North Country Trails
State forest maps are available on the NYS DEC website.
Trail Maps (pdf)
A variety of North Country hikes, most within an hour drive of Potsdam-Canton.
The fire tower atop Azure Mountain has recently been restored by the Azure Mountain Friends, making this a popular 2 mile round trip hike. The elevation is only 2518 feet, but this little mountain offers fantastic views of the High Peaks region to the south and east. A volunteer fire tower interpreter is often on duty on weekends to answer questions about the tower and can help identify distant mountains. Great hike for kids, but it is steep and caution should be used on the open cliffs on the summit.
To get to Azure Mountain, take 11B out of Potsdam east to Nicholville, then turn south onto route 458. About 4 miles past St. Regis Falls – turn right onto the Blue Mountain Road. Continue about 7 miles on this well maintained dirt road and watch for the small sign and trailhead parking area on the right.top
This moderately steep 3.4 mile round trip trail climbs from the Cranberry Lake State Campground to the summit, which overlooks a broad vista of the lake and forests beyond.
Access is from the Campground (small day use fee), which is just east of the hamlet of Cranberry Lake. Take route 56 south and then turn right (west) onto route 3. It can also be reached from the Burntbridge Pond trailhead which is a snowmobile/hiking trail on the south side of route 3 approximately 2 miles east of Cranberry lake. It is a 9.6 mile round trip to the summit using this route.top
The Tooley Pond Mountain fire tower was dismantled and rebuilt on Cathedral Rock, on the grounds of the Ranger School at Wanakena. It is a 1.4 mile easy hike from route 3.
To get there, drive south out of Potsdam on route 56 all the way to Sevey’s Corners, where it meets route 3. Turn right (west) on route 3 and proceed through Cranberry Lake. Continue approximately 6 miles and watch for a road on the left (south) side of the highway with a yellow gate. If you get all the way to the turn off to Wanakena, you’ve gone too far. Go back .7 miles. The fire tower can actually be seen on the hill top from near the gate. Proceed through the gate. Bear left at the 2nd junction. When you reach the top of the hill on that road (Cathedral Rock Road), take a left onto the Tower Road, which is the service road to the summit, or walk a little farther for a hiking trail to the top. You will pass a lean-to before reaching the fire tower. The road can be taken on the way down.top
This is a well-marked, 7.4 mile hike with a steep, rocky section at the end, but most of the trail is gentle inclines on old logging roads. There are nice views from the 3,300’ rocky summit that once had a fire tower.
The trail can be reached by going to the Meacham Lake State Campground located on route 30. When the campground is open there will be a small day-use fee. The trailhead is near campsite 48 with parking available in an old gravel pit. You can get to the Meacham Lake State Campground by going to St. Regis Falls (route 11B east to route 458 south) and from there taking the Red Tavern Road east to route 30, then turn right or south and watch for signs. Or take route 458 south on through Santa Clara and then another 11 miles to the intersection with route 30. Turn left, or north and watch for campground signs.top
This is a short Nature Conservancy hiking trail to Everton Falls. on the left side of the road, just beyond the parking area, but it may be difficult to find.
Driving into the community of St. Regis Falls (take 11B east out of Potsdam, then right onto route 458) from the west, turn left at the flashing red light, then right onto the road directly across from the old school. This isthe Red Tavern or Duane Road. Follow the road for 7 miles and you will get glimpses of the east branch of the St. Regis River on the right (south) side. At the point where the river is very close to the road you will be able to look upstream and see waterfalls. A short distance farther, across from an old dirt road (the Everton Road) is the trailhead. You can park in a lot built for paddlers, just a little bit past the Everton Road. The trailhead is on the left side of the road, just beyond the parking area, but it may be difficult to find.top
The 4-Mile Road Loop Trail
This is a nice road to ski and moose tracks were seen there last winter!
Follow the directions to get to Azure Mountain, but only go about 4 miles in on the Blue Mountain Road. Watch for a yellow gated road to the left. You could park there and hike the old logging road, which will loop around and in about 3 miles come out to the Blue Mountain Road at another spot. Or drive another mile to a large brown DEC sign marking access to the St. Regis River. Park in the lot provided and walk in on the old logging road. Bear to the left at the Y and it will loop around and come back out to the Blue Mountain Road at the above-mentioned yellow gate. Walk the road back to your vehicle. (When skiing you want to start at the yellow gate.)
