North Country Outdoor Adventures

Hello and welcome all incoming first-year students, transfers and any passing traveler to the North Country. One of our largest and oldest clubs on Clarkson University’s’ campus is the Clarkson University Outing Club (CUOC). We wish to share some of the favorite outdoor adventure spots for both beginners and the more experienced adventurer. Members of the Outing Club were polled about their favorite areas to go, and we’ll hear from some CUOC members themselves about some of their experiences along the way! 

We’re going to start with the closest locations to campus and then moving further away as we descend. Distances are measured from our Potsdam Campus. While this is a beginner section it’s important to take every trip outdoors seriously and to pack what you would need to be safe if things don’t go as planned, no matter how short the trip. 

Beginner’s List

A river winds through several rock outcroppings, bordered by trees covered in multicolored leaves in autumn.
Stone Valley – Colton NY

Stone Valley Trail   (9.2 miles) ~ 14 minute drive – 8-mile trail

Nearly a stone’s throw down the road from our Potsdam campus in the nearby town of Colton, the Stone Valley Trail is a great day trip for people of all skill levels. Winding along both sides of the Raquette river, this 8-mile trail has several waterfalls and interpretive signs scattered along the trail focused on the local history. A few of the larger falls can be seen in the first 1.5 miles when starting from the southern side, making this a popular option for a quick segment of the trail. With lots of areas along the shore for walking, picnics and exploring this is a great place to spend the afternoon. As a word of caution— this trail lies along the path of a dam and is subject to water releases that will cause the rivers level to rise. For safety, always stay on the trial. 

“Stone Valley Trail in Colton is an awesome place to hike or even run, with a sweet fast flowing river along the trail and a lot of cool areas to enjoy the view.

Rylee Marin ’24

Pine needles overhang in front of a view of a calm pond in which long grass is growing. Pine trees line the far bank of the water.
Higley Flow State Park

Higley Flow State Park (15.7 miles)  ~ 23 minute drive – various trail lengths and elevation changes

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Higley Flow State park offers all season recreation. The Beaver Pond Nature Trails follow along the Raquette River and boat launches allow for kayaking, canoeing, hiking and hunting. When the snow begins to fall the nature trail becomes available for snowmobiling, ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Campsites can be reserved for personal use and there is a pavilion near a beach which is a great place for group events. While in a heavily wooded and hilly area, this park has 24 hours security, showers and dumping stations for campers. 

“I absolutely love Higley Falls State park, which has a number of trails for running or walking, as well as fantastic xc skiing trails in the winter… While it’s hard to get outside when the snow is up to your knees, I found that cross country skiing is extremely relaxing and a way to see just how beautiful upstate New York can be in the winter.”

Rylee Marin ’24

Five students sit smiling atop a large rock situated on the peak of a mountain with a cloud-wisped sky in the background
A glacial boulder, at the summit of Azure Mountain *thanks to Rylee Marin ’24 for the photo!

Azure  (33.9 miles) ~48 minute drive   1.9-mile hike with 912-ft elevation gain

The most recommended beginner hikes by the members of CUOC is Azure Mountain. Hosting one of the Adirondack’s historic fire towers, the view from the summit of Azure is well worth the short 1.9 mile investment to get there. With a reasonable elevation gain of 912ft, this is a very popular hike for beginners and experienced hikers alike. While it is a short trip when compared to other mountains in the area, it can be steep at portions and like all mountains, shouldn’t be underestimated. 

“Azure Mountain is less than an hour from campus and has a great view!”

Sydney Alexanian Class of 2024

A fire tower on the left side of the photo overlooks a mountain-top view, complete with rolling hills and several bodies of water at sunset.
Mt Arab fire tower

Mt Arab (44.5 miles) ~ 54-minute drive  1-mile trail, 750-ft elevation gain

One of the other remaining firetowers left in the Adirondacks Mt Arab is a 1-mile, 750-ft elevation gain hike. The station at the peak of mount Arab was established in 1912 and the fire tower was built in 1918. This mountain is joined by Coney Mountain and Goodman Mountain to make the Tupper Lake Triad. Beyond hiking in the summer, Mt Arab is a great place for snowshoeing in the winter months! 

Large rocks make up a path at the top of a mountain that overlooks the rest of the range, as cloud roll over the hills in the background.

Cascade / Porter Mt. (76.8 miles)  ~54-minute drive  ~5.6-mile trail 2,200 feet elevation gain

These two mountains finish up our beginner list, and they occupy the same spot as they are commonly completed together in the same trip. Cascade is commonly considered one of the easiest of the 46 high peaks — that is one of the 46 mountains in the Adirondacks that are above 4,000 ft in elevation. That being said, it is a great hike when prepared for and joining it with Porter can be a great day trip. Both mountains together is a 5.6-mile trail out-and-back, which means total length when hiked from the start to the second summit and then when turning around and the end and coming back.  If you’ve completed these two then you are already on your way to becoming a 46-er, having already completed two to the 46 needed.

