See Adirondack Forest Preserve for trail regulations and other important information.
The Santanoni Preserve and Great Camp is a State Historic Site and a National Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. It is one of the, earliest, best preserved and fully developed examples of the Adirondack Great Camp style. Most were built during the late 19th century, a time period referred to as "The Gilded Age". The term was coined by Mark Twain in his 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding.
At peak development, Camp Santanoni expanded over 12,900 acres which contained over 45 structures clustered mostly within three unique areas; the Gate Lodge Complex, Farm Complex and the Great Camp Complex. A 4.7 mile carriage road, referred to today as the Newcomb Lake Road, connected the dots.
The gateway to Santanoni Preserve is located in the hamlet of Newcomb at Santanoni's southernmost point. It extends northwesterly about 8 miles into the foothills of the Adirondack high peaks. To the north, the 4,607 ft. Santanoni peak dominates the scene. Four mountains: Baldwin (2837 ft.), Moose (2980 ft.), Wolf Pond (2484 ft.) and the southern knob of Little Santanoni (2580 ft.) lie within the preserve boundaries. The Santanoni crown jewel, Newcomb Lake, is the focal element of the preserve and the site of the Main Camp.
While the Adirondack forest has reclaimed much of the cleared land, the preserve landscape looks much as it was described in 1910; timberland, marshes, brush-land, glacial strewn erratics, boulder laden creeks and three ponds (Ward, Shaw and Black Ponds).
Because the preserve is surrounded by wilderness there is always the possibility of sighting many different wildlife species. More common mammals include white-tailed deer, raccoon, eastern cottontail, red squirrel, black bear, coyote, beaver, chipmunk and the occasional moose. Common birds include ducks, blue jay, grouse, crow, loon, robin and an occasional golden eagle on Newcomb Lake. You may also encounter garter snakes, spotted salamanders, newts and the leopard frog.
Visit the nearby Adirondack Interpretive Centerto learn more.
This 10 mile round trip over the wide Newcomb Lake Road will give you an appreciation of the Camp Santanoni's Japanese-influenced architecture and rustic elegance. The camp, which can not be seen or comprehended at a glance is an extension of nature; part of the space, foliage and breathtaking landscape that surrounds it.
Everyone will enjoy this bike ride. Families with younger children will enjoy the Gate Complex and the Farm Complex which are both easily accessible within the first 2 miles.
Picnic tables at Gate Lodge Complex, Farm Complex, Main Complex; Accessible port-a-potties at Gate Lodge Complex, Main Complex.
There are primitive campsites near the Main Camp Complex. New York State campground, picnic areas and town beach at nearby Lake Harris (Town of Newcomb).
A horse and accessible wagon may be reserved to travel the Newcomb Lake Road Trail between the Gate Lodge Complex and the Main Complex for a fee. Qualified persons with disabilities can ride for free.
Santanoni Preserve Trail Connections
Santanoni - Lake Harris Trail
Connects with the Newcomb Lake Road Trail about 0.3 mile from the trailhead and extends 0.5 mile to the Adirondack Interpretive Center and connects to it's 3.6-mile interpretive trail system.
Newcomb Lake - Moose Pond Trail
About 1 mile from the Newcomb Lake Road trailhead, the Moose Pond Trail intersects and loops around Newcomb Lake. It passes passes through Camp Santanoni's Main Complex. The trail is rolling with many ascents and descents.
Moose Pond Horse Trail
At about 2.5 miles from the Newcomb Lake Road trailhead, the Moose Pond Horse Trail intersects and heads west into the High Peaks Wilderness.
Camp Santanoni Trail Description
Location: Camp Santanoni and the Santanoni Preserve are located in Newcomb, New York, just north of NYS Route 28N.
Newcomb Lake Road Trail - 5 miles one way
This 8-10 foot wide, well-maintained gravel / dirt “carriage road” is best traveled on foot or by mountain bike. The path winds through the alpine forest of the Santanoni Preserve, from the gate lodge, past the farm to the main lodge on Newcomb Lake. Santanoni camp structures and features can be seen on both sides of the road. At one point a section of the road borders the High Peaks Wilderness boundary.
Along the way you will be crossing two bridges and three original masonry stone bridges (culverts). These serve as a conduit for seasonal runoff or carry stream beds at various points. Each stone bridge is constructed of masonry and mortar, with a barrel vault between massive spandrel walls extending above the roadway as parapets on each side.
