Nestled just north of the Adirondack park is Clarkson’s Potsdam campus. Being so close to an open expanse of wilderness like the Adirondacks makes Clarkson a prime starting point for all sorts of outdoor activities. Whether it’s participating in one of the trips hosted by our very own Outing Club or striking out on your own adventures, you’ll find plenty of options not too far from campus!
Clarkson University Outing Club
To start, the Clarkson University Outing Club (CUOC) hosts a large variety of trips throughout the semester. Some of which happen before the academic year has even started. There are different trip options available such as; Backpacking, rock climbing, caving, canoeing, and mountain biking. These are run by the experienced outdoorsy student guides from CUOC. There are a range of different difficulty levels from easy to advanced on the trips that they host. More information on these trips can be found on the CUOC Trip Website. The registration has passed for some specific trips but the Outing Club continues to host similar events throughout the regular academic year.
Nearby Outdoor Destinations
Students preferring self-directed trips can find the following trails within a relatively short distance from campus. While these are mostly beginner trail options, anyone heading outdoors should prepare a kit with water, weather-appropriate clothing and enough food as if they are staying overnight(even on short day trips). It’s better to have a few extra granola bars in your pack at the end of the day than to go hungry if you are out much longer than expected. Without further ado, here is a list of local outdoor activities to explore!
Lampson Falls is a short .9 mile trail that leads to one of the more popular waterfalls in Northern New York. A beach area allows for swimming and picnicking making the 15-minute walk well worth it. The first half of this trail is also handicap accessible, bringing hikers to a view above the falls. A family destination during the warmer months means you will likely find others enjoying the falls as well.
Red Sandstone Trail
The Red Sandstone Trail is a four-season trail that winds north following the west bank of the Raquette River. It continues up to Sugar Island and moves past historic highlights such as the Hannawa and Sugar Island dams, the remnants of the Hannawa-Potsdam Railroad and old sandstone quarries. If you leave campus and drive towards Hannawa Falls on Route 56 and take a right onto Mill St you’ll find one of the two trailheads for the Red Sandstone Trail. This is a 7 mile loop the whole way around and the terrain can be moderately challenging at times. It also has canoe landings and picnic areas which are available near the footbridge at the northern trailhead.
Azure Mountain Azure Mountain is a nearby mountain with a restored fire tower on its peak. While only 2,518 feet tall, it has excellent views of the High Peaks region from it’s bald peak and especially from the top of the tower. It is a two mile round trip hike making it a great introduction to the Adirondacks and is bound to make for some great photos too! The main cliff face of Azure mountain provides stunning rock and ice climbing depending on the season.
Indian Creek Nature Center
The Indian Creek Nature Center boasts trails, a boardwalk, and an observation tower and platform overlooking protected wildlife habitat. The center is managed by a local non-profit and you can find different types of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. Following Route 11 from Potsdam over to Canton then continuing to follow 68 until taking a left onto Route 14 you’ll find yourself at the main entrance. The Indian Creek Nature Center is a great afternoon outing for the hiking or wildlife minded adventurer.
Stone Valley Loop Stone valley is down 56 from Potsdam, not too far into the town of Colton. The trails surrounding the Raquette river feature rapids, rock islands, cliffs, gorges and a number of water falls throughout the 12 mile trail system. The falls range from 16 to 40 feet high and there are old tannery ruins viewable along the way as well. This is a popular summer destination in the North Country so you may meet a few hikers along the trail-which is followed in either direction. There are lots for parking at both ends of the bridge near the library in Colton.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide of all the North County has to offer. I would encourage any new arrivals to the area to look around and seek out new places to enjoy. This is a wonderful part of the world to have an opportunity to live in and there is plenty of space to go around exploring. Best of luck in all of your college adventures and in those that you take beyond!