Note: due to regulations related to the Santa Clara Tract Easement, this trail is closed to the public during big game season for deer.top
Higley Flow State Park
A number of great trails are available at Higley Flow State Park. Take route 56 south to South Colton and turn right onto Cold Brook Road – watch for signs on the right. There is a small day use fee during summer months, but the trails are open for skiing all winter at no charge.
Warm Brook Trail (Blue Trail Markers) 1.3 miles Rolling, hilly trail through Park's northern hardwood forests and pine plantations. A nice hiking and cross-country ski trail.
Beaver Pond Trail (Yellow Trail Markers) 0.9 miles This interpretative trail goes through several different ecological habitats - pine plantations, wetlands, open meadow, and northern hardwoods, and winds around a beaver pond. There are seven interpretative signs alongside this trail.
Cedar Brook Trail (Red Trail Markers) 3.8 miles This trail has several loops that go through pine plantations. Steep, hilly terrain, suitable for advanced cross-country skiers.
For more trail information, and trail maps, please contact Higley Flow State Park at 262-2880.top
Indian Creek Nature Center
This is an excellent bird watching site, with a 4.5 mile network of trails, located in the Upper and Lower Lakes State Wildlife Management Area between Canton and Ogdensburg. The nature trail system includes an observation tower and a birdblind overlooking the refuge, as well as a boardwalk trail that is accessible to people with disabilities. There is a picnic pavilion, learning center and restroom facilities.
Drive northwest on route 68 from Canton about 4.9 miles and turn left onto route 14 (there is a sign to Rennselaer Falls). Proceed about 3.9 miles to a parking area turn off on the left and watch for signs.top
There is a short .8 mile round trip hike in to this tremendous waterfall on the Grass River, with excellent viewing opportunities.
Take county route 27 south out of Canton, heading towards Degrasse. After crossing the Pierrepont-Russell Road, it is 5.8 miles more. Watch for a large brown DEC sign on the right (west side) for the Grass River Wild Forest. Park on the roadside and walk down the gated road.
About .3 miles in there will be a wide path to the left – this leads to the top of the falls. From there you can follow a trail that runs alongside the river down to the base of the falls, or return to where you turned off and continue on that trail, bearing to the left. When you reach the large pool at the base of the falls, you can find trails that continue left onto the rock ledges directly across from the falls, providing outstanding views. If you watch for trail markers, you can continue walking a bit further downstream along the river.
There used to be a wooden bridge across the river and more trails, but the bridge washed out a number of years ago. Once you reach the site of the old bridge, you can take an old logging road back to the where you parked your car.top
A restored fire tower sits on the summit of Mount Arab, a 2 mile round trip hike that is relatively easy. There are limited views from the open cliffs, but a full 360 degree view from the cab of the tower.
Take route 56 south out of Potsdam until it meets route 3 at Sevey’s Corners. Turn left (east) onto route 3 and continue for 10.4 miles. Watch for a right hand turn towards Conifer. Follow the Conifer Road 1.8 miles south and take a left onto Eagle Crag Road. In .9 mile you will reach the trailhead (on left) and parking area (on right), just after crossing an old railroad bed.
The Friends of Mt. Arab are restoring the fire tower and lookout's cabin. There is a summit steward on hand during the summer months.top
Paul Smiths VIC
Just an hour from Potsdam, the Visitors Interpretive Center is a real treasure, offering over 7 miles of easy hiking trails and wildlife observation areas, as well as informative displays and restrooms. Several of the trails are handicapped accessible and many are great for cross-country skiing in winter. There is a boardwalk trail through a bog and also an 8.2 mile round trip climb up Jenkins Mountain.
Head out of Potsdam on 11B; turn south in Nicholville onto route 458 and stay on it until it ends at route 30. Turn right on route 30 and continue south – watch for signs after passing Barnum Pond and just before you come to Paul Smiths College.
