Happy New Year – Let’s hope that 2013 helps us develop more trails in the Adirondack Park in general and the Saranac Lake area in particular.
Over the last month I have had two meetings as a result of this blog series. The first with Dick Beamish, founding publisher of the Adirondack Explorer and founding member of Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates. I’ll report on our meeting in a separate blog post.
A little over a week ago I met with Steve Guglielmi the NYSDEC Forester largely responsible for the Saranac Lake Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (SLWFUMP.) Steve shared with me some of the trails the DEC has proposed for the SLWFUMP and solicited my thoughts on a variety of trail issues. I think the trails proposed for the SLWFUMP in general are excellent. My general observation and what I attempted to reinforce to Steve was the importance of connectivity. I mean connectivity in a number of ways:
- Can you get from one trail to the other without having to get into your car?
- Can you get from one trailhead to another rather than just traveling in to an interior location and then hike back out?
- Can you create a loop trail so people don’t have to retrace their steps?
The trails I have proposed all have great connectivity.
I also shared my idea for what I’m calling “50 in 2.” Any community within the Adirondack Park should be able to have at least fifty miles of trails with trailheads within two miles from the center of the community. A concept like this would make the Adirondack Park a mecca for trail activities.
I appreciate the opportunity to meet with Steve and share my thoughts. I look forward to seeing the Saranac Lake Wild Forest UMP completed.
Let’s take a look at our conversation regarding each of my proposed trails.
1. Saranac River/Pine Pond Trail
It is safe to say that the DEC is concerned about using the Route 3 State Bridge Boat Launch as a trailhead. There are many issues with that site and adding a new use just complicates things further. Having said that this is a natural location for a trail head and at least two trails could start from there. (This one and #9) Given that the trail I proposed here runs through the High Peaks Wilderness it turns out there are at least two other options for this trail that might make more sense. Evidently there is a route north of the bridge that DEC employees use to access the lower locks in the winter to check the water level. There is also the old abandoned trail from route 3 north of the river that went into the lean-to on Lake Kiwassa. From there it wouldn’t be too hard to get to the locks. The challenge is to find a route from the locks to the trail from Averyville. Finding a way to get from Averyville to route 3 just makes too much sense not to do it.
2. Saranac River/Moose Pond
This trail is in the McKenzie Wilderness. The UMP for this unit will probably not be completed for a long time yet. The fact that this is a wilderness area seemed to raise red flags but I pointed out that all the trails I have proposed for the McKenzie Wilderness Area have close proximity to Route 3. This trail has great connectivity to the Village.
3. McKenzie Wilderness Trail
The DEC appears to support the trail proposed in the Village of Saranac Lake Trails Plan from the summit of Baker Mt. The trail I have proposed here would complement that trail and combining this with #2 and #5 make for a nice trail network on the east side of the Saranac River.
4. Scarface to Pine Pond
The SLWFUMP proposes a trail around the south side of Scarface Mt but does not, at this time, connect to Pine Pond. By this time you know my mantra, “Connectivity.” Connect trails around Scarface to Pine Pond, which will connect to Route 3 and Averyville.
5. Moose Pond Trail
A loop trail around Moose Pond makes a lot of sense because it would meet all three of my connectivity points when combined with trail #4. Ditto the comments for #2
6. Saranac Lake to Mt. View – Conceptually the state seems to support this although, if I understand it correctly, they don’t have ownership of the entire roadbed. The DEC has some excellent ideas for this region which is in the DeBar Wild Forest. They are trying to link the VIC, the Slush Pond Trail, and the Hayes Brook trail and other areas. This would be excellent. Great connectivity!
7. Turtle Pond Trails (Fowler’s Crossing) – The proposed UMP supports the development of this area but a trail linking to the Scarface trail is challenging due to wetlands. We need to find a way to make this connecting trail work. The trails south of Turtle Pond are nice but connecting them to the Scarface trail opens up numerous additional opportunities. There may be some options to run the trail through private property. The DEC has proposed some good connectivity on the east side of the tracks north of route 86 to Ray Brook.
8. Scarface Mountain Loop – The proposed UMP has some very interesting trails proposed around Scarface Mountain. I support their proposals and suggest that my proposal be left as a bushwhack and not developed as a trail in light of the other trails they are proposing.
9. Lower Saranac Lake Trail – We had a lengthy discussion on this trail. There is a desire to keep this large parcel of land more primitive with few trails. We looked at some options that allowed for that such as keeping the trail close to the lake and then running it closer to private land up to the Forest Home Road. I really feel that this trail has lots of potential especially if it is continued on to Lake Colby as I propose.
10. Black Pond Trial – I’ll gladly sacrifice this trail for #9, the Lower Saranac Lake Trail, in order to preserve a larger trailless area in this region.