While most of the cleared land has been reclaimed by forest and many of the buildings are gone, in ruins or have been intentionally demolished – with the buildings that have survived intact, some background history and imagination -- you can easily reconstruct vignettes of bygone days.
The property starts at the Harris Lake Inlet Bridge, a steel bridge crossing the inlet. The existing bridge was constructed in the 1990s replacing a turn-of-the century Pratt truss steel bridge. The unpaved carriage drive, beginning at the bridge, enters the property at the gate lodge complex.
It's a fairly level mountain bike ride for the first mile. Then, for the next 3 miles it's a long, steady climb (350 feet in 3.0 miles) before it descends 250 feet to the Main Complex on Newcomb Lake. More details on the trail are provided along with our narrative below.
Use caution: The DEC and partners use this road for transporting staff and materials for work at the Farm and Main Complex.
You will see 3 distinct building clusters along Newcomb Lake Road.
The Gate Lodge Complex
The Gate Lodge, built in 1905, sits on a hill above the north shore of the inlet just beyond the Harris Lake Inlet bridge. It's a large one and a half story building with a monumental stone arch gateway and beautiful stonework. The arch spans the original entrance road. In the 1950's the path was rerouted to provide a second alternative route around the archway.
The Gate Lodge Complex includes eight staff bedrooms, a caretakers home, boat house, and frame guide house.
A free guide map can usually be found at the Trail Register located just past the parking lot. Beyond the Gate Lodge complex the path continues on it's original northward bound course. It's about a mile to the Farm Complex.
Location: Edge of the hamlet of Newcomb - beginning at 28N.
The Farm Complex
Camp Santanoni prided itself on being self-sufficient. The complex grew to be one of the largest farm operations of any estate in the Adirondacks. Robert C. Pruyn established the farm in 1895 on the site of a previous farmstead which contained a small Herdsman's cottage. Initially, this small farm operation (!895 to 1901) was used to produce dairy products exclusively for the family residing in the camp.
In 1902, Pruyn expanded and restructured the farm based on a "model farm" plan designed by prominent American agriculturalist Edward Burnett. The setting at the time was open pasture land with a huge shingle-clad barn at the center. Many new buildings were added, most notably a state-of-the-art creamery (1904) where dairy products were safely handled and processed, a vertical stave silo (1902) that was among the first generation in the northeast, and experimental hot beds that were used to shelter seedlings to extend the short growing season.
Operations expanded to include the rearing of thoroughbred cattle, sheep and swine which included Guernsey cattle, Southdown and Shropshire sheep, and Black Berkshire pigs. He also raised Brown Swiss cattle and Black Face Highland sheep, relatively uncommon breeds in the United States at the time. These were thought to be particularly well-suited to mountainous climates.
Pruyn wanted the farm to be aesthetically pleasing. The family and guests often had picnic outings there. The "designer" penciled Wyandotte chickens, iridescent French Carneau pigeons, and "quackless Brazillian" (Muscovie) ducks added some extra living color and splash.
The farm now produced enough to supply the camp and had enough surplus products which were sold in Newcomb and/or sent to friends in Albany. The farm remained in agricultural use until 1931.
Today, most of the farm complexes standing buildings and visible ruins date from the Burnett period. The large dairy and horse barn that was the focal point of this area was lost in a tragic fire. A stone dairy building and several houses remain standing with many of their original features and floor plans.
Location: One mile from route 28N.
The Newcomb Lake Road Trail - Farm Complex to Main Complex
Cycling past the farm complex, a short easy climb through the forest leads to a field with a view of the Santanoni Range. After crossing the first of three stone bridges / culverts, the road continues to climb to a junction with Moose Pond Road at around 2.4 miles. The left fork leads off into the High Peaks Wilderness and Moose Pond. It is off limits to mountain bikes.
Bear right here. The road continues to ascend; finally the trail begins it's descent to Newcomb Lake at 3.2 miles, bending to the east. After a long gradual descent the road approaches the Newcomb Lake | "Duckhole" outlet. This was the site of the laundry or service complex. The buildings have been long since been cleared. The area now contains a campground with 5 primitive tent sites located on the shore of the Outlet. The sites are managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The carriage road crosses the channel over the Newcomb Lake Outlet Bridge, a large steel and wooden bridge at the southeastern tip of the lake, then turns left and ends at the main lodge complex on the eastern shore of Newcomb lake.
The Main Camp Complex
The Main Camp Complex consisted of six separate buildings and 2 structures. Today, the Main Camp Lodge, a stone Artists Studio, log Boat House and several smaller structures remain standing.
