Our trips take place on the unceded ancestral and contemporary lands of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) and Onyota'a:ka (Oneida) Nations, members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Our ability to recreate and learn on this land is a direct result of the forced removal and genocide of these people. We honor the Haudenosaunee people who continue to live and learn on this land in the fight for a decolonized future.
- WA 2022 is
- Session 1: August 6 - August 11
- Session 2: August 16 - August 21
Depending on demand, interest, conditions, etc. not all trips described below will run every year or every session. When you register, you will be asked to rank your top four activity-difficulty combos - you cannot register for a specific trip/route.
As you can see, we offer 2 sessions of WA.
Session 1 is for folks who can return home after their WA ends and return for the start of New Student Orientation later in August. Session 1 is also an option for folks who are participating in a required pre-orientation that conflicts with session 2, i.e. Alumni Memorial Scholars and International Students Orientation. All that said, anyone should feel free to sign up for session 1 if you prefer these dates.
Session 2 is mainly different from session 1 in that it starts later and runs right up until the start of New Student Orientation. It also runs concurrent with all the other pre-orientation options, and so if you are part of one of the required pre-orientations, you should NOT sign up for WA session 2.
When you register, we'll ask you which session you prefer, and if you are willing/able to attend the other session. In general, session 2 is more popular, so if you are willing and able to go on session 1, you're more likely to get on a WA. If you tell us you can't go on the other session, we will NEVER put you on that session - see below for more info.
Wilderness Adventure offers seven different types of trips - Backpack, Canoe, Combo, Day hike, Sea kayak, Mountain bike, and Rock climb - across several relative difficulty levels. No previous wilderness experience is needed for any of our trips, just a willingness to have fun, learn, and meet new people.
When you register for WA, you will be asked to indicate your 'preferred' session, and then asked a second question about your willingness to attend the other session. You will have three options:
If you selected "No, I am only wiling to attend my preferred session" then we will only place you onto your preferred session. We will NEVER put you on a SESSION if you told us you cannot attend that session.
If you indicated "Yes, I am willing to attend the other session" when you registered, there is a chance we will put you into the other session. This is most often the case when you request session 2 as your first choice, and session 1 as your second choice. Session 2 is more popular, so we will sometimes put people into session 1 in order to give as many people as possible a WA experience. This is most likely to occur if you register for session 2 after it is full and we have space in session 1.
If you indicated "Maybe, please contact me to discuss my options if my preferred session is not available" then you may receive a call or email during the summer about placing you into a different session.
When you register, you will be asked to rank your top four trip choices. We manage to put MOST people on one of their top 2 choices. However, depending on what you registered for and when you registered, there's a chance you'll get your 3rd or 4th choice. But, don't worry!!! The PEOPLE make the trip, not the activity, and you will have a great time no matter what trip you are on.
In very rare cases, you may get a difficulty level that you didn't register for. This is most common when someone registers for a harder trip and we don't have space, so we put them on a slightly easier trip of the same activity. We generally don't put people onto trips harder than they signed up for, though in rare cases we may.
In cases where we are having a really hard time getting you onto one of your preferred trips, we'll usually call you to talk it over before placing you.
On average, most people, about 30%, will end up on a backpacking WA, around 20% each will go on either a canoe, combo, or day hike WA, and only around 5% each will go on a climbing or sea kayaking WA.
What this means is that if your 4 choices are: 1) rock climbing, 2) sea kayaking, 3) combo, 4) backpack, your odds are much lower of getting one of your top two choices, than if you had ranked either backpack or canoe as one of your top two choices.
Finally, although spaces on WA are first come, first served, spaces on trips are not. We want you to have the best possible introduction to Colgate on your WA. That means that we want you to be with a really interesting, dynamic, and diverse group of people. In order to make that happen, we look at everyone's trip choices, but we also look at several other factors in order to build you a group that will make your first week of Colgate an amazing one!
Many factors affect the “difficulty” of a trip, distance traveled, elevation gain, weather, and even your previous experience with the activity. What might be easy for one person could feel pretty hard for another. With that in mind, the difficulty levels below are subjective and tend to work best for comparing one trip type to itself.
In other words, the difficulty levels for the backpacking trips are a pretty good indication of how hard those trips will “feel” relative to one another, but there isn’t much use in comparing the difficulty of a backpacking trip to the difficulty of a sea kayaking trip -- there are too many variables involved.
In addition, the itineraries all have some flexibility involved and your trip leaders will be able to adjust the exact itinerary based on all the variables listed above.
At the end of the day, we believe that a positive mental attitude, a little bit of determination, and a willingness to try new things is enough to get anyone through even the hardest trips we offer.
Backpacking trips are the "classic" WA and by far our most popular option. We have fantastic routes for any ability level. Whichever trip you choose, you'll travel through beautiful wilderness, meet an amazing group of people, and learn everything you need to know to be safe and comfortable in the woods.
The West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area is one of the most scenic areas of the central Adirondacks. On this point-to-point trip you will hike between 3-6 miles each day over both flat and hilly terrain while carrying everything you need on your back. There will be plenty of lakes to dip your feet in and wild vistas to take your breath away. You’ll arrive in camp by early afternoon leaving plenty of time to relax before dinner.
This trip hikes in a loop starting and ending under scenic Pillsbury Mountain, home to one of the most popular fire-tower lookouts in the Adirondacks. On this trip you will hike between 4-6 miles each day over both flat and hilly terrain while carrying everything you need on your back. You’ll pass numerous lakes and have the possibility of a bushwack to historic French Louie’s “cave,” the one time homestead of an infamous fur trapper and hermit who lived in this region in the mid-19th century. You’ll arrive in camp by early afternoon leaving plenty of time to relax before dinner.
Travel along portions of the Northville-Placid Trail in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. On these point-to-point trips you will hike between 3-9 miles each day over both flat and hilly terrain while carrying everything you need on your back. Along the way there will be plenty of lakes to dip your feet in and wild vistas to take your breath away. Some days will be longer than others, but you’ll arrive in camp by early afternoon leaving plenty of time to relax before dinner.
Traveling through the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness you will pass numerous beautiful lakes, including the areas name-sake, Pharaoh Lake, which is one of the largest Adirondack lakes that is completely surrounded by wilderness. You’ll also have the opportunity to summit one (or both!) of the two peaks in the area Treadway Mountain (2,244 ft.) and Pharaoh Mountain (2,556 ft.). Traveling between 3-9 miles each day over terrain that will sometimes be hilly and steep, there will be plenty of trail breaks along the way and you’ll arrive in camp each afternoon.
Hike nearly every mile of trail in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness while carrying only the necessities and a backpack that is 30-40% lighter than typical packs. Some previous backpacking experience may be helpful, but it is not required; we can teach you everything you need to know about the specialized equipment and camping techniques necessary to experience the splendor of wilderness travel together with the glory of a light pack. This trip covers 5-12 miles a day over hilly and steep terrain and summits both Treadway Mountain (2,244 ft.) and Pharaoh Mountain (2,556 ft.). Days are challenging, but light packs make the longer days manageable.
On the eastern edge of the High Peaks Wilderness Area is a group of peaks known as the Dix Range. On this trip you’ll spend the first two days backpacking up and over the sixth highest peak in the state, Dix Mountain (4,857 ft.), before making your way down to the Lillian Brook where you can cool your feet off in the cold mountain waters running down from the summit of nearby Hough Peak. Day 3 includes a day hike (no packs!) up a few of the trailless peaks that make up the remainder of the Dix Range, including possible summits of Hough (4,400 ft.), Macomb (4,405 ft.), South Dix (4,060 ft.), and Grace (4,012 ft.) mountains. This trip covers 4-8 miles a day with a total elevation gain between 4,000 and up to 7,000 feet depending on which peaks your group hikes. While this trip is physically demanding, there are plenty of trail breaks and time to relax in camp each night.
Hike the highest peak in New York, Mount Marcy (5,344 ft.) and several other of the 46 high peaks on this amazing adventure to the heart of the High Peaks Wilderness. On day one you’ll hike in to establish your basecamp so that on day two you can summit Mount Marcy and possibly Gray (4,840 ft.). On day three you’ll break camp and backpack up and over Algonquin (5,114 ft.) with the possibility of also summiting Iroquois (4,840 ft.). Traveling 3-7 miles per day, this trip features steep climbs with total elevation gains between 6000-7000 ft. depending on which peaks you do. The days will be challenging, and you may not get into camp until dinnertime, but there are plenty of breaks and amazing views along the way!
Traverse across the High Peaks Region from Elk Lake to the Town of Keene, summiting Mount Marcy (5,344 ft.) along the way. Carrying only the necessities and a backpack that is 30-40% lighter than typical packs, this trip moves camp every day covering big miles, and peaks, nearly every day. Some previous backpacking experience may be helpful, but it is not required; we can teach you everything you need to know about the specialized equipment and camping techniques necessary to experience the splendor of wilderness travel together with the glory of a light pack. This trip covers 5-9 miles per day and features steep climbs with total elevation gain of up to ~9,000 ft. depending on the peaks you do. In addition to Mount Marcy, this trip may climb Skylight (4,920 ft.), Big Slide (4,240 ft.), Lower Wolfjaw (4,175 ft.), and Upper Wolfjaw (4,185 ft.). Days are challenging, but light packs make the longer days manageable.
For every peak in the Adirondacks, there are hundreds of miles of waterways. In total, the 'Dacks have over 3,000 lakes and ponds and over 30,000 miles of rivers and streams! Our canoe routes explore some of the very best and offer trips at a variety of challenge levels.
Starting and ending in the town of Long Lake, this trip paddles the entire northern half of the town’s namesake stopping at various campsites and lean-tos along the way. Long Lake is a glacially carved lake that borders the High Peaks Wilderness along its entire eastern edge. On this trip, you’ll paddle between 2-6 miles per day, leaving plenty of time in the afternoons to rest, relax, and get to know all about your group and Colgate.
On the western side of the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest Area is a series of more than a dozen small ponds which connect to Upper Saranac Lake at Fish Creek Bay. This trip travels in a loop through these small ponds connecting one to the next through either small streams or short portages (carrying your canoe over land). Days vary from 2.5 to 9.5 miles with portages of around 0.25 miles or less. Though some days are longer, you’ll still have lots of time in camp each evening to make dinner and hang out.
On this trip you’ll paddle the beginning of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 700-mile wilderness waterway that stretches from Old Forge, NY all the way to Kent, ME. This route is also the start of the famous Adirondack Canoe Classic, a 90-mile race held annually in the Adirondacks. Your trip won’t cover quite so many miles, but you’ll still have a good challenge with days ranging from 2-15 miles of paddling and portages up to 1.4 miles. Some previous canoe experience may prove helpful but is certainly not necessary, we can teach you everything you need to know to make the miles breeze by. This trip offers plenty of challenge, but also lots of reward, with stunning wilderness and lots of natural and cultural history to explore. In camp, you’ll still have time to relax before dinner, cook tasty meals, and maybe have a swim.
Combo trips offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to explore the Adirondacks from the water and from land. Each of our combo trips explore beautiful trails and pristine waterways. These trips also "flip" with another trip by meeting in the middle to exchange backpacks for canoes.
Starting or ending in the town of Wanakena, this trip explores much of Cranberry Lake, half in a canoe, and half carrying a backpack. In the middle, you’ll meet up with another group who is doing the same trip in reverse and trade off canoes for backpacks. Combo trips are always popular since you get to experience the beauty of the Adirondacks from the land and water. The picturesque Cranberry Lake, at nearly 7,000 acres, is one of the largest lakes in the Adirondacks. While there are some private residences on the lake you will mostly be surrounded by wilderness. On this trip, you’ll paddle between 4-6 miles per day and hike between 2-6 miles per day while still having plenty of time to relax in camp.
Traverse across the Five Ponds Wilderness Area though some of the most scenic and serene wilderness the the Adirondacks. You’ll spend two days canoeing down the Bog River and Low’s Lake and two days backpacking on the southern section of the Cranberry Lake 50 trail, with a possible side trip to the summit of Cat Mountain (2,257 ft.). This combo trip brings you to truly some of the most beautiful spots in the entire park. On this trip, you’ll paddle between 5-7 miles per day and hike between 6-9 miles per day and still have plenty of time to relax in camp at the end of each day.
Day Hike trips are slightly less demanding than our backpacking options but still provide plenty of adventure. These trips run out of a central "base camp" location and typically tent camp at a state campground or stay in the Colgate yurt*. Each day, the group will travel by van from their base camp to one of the classic hikes in that region, and then return to base each evening.
*A yurt is a 30' diameter circular tent made of wood and canvas. They have a permanent foundation, and are typically equipped with wood and/or propane stoves, couches, and bunk beds.
From your Base Camp near Old Forge, New York you will explore the best of what the Southern Adirondacks has to offer! On this trip you will hike one or more peaks, such as Moose River Mountain, McCauley Mountain, or Bald Mountain (one of the most popular peaks in the Adirondack State park), and go on flatter hikes to explore nearby lakes such as Nick's Lake or Sis and Bubb Lakes. Each evening, you will return to your tent campsites at a New York State Campground.
Based right in the town of Hamilton, this trip will explore various aspects of both the Chenango Valley and Central New York. On this trip, you’ll hike on the Reserves of the Southern Madison Heritage Trust and spend one overnight on the Tug Hill Plateau where you will camping at a New York State campground and hike the rim of Whetstone Gulf, "one of the most spectacular scenic vistas east of the Rocky Mountains". When you're not camping and exploring Whetstone Gulf, you'll spend your evenings back at Colgate’s Beattie Reserve where you will prepare dinner and sleep in our yurt.
From your base camp in the High Peaks Region you’ll explore some of the most beautiful and iconic spots in the area, including the opportunity to summit one or two of the 46 High Peaks, Cascade (4,098 ft.) and Porter (4,059 ft.). Each evening, you will return to your tent campsites at a New York State Campground for dinner and a campfire. Though not as challenging as a "medium" Backpacking trip, this Day Hike features hikes that are a definite step up in difficulty from the other Day Hike options, but the views more than make up for the extra effort.
This trip is a great way to explore the Adirondacks and try out a new skill. Even if you've kayaked before, there is much to discover about paddling a sea kayak fully loaded with all your camping gear for a week.
Paddle sea kayaks across picturesque Cranberry Lake, which at nearly 7,000 acres is one of the largest lakes in the Adirondacks. While there are some private residences on the lake, you’ll mostly be surrounded by wilderness. Sea kayaks are specialty vessels designed to carry all the gear for camping while also traveling fast and smooth through the water. You don’t need any previous experience, your instructors will teach you everything you need to know. Importantly, you will be required to learn and perform a “wet exit” on the first day, which is an important safety maneuver for getting out of a kayak if you tip over (it’ll be a lot warmer on your trip than in this video). Daily paddling distance will be between 3-8 miles, with plenty of time each afternoon to wade in the lake and cook in camp.
Our rock climbing trips are amazing adventures, combining top-rope climbing, with peak ascents, and the chance to try out some harder moves while bouldering.
No previous experience necessary, we will teach you everything you need to know from harnesses to hand-holds. In fact, if you are a very strong or experienced climber, we’d recommend trying out a different activity as this is definitely a more intro trip.
From your basecamp on the shore of Piseco Lake, your travel throughout the southern and central Adirondacks exploring peaks and crags in the Silver Lake Wilderness and West Canada Lake Wilderness. With two days of top-rope climbing, a day to climb a peak, most likely Crane (3,254 ft.) or Snowy (3,899 ft.), and a day of bouldering, this is a true sampler of southern Adirondack climbing. Each night you’ll return to your campsite for dinner and relaxing around the campfire.
Nestled in the valley between the High Peaks, Giant Mountain, and the Dix Range is Keene, NY, the quintessential Adirondack mountain town. From your basecamp at a New York State campground, you’ll explore the mountains and crags around the valley. With two days of top-rope climbing, a day to climb one of the 46 High Peaks, most likely Giant (4,627 ft.) or Cascade (4,098 ft.), and a day of bouldering, this is a true sampler of Adirondack climbing. Each night you’ll return to your campsite for dinner and relaxing around the campfire.
Don't be put off by a lack of previous experience, this trip is great for anyone who can confidently ride a bike, even if you've never mountain biked before. This trip features rides for all abilities and plenty of flexibility in the daily plan. You'll also get to see many different parts of the park as you travel north from campus all the way to the High Peaks region.
Get to know the trails in three distinct parts of Upstate New York. Starting off with the trails right in your new backyard, you’ll learn/review the basics of mountain biking right on Colgate’s own trails on day one. From there, you’ll travel to the heart of the Adirondacks for a day of biking on the trails at McCauley Mountain in Old Forge. Next, you’ll head up to the High Peaks Region and explore the trails in and around Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Wilmington. This trip is designed as a progression from easier up to harder trails with instruction built into each day. Still, we do ask that you already know how to confidently ride a bike (though not mountain bike) before signing up for this trip. The exact itinerary and trails ridden will vary based on the ability of the group with plenty of options each day for everyone. You’ll spend evenings playing games, cooking group meals, and camping out in local state parks.
*If you have your own mountain bike, please check with us before you bring it - it should have at least front suspension. Colgate has mountain bikes and helmets available free of charge.