Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tug Hill Adventures

I have finally returned from beyond the Internet and my "adventures" on the Tug Hill Plateau and along Lake Ontario.  I had a great trip, with the highlight having the opportunity to meet and speak with so many great people.  We're going to have a lot of fun during the field program next winter.

If you haven't visited the Great Lakes, do it.  Where else can you find a gorgeous beach like the one below (Southwick State Park) with freshwater?  Yeah, the water this time of year is cold, but absolutely beautiful.

Here's a shot from Sandy Island Beach, with an especially humorous mix of summer and lingering winter sign postings.  Those of you venturing out on the pack ice should be well aware that swimming is not allowed and that there is no lifeguard on duty!

OK, back to business.  As discussed in the previous post, the Tug Hill Plateau is one of the snowiest areas in the eastern United States.  It lies directly east of Lake Ontario.  Topographically, it isn't much, with a total rise of about 1750 feet spread out over about 50 km.  This rise is barely perceptible as you look east from near Lake Ontario.  Look carefully and you can barely see the Tug Hill Plateau in the photo below.  The cumulus in the distance sit over the western slope of the Tug.

Snow?  Ya Betcha.  After I left the glorious green of the lowlands along Lake Ontario I ascended the plateau, finding a few snow patches as low as ~1000 feet.  The photos below were taken on consecutive days in North Osceola (~1600 ft MSL) and along the Salmon River Road (~1750 ft MSL), respectively.  Not bad for late April.

Skiing?  Some of the best skinny skiing around.  Embedded in the Tug Hill snowfall maximum is Hugh Quinn's Osceola Tug Hill Cross Country Center

and groomed trails at Winona State Forest, which you can access from Jamie Wilson's Nordic Emporium.  I stayed at the Salmon Hills Lodge, which is a great spot for snowmobilers to stay in the winter.  I suspect my students will be eating breakfast there a lot next winter as they have a good one for pennies on the dollar.

The visit has me really looking forward to our field program next winter.  Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and provide us with the goods.


  1. Lake effect, anywhere anytime. Ya gotta love it. Good luck with the study.

  2. Have driven I81 from Syracuse to Watertown many times and we had a manufacturing facility in Lowville (in the heart of the Tug). When it's happening it is something to behold, 4" flakes and 3-4"/hr to see but waaaay scary to drive in!!! What a great study next year, good luck and I am jealous. Pem