New York State's Adirondack Mountains have many peaks over 4,000 feet,but few with a better view than 3,744 foot Wakely Mountain. Located in Hamilton County,and nominally in the Town of Lake Pleasant,Wakely is accessed from Indian Lake and gets its name from an early pioneer of that town.
From Route 28/30,going west about two miles from the hamlet of Indian Lake,turn left onto Cedar River Road and travel 11.6 miles to the trailhead sign. There is a sign-in book at the parking lot,and the gravel road leading to the mountain offers an easy 1.9 mile warmup.
The three-mile hike up the mountain is fairly steep. Near the summit,a trail leads to the right,where there is what remains of a wooden helipad. Continuing on the main trail,one arrives at the tower and the nearby rangers' cabin.
At one time,there were 57 fire towers in the Adirondacks,each a vital cog in the state's forest fire prevention effort. By the end of the summer of 2002,there will probably be only 23 towers available to hikers. Seven towers have recently been restored,but some have been removed and others are scheduled for removal.
Wakely Mountain's first tower,made of wood,was built in 1911.The present structure was one of a group of ten,made of steel,bought by the State of New York in 1915;its manufacturer was the Aermotor Company of Chicago,a maker of windmills. Nine of the towers,including Wakely,were erected in 1916,and the last one was put up in the following year. Four of these towers are still standing,and Wakely is the tallest and the only one with the original ladder still attached.Furthurmore,only Hadley Mt. and Wakely,out of those original ten,have avoided structural changes. Starting in 1929,these towers were retrofitted with self-supporting stairs;Wakely's was installed in 1930. Other towers,bought after 1916,were equipped with factory installed stairs.
The cabin was built ca. 1970,and replaced one that was located closer to the tower,and is pictured on this web site.
Although the name lost an 'e' somewhere along the line,our mountain got its name from William D. Wakeley,whose parents came to America from Scotland. Sometime before the Civil War,Wakeley built the North River Hotel,not far from where he was engaged in the logging business.
By 1875,Wakeley had sold this hotel,and built a new one west of Indian Lake,on the Cedar River Flow,and he called it Cedar Falls Hotel. Harold K. Hochschild,in his Adirondack Resort in the Nineteenth Century Blue Mountain Lake,1870-1900:Stagecoaches and Luxury Hotels,says Wakeley was strongly 'identified' with the Cedar River area. Apparently,while building this hotel,which everyone would call Headquarters,Wakeley found it necessary to build fires to keep the wolves away from his oxen.
Wakeley also ran a stagecoach line between North Creek and Blue Mountain Lake,and according to Hochschild,people knew him as a fast driver;when they saw him coming,they got out of his way.
If you are interested in fire towers in general,the National Historic Lookout Register provides information on towers throughout the country:http://www.firetower.org/
The Forest Fire Lookout Association is dedicated to the research and preservation of these locations:http://www.firelookout.org
For a list of Adirondack Fire Towers,and an article on the Wakely effort:http://www.masterpieces.com/places1.htm
AARCH web site: http://www.aarch.org
This page was last updated on 03/04/02.