Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DEC Proposes Trail, Lean-to In Pepperbox Wilderness

Pepperbox Wilderness by Dan CraneThe 22,560-acre Pepperbox Wilderness in the western Adirondacks is one of the smaller wilderness areas in the Park, but it also is one of the wildest. It has no lean-tos and only two miles of foot trails.

The State Land Master Plan observes that the lack of a trail system “offers an opportunity to retain a portion of the Adirondack landscape in a state that even a purist might call wilderness.”

Now the state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to create a 1.3-mile trail to Gregg Lake and build a lean-to at a primitive campsite on the lake.

The trail would start on the Tied Lake Primitive Corridor, a rough road that leads to an in-holding, and follow an unmarked path primarily used by anglers. DEC proposes to mark and maintain the path as a foot trail.

Since the Primitive Corridor is closed to motor vehicles, hikers and anglers will have to park at a barrier and walk 0.3 miles down the road to the start of the trail. Thus, the hike to the lake will be 1.6 miles.

As another option, DEC says it could mark and maintain another path that begins farther down the road. This path is a mile long and starts 1.2 miles from the barrier. Thus, the entire hike would be 2.2 miles.

DEC prefers the first option, saying it will facilitate the return of the second trail to natural conditions.

The Pepperbox Wilderness is located north of Stillwater Reservoir. Gregg Lake was added to the Wilderness Area after DEC wrote the tract’s management plan.

The trail and lean-to will require an amendment to the State Land Master Plan. The public has until May 8 to comment on the proposal.

DEC also is proposing to open an old logging road in the Jessup River Wild Forest to improve access to a parking area used by snowmobilers. Again, the public has until May 8 to submit comments to the Adirondack Park Agency.

Both proposals can be found on the APA website.

Comments can be emailed to SLMP_Comments@apa.ny.gov.

The post DEC Proposes Trail, Lean-to In Pepperbox Wilderness appeared first on Adirondack Explorer.


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.




9 Responses

  1. Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

    My reaction to this news: why?

  2. Paul says:

    If this follows basically the “path” that folks are already using and it can be designed to do things like limit erosion and run off it seems like a good idea. Sometimes these herd paths are not good.

  3. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Sounds great, but the “wilderness” extremists will undoubtedly oppose it.

  4. Smitty says:

    I would look forward to having a trail and lean to in Pepperbox. Bushwhacking is not for me.

  5. Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

    I really question the need for a lean-to at Gregg Lake.

    I would be surprised if this area gets much use, as it requires about a 10-mile drive down a forested dirt road, followed by a very rough side road that goes up and over an esker before even arriving at the trailhead parking. You pretty much need a high clearance vehicle with 4-wheel drive to get there. The last time I visited was probably about 10-years ago, so maybe they’ve improved the Tied Lake Primitive Corridor since then (which would generate a another round of questions). If a lean-to is going to be built then why not do so in an area that gets more use and has easier access?

    It won’t result in additional trails either from what I remember. If my memory serves (and it might not, I’ll have to check my notes), the trail is already marked with DEC signage, at least at intersections. I remember being dumbfounded to see the signs when I wandered down to Gregg and Green Lakes many years ago while birding the area.

    Doesn’t a volunteer group pretty much maintain and rehabilitate the current lean-tos? If so, the DEC can’t even maintain what they have now, so why build more structures in an area that gets so little use? Don’t they have better things to spend money on like more personnel, protecting what they have (especially after the Lot 8 debacle) and purchasing new lands?

    Something doesn’t smell right on this one…

    • Paul says:

      The draft amendment describes what you are describing. They admit the usage numbers are pretty low. Doing some work on the trail work might make sense. Maybe save the lean-to for another spot. There is really no need for it defined in the amendment. Maybe the thing to do is improve the road and then if the use numbers improve do these other things?

  6. Scott says:

    Wilderness areas should not have man-made improvements. All the places we have boardwalks, bridges, and leantos and outposts should be properly called Primitive Areas. Call a spade a spade…

  7. George L says:

    Aren’t trails man-made? Should we eliminate trails in all wilderness areas?

    Does wilderness have to be inaccessible (to most) in order to qualify as wilderness?

    Would a hike/bushwhack into Low’s Lake, Lake Lila, