A wagon ride to Great Camp Santanoni

Bicyclists pass a horse and wagon on their way to Great Camp Santanoni. (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

There are numerous books and articles written about the Adirondack Great Camp era. The mystic and the opulence is part of the core of the settling of the Adirondacks. There are still many of the “great camps” in existence , but most remain in the private sector. Only a handful of these rustic, yet elegant retreats are open to the public. Each one has its own history and area connections, but I believe that Newcomb’s Great Camp Santanoni, a National History Landmark, is the only state run historic site that offers a wagon ride through history.

Taking a wagon ride to Great Camp Santanoni is like going back in time. It is the same 5-mile toll road that Albany businessman Robert Pruyn and his family would have traveled to escape the heat of the city. The wagon ride is wonderful option for everyone, including those with mobility issues to escape to the woods and travel in the footsteps of the Pruyn family and many of their famous guests.

We check in near the gatehouse and are able to look through the mini exhibit detailing the property’s history, visits from Teddy Roosevelt, and land management plans. The wagon ride begins at the parking lot so we gather with the rest of the group to begin our trek. The farm is the first stop and is reached in just under one mile. The Farm Complex was separate from the main house by over four miles. The farm used to house staff, a creamery, barn, and other outbuildings. We are given a choice to stay in the wagon or take a few moments to explore. There are plenty of interpretive signs that display what the land had looked like during Pruyn’s tenure.

The next four miles takes us under the tree cover. We pass over bridges and various paths that connect to a network of Newcomb trails. Our destination is the 15,000 ft main lodge, stone Artist Studio, and Newcomb Lake boat house. We are lulled into quiet reflection with the sounds of the rolling wagon and horses gait. We finally see glimpses of blue water and finally the magnificence of Great Camp Santanoni.

There are many ways to get to Newcomb Lake and Great Camp Santanoni. My family has easily walked the 5-mile gravel road as well as skied it in winter. The wagon rides are just another experience to allow all family members to explore the backwoods grandeur of an Adirondack Great Camp. Great Camp Satanoni is free and open to the public year-round. The buildings are only open at select times and wagon rides are only available in the summer and during special events. To book a wagon ride call Newcombe Farm at 518-639-5534.

To get to Great Camp Santanoni Gatehouse take state Route 28N to Newcomb Lake Road.

Diane Chase is the author of the “Adirondack Family Activities” guidebook series, “Adirondack Family Time: Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities.”

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