Discover the Adirondacks at the VIC:
About the Paul Smiths Visitor Center
Programs: The Paul Smith's College VIC offers a variety of free and fee-based arts, sports, and environmental educational programs throughout the year, including bird walks and nature walks, concerts, art exhibits, lectures, workshops, naturalist-led paddles, wild edibles walks, and a wide range of children's educational programs. The VIC also hosts the annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration on the first weekend in June. The VIC has also developed a maple sugaring operation and participates in the New York State Maple Producers Association's Maple Weekends during the spring sugaring season.
Trail System: The 3,000-acre Paul Smiths VIC contains every habitat type found in the Adirondack Park with the exception of alpine vegetation. Included on the property is a 60-acre marsh, five ponds, several brooks and swamps, bogs, fens, and varied forest types, most notably northern boreal forest. The site includes significant glacial and geological features and provides scenic vistas of Saint Regis Mountain and Jenkins Mountain.
The VIC property includes over 25 miles of trails, including 6 miles of interpretive trails. The trails and free and open to the public for spring, summer, and fall use. Use of the trails during these months is free. Trail hours are from dawn to dusk, every day. Leashed dogs are welcome, The interpretive trails are surfaced for easy access and feature signs explaining the local ecology. The trail system traverses a variety of habitats with extensive boardwalks through wetland ecosystems. The one mile Boreal Life Trail, for example, features an extensive boardwalk through a northern bog. In addition to birds, this trail has an impressive display of native orchids during early July: Grass Pink, Rose Pogonia, and hundreds of White Fringed Orchids. Another way to enjoy the VIC trail system is by taking the VIC Map Hike.
The varied habitats at the VIC provide extensive opportunities to learn about and experience nature in the Adirondack Mountains. A wide variety of birds make the VIC their seasonal or year-round home, making the VIC a bird watching haven which has attracted birders from throughout upstate New York and the northeast. The VIC also attracts nature lovers who are interested in wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, butterflies, moths, ferns, and mosses.
Butterfly House: Adjacent to the VIC Building, is the Breck Chapin Memorial Native Species Butterfly House, featuring butterflies and moths in all stages of development. Visitors can view native butterflies up close and learn about the life stages and migratory patterns of these colorful insets. Butterfly House volunteers are available to point out the species of butterflies in the house that day, provide information on the insect's life cycle, and identify specific plants that are favored by each species. Inside the Butterfly House, there are nectar plants for food and host plants for egg-laying and caterpillar feeding. There are also touch boxes and information handouts on butterflies and moths. Outside the Butterfly House is the Frank Hutchins Butterfly Garden, a garden designed to attract butterflies and named to honor the late Frank Hutchins, a longtime supporter of the VIC. The Butterfly House is open from 10 AM to 4 PM, seven days a week throughout the summer. Free admission.
VIC Building: The VIC building contains a 150-seat theater, exhibit rooms, a classroom, the Edmund E. Lynch Environmental Education Resource Library, a visitors lounge, rest rooms, a passive energy-saving sun space with an art gallery, a gift shop and administrative offices. Nearby is the Whispering Pines Amphitheater, picnic pavilions, and a children's playground.
The VIC Building houses exhibits on natural history and an information desk. Youngsters will find "touch tables," games and puzzles to spark their interest in regional animals, insects and plants. The not-so-young will find comfortable chairs by the window and, in nice weather, a restful haven on the front porch.
Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: During the winter months, the VIC trails are open for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, snowshoeing, and skijoring for a fee. The VIC features over 25 miles of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. There are three categories of trails, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation for people of all abilities.
- Classic ski trails are typically groomed 4' wide with a snowmobile and grooming equipment. Track is set when conditions permit.
- Skating ski trails are typically groomed 8' to 10’ wide with the VIC's quadra-tracked or snowmobile groomers. These trails are packed and rolled as conditions permit.
- Snowshoe trails are typically packed by snowshoers. Most designated snowshoe trails can be skied on with adequate snow and appropriate skier ability.
Cross country skis and snowshoes are available for rental. The VIC also hosts ski races, snowshoe races, skate ski clinics, and snow sports weekends. Both day passes and season passes are available. Download the 2015-2016 Season Pass Application
Facility Rental: The VIC's indoor and outdoor facilities are available for rental for conferences, weddings, parties, and other gatherings. The VIC Great Room, overlooking Heron Marsh and Saint Regis Mountain, provides a quintessentially Adirondack setting for dining. Contact the VIC to arrange a consultation: Kendra Ormerod, VIC Program Director, firstname.lastname@example.org