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 areas for smoke and other potential forest fire hazards, fire towers have become obsolete. As aerial surveillance became an easier method, there was no longer a need to have someone stationed atop the mountains. Some fire towers stayed open in the Adirondacks until 1990! Now these fire towers are used as hiking destination points, and ways for people to experience an important part of Adirondack history. There are lots of fire towers located throughout the Adirondacks. These are just a few located in our region.
Owl's Head Mountain
You may want to start out small. Owl's Head Mountain is perfect for this. The trail is not overly challenging and the fire tower is on the shorter side, at 35-feet. Located in Long Lake, it's situated at the end of a 3-mile trail with the last mile being the most difficult. From the summit you can see the Fishing Brook Range and the High Peaks, and even other fire towers! This hike is great if you're looking for a little less traffic around you.
Blue Mountain may have a short trail (it's just two-miles to the summit) but it's no joke! A moderately-difficult climb, will bring you to another 35-foot tall tower. Blue Mountain is actually one of the 100 Highest Mountains in the Adirondacks and is also home to many high elevation birds. Stunning views await those who get this far and decide that you've pushed your limits height-wise. There are beautiful views from the summit, but if you really want to go for it, head up the tower.
If you're feeling a little braver, head to Snowy Mountain in Indian Lake. This is a rather steep and difficult trail Like many of the towers of the Adirondacks, the tower on Snowy was originally wooden, but was replaced with a 42-foot steel tower in 1917. 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 Lake, and you might even be able to spot the nearby 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. This tower has gone under recent restoration and rehabilitation to make it safe for future generations to continue to enjoy. It 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! However, there is a helicopter landing site located just below the summit, with views galore!
These five fire towers make up our Fire Tower Challenge. Complete all five of these hikes and you can send the form in 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!