Goodnow Mountain is a relatively small Adirondack peak, only 2,685 feet tall. But at its summit is a 60-foot fire tower that provides some of the best views in the Adirondacks for the least amount of effort. It’s enclosed, too, affording welcome protection from wind and rain for damp hikers.
The well-marked two-mile trail is not for the frail or lazy, but a reasonably fit person can go up and down in about two hours. Most will linger, though at the summit.
Goodnow is part of the 15,000-acre Huntington Wildlife Forest maintained by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. College and town maintain the trail and tower, and both may be the best-kept in the Adirondacks. The trail has solid boardwalks and bridges across streams and boggy areas, and there are halved-log benches above steeper climbs.
Atop the fire tower and at the observer’s cabin at its base, you get more history than on any other Adirondack mountain. The names of the men who kept the vigil there, from the first (Bill Bailey, 1922-29) to the last (Mike Yandon, 1978-79), are inscribed on a fire observer’s map in the tower.
The cabin, though padlocked, is partially restored: a pack basket and wool shirt hang from pegs inside. Fire watcher George Shaughnessy (1930-34) brought his new bride there for a honeymoon in 1931. Airplanes put the tower out of business in 1980.
To the north, Rich Lake spreads out like an ink blot at the base of the mountain; the Seward and Santanoni ranges, and High Peaks Algonquin, Colden and Marcy, rise beyond it.
On a rainy day, thick cottony clouds sail like islands through the mountains, obscuring peaks. Wind thuds against the immovable tower, rain pelts the glass, and great shreds of gray mist drift up from the lakes and valleys like smoke from fires long dead.
Fires of the early 1900s burned a million acres of trees and led state conservationists to erect towers to protect the Adirondacks for the future. Under comments in the trail egister one rainy day, a handful of hikers had scrawled: “Got wet, saw a rainbow.” “Beautiful rainbow!” “Saw two rainbows from tower: Wonderful!”
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