Mountain Hikes

Azure Mountain

Take Route 11B east from Potsdam to Nicholville, then turn south onto Route 458. About four miles past St. Regis Falls, turn right onto Blue Mountain Road. Continue about 7 miles and watch for the small sign and trailhead parking area on the right.   Elevation gain is only 2,518 feet on this 2 mile round trip hike.   The recently restored fire tower atop Azure Mountain offers great views of the High Peaks to the south and east.   A volunteer fire tower interpreter is often on duty on weekends to answer questions about the tower and can help identify distant mountains. Great hike for kids, but it is steep and caution should be used on the open cliffs on the summit.

Bear Mountain

Take Route 56 south and then turn right (west) onto Route 3. This moderately steep 3.4-mile round trip trail climbs from the Cranberry Lake State Campground to the summit, which overlooks a broad vista of the lake and forests beyond. Access is from the campground (small day use fee), which is just east of the hamlet of Cranberry Lake. It can also be reached from the Burntbridge Pond trailhead which is a snowmobile/hiking trail on the south side of Route 3 approximately 2 miles east of Cranberry lake. It is a 9.6 mile round trip to the summit using this route.

Cathedral Rock

Drive south from Potsdam on Route 56 to Sevey’s Corners. Turn right (west) on to Route 3 and go through Cranberry Lake. Continue about 6 miles and watch for a road on the left (south) side of the highway with a yellow gate. If you get all the way to the turn off to Wanakena, you’ve gone to far. Go back .7 miles. The fire tower on the hilltop can actually be seen from near the gate. Proceed through the gate. Bear left at the second junction. When you reach the top of the hill on that road (Cathedral Rock Road), take a left on to the Tower Road,  the service road to the summit, or walk a little farther for a hiking trail to the top. You will pass a lean-to before reaching the Tooley Pond Mountain fire tower, which was dismantled and rebuilt on Cathedral Rock, on the grounds of the Ranger School at Wanakena.  The road can be taken on the way down. It is a 1.4-mile easy hike from Route 3.

Debar Mountain

From Potsdam, go to St. Regis Falls (Route 11B east to Route 458 south), then take Red Tavern Road east to Route 30, turning right (south).  Or take Route 458 south through Santa Clara and then another 11 miles to the intersection with Route 30; turn left (north).  Watch for Meacham Lake State Campground signs to access the well-marked trail that used to lead to a fire tower. When the campground is open there is a small day-use fee. The trailhead is near campsite 48 with parking available in an old gravel pit.  This 7.4-mile hike is mostly gentle inclines on old logging roads, with a steep, rocky section rewarding the climber with scenic views from the 3,300-foot summit at the end.

Mount Arab

Take Route 56 south from Potsdam to Route 3 at Sevey’s Corners. Turn left (east) on to Route 3 and continue for 10.4 miles. Turn right on to Conifer Road; drive 1.8 miles south.  Turn left on to Eagle Crag Road; drive .9 mile to the trailhead (on the left) and parking area (on the right), just past an old railroad bed.  A fairly easy 2 mile round trip hike leads to the summit with limited views from the open cliffs, but a full 360-degree view from a restored fire tower.

The Pinnacle

Take Route 11B east from Potsdam, turn right (south) on to Route 458 in Nicholville. Continue past St. Regis Falls; about 1/4 mile after crossing the bridge over St. Regis River in Santa Clara, turn left on to a dirt road with a large brown DEC sign. Follow signs for about 2 miles to the trailhead, directly across from the parking area.  Recently opened and marked half-mile hike up a small mountain just outside of Santa Clara perfect for beginning hikers and children. Open rocky cliff with views towards north and west. Due to regulations related to the Santa Clara Tract Easement, trail is closed to the public during big game season for deer.

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