This was a beautiful day for hiking. The weather was clear and cool when we left the Ausable Club parking lot at 6:40 a.m. I was the only one from my family hiking the 35th highest peak (at 4,100 feet) on this day. With me were Hiking Buddy, her two older sons, and three other of our regular group of hiking teens. We signed in at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) gate, chatted with a few other hikers, and were off at 6:55. For more information about the Ausable Club and AMR, see the Colvin and Blake page.
We traveled about 2 miles when we stopped at the little trout pond on the left side of the Lake Road. Another half hour later and we were at the dam near the end of the road. The Lake Road runs from the Ausable Club to the Lower Ausable Lake, and is only accessible by vehicle for club members. The dam is a pretty spot, but not as nice as the Marcy Dam in my opinion. The trailhead for the "scenic trail" up Sawteeth began just after the dam. I had read in an ADK guide book that the scenic trail was more challenging, but would provide many scenic points along the way. If you're just hiking to bag a peak, this might not be the route you'd choose. If you like to enjoy the journey, this is definitely the way to go.
The challenging part began almost as soon as we left the dam. We began to climb immediately. The trail was somewhat narrow in spots. One misstep could have sent you tumbling down a steep drop to the lake below. Also, we had to navigate over and around some good sized boulders in other spots. I was starting to have flashbacks to our trip around Avalanche Lake the month prior. On the plus side, there were five scenic "outlooks" on this trail. So, just when the hiking got really steep (and it was steep in parts, with a few ladders to climb for good measure), there would be a nice scenic point at which to take a break. Depending on the location, we could see Blake and Colvin mountains, as well as the Upprer and Lower Ausable Lakes. At one point we could look back and see the mountain we were climbing. Occasionally, the trail went down before it went back up. These were the cols between the "teeth". Sawteeth is so named for its appearance. From a distance, it appears as though there are teeth to this peak. I guess that's appropriate since it's not too far from the Wolf Jaws!
By 9:45 we reached outlook #3 and were at the summit right around noon. The summit view was of Pyramid and Gothics, but there was not a large open area from which to soak in the sights. In fact, our group of 7 could not all fit on the summit rock at once. I thought I read there were more views another 20 yards beyond the summit, so I kept going. As it turns out, the next clearing was actually the beginning of the trail that lead to the col between Sawteeth and Pyramid. I didn't feel like hiking back to the "true" summit, so I had no pictures from that spot. However, I did take the shot below. Behind me you can see Pyramid. I waited here for the rest of our group and we began the trek down at 12:30. It was a somewhat steep half mile descent to the col and one which took about a half hour.
At this point we had a decision to make. It was only about 1 p.m. and the kids wanted to continue on to Gothics via Pyramid. Hiking Buddy and I debated whether to join them, but ultimately decided to stick with the original plan. After making sure they all had enough food and water, and a set of car keys (we had two cars), we wished them well and headed down the Gothics trail. The Gothics trail was a very moderate descent. We noted that had we climbed up this way, our trip would have been much easier. However, we would not have had the scenic outlook experiences. We further noted that when we hiked Gothics, we would begin the trip via this trail and circle back around to Armstrong.
An hour after leaving the kids, we reached the top of Rainbow Falls. There is about a 150 foot drop to the bottom of the falls. There's a sign warning you to stay back from the edge. It reads, "Don't be a drop out"! We heeded that advice. I will say that I did inch up to the edge a bit to get a few shots of the falls. I lucked out in that the sun was at just the right angle to actually create the rainbow of Rainbow Falls. After a few minutes of picture taking, we resumed our descent and were back at the dam within 15 minutes. We had two options - return the way we'd come on the Lake Road or try the East River Trail (ERT), which paralleled the water. We opted for the latter. Please see my post from Algonquin and Iroquois regarding taking the path less traveled. Clearly we did not learn our lesson. In any event, it was a scenic path that took us through Beaver Meadow. From here we looked back from whence we'd come. The outline of Sawteeth was very evident.
We'd had enough of the scenic route and were happy to see a fork leading back to the Lake Road. We took it and when we reached the road at 3:15 we still had 2 miles to the gate. We signed out at the gate at 3:45 and were at the car changing out of our hiking boots by 4. It was a great day and one of the dryest hikes I'd ever done. The rest of our group did not make it out for another couple of hours, but they hiked 3 peaks in one day! We were happy with our decision and agreed to make Gothics and Armstrong a priority before the end of the summer.