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Dr. Thomas Welch prescribes 3 great Adirondack hikes


Trials and tribulations of everyday life got you down?

Take a hike.

With proper planning, solid skills and appropriate gear, Thomas Welch, MD, says enjoying the Adirondack back country in Central New York can be just the antidote.

When he‘s not caring for sick and injured children and teaching the pediatricians of tomorrow, Welch, chair of Upstate‘s Department of Pediatrics, can often be found in the wilderness. He is a licensed New York State guide and a certifying instructor for the Wilderness Education Association who regularly teaches field courses and guide groups in Alaska, Montana and New York. He‘s known as The Adirondoc.

Which of his recommended hikes is right for you?

“The Starter”

Bald (Rondaxe) Mountain trail – Generations of New Yorkers took their first Adirondack hike climbing this mountain. The trail begins off Route 28, between Old Forge and Inlet. The hike is over easy terrain for less than a mile and less than 400 feet in elevation change. There is an abandoned, but still usable, New York State fire tower at the top, which spectacular views of the Fulton Chain of Lakes.

“The Novice”

High Falls of the Oswagatchie – This is one of New York‘s most remote rivers. High Falls is a short (15 feet) but spectacular drop in the river, surrounded by loads of flat rocks for sunning and some awesome swimming spots. You can canoe to High Falls, but there is a nice hike, which begins in Wanakena, one of New York‘s most unique hamlets, on the shore of Cranberry Lake.

The hike is about 15 miles round trip, but the trail is mostly flat, scenic and easy to follow.  Anyone in reasonably good shape, including children older than 8 years, with past hiking experience, should be able to do this in a long day. It can also be made into an overnight, since many designated campsites are nearby. Among other wonders, the area has some of the largest examples of virgin white pine (Pinus strobus) remaining in North America.

“The Advanced”

Dix Mountain – While it is only the sixth tallest of the Adirondack “High Peaks,” Dix Mountain, (at 4,857 feet), is vastly more remote than the tallest five. While one can often find hundreds of hikers on Mounts Marcy (5,344 feet) and Algonquin (5,114 feet) on nice days, it is common to find oneself alone on Dix, which is between the towns of North Hudson and Keene.

The peak is open with steep slides on its sides and breathtaking vistas. With a nearly 14-mile round trip, and about 3,000-feet of elevation change, it is a real challenge. Moreover, this hike provides serious wilderness activity. Even the parking lot is more than five miles from the “highway” on a dirt road, and the “highway” doesn‘t get much traffic. That means an emergency on the top of Dix can quickly become a catastrophe.

This hike should only be attempted by an experienced hiking group carrying maps, compass, emergency shelter and food, and preparations for sudden weather change, even in summer.

Read more: Interview with The Post-Standard Outdoors Editor David Figura

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