For more information about the Paul Smiths VIC: 518-327-3000.top
Peavine Swamp Trail
Marked as cross-country ski trails, this area provides an interesting 8.5 walk through stands of old-growth timber, some with over 42 inch diameters, to a scenic, secluded lean-to on the shore of Cranberry Lake. A trailhead sign shows the network of trails which includes Balancing Rock, Christmas Tree Pond and Esker loops.
The trailhead is approximately 1.2 miles past the bridge over the Oswegatchie River, west of Cranberry Lake on Rt. 3. Just past a DOT parking area on the right (north side of the road) there will be a dirt road on the left which leads to the trailhead parking area.top
Southville State Forest
River Hill Trail
This trail is good for hiking and cross-country skiing. It’s about 2.3 miles total and can be done as a loop. Part of the trail drops down and follows alongside the river.
From Potsdam take Route 11B about 5 miles, cross the west branch of the St. Regis River, and take the first left onto the Southville-West Stockholm Road. Continue about a mile or so and watch for signs on the left.top
This is a recently opened and marked 1/2 mile hike up a small mountain just outside of Santa Clara – perfect for beginning hikers and children. There is an open rocky cliff with views towards the north and west.
To get there, take route 11B out of Potsdam and turn south onto route 458 in Nicholville. Continue past St. Regis Falls and about 1/4 mile after crossing the bridge over the St. Regis River in Santa Clara watch for a dirt road to the left with a large brown DEC sign. Turn left onto the road and follow the signs for about 2 miles to the parking area. The trailhead is directly across from the parking area.
Note: due to regulations related to the Santa Clara Tract Easement, this trail is closed to the public during big game season for deer.top
Tooley Pond Road
Waterfalls & Tooley Pond Mountain
Take county route 27 south out of Canton all the way to the village of DeGrasse and watch for a left (east) turn onto the Tooley Pond Road. The road follows a 16 mile stretch of the Grass River and there are at least 6 waterfalls, some visible from the road, but the trails are unmarked at this time. The following distances are approximate and are all from the Degrasse turn off.
Basford Falls, 1.3 miles. This is a .6 mile round trip hike. Look on the right (south) side of the road for 2 steel posts with a large rock between them, marking an old woods road. Follow this old road to the falls.
Sinclair Falls, 1.9 miles. A .2 mile round trip. Turn right onto the Lake George Road and park on the right just before a bridge over the river. The top of the falls are visible from the bridge and there are some paths that lead down to the river. Go back to the Tooley Pond Road to continue.
Twin Falls, 2.8 miles. There is a dirt road to on the right (south) side of the road – turn in and park near the start. Walk a short distance down the road to view the falls – both sides of Twin Falls are visible.
Bulkhead Falls, 3.3 miles. Watch for an old woods road marked with a “no motorized vehicles” sign, on the right (south) side of the road. It is blocked with 2 large rocks. Park and follow the old road .1 miles to the river to see this pretty flume that drops about 10 feet.
Rainbow Falls, 5.9 miles. A small clearing with several large boulders blocking vehicle access on the right (south) side of the road is where the .6 mile round trip trail begins. Follow this well worn trail across a footbridge over a small stream, and then a short distance farther to the river where several overlooks give you a good view of the spectacular 25 foot falls.
Copper Rock Falls, 8.5 miles from route 27 – and .8 of a mile past the bridge where the Grass River crosses over to the north side of the road. Watch for a large pine tree on the left (north) side of the road marked with a red/orange blaze. Park and walk in, watching for more blazes. This is a 1.4 mile round trip and very easy to follow, reaching the river in .15 miles. It runs along the river, heading upstream, past several rapids, ledges, and waterfalls over the smooth coppery colored bare rocks.
The parking area and trail up Tooley Pond Mountain are about 10.2 miles in on the Tooley Pond Road. There are signs for both the parking lot and the trailhead. Tooley Pond Mountain is less than 2 miles, round trip, and an easy climb with limited views. It can be done as a loop. There once was a fire tower on the summit, but it was removed and rebuilt on the grounds of the Ranger School at Wanakena (the location is known as Cathedral Rock.top