Columbus Day weekend in the Adirondacks is often a crapshoot. Is the weather going to hold? Will the fall colors be bright or past peak? Will it be wet, cold, or otherwise unpleasant? This year, it was absolutely perfect – the skies were clear, the temps were in the upper 60’s/low 70’s, and the colors were just a tad past peak, but still brilliant. Despite some unplanned rain on Saturday and a gray evening, Sunday morning dawned with an uplifting brightness not seen in some time. While the original plan may have been to take it easy, we decided to take advantage of the day to climb to the Mt Arab Firetower before we drove back home.
The trail starts just off Route 3, south of Tupper Lake, and is pretty easy to find. There was ample parking, despite the fine day, and we set off around 11:30. Just beyond the register, the trail turns up a bit and starts out moderately steeply. This wasn’t too bad, though, nor did it last long before the trail moderates and becomes a fairly straightforward hike up the mountain. The only real issue on this day was the wetness of the falling leaves – I don’t like to drive on them, and thankfully hiking on them is easier, but there were still a few slippery spots. This trail is cut across quite frequently with run-offs made of roots or stones, and is in fantastic shape. Just before the summit, the firetower came into view, and we rounded the bend to find a beautiful vista in all directions. this day. The most intriguing views were in the opposite direction, to the lakes of Mt Arab and Eagle Crag. The shape of these lakes is interesting, and the color surrounding it on this day was spectacular.
The colors were amazing, and the peak is a great place to chat up other hikers and families, and other photographers. The view from here is so well known and highly regarded there were many folks with some serious equipment up here. We climbed the tower and had our breath taken away from the views – Whiteface was clearly visible beyond Tupper Lake.
In spite of the great views from the firetower, I was even more excited when I found the overlooks on the east side of the mountain. Several large rock slabs marking the summit provided a good view, but by climbing down to another smaller rock I was able to get even better views of the lakes.
As far as the Firetower itself, there is an interesting website published by the Friends of Mt Arab. As with many of the old firetowers in the Adirondacks, this one has been restored through the efforts of diligence of the faithful few, and I would encourage hikers who enjoy this trail to support their efforts, without which the tower would likely have been gone by now. In addition, one can climb the existing set of firetowers to complete the ADK Firetower Challenge – some are in the Catskills, but most are within the Blue Line. Given the opportunity for beautiful views, interesting hikes, and participating in an important part of the history of the Adirondacks, I think this is a worthy effort, and hope to get in a couple more before the year is out. This is also a great trail for kids, so bring ’em with you.
BTW – I will warn that if you wish to take your dog with you, you will have plenty of company, so keep the leash handy. And to the folks last weekend with the muzzled cocker spaniel – if your dog is so ornery you need to muzzle it in public places, leave it home.