The Main Lodge (1892)
The 15,000 square foot main living and dining lodge is set on Newcomb Lake to take advantage of views across the lake of the distant Santanoni range peaks. It formed the heart of Robert C. Pruyn’s wilderness retreat. It is by far the largest and most finished building on the Santanoni Preserve.
There are two bedrooms upstairs; four sleeping cabins with a total of seven bedrooms; a kitchen and service building with seven staff bedrooms — all connected by intersecting gables, hips, valleys and dormers above the pavilions, veranda and porte cochere. The six stone chimneys that penetrate the roof are capped with original stone and cast stone chimney caps.
The interior of the center pavilion retains much of its original character. The one-and-one-half
1,500 native spruce trees were used in the Lodge's construction.
Location: Newcomb Lake, five miles from route 28N.
Trail Highlights & Nearby Points of Interest
Of course the entire Santanoni Great Camp itself is a highlight.
The center is part of SUNY ESF's Newcomb Campus. The center is situated on the shores of Rich Lake and the Rich Lake outlet. Public programs, events, speaker series, courses and other activities throughout the year are available to the public as well as school groups. In the summer there are evening excursions.
The AIC building offers a variety of exhibits, including hands-on props that allow you to explore the natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks. The lobby provides a relaxing setting with views of the surrounding forest and the birds flitting in and about the bird feeders.
A 3.6 mile trail system takes you through old-growth hemlock, spruce and northern hardwoods, as well as near lake, river, stream, and wetland environments. There's also a scenic picnic area to enjoy a snack or lunch.
Website: Adirondack Interpretive Center
Things To Do
County Fairs, Festivals, Special Events
Winter Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Excursions
The Department of Environmental Conservation has held several Camp Santanoni Winter Weekend events for the past 5 years which feature a 9.8-mile round trip cross-country ski and/or snowshoe excursion from Camp Santanoni's Gate House complex to the remote lakeside main lodge complex. Access to buildings allow winter recreationists to rest and view interpretive displays.
I don't know if hot chocolate and/or chocolate chip cookies will be provided. See More Information below for website link and current schedule.
Camp Santanoni was established by Robert C. Pruyn 1847–1934), a prominent Albany banker and businessman. The Lodge's remote and serene setting made it the perfect backcountry summer retreat and the Pruyn's built Santanoni for just that reason. Theodore Roosevelt and James Fenimore Cooper, Jr. were among the distinguished visitors who regularly visited the Pruyn's at Santanoni.
Many of the historic buildings in the Adirondack's have mysteries associated with them, and Camp Santanoni is no exception. In 1953, the Pruyn hiers sold the Camp to the Melvin brothers, Myron and Crandall, from Syracuse, NY. They came from a family well established in the Law profession.
In 1971, eight year old Douglas Legg was visiting his uncle at Camp Santanoni. On July 10th, he set out into the woods on a family hike around the lake. Just a short distance from the house, which could be seen in the distance, his uncle sent him back to change into long pants. He was never seen again. A six week search with 600 volunteers, turned up nothing. He just disappeared into thin air.
The family, heartbroken, could not bear to return to the Preserve. They quickly arranged a deal with the newly formed Adirondack Conservancy Committee of The Nature Conservancy to purchase the entire Santanoni Preserve. The furnishings were removed, and the Conservancy then resold the property to the state of New York for incorporation into the State Forest Preserve in 1972.
For 20 years after New York State acquired the property, nothing was done to prevent the Adirondack Forest from reclaiming the land. This was in keeping with Article Fourteen of the New York State Constitution (providing for retention of Adirondack wilderness); remove improvements in order to return the Santanoni Preserve to a "forever wild" condition.
Then the Adirondack Architectural Heritage and it's partners, the town of Newcomb, and the Department of Environmental Conservation stepped in. Their view was "Embracing your own history, culture and preserving historical heritage and natural resources are a critical component in the revitalization of struggling communities."
So began the restoration, preservation and conservancy work which turned Camp Santanoni into a one-of-a-kind Adirondack backcountry museum.
Exit 29 from the Adirondack Northway (I-87). Travel west on Blue Ridge Road, which joins Rt.28N west to Newcomb (around 25 miles). At 0.3 miles west of Newcomb Town Hall turn north at the Santanoni Preserve sign, make immediate left and continue 0.4 miles to the headquarters and parking.
NYS DEC REGION 5