Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Seward Range - 6/30/12 & 7/1/12

This past weekend Leesa and I made our first trip to the Seward Range, the western most range of the Adirondack high peaks.  It was also our first trip camping with our dog Rev.  The biggest challenge was the fact that we were using a tiny 2 person backpacking tent.  We weren't sure if we'd be backpacking or car camping, but we only brought the little tent.

Leesa wanted to do some hiking, but not all four peaks so we decided I would climb Seymour on Saturday while she did some kayaking; then we'd both climb Seward, Donaldson and Emmons together.

We drove past Saranac Lake heading west on Route 3 to a left on  Corey's Road (a couple miles west of the Ampersand Mountain trailhead.  As soon as we turned onto Corey's Road we saw Stony Creek Ponds on the left, which is where Leesa decided to paddle.  She said later that is was a good choice.  There are a series of interconnected ponds and some great camping sites.  On our way out she showed me her favorite camping site; a peninsula with water north and south and a little sandy beach.  We'll have to camp there next time.  There is a pull off next to the lake and a short trail leads right to the peninsula. 

I unloaded the kayak and carried it a hundred yards down the path to the place where she could later launch.  Then we continued driving Corey's Road towards the summer parking lot.  We passed several car camping sites and chose one for Saturday night.  We set up the tent and put some of our gear inside.

Leesa then dropped me off at the Seward Mountain trailhead.  In winter, the last couple miles of Corey's road are closed and you have to park at the winter parking area, making your hike a bit longer.

Ward Brook leanto is in great shape and has a fireplace and picnic table

I got started towards Seymour Mountain at 11:30 AM.  I had noticed two trails on the map both headed towards Ward Brook (the place where the Seymour herd path starts).  I chose the southern trail of the two.  That trail turned out to be a horse trail that doesn't see much use.  I had to pay close attention to make sure I stayed on the trail.  After 5 miles, the trail rejoined the northern trail which was a red marked foot trail.  At that point, I realized I had already passed the Blueberry leanto.  I turned right, and shortly crossed a bridge and passed the cairn marking the herd path for Seward Mountain.   I less than a mile, I passed the Ward Brook leanto, which was a nice looking leanto with nobody using it.  Quickly after passing the Ward Brook leanto I came to the cairn for Ward Brook on the right and the start of the Ward Brook herd path to Seymour.

Looking Wast toward Ward Brook herd path cairn   

By this point it was 2:00 PM and I hadn't even stared climbing yet.  I climbed steadily and ascended 2000' to the top of Seymour by 3:10 PM.  Seymour has good views of  the remainder of the Seward range - Seward, Donaldson and Emmons), as well as distant views of the MacItyre Range, Colden and Marcy.

From L-R, Emmons, Donaldson & Seward from Seymour

I encountered more than my desired amount of black flies on the summit, so I didn't linger.  Surprisingly, it was the first time this year I've been bothered by black flies.  I retraced my trail until I passed the Ward Brook leanto and reached the junction of the horse path and the red marked foot trail.  This time I took the foot trail and was back to the car at 6:15 PM.  Leesa was there waiting to pick me up.  She had brought some work with her, so she was just doing paperwork.

Ampersand Lake and Ampersand Mountain from Seymour

Her day kayaking at Stony Creek Ponds had gone well.  We went back to where she left the kayak and I loaded it back on the car.  We hadn't brought food for cooking so we went into Saranac Lake for dinner.  After dinner, we returned to our campsite and convinced Rev to come into the tent and lie down and go to sleep.  It wasn't too hard since she had hiked all day.  If she had given us any problems, we would have just put her in the back of the 4Runner for the night.  Fortunately, we all slept fine in the tent.

Rev... waiting for a snack

This ledge is reached just prior to the true summit

The Santanoni Range from Seymour

Summit disc

Somebody put a moose in a noose!

This is looking west towards the Blueberry leanto and the herd path to seward

Start of the herd path to Seward ( I didn't take this)

My Seymour Mountain route highlighted in blue (click image to enlarge)

Day # 2
Sunday July 1, 2012 - Donaldson, Emmons & Seward Mountains

We awoke at daylight on Sunday and prepared to hike the 3 remaining mountains in the Seward Range (Seward, Donaldson & Seymour).  This time we got started pretty early.  We were on the trail at 6:30 AM.

Start of Calkins Brook herd path

We walked the 1.4 miles to the start of the Calkins Brook truck trail, then turned right (south) to go towards Calkins Brook.  Almost immediately we came to a cairn on the left which looked like a herd path.  This was confusing to me.  I knew it was not the Calkins Brook HP, so we continued on.  After 35 minutes more, we reached Calkins Brook and the herd path we wanted to take.

Cairn on the summit ridge at intersection of Calkins Brook herd path

Calkins Brook herd path is a nice trail.  Relatively dry and long moderate grade.  There are very few steep sections compared to other herd paths.  We reached the summit ridge at 9:30 and chose to turn right to do Donaldson and Emmons first.  We reached Donaldson about 9:45 and stopped on the open summit rock to enjoy the views.

Donaldson summit disc

After Donaldson, we headed off to Emmons.   We were a little surprised by how rough the terrain was.  We were expected a summit ridge walk of little difficulty, but there was some elevation change and some boulder hopping.  We reached Emmons about 10:15.  The views are limited, but we stopped to give Rev a snack.

Mike, Leesa and Rev on Donaldson

We returned to the Calkins Brook cairn on the ridge at about noon.  Seward looked far away, and a couple had told us that it was about a 1.5 hour walk to Seward 9 (one way).  Leesa decided she would pass on Seward and slowly make her way back the way we came.  I continued on and found that the herd path bypasses the false summits and drops down a ways before rising directly to the summit.  There is a fine ledge just prior to the summit, but the actual summit is treed. 

