A short but steep climb up one of the best fire tower peaks. Azure Mountain's cliffs provide a sweeping view of the Adirondack Mountains and the St. Lawrence Valley, and it only gets better atop the tower. The Friends of Azure Mountain sometimes have a volunteer interpreter on the summit to answer questions. The fire tower was built in 1918 and recently restored.
- Distance: 1 mile to the summit
- Elevation: 2,518 feet
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
There are two ways to get to the Azure Mountain trailhead from Saranac Lake. The most direct route involves driving along Blue Mountain Road via Keese Mills Road. Even though it's more than 10 miles shorter, Blue Mountain Road is a narrow, windy, little-used dirt road that must be taken slowly. We recommend the route described below, which takes the same amount of time and sticks to paved main roads.
From Saranac Lake, follow Route 86 to Paul Smiths, about 11 miles. At the intersection with Route 30 in Paul Smiths, turn right on Route 30 and follow that for 9 miles, then turn left on Route 458. Follow 458 for 13 miles and turn left on Blue Mountain Road (this end is paved) and follow it for 7 miles, then turn right at the large brown and yellow DEC sign to get to the parking area.
The route up Azure is about as straightforward as it gets. The beginning of the trail is deceptively easy as it passes through a nice, open forest. The path soon begins to ascend the base of the mountain, but it doesn't get steep until about halfway to the summit. Once the steepness starts it doesn't end until the top, where breathtaking views will reward you for your efforts.
Azure Mountain in winter
This is a short but challenging snowshoe to a fantastic view. Snowshoes are necessary to avoid post-holing through the snowpack, and snow spikes might be helpful to ascend the mountain's steeper sections, but they aren't necessary. Extra layers of non-cotton clothing, a windbreaker, emergency blanket, first-aid kit, headlamp with extra batteries, and plenty of food and water are essential items for any winter excursion. The extra layers and windbreaker are especially important on the exposed summit ledges, which will be much colder than the lower sections of the mountain. Don't underestimate the short distance of this hike — start early and set aside plenty of time to complete this hike in the winter.