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Northern Forest Institute
Guideboat Programs

An Adirondack Icon Brought Back to Life

The Adirondack guideboat is not only a significant icon in the park, but it also played a key role in establishing a human presence in the Adirondacks. Its unique design allowed early settlers, and later sportsmen and vacationers to experience and explore the Adirondacks firsthand. However overtime, this customary form of transportation was replaced by paved roads and automobiles.

Today you can find a significant collection of guideboats in the museums in the Park, and others in the possession of guideboat enthusiasts. However, public access to guideboats has become essentially non-existent. That is, until the summer of 2013.

August 2013 marked the beginning of the Northern Forest Institute's guideboat-based programming. Using the Adirondack guideboat as both a literal and figurative platform, the Northern Forest Institute (NFI) educates both public and school groups about the natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks. This unique, hands-on experience brings this Adirondack icon out of storage and back to where it belongs – on the water. Nowhere else can you get a similar experience in the Adirondack Park.

The Guideboats Themselves – A Local Connection

NFI possesses a total of three guideboats, all with interesting histories that connect them to the local area and the Huntington Wildlife Forest.

SUNY-ESF's Newcomb Campus, home of NFI, is located on the Huntington Wildlife Forest. This 15,000 acre property was donated to the college by Archer and Anna Huntington in the 1930s. Archer had a passion for boats, which was evident in his boat collection, which included 11 guideboats. It was with these boats that Archer and Anna explored and enjoyed the many lakes, ponds and streams encompassed in the property. Two of our boats, the Beaver and the Heron, were members of Archer's collection.

The Trout, the new addition to our fleet, was generously donated to NFI by the Donk family of Newcomb. The boat was constructed by Caleb Chase, who had a boat shop on the south side of Rich Lake in Newcomb. Restored by Rob Frenette, owner of Adirondack Guide-boat in Tupper Lake, the boat is now a regular on our aquatic excursions.

The Ultimate Prop

Learning experiences are instantly more enjoyable and memorable with the use of props. The Adirondack guideboat is truly the ultimate prop for place-based, multidisciplinary programming.

There is no better way to learn about the history and significance of the Adirondack guideboat than rowing in one yourself. By sitting in a historic guideboat you'll sense what it was like to be an 1800s Adirondack guide, sportsmen or wealthy vacationer. You'll understand why the shape and design of the boat was a perfect fit for early settlers, hunters, trappers and guides in the Adirondacks.

You'll be immersed in the natural and cultural history of the area. From the water, you will get an up-close, firsthand look at the aquatic plants and animals, geology and human history of Rich Lake.

Available Programming

For the public

Whether you're a resident hoping to connect with local history or a visitor looking for a true Adirondack experience, our private guideboat tours will be an experience you'll never forget. Using our own guideboats on site, our staff can accommodate groups of various sizes and age.

Please call or email us for more information, rates and scheduling.

For school groups

Our guideboat tours engage students in the perfect outdoor classroom. Not only will they be able to interact first-hand with an authentic piece of Adirondack history, but will be able to use it as they explore first-hand the natural and cultural elements that can be found in and around Rich Lake.

We can customize your group's tour to fulfill the experiences and learning outcomes you desire for yourself and students. To help develop and plan your tour, call or email us today!

For scout groups

Not only can we provide your troop with a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure, but we can also help your scouts earn some badges! We can work with you to develop a curriculum that will satisfy the requirements for various badges. Contact us for more information.