On the way to Emmons from Donaldson

I returned to the point where we had separated by 1:15 PM and then dropped down Calkins Brook HP and out.  I was back at the car at 4 PM.  That was nice.  It gave us time to stop for a nice dinner at Mr. P's Mountain Smokehouse in Schroon Lake before getting home at 8:30.  We love their Mac and Cheese and their baked beans.  The chili is great too, but it's not offered in the summer.  We usually just get a couple side dishes because everythings so filling.

Emmons disc

Emmons and Donaldson from Seward

Seward Summit Disc

I've got two high peaks left for my 46... Gray and Skylight.  We hope to do them this week sometime after the 4th.   Skylight will be a nice finish!

Our route highlighted in blue (click map to enlarge)

Day #1 - Hike Stats:
Seymour Mountain 
Hike Distance: 13.4 miles
Hike Time: 6 hours, 35 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: 3385'

Day #2 Hike Stats
Donaldson, Emmons, Seward
Hike Distance:  14.4 miles
Hike Time:  9 hours, 45 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  4525'


  1. Man you are knocking off the peaks and banging out the reports faster than I can read 'em!
    You've really scored some beautiful days in the peaks. Enjoyed your photos and reports from the Sewards, Santanonis and Algonquin / Iroquois.

    My wife Beth is down to just three peaks left. She'll hike Nippletop this weekend, leaving Gray and Skylight - like you - to finish on later this month. Good luck on your final hike, Skylight is a great peak, could be my favorite of all 46.

    1. Yes, I think I've done 20 high peaks in June. I may head for MacNaughton on Thursday and Gray/Skylight either Friday, Saturday or Sunday depending on weather.

      Good luck to Beth on her finish.

  2. Hey,
    Congrats on the hikes, looks like you've been having a great time!

    As part of a school requirement at my high school (Gould Academy in Bethel,ME) , I chose to attempt the 46 this summer, and this is my next hike. We head out tomorrow at 5, for a two hour drive in. Hope it's as nice a day as you had, your pictures are beautiful! Enjoy your last few hikes, and safe travels!

    1. Sorry I missed replying earlier. Thanks for reading. I hope your trip went well!

  3. Thank you, Telemark Mike, for the very, very helpful TR...maps, times, routes, etc., all make me feel more confident about doing this hike.

    1. I'm glad you are finding my TR's to be helpful. Each person's times are dirrerent depending on the circumstances, but the maps and routes should be helpful. Congrats on all the hikes you've accomplished this summer. I hope your Seward trip goes well

  4. thank you for the excellent info. myself and 3 others are going to try to tackle D-E-S in a couple of weeks. Couple of ?'s if you don't mind...
    Sounds like you took the Calkins Brook up/back. Almost looks like the 3 peaks form a T shape with the C-B hp (from your gps screenshot). You went from D to E, then back to D and then over to S? From S, do you need to go back to D to catch-up with the hp?
    Was it just personal preference, or any reason you choose D to E 1st vs. D to S 1st?
    We're getting older, may want to knock out the more difficult 1st, from what I have read S may be somewhat more difficult than E.

    Thanks again, excellent report!

    1. We did D to E at my wife's request. She chose not to do Seward that day. I would recommend doing the peaks the way I did. Emmons is the worst of the bunch, and you might as well get it out of the way. After you do Seward, you could descend down the Ward Brook herd path, but it's in horrible shape. Best to go back to the split and down Calkins again.

      Neil's guidance on the forum (and others)is quite accurate. I think they all agree.

      Thanks for reading, and good luck!

  5. Hope to know out the Sewards second week in October. Might do day trips verses camping. Finished 37 on Allen last weekend. Looking four four more next week. Love your site and all your great info!

    1. Thanks. Yes once you get the bug and get close to the finish it's hard to slow down in your quest!

  6. Awesome TR. I know this is a couple years old, but how dog "friendly" is the Seward Range? I'm thinking about doing it this summer and bringing along my pooch. Judging by the photos, he's of similar size to your dog.

    1. Thanks for reading. I didn't feel like these peaks provided any challenges for Rev. She is pretty agile and we haven't found much that she can't do.

      If your dog can handle a long hike and the vertical, I would think she would be fine.

  7. Hi I love your trip reports- just curious if you culd share the address of the car camping site you used. We are new to camping and would like to car camp as we dont have backpacks yet !

    1. We camped on Corey's Road. It was one of the last sites on the right as you drive in. There are quite a few sites on the road so hopefully you can find a site.

  8. Nice photos and information. I'm doing this hike in June. How is the water source on the way up to these mountains?

    1. It's usually pretty good, but I never travel in summer without a couple liters on me.

      I don't know if it dries up when it has been really dry.

    2. It's usually pretty good, but I never travel in summer without a couple liters on me.

      I don't know if it dries up when it has been really dry.

  9. One more question for you. I will be driving up from Rochester, NY, and I use my Tom-Tom. What would be a good address for me to put into the Tom-Tom to get me close to the designated parking lot for the hike? Thanks for all of your help in this.

    1. That I can't answer. You turn south off of Route 3 ( near the southern end of Upper Saranac Lake) onto Corey's Road, and follow it to the end. You will see the parking lot on the right.

    2. That I can't answer. You turn south off of Route 3 ( near the southern end of Upper Saranac Lake) onto Corey's Road, and follow it to the end. You will see the parking lot on the right.

  10. Are there any camping spots near the parking lot? I want to hike D-S-M on my 1st day and afterwards grab my main gear and hike to one of the lean-to to set up camp before hiking Seymour.

  11. Yes, there are a lot of designated campsites along Coreys Road.

  12. Great! Thank you so much for your time. 10 to go for my 46R.