June 2019 - GREAT WALKS & DAY HIKES
Goodnow Mountain and Adirondack Interpretative Center
By Tom O’Grady
June is here and there are many reasons to get outside this month. The days will be getting longer as we approach the summer solstice on the 21st, Father’s Day will fall on the third Sunday of the month, and area schools will let out for summer break. A perfect day trip for families this month is Goodnow Mountain, located approximately two hours from the Capital Region, off NY Route 28N in Newcomb.
A large white sign directs you to the Goodnow parking area. The trail leading to the summit of Goodnow Mountain is part of the private land of Archer and Anna Huntington Forest and is owned by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. In 1993 a grant from SUNY ESF allowed the town of Newcomb to perform extensive work on the trail system of Goodnow Mountain that included a reroute of the trail, an improved parking area, addition of benches for resting, informational pamphlets, and stop points for educational purposes. Another grant obtained in 1995 allowed the college and the town of Newcomb to renovate the fire tower at the summit. Staff of SUNY ESF continue to maintain the fire tower at the summit and the trail.
Because the trail is on private land, hiking is allowed only from sunset to sunrise (you’ll never have more time to explore Goodnow than on June 21!), and no camping, hunting or fires are permitted.
From the trail register follow red trail markers with small black arrows. The first half of the trip up the mountain follows the newer trail put in place in the 90s. A short but moderate climb occurs over the first 200 yards of the trip. The trail then turns right and flattens out. The walk for the next half-mile is relatively flat, with some minor climbs, and descend as you walk along a shelf paralleling the highway. Maple, birches, and other hardwood trees fill the woods. As you walk, keep an eye out for some of the posts designated with numbers corresponding to the interpretative pamphlet, available at the register. You will cross a small bridge over a brook at 0.5 miles. There is also a bench around this point if you would like to stop for a break or let the kids explore the trail.
Shortly after crossing the brook, a short but steady climb begins at 0.7 miles. In the next quarter-mile, you will climb over 200 feet to a crest in the ridge that forms a junction with the old trail, at approximately 0.9 miles. During your climb make sure to keep a lookout for one of the more fascinating points of interest on the hike up. There is a large bolder with a fully mature tree growing from the top. The root system is almost entirely exposed and growing around the boulder into the ground. It’s an astonishing example of how persistent nature is!
The short respite in climbing ends at 1.1 miles, as the trail steepens again to a moderate climb, with some curves in the path. You’re greeted with a rock cliff to the right and ferns at your feet as you walk this section. A slight leveling of the path occurs at 1.4-miles and there is an accompanying concrete platform. This platform previously had a radio repeating station used by the NYS Police. A little further up the trail, at 1.5-miles, you will encounter an old covered well. One more point of interest awaits as a small horse barn comes into view that dates back to the early 1900s. The last section of the trail is rocky and steepens again. Spruce and Balsam firs have now replaced the maples and birches seen earlier. An open rock provides a nice view at 1.8 miles. A slight drop occurs, and then another short climb will have you reach the Goodnow summit at 1.9 miles and 2,690 feet.
At this point you will notice impressive views to the east and south from the rocky summit. Views of the north and west are obstructed by trees. The slightly off-centered tower requires cable wires to stabilize it. At first glance we almost decide not to climb the tower. After some convincing we ascended the 60-foot tower. Everyone is happy that we did as the views are truly spectacular above the trees. Just south of the High Peaks, you can see close to half of the Adirondacks that are above 4,000 feet. The closest sight to the north is Rich Lake, adjacent to Route 28N. When looking at a map you may notice this lake’s footprint is roughly the same size as that of the mountain you are standing on.
The closest mountain range in sight is trailless Santanoni Range, made up of Panther, Santanoni, and Couchsachraga. Further north are the state’s two highest mountains, Marcy and Algonquin. To the east, you should be able to see Vanderwacker and its fire tower. If you enjoy the trip, bookmark this hike and return in the winter. The length and relatively easy-to-moderate trip make it a good snowshoe!
After you’re finished enjoying yourself at the summit, and have eaten a snack, make the return trip down. The round-trip distance should be approximately 3.8-miles with 1,040 feet of climbing. My GPS suggests we walked 4.0 miles. The round-trip time was one-hour and 45 minutes, including 15 minutes at the summit, while walking at a brisk pace. Allow yourself up to three hours if you want to take a more leisurely pace and thoroughly enjoy everything you come across on the interpretive sheet. Once back at the car, head over to the Adirondack Interpretive Center, part of SUNY ESF’s Newcomb campus.
For those of you looking to walk more or enjoy yourself outdoors, the AIC has three trails that are along Rich Lake. The trails offer an opportunity to stop and rest at seats to enjoy the scenery, nature, and enjoy a moment of solidarity. The most accessible trail is the 0.6-mile Rich Lake Trail that travels a boardwalk around the lake. Viewing areas on this walk allow you to see Goodnow Mountain from which you came! The longest but still moderate trail is the 1.6-mile Sucker Brook Trail that runs along a cedar grove and the outlet of Rich Lake. The final 0.7-mile Peninsula Brook Trail is the most rugged of the three. Walkers on this path will pass through cedar and hemlock groves, as well as take a pontoon bridge across a wetland area.
Once finished, or if you care to skip any or all of these trails, head inside. There is a lot of educational material inside the AIC that is geared towards people of all ages. Children will especially enjoy the hand puppets of animals and scavenger hunt. Adults will notice the posters on different environmental projects done by students and workers at AIC and SUNY ESF.
For those who are keeping track, this mountain offers the opportunity to climb an accessible mountain, and get one step closer to completing the fire tower challenge. You’ll have tremendous views of the High Peaks from the summit for inspiration, if you would like a greater challenge. You will have numerous opportunities to learn about nature along the way.
If you chose to go over to the AIC in Newcomb, and walk one of the trails there, afterwards you will have completed two of the hikes in the Minerva and Newcomb section of the “Kids on the Trail Challenge” – another great Adirondack Challenge geared at fun mountains children can complete. It’s easy to see how you can spend an entire day exercising, exploring, and learning in Newcomb this summer – and why it’s a great way to finish the school year and start the summer with the family!
Tom O’Grady, PhD, MPH (email@example.com) of Slingerlands is an avid runner, hiker and lover of the outdoors. He is an epidemiologist with NYS Dept. of Health. With a lifetime of racing experience, Tom has his NYS Dept. of Education coaching license, and is USA Track & Field Level 1 and Jack Daniels certified to coach distance runners and endurance athletes.