On Friday morning Skip, Eric, Kathryn and I hiked up Goodnow Mountain and climbed the fire tower. Goodnow Mountain is named for Sylvester Goodnow, a homesteader who settled at the base of the mountain in the 1820s. Take NY 28N East from Long Lake; there is a white ESF Trailhead sign on the right side of the road about 11.6 miles east of Long Lake village. The elevation gain is 1,040 feet on this hike and it is 1.95 miles from the parking area to the tower (3.9 miles round trip).
At 0.6 miles, the trail turns upward over railroad-tie steps and a bog bridge. There is a fifteen-foot-tall dead tree trunk, weathered and stripped of its bark. The hollow on the uphill side of the tree is roomy enough to hide in; but more interesting is the way the entire trunk twists.
Nearby is the ‘Octopus Tree’ – a popular ‘photo-op’.
ESF has built numerous boardwalks along the way. We passed a square concrete slab, the base of an old cabin, and an old horse barn at 1.6 miles that served as a horse stable for Archer Huntington, stepson of railroad tycoon and industrialist Collis Huntington, and Archer’s second wife, Anna, a sculptor.
A 60 foot fire tower on Goodnow Mountain was erected in 1922 that was staffed until 1970. The area was once logged by the Huntington’s, and remains of their logging operations can still be seen on the mountain. The College and the Town of Newcomb restored the tower in 1995. The views from the summit and the fire tower are expansive.
On a nice day, the view from the fire tower on Goodnow mountain is one of the best in the Adirondacks. The most prominent mountain seen from the summit tower is Santanoni, but many of the other High Peaks are also visible. a 360-degree panorama of the Adirondacks was visible. A circular map, once used by the fire watchers, helps identify landmarks in the panorama. The mountain peaks to the south.
The mountains to the north.
At the foot of the tower stands a cabin where a fire observer (and, often, his wife) lived for six months out of the year. It has been restored with typical furniture and items used by the watcher, including a Adirondack pack basket, which hangs on the wall. A placard tells the story of the tower and includes photographs of two fire watchers, George Shaughnessy (1930) and Walter West (1962). A page from a 1936 watcher’s log is taped to the door. The cabin gives modern-day hikers a sense of what life was like at a working fire tower.
We started our hike at 10:30am and there was only one other couple when we climbed to the fire tower. We spent about 30 minutes hanging out at the summit before venturing back down. We passed several families and youth groups climbing up – a total of 62 people climbing to the summit.