By now, most locals - and I'd guess many visitors to the heart of the Adirondacks - have heard the hubbub about the Stillwater Fire Tower being open the public. Corenne and I were just as excited to hear about the July 3rd opening as everyone else. We quickly added the fire tower on our must-see list.
The day finally came where we could make the trip. Since we planned on hitting up the Screamin' Eagle in Inlet that night for pizza, we figured it would be a good way to burn a few calories ahead of time — then maybe we wouldn't feel quite as guilty.
The drive for us to the bottom end of Hamilton County takes a bit of time, but we are more than happy to turn on the tunes and suck back an extra cup of Joe to get us there. Our drive up Big Moose Road to Stillwater Road was an adventure in itself as its condition has seen better days.
We decided to check out the site of the Number Four Fire Tower, which happens to reside on what is known as... Number Four Mountain — but, honestly folks, it resembles more of a hill than an actual peak. Still, I'm glad we decided to visit it, even though it didn't burn off a slice of pepperoni.
Number Four Mountain
We arrived at campsite #1 off Smith Road and located the trail to the top of the rise. We didn't grab anything but our camera. The hike took us all of about 1-minute and 30-seconds before we were standing at the historic site. The cement footers and cement stairs of the tower were still in their original location and the geodetic survey marker was also still in tact a bit further along the path.
After this little visit we started our drive back to the new Stillwater Mountain Trailhead. It wasn't separated by much, maybe 15-minutes along the rough dirt road. The original trail was abandoned, and this new location was approved to pass through the Big Moose Tract Easement Lands. In fact, the mountain was closed to the public for quite some time, until a not-for-profit group called "Friends of the Stillwater Fire Tower" stepped in to rehabilitate it. Now, with the help of DEC, it is once again open to the general public. It is to be added to the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge (if it hasn't been already!).
The trailhead was quite busy and parking was almost full — we had to nudge off the side of Stillwater Road, half in a ditch, but secure. The trail was a bit muddy beneath our feet, mainly due to the newness of the trail, and the lack of many years of erosion. The weather had turned to three sheets of humidity; so thick we became drenched from all sides. It was clear that a front was moving in, but unclear on the time frame.
As a note, the trailhead has a sign that describes the trail as being 0.9 miles to the top and only 150' of elevation, however as we proceeded on up the trail we soon realized that this was an error and this was indeed in meters and kilometers. Still, nothing be too hard-pressed to accomplish, but it's to be noted.
The trail has been designed to be easy to moderate and it was certainly that; we found ourselves standing below the tower in seemingly a flash. Seeing as how we had Abby, our four-legged companion with us, we had to take turns on the tower; Abby would have nothing to do with it.
The descent was a fast and furious race to beat the storm, we could feel it coming in and a few drops of liquid sunshine tapped our shoulders to let us know they were right behind. We made it to the car just about in time for the skies to open up, even though only for a short period of time. The temperatures dropped 15-degrees in a matter of minutes and the excess water ran freely into the culverts, and then it was over, sun shining.
We didn't hit rain again until much later, after our date with spicy peanut butter wings and a few brews, and at that point we were in the security of our car and watching the "light show" before us. Here's to two more fire tower summits under our belts!!!