A Guided Adventure up Sawyer and Little Sawyer
Hiking in the Indian Lake Region
As a licensed guide I have the pleasure of planning some pretty interesting and fun trips for the Town of Long Lake, and this one was no different. The plan was to hike the trail up Sawyer and then bushwhack over to Little Sawyer and loop back to the bus waiting for the group. I wasn't too sure how many individuals I would get to sign up for this little jaunt through the forest, but I was optimistic and sure they would have a great time once they were there. Checking in with the town a couple days prior to see if I had any signups I was told there were 12 ready to go. I was a bit taken back, 12 to hike an obscure peak, and on a Monday no less.
Arriving at the rendezvous spot in Long Lake I was made aware that a family of four and one other gentleman had canceled at the last minute, but I still had seven "eager beavers" on board. Our conductor was calling so we loaded up on the "Little Bus" and started out toward Indian Lake. We arrived at the trailhead for Sawyer where three of the hikers met us, we were now whole. I seem to have grown a bit of a following, with five who had been on other hikes of mine before; it's always great to see familiar faces. "Are there any decent views from these mountains," I was asked. "I don't remember," I jokingly said, "guess we'll find out." I can't ruin the suspense before we even set foot off the tarmac.
Summiting Sawyer Mountain
After a bit of an overview on the day ahead of us we set off up the trail. It was an excellent time getting to meet the new ones in the group and everyone seemed to hit it off really well. "Hey Spencer, are we there yet," I hear coming from the 'one in every crowd' - of course we are an entire half a mile away from the trailhead at this point - it was going to be one of those days, it seemed. We quickly found ourselves at the only steep section of the trail that climbs up a small slab rock area, we afforded out first break atop here. Moving on we quickly came to the view off Sawyer Mountain, which by the way is not off the true summit of Sawyer. We took in the views out over the "Little High Peaks" and the foothills to the south.
From here it would be all bushwhack up and over the true summit of Sawyer Mountain and eventually over to Little Sawyer. Like myself there were a few others on the trip who enjoy standing atop the true summit of the lower peaks in the Adirondacks, it was almost a given that we needed to detour a bit over the easy tenth of a mile to the true summit, everyone agreed. The top was fully wooded, the obvious reason for the trail to stop shy at the view. The top was covered in saplings and bramble that seemed to reach out and grab our ankles - we didn't stay long.
Our bushwhack to Little Sawyer Mountain
We then started a very long but gentle descent off Sawyer. We headed mainly south for a bit through the open wood and then a bit more easterly to approach the wetland in the valley. I didn't want to hit the wetland straight on, since I was unsure of its condition and didn't want to find us having to circumnavigate a marsh; I half expected it to be only a grassy field. The forest pushed us right down to the edge and to my prediction; it was a wetland that had dried up into a most gorgeous grassy area. We entered the grassland, with a slightly squishy floor under our feet. The grass was as tall if not taller than some of the group, quite a vision to see, just heads bobbing above the reeds. We had hoped for some wildlife in the area, but I'm sure the noise we made approaching the vly was a bit disturbing.
The opposite side was again open forest as we started to climb up the shoulder the Little Sawyer. I had been to Little Sawyer a few times in the past, but not ever in this exact location or following this exact route, it was quite amazing. As we climbed, the terrain got a bit steeper and then bands of rock walls started to almost form before our eyes. We passed by large boulders and skirted the walls that were before us, we even had a bit of a team building event that brought us up through a small rocky split in the wall.
The views from Little Sawyer Mountain
Now that the steep sections were done with we had a nice mellow stroll through the woods, passing by more erratics and even a small cave produced by those boulders, we could almost smell the summit. "You are probably leading us up to a wooded summit, there better be something there," came the heckling from the back of the pack. "Boy I sure hope so!" I responded in sarcasm. "You know under my contract I only have to bring back 75% of the participants," I jabbed back. Soon they would be in awe with what they saw. A tight band of spruce blocked the top, but soon an open rock ledge was under their feet. A very unique balanced boulder rested on the spine of the summit, almost taunting hikers to try and push it off. The camera shutters were smoking in the hands of everyone who now took their focus off the hike and onto the outstanding views in front of them.
Eventually we sat atop a small rock shelf, lined up for a summit photo and a bite to eat. After about 30-minutes on the summit, we needed to start back down – none of us wanted to go. We made our heading true north back to Route 28, which would bring us about a half a mile from the bus. Hiking back to the trailhead was a peaceful venture as we reminisced about the views and talked about future outings. We didn't mind walking the roadside; it felt good under our feet. In no time at all we could see the "Little Bus" on the horizon.
Interested in joining in on future hikes with the Town of Long Lake, give them a shout at 518.624.3077 for details. Interested in more of what Hamilton County has to offer? Check out our hiking pages for details. Need a place to stay? We have so much to choose from!