We all have fears. Some people are scared of spiders (myself included), some people are scared of snakes, or clowns, or dogs, or small spaces. And some people are scared of heights. If you fall into this category, this may not be for you! But, if you're looking to cure your acrophobia, think about taking on the Fire Towers of the Adirondacks!
First used by Forest Rangers to survey the wooded areas for smoke and other potential forest fire hazards, fire towers have become obsolete. As aerial surveillance became possible, there was no longer a need to have someone stationed atop the mountains. Now these fire towers are used as hiking destination points. There are lots of fire towers located throughout the Adirondacks. These are just a few.
You may want to start out small. Blue Mountain is perfect for this - it's a two-mile trail that ends at the top of the mountain with a tower to tackle. A moderately-difficult climb, if you get this far and decide that you've pushed your limits height-wise, you're in luck. There are beautiful views from the summit, but if you really want to go for it, head up the 35-foot tower.
Owl's Head Mountain is another 35-foot tower. Located in Long Lake, it's located at the end of a 3-mile trail with the last mile being the most difficult. From here you can see the Fishing Brook Range and the High Peaks. This hike is great if you're looking for a little less traffic around you.
If you're feeling a little braver, head to Snowy Mountain in Indian Lake. This is a rather steep and difficult trail The tower on Snowy was originally wooden, but has since been replaced with a 42-foot steel tower. The nearly 4-mile hike to the summit rewards you with views of Indian Lake and the High Peaks.
Pillsbury Mountain's fire tower is the next step up height-wise, measuring in at 60-feet tall, approximately the same height as a 6-story building. Your only saving grace here if you have a fear of heights is that the cab of the tower is closed. You can, however, still climb the stairs to take in the views. From the top, you can view Lake Pleasant, Sacandaga, and you might even be able to spot Snowy Mountain's fire tower!
Now that you've worked your way up from 35 feet, it's time to defeat your fears, once and for all! Wakely Mountain, in Indian Lake, has a whopping 70-foot tower. Unlike the other towers, this one has not been renovated — although attempts are underway. This is one of the tallest remaining fire towers located in the Adirondacks. If you do have a fear of heights, I'm sorry to say you won't be rewarded with much of a view unless you start climbing!
These five fire towers make up our Fire Tower Challenge . Complete all five of these hikes and you can send it for a patch to boast your accomplishment!
Fear of heights or not, the Adirondack fire towers are a sight worth seeing. Pack your gear and head out for a hike — these pieces of history are just waiting for you to explore!
This week in the ADK we conquer our fears: