Students often talk about how the Adirondacks are in our backyard, and this connection is captured in the “A Tribute” song which describes St. Lawrence as “Nestling ‘neath the purple shadows of the Adirondack hills; Lies our noble Alma Mater…”. For those that do not know, the Adirondack Park is made up of six million acres of private and public land in New York State. The State Park offers a lot of outdoor opportunities for all ages and abilities, and is close to campus. St. Lawrence students often utilize the Adirondack Park through various outdoor activities, our Adirondack Semester program, or field excursions for classes. Both the Outing Club and Outdoor Program offer trips into the Adirondacks for students of all abilities.
Although many people focus on the 46 High Peaks, there is so much more to the Park than those hikes. Over the course of one’s college career at SLU, there are plenty of ways to get out and explore the park and some incentives as well. There are three notable challenges or goal oriented hikes, including the Tupper Triad, Saranac 6er, and 46er, all of which offer an outdoor experience for a range of abilities. Although I have yet to fully complete any of these, I have started checking off different peaks over the past two and a half years here. Each of the hikes that I go through can be compared to Goldilocks and her search for the perfect fit. There is a plethora of hikes in the Adirondacks, I enjoy getting to try so many different hikes as well as going back to my favorites time after time. I hope the different opportunities I mention inspire you to get off campus and experience the Adirondack Park!
Starting at a base level, the Tupper Triad offers three hikes that are fit for entry-level hikers up through experienced level hikers. The mountains - Arab, Coney, and Goodman - are located in the area of Tupper Lake which is about an hour from campus, and a great introduction to hiking. My favorite is Arab Mountain, which is a one-mile hike one way and has rewarding views from the top. There is a fire tower on top of Mount Arab which offers spectacular sunrise, sunset and 360-degree views of the nearby mountains. It is also an accessible hike for a mid-day jaunt from campus, or if you’re up for it an overnight adventure! The fire tower adds an extra touch to the experience as it’s not every day you’re able to be up higher than the trees and have a bird’s eye view of the mountains.
Once you’ve tried one or all three of the Tupper Triad hikes its time for the next step – the Saranac 6ers. There’s no surprise here that there are six mountains that make up the Saranac 6ers: Baker, St. Regis, Scarface, Ampersand, Haystack and Mackenzie. Each of these hikes are located in the Saranac Lake area, just a little further than Tupper Lake. These hikes are longer than the Tupper Traid, a higher elevation, and more strenuous as well. I hiked Ampersand as a first-year student with the Outing Club, and although it was a warm spring day in the valley, there was still snow on top of the mountain.
Perhaps the most well known are the Adirondack 46ers, which are made up of 46 peaks that are all above 4,000 feet – except for two which are slightly under. The year 2018 is the 100th year celebration of the Adirondack 46er challenge! Each fall, the Outing Club has one weekend designated for “Peak Weekend”. During this time, we try to have a SLU student on top of each of the 46 peaks. This tradition has been carried on for a number of years and it is always a worthwhile event. The High Peaks region is about two hours from campus and has some great long day trips as well as overnight opportunities. Although not every student at SLU is a 46er, there are plenty of students who have hiked as least one of the mountains in the Adirondacks during their time at SLU.