Pause for a Cause

Before we move on we’re going to highlight a cause that has a special meaning to CUOC and the Clarkson Community. 

46 Climbs is fundraising event started by a pair of Clarkson Students in 2014 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. After having lost a friend to suicide Kolby Ziemendorf ’14 and Catherine Ziemendorf ’14 teamed up to create 46 Climbs. 46 Climbs invites hikers — from first-timers to professionals – to register to climb a mountain or group of mountains from the Friday before Labor Day weekend through National Suicide Prevention Week.

The event this year will be from Sept 2nd through Sept 11th. There is more information with tabs to register and donate if anyone is interested. This is a very special cause that has roots in our University. Thank you! Now on the to experienced section of the list;

Experienced List

Bird's eye view of a large mountain upon which several ski trails have been carved through the trees.
Whiteface Mountain in the winter

Whiteface Mountain (76.4 miles) ~1 hr 42 min Various paths to ascend

Whiteface Mountain is a great place to get your winter sports practice in for the season. It’s ranked as one of the most popular ski areas in the Northeast and also is one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks with a 5.7 mile hiking trail.  Whiteface is actually the fifth highest peak in New York! For skiing or snowboarding Whiteface has over 90 trails to explore between its three peaks. Special shout out to the Clarkson University Ski Club, whoich helps offer students discounted season passes and weekend trips to Whiteface, as well as to Titus Mountain and Gore. 

A snow covered mountain on a cloudless day.

Algonquin Mountain (77.1 miles) ~ 1 hr 41 min – 4.3-mile trail, 2,936-ft elevation gain

Algonquin is the second highest peak in New York state and has spectacular views. This hike is not an easy one, concluding after a final mile of a sleep ascent over open rocks. This can be ascended by traveling from the Adirondack Loj (North Elba) and following the 4.3 mile trail. Along this path you can see MacIntyre Falls at 2.6 miles along the Marcy Dam path. Experienced hikers also have been known to snowshoe this mountain as long as they are prepared for the higher elevation’s wind chill and the season’s extra challenges.

“A friend and I accidentally snowshoed up the second tallest mountain in NY (Algonquin),  thinking it was a different one. We had a good laugh

Anonymous CUOC Member

conifer trees litter the view of a mountain from an elevate rock ledge on a cloudless day.
Giant Mountain

Giant Mountain  (92.4 miles) ~ 2 hr – 3.6 mile trail, 3,375 ft elevation gain

Giant Mountain, originally called Giant of the Valley, is a huge mountain in relation to the rest of the Keene valley. There are three different options for paths up the mountain, and multiple paths for sightseeing. This gives hikers the option to choose an alternate lookout if the path proves too difficult for them. 

Algonquin, Giant, Rocky Peak Ridge. These are three of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, and they are a bit more on the difficult side, but definitely doable and worth it. If you are a confident hiker and know how to plan ahead for your trip you should be able to do these. I put these as my top three because they have the best summit views of all the high peaks I have personally done so far!

Sydney Alexanian

Stories, Sound-Offs and Advice!

To add to the list of these top recommended outdoor adventures, the members of CUOC have also shared some stories from their times out and about, and some extra advice for anyone heading out for their first time!

We brought eggs on a hike with faces drawn on them, Rest In Pieces Egguardo. The rest survived, though until one broke in the sunglasses case in my pocket in the car. I enjoyed my egg pants for the rest of the day

Alex Evans

Meet as many people as you can, and don’t stay confined in a little bubble of friends. The more connections you have with people the better experience you will have at college.”


CUOC was by far the most welcoming club or organization on campus when I was a freshman. I suppose that could partially be because I already knew I wanted to do things outdoors… but as soon as I started getting involved, there were so many people willing to take an underclassman like me out on trips and teach me new things. Everyone in CUOC truly loves the outdoors and is more than willing to teach people their favorite activities. If you are interested at all in trying new outdoor sports, or even just looking for a group to do things you’ve already done with, CUOC is for you!”

Sydney Alexanian

“Do literally everything. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never touched a rock. You should try rock climbing. Same with biking, backpacking, canoeing etc. This is one of the few times in your life you’ll have access to practically every outdoor activity, along with people to teach you. The only thing I regret is not trying to get into the outdoors earlier in my life, and I’ve never been happier than with what I’ve experienced in the Outing Club”

Rylee Marin

These recommendations in this post include hiking and snowshoeing locations but this is by no means a complete list of what there is to do around the North Country. You can find places to mountain bike, explore caves, go whitewater rafting, climb ice and even more with the help of CUOC! With access to some of the most varied geography in the region, not the least of which is the Adirondack park (largest park in the U.S.) you’ll have plenty of chances to see what there is to see. Enjoy your adventures wherever they take you, and whatever you do, ‘remember the CUOC motto — ‘Don’t Get Dead!’

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