Cool Summer Job: Summit Steward in the Adirondacks

We're highlighting great ways to get outside this summer—and get paid for it

Seth Jones/

The view from Algonquin Peak looking over towards Mt. Colden and Mt. Marcy.

How’s this for your morning commute: waking up in the backcountry and hiking to the top of a mountain.

Summit stewards for the Adirondack Mountain Club do just that five days a week (they spend the other two days in a yurt), sometimes footing it as far as seven and a half miles and ascending New York’s highest peaks, says former summit steward and current program coordinator Julia Goren.

Summit stewards are entrusted with protecting the fragile alpine ecosystem in the High Peaks area near Lake Placid, N.Y. and educating hikers about its natural history.

“We’re looking for people who can be happy being on a peak in the pouring rain for 8 hours, or when it’s sunny and beautiful and there are 300 people.” A natural talent for education is key, says Goren, as is experience backpacking and passion for the outdoors.

Stewards do some light trail work, but "90 percent of the job is interpreting the place, its unique ecosystem, and helping people understand the simple things they can do to help protect it," she said.

Asked what she learned from her time as a steward, Goren first mentioned all the knowledge she gained about this ancient landscape, but then added, “I learned a lot about people. Working on top of a mountain, you have this incredible luxury. You're seeing people at their very best. You’re seeing them when they’ve achieved something that’s tremendous.”

“One thing I’ve observed in seeing summit stewards over the years is the opportunity to spend time by yourself, whether on the mountain or in camp at night, completely disconnected, not with your cell phone, not with your computer, that’s an experience that’s increasingly rare and an increasingly valuable.”

DATES: June to Labor Day weekend or early May to Columbus Day weekend
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This post is part of a series highlighting interesting outdoor jobs in partnership with the seasonal jobs board Cool Works. For more listings, visit and see our slideshow.


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