Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stretch of Upper Hudson Will Open This Spring

Essex-Chain-map1Starting this spring, paddlers will be able to travel down the Hudson River from Newcomb and take out on lands newly acquired by the state.

The takeout will be at an iron bridge just downstream from the confluence with the Goodnow River, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. From the town beach in Newcomb it’s roughly seven miles to the mouth of the Goodnow.

The stretch includes several mild rapids. The significance of the takeout is that it will open the Hudson to paddlers who don’t have the skills or inclination to continue downriver through the heavy whitewater of the Hudson Gorge.

There is a dirt road leading to the confluence. DEC plans to keep the road open, in part because forest rangers want to be able to reach the river for rescues. If the road were closed, paddlers would face a carry of up to three miles.

All told, the state acquired eighteen thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company land from the Nature Conservancy in December. Most of the land—including the Essex Chain of Lakes, the centerpiece of the tract—is leased to a private hunting club and will not be open to the public until next fall.

As shown in the map above, two swaths of land will be open in the spring. The northern parcel includes the Goodnow River. The southern parcel includes the Cedar River and Pine Lake. Given the lack of trails, access to the southern parcel will be difficult. In theory, one could paddle down the Cedar River from the hamlet of Indian Lake, but I don’t know how navigable it is. Also, once you reached the Hudson, you wouldn’t have a legal takeout, so you’d have to continue through the gorge.

Eventually, the state intends to acquire another tract of former Finch lands that includes a takeout at the confluence of the Indian and Hudson rivers. When this is done, the Cedar River trip will be more practical—assuming it’s practical at all. Also, paddlers will be able to undertake a thirteen-mile trip from the Newcomb town beach.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said the longer Hudson trip and the Essex Chain of Lakes will be major draws once the necessary lands are acquired.  In the meantime, he’s looking forward to paddling the Hudson to the Goodnow. “If that’s open, it’s going to be high on my list to do,” he said.

Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.


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5 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Phil, Don’t they need to do some trail work and other infrastructure stuff (landing construction etc.) before they open these areas up? It seems like without it there will be some unnecessary environmental damage. It sounds like these are supposed to be popular destinations. Have they thought this through?

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  2. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    I updated the post to reflect that DEC does indeed plan to keep the road to the takeout open.

    Paul, I don’t know what they would need to build, but not every takeout requires a man-made landing.

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    • Paul says:

      True. But this is something that should be considered ahead of opening up the area. Otherwise we wreck things we don’t want to.

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  3. Michael says:

    I have paddled the Cedar River from the Rt. 28 Bridge north of Indian Lake Village to the Hudson, and then through the gorge to North River. The Cedar is incredibly wild except for the golf balls that have washed downstream from the golf course on Rt 28. On one trip we paddled underneath two bear cubs in a Cedar tree that must have been chased up by their mother when she heard our party coming down the river

    The Cedar is beautiful, but one must navigate the Hudson from the confluence with the Indian River ahead of the “bubble” of water released down the Indian for rafting. This requires good timing to avoid really high water levels on the Hudson, and even then one must line a tripping canoe along the bank by some of the larger rapids in the gorge.

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  4. Phil Brown says:

    Michael, thanks for the info. What class are the Cedar rapds? When are they runnable?

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