighttime canoe adventure on the Little River! And of course, every fall the Outing Club organizes Peak Weekend, getting a St. Lawrence student on every one of the 46 high peaks on one weekend. And once winter rolls around, get ready for snowy adventures galore! Trips head out multiple times a week to go skiing at Whiteface in Lake Placid, cross country skiing adventures abound on the trails near campus, and students also flock to local hills and mountains to get a little backcountry skiing in.
The St. Lawrence Outdoor Program is a university-funded program that offers for-credit courses, and also leads technical outdoor activities. Each spring, students can apply to take the field-based Outdoor Program’s Guide Training class, which upon successful completion, allows students to guide for the university. Taking Guide Training last spring was an incredible opportunity for me, as our class built snow shelters in the High Peaks, did an overnight orienteering trip (most of which was on snowshoes) a few miles off campus, learned whitewater canoeing skills on the Grasse River, and headed off to local cliffs and rivers to work on specialized skills. I specialized in whitewater kayaking, which had me exploring the awesome whitewater rivers of the North Country – the Grasse, Oswegatchie, and Racquette (to name a few). Others specialized in rock climbing, heading into the Adirondacks to climb well-known crags like the Beer Walls, Pokomoonshine, and Pitchoff. After graduating from the guide training program, we are able to guide technical trips for the university. This semester these have included weekly rock climbing trips, kayak roll clinics and river trips, and two mid-semester break trips: four days of climbing in the Adirondacks and a four day introduction to whitewater canoe expeditioning on the Hudson River!
Whether you’re interested in rock climbing, ice climbing, canoeing, kayaking, backcountry skiing, nordic skiing, trail running, hiking, mountain biking, or something else, chances are St. Lawrence is right where you’d want it to be. I have spent much of my free time at St. Lawrence exploring the outdoors, and am grateful for how integral a part of my education this has been.