Discover the Adirondack Mountains at the VIC
The 3,000-acre Paul Smith's College VIC (Visitor Interpretive Center) in Paul Smiths, New York, offers a wide variety of free and fee-based arts, sports, and educational programs throughout the year, including bird walks and nature walks, trail runs, children's educational programs, art exhibits, concerts, lectures, workshops, and naturalist-led paddles. The VIC also hosts the annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration on the first weekend in June. An adjacent Butterfly House features butterflies and moths in all stages of development. 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.
The VIC's 25 miles of trails, including 6 miles of interpretive trails, showcase the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and provide unparalleled opportunities to view, hear, photograph, and enjoy nature. The trails weave through woodland and marshland, by ponds, brooks, and bogs.
- Many of the trails are surfaced for easy walking. Many have trail-side signs explaining natural and man-made features of the landscape.
- The trail system traverses every habitat type found in the Adirondack Park (with the exception of alpine vegetation) and includes extensive boardwalks through wetland ecosystems.
- The trails are open from dawn to dusk and are free to the public from spring through fall. Leashed dogs are welcome.
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.
During the winter months, the Paul Smiths VIC becomes a cross-country ski center with over 25 miles of trails for cross country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing. Trail users may purchase a day or season pass. When there is adequate snow cover, the trails are open from 9 AM to 5 PM. There are three categories of trails available at the VIC, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation for people of all abilities. In addition, some trails are designated for skijoring (dog-drawn skiing).
The Paul Smith’s College VIC opened in 1989 as a state-funded facility -- one of two centers created by New York State so local residents and visitors would get to know the natural ecosystems of the six-million acre Adirondack Park. For two decades, the Paul Smiths VIC and the Newcomb VIC served both tourists and local residents, providing a wide range of public programs, many of them free, thanks to tax-payer funding.
New York State curtailed funding to both visitor centers in 2010.
- The Newcomb VIC was transferred to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and became the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC).
- In January 2011, Paul Smith’s College, which owns the land on which the VIC building is located, agreed to take over the Paul Smiths VIC.
The Paul Smiths VIC was reopened under the auspices of Paul Smith’s College in the summer of 2011. Many of the programs that made the Paul Smiths VIC popular under state management have continued under Paul Smith’s College management, with free public access to the trails in the warmer months and an expanded, fee-based winter trail network for skiers and snowshoers in the winter. The revitalized VIC has also branched out into a wide range of new activities, linking the center more closely to the regional arts community and to the College and offering meeting and event rental opportunities.