While the grounds of Great Camp Santanoni in Newcomb are open to visitors 365 days a year, the buildings are not typically open to the public during winter months.
The exception are designated Winter Weekends, when the rustic historic site is staffed with guides, and snowshoes are provided at the gate for the ten-mile round trip.
Three Winter Weekend events have been set this year: during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, January 18-20; Presidents’ Day holiday weekend, February 15-17; and the weekend of March 14 and 15.
During the three Winter Weekend events, cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to visit both the Gate Lodge and Main Lodge of Camp Santanoni, view displays about the Great Camp, and take interpretive tours with Adirondack Architectural Heritage staff.
A 9.8-mile round trip cross-country ski or snowshoe excursion begins at Camp Santanoni’s Gate Lodge complex and extends to the remote lakeside main lodge complex. The trip requires moderate physical activity. The Adirondack Interpretive Center provides snowshoes at the Gate Lodge for visitors without their own. (You can see a video of a trip to Santanoni on skis last winter online).
The Artist’s Studio, a log and stone building next to the Main Lodge on the shores of Newcomb Lake, will be open as a warming hut. Bring your own reusable cup to enjoy free coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
In addition to the popular trek in from the Gate Lodge, cross-country skiers and snowshoers are encouraged to take the half-mile trail that connects Camp Santanoni to SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Interpretive Center’s 3.6-mile trail system. AIC buildings will be open 10 am to 4 pm during all three Winter Weekends. Saturday, January 18, and Saturday, February 15, coincide with SUNY ESF’s Natural Movies series at AIC. January’s film will be “H is for Hawk” and “Sex, Lies, and Butterflies” will be shown in February. Both films are free of charge and showings start at 1:30 pm.
The February Winter Weekend also lines up with the Great Backyard Bird Count, a nation-wide citizen science initiative. Binoculars will be available at the AIC and ESF staff will be on hand to introduce birders of all ages and experience levels to the diversity of winter birds in the Adirondacks.
Through the collaborative efforts of the Friends of Camp Santanoni, restorations and updates continue at the camp’s historic buildings and grounds. The Gate Lodge electrical system has been replaced, the Gate Lodge entryway roof was repaired this past fall, and DEC recently installed a new, larger woodstove and a cook top in the Artist’s Studio in preparation for the Winter Weekends. In addition to routine road maintenance, several projects are planned for key buildings. Work on the Main Lodge roof and foundation is expected to begin this spring.
Robert and Anna Pruyn, the original owners of Camp Santanoni, commissioned construction of the Great Camp in 1892. Spanning 12,900 acres, the camp consisted of three groupings of buildings: the Gatehouse Complex; the Farm Complex; and the Main Camp. Pruyn heirs sold the camp to the Melvin family of Syracuse in 1953, and the camp remained in private ownership until 1972, when the property was sold to the State of New York and incorporated into the State Forest Preserve. Over the last several decades of state ownership, the camp has gradually been restored through a partnership between DEC, Adirondack Architectural Heritage, and the town of Newcomb. Santanoni is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
The three Winter Weekend events are hosted by the Friends of Camp Santanoni and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC). The Friends of Camp Santanoni is a partnership between DEC, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the town of Newcomb, and volunteers who support preserving this Great Camp for public education, recreation, and inspiration.
Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends are open to all visitors at no cost. Reservations are not required. Contact AARCH at 518-834-9328 for more information on upcoming Winter Weekends. Additional information about Camp Santanoni, the AIC, and the Newcomb area may be found at: DEC’s Camp Santanoni website; Adirondack Architectural Heritage; Adirondack Interpretive Center; and town of Newcomb.
Photo of Cross-Country Skiiers at Camp Santanoni provided by DEC.
A version of this article first appeared on the Adirondack Almanack.