By Brandon Loomis
It was a canine convention atop Coney Mountain.
Chili, our rambunctious mutt (best guess a shepherd-border collie mix), strained at his leash, eager to cross the rocky plateau and greet a golden retriever named Kiefer. Manny, our aged Gordon setter, ignored another mutt circling the summit. Manny’s heavy panting and paw-dragging hinted that maybe this hill climb—despite its sweeping views of Tupper Lake and surrounding mountains—should be his last.
And then there was Cleo, a fluffy white hulk of Great Pyrenees, sprawled out and smiling at them all.
She and Kiefer, both Canadians who summer in the Adirondacks, had come to Coney because of two words, hyphenated: off-leash.
“It’s the highlight of our summer,” said John Bell of Mississauga, Ontario, who hiked with Kiefer. “Definitely: Dog-friendly hikes, we look for.”
That frequently sends them to the west side of the park’s Tri-Lakes region, where they can enjoy canine companionship without the strictly onleash customs of hiking hot spots like the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.
There are another two words that might also account for some of the dog traffic on Coney: Canine Triad.
The Tupper Lake Triad—like the Saranac Lake 6er or the Lake Placid 9er—is a hiking challenge designed for those who want more (or less) of the glory that comes from climbing the park’s 46 High Peaks to claim the patch of an Adirondack 46er. But Tupper’s Triad mixes breeds, with one patch for humans and one, with a paw-print design, for hiking dogs who climb Coney, Goodman Mountain and Mount Arab, all in the Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest.
Cleo was no newbie to the challenge. But her family, the Stutchburys of Ottawa, Ontario, would not be heading on to Arab after conquering Coney this time.
“It’s dogs on leash now,” Alan Stutchbury said during that outing early last summer. The trail crosses private land and has signs mandating leashes at all times. “So we don’t do that anymore, because she gets more exercise off-leash.”
Having climbed a third of the Triad, though, my family was committed to seeing it through no matter how hard Chili might yank on my arm up Arab, the highest and steepest of the three, though not necessarily the one with the best views.
Through the summer we completed our Tupper Triad and mailed in our $5 for the patch that would certify Chili—like several hundred before.
Coney Mountain: Elevation 2,265 with 515 feet of gain on a 2.2-mile round-trip hike.
Goodman Mountain: Elevation 2,178 feet with 570 feet of gain on a 3.4-mile round-trip hike.
Mount Arab: Elevation 2,525 feet with 750 feet of gain on a 2-mile round-trip hike.
Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
For more information, visit tupperlake.com/recreation/tupper-lake-triad
Map by Nancy Bernstein