This outing takes you to Lower Ausable Lake and the top of Sawteeth (4,100 feet), New York’s 35th highest summit.
Start at the Ausable Club Trailhead, where a large parking area accommodates outdoor enthusiasts. This is the starting point for trails leading to a dozen peaks. After skirting the golf course and crossing the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) gate, continue on the Lake Road for about 3 miles until its very end. Along the way there will be views of the Colvin Range and of Sawteeth as the trees have lost all their leaves. This private road is also used by skiers as well as the occasional club employee or ranger on a snowmobile.
As the Lake Road ends you'll get your first view of the Lower Ausable Lake. The lake turns into a river at this point that is crossed on a wooden bridge, from which there is an up-close and personal view of a dam that separates the lake and the river. There are also nice views of the lake with the Colvin Range in the background.
Shortly after crossing the river, the intersection for the Weld and Scenic trails is reached. The easier – and shorter – option is an out-and-back hike via the strenuous Weld Trail. For a more challenging and rewarding option, try the Scenic Trail. It has great views of Lower Ausable Lake and the Colvin Range in nice and clear weather. However, it is longer and considerably tougher than the more straightforward Weld Trail. For those to whom exposure is appealing, the Scenic Trail features steep sections of open rock with the occasional ladder. It is not always broken in winter, so be prepared for a workout if this is your preferred approach.
Continue over Sawteeth and descend a steep 500 feet to the intersection with the Weld Trail. Pyramid Peak is a half mile away, but the ascent has about 1,000 feet of vertical gain. The Weld Trail returns to the base of Lower Ausable Lake. On the way there is a nice viewpoint to Rainbow Falls. The 150-foot-high falls are frozen in winter, but the ice takes on a variety of colors. Return to the trailhead via the Lake Road or the river trail.
Note: Always carry snowshoes in winter. Even though there might not be much snow at the trailhead, the snow can be deep and unconsolidated in the mountains. Remember that winter conditions can linger well into the spring at higher elevations. Wearing snowshoes also prevents postholing and makes the trails more enjoyable for all.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.