- The McGregor Fault line that is the visible drop on the blue trail is the reason why Saratoga Springs has natural springs and when the foliage along the highest point on the Blue Trail is gone you can see 42 miles out all the way to Stratton Mountain, VT.
- In 1879 the Woodlawn estate, which mainly existed where the campus is now, was purchased by Judge Henry Hilton. In 1880, he built a series of mansions on land which also contained a beautiful pristine forest.
- Having worked on the Central Park Commission, Henry Hilton was dissatisfied by Frederick Olmsted’s vision and would later go on to carry out his version of what Central Park in New York City should have been in the North Woods.
- The reason the North Woods does not contain any old growth is because in the 1916 to 1919 the then owner of the property, businessman Charles Morse, hired Canadian woodcutters to chop it all down to sell for the war effort.
- In 1916 Lucy Scribner wanted to purchase the property but for reasons that are unclear, Hilton’s relatives did not receive that request in time.
- Just off of the orange trail there used to be small body of water called “Lover’s Lake” or the “Vly”. Some locals of Saratoga still remember having swam in the Vly. It once had a boathouse and got its romantic name from lover’s boating on the Vly while courting.
- The 19th-century Glen Mitchell Hotel used to be located near the intersection of the orange and blue trail, and one can still come across the foundations of the old Hotel. If you’re lucky you might stumble on the old lamp posts, see the steps that led up to the dance pavilion, or the water pump in the stream.
- The North Woods was once part of a Native American Saratoga-Montreal Trail and the trail extended down into New York City. There is actually a famed Indian Spring in the woods, that made this route so appealing. Travelers could fill up on potable water before continuing on their journey. In the 1930s the post master attempted to pin down its exact location.
- In 1886 Hilton allowed the elite Saratoga Toboggan Club to build a massive toboggan slide. It was built up and shaped with blocks of ice cut from Saratoga lake. Measuring an impressive 40 feet height and 120 feet long, some say that speeds upwards of 60 miles could be reached. Industrialists from New York City would even come up on the weekends and the younger Hilton’s would host skating parties on the lake.
- The North Woods is rich in limestone the result of an interesting geological history. 550 years ago the North Woods would have existed under the Iapetus ocean, during the existence of the Euramerica landmass. 6 million years ago there was an Ice Age, and 12,000 years ago the North Woods would have once again been submerged under Glacial Lake Albany. Notably, there is a large boulder on the purple trail, the only one of its kind, that was deposited after the glaciers disappeared, it’s known as “Whale Rock” as it looks like a whale breaching the surface.
- Bonus Fact: The woods actually once had a ski lift but the college had to close it down in the 1970s for liability purposes. The foundational slabs of concrete and anchor can still be seen where the purple trail meets red.
A huge thanks to Robert Jones in the Economics Department. He is a history buff with a wealth of knowledge on the history of the North Woods and Saratoga Springs in general.
Be sure to check out Robert’s new book on the history of the North Woods and stay tuned for updates on tours and other information