Adirondack Hike: St. Regis Mountain

Updated on July 17, 2019

The Basics

Elevation: 2,874 feet

Elevation Gain: 1,266 feet

Distance: 3.3 miles to the summit

Weather: Low 70's to start, partly cloudy and windy; Mid 60's and mostly cloudy at the finish

Water Consumed: 1.5 liters

Time: On trail at 1:15 p.m., Signed out at 4:10 p.m. (2 hours, 55 minutes on trail)

On this day, I paired St. Regis with Ampersand Mountain, as both are part of the Saranac Lake 6'er Hiking Challenge, the Adirondack 29er Challenge, and St. Regis has a fire tower that helps complete the Fire Tower Challenge.

I arrived to the parking area by taking route 3 east into Saranac Lake then taking a left onto route 86. Route 86 goes for about twelve miles, with the view of the impending mountain appearing in about seven miles. Once you arrive at the town of Paul Smith's, you come to route 30. Take a right there and a quick left onto Keese Mill Road. The parking area is well-marked and on the left about three miles down.

You go across a bridge and walk down a wide pathway until you get to the sign-in book for this trail. After putting my information in and reminding the pair behind me that they should do the same after they walked by me, I was on trail.

The terrain is relatively flat for the first part of the hike and within five minutes you pass a small pond on your left that has some nice coloring to it (see below). A few of the trees had a yellow trail marker on them so you know you're heading the right way. Later in the hike, they mess with you by putting one red trail marker out there, but the next yellow one shows up soon after, so don't panic.

The trail continues on as some light ups and downs and I did note a big flat stone off to the right at the twenty-minute mark that I dubbed the sacrificial stone for the return trip so I would know how far I had left when I got back to it.

Another ten minutes and you come to this big stone (see below) just off the trail edge on the left. The photo I took was on the return trip and has it on the right side.

Eventually you come to the bridge below that signifies the start of some elevation. I made it there in forty-five minutes. With the trail being so rolling up to that point, it'll take you that amount of time on the way out as well, so plan accordingly.

After the bridge, what you get are sections where you head up for a bit, then an area where it levels off for a second to allow you to rest. There were at least three of those in this section and it took twenty-five minutes until coming to the point where the trail turns to the right and the real elevation begins (see video below). In all, about an hour and ten minute into the hike at this point.

Once in this creek bed and on the steeper incline, the bugs came out for a feasting. As you head up the mountain, they motivate you to keep going as the big wind I was hoping to feel was shielded by the mountain. In about ten minutes you come to a cool stone staircase (see below).

In another five minutes you come to a small line of big rocks laid into the ground, signifying the end of the steep section. On this top section, the canopy thins a little and winds its way up and to the left to the summit.

Just before the summit and off to the right, there is a nice little lookout point you can head out to. I made this point at 2:45 p.m., an hour and a half into the hike.

Once on the summit, the fire tower is off to the right and just past it there is a survey marker that signifies you've made it to the top. I grabbed a couple of quick photos and looked out to the right to see some bigger clouds on their way in.

There was a very friendly trail steward at the top of the mountain and she gave me some background into the tower and offered to get a summit shot with Whiteface Mountain in the background (see below).

I grabbed a quick video of the summit views, snacked on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and explored all the areas of the top, including the ledge just before the tower that looks back across where you just came up before starting my descent back down at 2:55 p.m.

The descent down the steep section went pretty quickly and I made sure to note the big rock in the middle of the trail at the left turn that would take me back to the bridge. Having missed turns like that before, I kept telling myself to keep my head up and found it relatively easy.

From there, I noted the bridge, the big rock, the sacrificial stone, and the pond as distance points on the way out and arrived at the sign-in book at around 4:10 p.m. with a nice pair of Canadians and we talked a bit on our way to the parking area.

I took a quick second to head down to the stream that the first bridge went across to rinse off some of the bug spray and then got back on the road for home.

Once home, I logged my ascents into Peakbagger.com and noted I had four of the six for the Saranac Lake Challenge, eight of the twenty-nine for the Adirondack 29'er and four fire towers for the Fire Tower Challenge completed now.

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