Whether you consider yourself an outdoorsy person or have never stepped foot into the wilderness, you can find new adventures all around you at Clarkson. You don’t have to have any experience to explore these options below, and it’s never too late to get started. All you need is a positive attitude, maybe a couple of experienced mentors, and you’ll be off to the races.
If you’re from a more urban area, the shift to a small town may be a challenge at first. However, the Potsdam area and its surrounding towns are rich with activities and sights to see. This is going to be a shortlist of my favorite places to visit around the Potsdam area, regardless of the season.
The first stop on this list is going to be Azure Mountain. This is a beautiful and relaxing hike for any experience level of hiker. Many Clarkson students make regular trips to Azure regardless of the time of the year, whether it’s for hiking or backcountry skiing.
During the warmer months, the hikes up Azure are an easy and short one-hour hike to the top for slower hikers. At the top you’ll have access to the firetower that gives you a great view of the surrounding mountains. The best time to be at the top of Azure is during the peak foliage weeks in the fall, which usually falls around the middle of October here in the northern parts of New York.
During the peak of Winter, Azure is known for a great place for some backcountry skiing after classes. Its quick ascent makes it easier for most to get their skis to the top for some great skiing down if you know the right places to go.
Wilson Hill WMA
Another beautiful spot just a short thirty minutes away from campus in Massena is the Wilson Hill WMA. This place hosts a ton of walking trails as well as opportunities for bird watching. The area has a large population of different bird species through the fall and spring as the migrations start.
A small parking space off of route 131 allows access to the larger portion of the bird habitat and it’s not uncommon to see hundreds of birds flock here during the afternoon fall and spring months.
The western portion of the property also has a lovely system of walking trails that leads to more observation decks that overlook the refuge area for the birds. Some fishing opportunities also surround the area with many islands surrounding the refuge making for great accessible fishing.
Going a little further away from campus, a dedicated trip to Burlington, Vermont is always a nice change of scenery from the normal Potsdam area. Burlington sits across Lake Champlain from New York and has a lot of attractions to offer. Being the largest city in Vermont, Burlington offers a great waterfront as well as the famous Church Street Marketplace that many students will visit on occasion.
The waterfront is a great place for a midday walk along the lake that has close access to many dog parks, skate parks, and beaches. Church Street Marketplace also offers a great scenic walk through the heart of Burlington that encompasses many of the local businesses of the area. Many of the local restaurants of the area also offer great food that is well worth the visit. Even with the longer drive from campus, Burlington is definitely worth the dedicated trip at least once if you’ve never been.
The Clarkson Woods
The piece of Clarkson campus just a short walk from central campus is the Clarkson Woods, also known as the Back Forty.
This piece of woods hosts a large network of walking trails that can be accessed any time of the year. The trails are a popular activity for some unwinding after a long day of classes.
Some popular stops on the trails are the lean-to that was recently built last year by the Clarkson Outing Club and the lookout docks that surround the pond the trails encircle. As for accessing this property in the wintertime, walking is still an option but the most enjoyable for many is cross-country skiing through the trails. They are often well kept through the winter and make for a fun activity to do after class or on the weekends.
Here at Clarkson, just past the Riverside apartments, we have the boathouse that is run by the Clarkson Outing Club. This spot is a great place just off of the Munter trail right next to the river. This spot is great to visit on nice days for some relaxing hammocking or just a beautiful place to get some homework done at the end of the day. When the boathouse is open, many students will take out canoes onto the Raquette river on nice days.
The exploration opportunities with a canoe on the Raquette are one of the best in Potsdam. If you’re an active fisherman, the Raquette also gives you a great opportunity to visit after classes or on the weekends if you aren’t looking to go too far for a spot.
Munter Family Climbing Wall– Located in Cheel
The Munter Family climbing wall came as a new addition with the completed construction of the new Cheel. The wall is a great place to go during their hours for a great out of box workout or just some casual fun after classes. The climbing wall is run by a knowledgeable group of students that are happy to show you the climbing ropes (pun intended). Many of them are friendly faces happy to help anybody of all experience levels. This addition has been a popular destination for students since its construction as it sits just inside of the brand new gym that was just constructed for the New Cheel. This spot on campus is definitely a necessary experience, whether you have experience climbing or have never tried it before. The super friendly staff makes for an easy entry into the sport of climbing.
Regardless of where you’re coming from to be here at Clarkson, the North country and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer to all students. Whether you’re looking for something close for a quick activity after class or a weekend trip to take, there are many places and experiences to have when coming to Potsdam.