Sawteeth: a gem to discover

Last week gave us incredible weather with temperatures in the upper 60’s. So, I prepared my backpack, IMG_1269and on Wednesday, left home around 7:30 to be at the Ausable Club parking lot at 8AM.

Sawteeth, my destination, is located near Keene Valley and is the thirty-fifth highest peak in the Adirondacks at 4100 feet. It is often cited as the best photographer’s peak in the area. Sitting near to but off the Great Range the peak offers a great view of almost every peak in that range.

IMG_1271My route was to come from the West River trail and then up from Ausable Lake. A good moderate hike for the day, I was told, as the climbing is supposedly short and the walk in and out is easy but long (over 6 miles one way). I chose to take the Scenic Trail in and the New Trail out.

It was warm, and even under the shades of the tree, I was sweating long before starting the climbing part. Once at the lake, I crossed the bridge and went South on the Scenic Trail. The ascent of Sawteeth via Scenic Trail is difficult and strenuous. It is steep to very steep for at least 40 long minutes. Trail condition was not great as layers and layers of dead leaves were covering roots and rocks, making the climb slippery and exhausting.

Once on the top of the ridge, at a location called Outpost #4, I overlooked the Ausable Lake, Indian Head and the Colvin Range. Very nice views, especially under a cloudless sky!

IMG_1281From that point, Sawteeth was right “behind” me (going West), but I needed to go down and back up, to realize that this next summit was not Sawteeth, or rather, it was only the East side of the summit. To get onto the “real” summit, I had to go down the col and up again.

Reality is Sawteeth has two different views depending on which side of the summit you happen to be on. On the southeast or lake side of the peak, there are excellent views of the Ausable Lakes and Colvin Range that persist from early in the ascent all the way up. Once over the top, you face views of the Great Range less than a half mile to the north.  These are fantastic views that take in much of the Great Range with dramatic close-ups of the slides and the rock faces of Basin, Pyramid, and Gothics. I stayed there for a while, enjoying the views while having lunch.

IMG_1284From there, the descent was moderate via the Alfred E. Weld trail. The trail is excellent and not particularly steep. All in all, it was a long day under the sun, a 14-mile loop that took slightly more than 7 hours to complete. And I enjoyed every minute of those.

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