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Local Guide: Hiking the Great 8 Challenge


All About the Great 8 Challenges

Local Tips from avid hiker and mom, Brooke Rouse

Brooke Rouse spent the Spring of 2020 working with local hikers to curate the Great 8 Challenges, which launched in May 2021. The idea of a challenge had been brewing and the opportunity to 'get close to nature' early in the pandemic made it the perfect time to get on the ground and make it happen. Brooke loves the outdoors and regularly enjoys hiking the local trails along with her husband, kiddos and friends. Brooke is always on the lookout for new family friendly adventures to share.

A New Way to Discover STLC

One of New York’s Newest Trail Challenges Features Easy Walks from the Foothills of the Northwest Adirondacks to the Banks of the St. Lawrence River

As a year-round trail destination,  St. Lawrence County invites people of all interests and abilities to explore a unique part of the State, while earning their Great 8. This trail challenge is designed to attract avid outdoors people, young families, those new to the outdoors or those with limited ability.

“Elevation is not a part of this challenge. As you experience the 8 trails in each challenge, you quickly realize that this part of New York is incredibly beautiful without the need for technical gear or extreme effort” noted Brooke Rouse, Director of Tourism for the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. “The trails are diverse and an interactive trail site allows you to read about the experience before you get there, track yourself while walking and earn badges and the Great 8 Trail Challenge patch all online”.

Discover 3 Different Trail Challenges

The Great 8 Trail Challenge launched in May 2021 with three challenges; the Waterfall Crawl, the Riverside Run and the Nature Nuts Challenge. Each challenge has 8 trails across St. Lawrence County, from the St. Lawrence River Valley to the foothills of the northwestern Adirondacks.


Challenge #1: Waterfall Crawl

The Waterfall Crawl highlights the fact that St. Lawrence County is home to over 15 waterfalls, with the eight trails featuring some favorites and some lesser-known hikes where you can experience the power and beauty of falling water year round. Waterfalls on this list include the popular Lampson Falls, Cascade Falls in downtown Canton, as well as hidden gems like the Greenwood Creek State Forest.

Local Tips: "We spent a day adventuring on the Tooley Pond Road and made it to the three falls there- Rainbow, Basford and Sinclair Falls. The kids (Ages 2-6) thought that was pretty cool, and were able to do it with snacks and lunch at each of the stops. Each waterfall has a really different character, and rocks and trail features that can entertain for an hour each! It was fun with the kids, but I'm making a point to get back to Basford Falls for an afternoon of mom relaxation with a good book!"

Photo: Hiking with friends helps kids enjoy the experience. One year old Lydia enjoys Lampson Falls.


Challenge #2: Riverside Run

The Riverside Run features eight trails that allow you to enjoy a majority of your walk along the five major rivers of St. Lawrence County. The trails can be short or long and although they make for a great walk, they can be enjoyed as a trail running challenge too. These trails stretch from the Crooked Creek preserve in Hammond on the St. Lawrence River, to the Stone Valley Trail on the Raquette River in Colton and on to the Moore Trail in Wanakena, along the Oswegatchie River.

Local Tips: "I find that a lot of our hikes have a destination...a peak or a waterfall, for example. The Riverside Run is fun because there is something nice to see for most of the walk - a river - the sounds, beauty and wildlife providing entertainment as you go. Although you have to keep an eye on the kids, you can engage them as you go with rock hopping, stick floating and snack breaks with your toes in the water (bring extra socks!)"

Photo: Taking a snack break on the Saint Regis River on the Southville State Forest Trail.


Challenge #3: Nature Nuts

The Nature Nuts challenge highlights eight nature-filled hikes with interpretive signs, wildlife lookouts, boardwalks and birding across St. Lawrence County. These spots include major migratory locations for birds, a variety of plant and animal species and the ability to learn as you go, even if you aren’t a nature expert yet. A great place to kick off this challenge is at the Nicandri Nature Center at Massena’s Robert Moses State Park, with a beautiful network of trails and a world class nature center with engaging programs. From there, you can venture to new-to-you locations, such as the Edwards Nature Trail or the Indian Creek Nature Center.

Local Tips: "The Nature Nuts Challenge is a great first challenge - these trails are flat and most can handle  a stroller or a kid in a sled. Signs along the way make it easy to take breaks, engage in nature and history and enjoy a relaxing outing. Most are loops, and giving the kids the option to pick which direction to go in helps them build confidence and enjoy the experience. Taking time to let them explore is key to keeping them motivated and interested in more hikes!"

Photo: Learning about local history and Fort de la Presentation on the Abbe Piquet Trail in Ogdensburg.


How to Earn Challenge Badges

The challenge can be explored and documented by creating a free account on As soon as the eight trails are completed, a virtual badge is added to your account. The option to purchase a sticker or patch is the next level of showing your pride in accomplishing the individual Great 8 Trails Challenges.

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