A relatively short, steep climb to the summit yields magnificentviews in nearly all directions. McKenzie and the High Peaks can be seen tothe south. Directly below is an outspread of lakes and ponds within theSt. Regis Canoe Area. The summit also has a restored fire tower.
- Distance: 3.3 miles to the summit
- Elevation: 2,874 feet
- Ascent: 1,250 feet
From downtown Saranac Lake, head west on Route 86, toward Paul Smiths. At the four-way intersection with Paul Smith's College, turn right on Route 30 and take the first left on Keese Mill Road. Follow Keese Mill Road for just under 3 miles to the trailhead parking on the left.
An alternative trail can turn this terrestrial hike into a bit of a "surf-and-turf." There is a new dock (2019) is located in Spring Bay of Upper St. Regis Lake and boaters or paddlers are welcomed to dock here and climb ~1 mile trail to its intersection with the main trail from Keese Mill Road. Starting from the lake, the trail climbs an esker steeply at first but eventually flattens out as it nears the intersection. Boaters can launch at the DEC launch on Upper St. Regis Lake and paddlers can put-in Paul Smith's College or at the Upper St. Regis Lake launch.
From the parking lot, you will have to walk up the dirt road for a short distance to the foot trail on the right. From the DEC register, the footpath starts off very moderately over rolling hills. The gentle trail is inviting as you gain elevation steadily. Just over 2-miles from the register, you will cross over a bridge. This is where the climbing begins.
From here, the trail becomes steeper as you near the summit, but well maintained stone steps and other features make the climbing a little friendlier. You will encounter the steepest sections in the last 0.3-miles before the summit, but nothing is too difficult and there are no challenging scrambles. In fact, through the trees, you may even get a sneak peak at the expansive views to come. Just below the summit, you'll emerge onto open rock and the restored fire tower will appear.
Built in 1918, the fire tower on St. Regis Mountain has been a fixture on the landscape for over 100 years. It was an active fire tower observation station until 1990. The tower was then closed and began to deteriorate. In 2015, the Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower officially formed and restoration work commenced. Since then, much work has been done to restore the tower to its former glory and it is open to climb.
Views to the south are clear after being accidentally cleared by a fire started by surveyor Verplanck Colvin in 1876. A dramatic vista of St. Regis Canoe Area waters and the distant High Peaks awaits you on St. Regis Mountain!
St. Regis in the winter
This trail is an excellent snowshoe. Since the footpath gets steeper toward the summit, traction is highly recommended as it can be icy. While lake ice conditions can be variable and unpredictable, when the conditions are right, skiing from the Upper St. Regis Lake boat launch to Spring Bay to hike up the lake trail makes for an enjoyable outing. Ski across the frozen lake and then switch to snowshoes at the dock.