Is it just us or is there something missing from the discussion of rails and trails? Why is the discussion of trails limited to one rail bed (of many within the park) rather than exploring the larger question of, “What are the trails needs park wide?”
Rather than looking at the rail – trail issue in isolation from the larger issue of creating and enhancing recreational opportunities within the Adirondack Park, we should focus on exploring the idea of an Adirondack Park Community-Based Trail System. The rail - trail issue can and should only be addressed after we have acknowledged and prioritized our park-wide trail needs. What follows is a vision for such a trail system in the Adirondack Park and, although the process for such an effort needs to be determined and articulated, it is a vision that would benefit the entire Adirondack Park and its communities.
Adirondack Park Community-Based Trail System
Goal: To create a community-based trail system in the Adirondack Park that will link communities via multi-use trails by utilizing existing trails, the railroad corridor, highway right-of-ways, and newly created trails.
Background: It is estimated that there are over 4,000 miles of different types of trails in the Adirondack Park; however, by and large, these trails are either concentrated in certain areas or haphazard in nature. System is defined as a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole. With few exceptions the park’s trails are not part of a system.
By community-based trails we mean trails that have a number of features:
A variety of state agencies and not-for-profit organizations manage, advocate for, and maintain the park’s trails. Most would agree that they are underfunded and lack a comprehensive park-wide vision.
The Adirondack Park Recreation Strategy called for a more comprehensive recreation strategy to, “Establish recreational linkages between communities in the Park...Create a system of destination trails that weave between the regions of the Park…” and “Identify and develop recreational opportunities within communities.” In addition it suggested that “...a dedicated fund devoted to maintaining recreation infrastructure” be established.
The reasons for such a system distills down to two fundamental points:
Possible Next Steps: