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Old 08-24-2015, 08:56 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: New Haven, NY
Posts: 9
Saint Regis Fire Tower

What a nice little gem. We were looking for one to just stretch our legs since I am running the 1812 Challenge in Sackett's Harbor next weekend and this seemed to fill the bill. At 3.3 miles one way, and flat most of the way, it was a perfect day.

We started on the trail about 10. We only met one group going up. (A group of college students from Hamilton college, which we passed...a nice feeling at our age!) Many people leaving as we neared the summit, which was nice....less crowded on top. We decided that if one wants solitude on a Saturday in Late August, one should start out at 6 am.

Anyway, nothing hard about this one. A beautiful walk in the woods, followed by some rock staircases and a few little scrambles. We arrived at the summit at about 11:30. It was a bit crowded, but we were able to find a nice rock to enjoy our lunch on away from the crowds. The college kids arrived shortly after we did and it was fun to listen to their enthusiasm. We chuckled when one of them brought out a rather large jar of peanut butter. Guess they haven't heard of lightweight backpacking.

We stayed up there about an hour, eventually talking to a couple from the area and he was kind enough to point out some of the mountains in the distance. Even though we have climbed all the 46, I still have trouble identifying them unless the map is in front of me. It was a beautiful day and we could see Whiteface and part of the Great Range in the distance. Unfortunately, the cab is closed so you can't go up, but the views from the open summit are very nice. Does anyone know the status of this tower? Is there a group who is restoring it?

We started down around 1:45 and were in our car, headed to Donnely's for ice cream by 3.

Another nice day courtesy of the Adk.
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Old 08-24-2015, 08:26 PM   #2
Kai was here
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 34
Hey Moo,

Nice report. I've always liked St. Regis. I've actually hiked it 3 times .. summer and winter Saranac 6 with Kai, and another round of winter Saranac 6 with my girlfriend. In fact we might hike it again this weekend with my girlfriend's daughter. It's nice that it also counts for the fire tower challenge.

At one time the tower was scheduled to be taken down, but I have recently heard that it is now scheduled for restoration. All my info is second hand though .. so not totally sure what to believe.

Are you working on one of the other challenges?


P.S. Kai and I hiked Ha-Ba-Sa last Friday and finished our 46 on Basin.
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Old 08-25-2015, 05:07 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,023
The story I was told (and I preface this by saying that I have no idea if it was true or not) is that there was a date set for the tower's removal. A military outfit would fly to the summit in helicopters, dismantle the tower, and remove it all in one day as part of a training exercise. The date that was set for the operation was in mid to late September of 2001. Needless to say, after September 11th, that group was otherwise occupied and the training mission to remove the tower was never undertaken.

Again, I have no idea if this is a true story or not- it's plausible but also the sort of thing that could easily only be partially rooted in truth, and has become greatly exaggerated with each retelling.

I've climbed St. Regis more times than any other fire tower peak (and more times than I can remember). Most of those times were as a Paul Smith's student. You're right in that the views from the summit are spectacular, even without climbing the tower.

I believe that there was a friends group at one point that was working on raising funds to restore the tower.

Did you check out the Roosevelt Trail, that leads from the clearing where the observer's cabin once stood (now a designated tent site) down to Upper St. Regis Lake? There is an old abandoned car on that trail that is pretty neat.

I always wanted to go camp out at the designated tent site but as of yet, still haven't gotten around to doing it.
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Old 08-25-2015, 08:28 AM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: New Haven, NY
Posts: 9
Kai, congratulations on your finish! Did you post a TR on the other forum? What a great feeling to be done yes?
We aren't actually working on the FT Challenge, although I did say to Mr. Moo that we are one third of the way finished so we might as well. He isn't on board....yet.

DSetthr....didn't check out the other trail as we weren't familiar with the area. I wondered where the cabin actually was. A reason to go back...
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Old 08-23-2016, 07:06 AM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Elizabethtown
Posts: 243
I went up St Regis two days ago and saw that the steps have been restored, but there is a keep off sign. Still a big white bag full of old fire tower parts ready to be airlifted, and a small stack of new lumber, I guess for restoration of the cab. Good view from the base of the tower.
DSettahr, is the Roosevelt trail the one which goes down toward Spectacle Ponds? Was this once blazed red? On the old too maps, a building is shown at this junction. Do you think that's the fire warden's cabin location? Finally, where is the campsite?

Last edited by MTVhike; 08-23-2016 at 07:16 AM..
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Old 08-23-2016, 10:45 AM   #6
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,023
No, the trail you're referring to is the old hiking access trail to the tower. There's also an old road that the fire tower observer used to use to access the observers cabin, which is indeed the building you're seeing on the map. The hiking trail was re-routed maybe 20 years ago due to private property issues. The new trail leaves the road just south of the St. Regis River (closer to Keese Mill), and cuts west then south (roughly along the Santa Clara/Brighton town line) to rejoin the old trail at the site of the observer's cabin.

The observer's cabin is long gone, but the clearing that it stood in is now a designated tent site. If you walk around at the junction where the new trail rejoins the old trail, it's not hard to find.

The Roosevelt Trail leaves from the opposite side of the campsite and swings southeast, eventually coming out on Upper St. Regis Lake near Spring Bay. It's been a few years since I followed it, but as I recall, at the time the DEC had started marking it. The trail follows the same route that TR climbed the mountain, and provides access to the mountain directly from the lake.
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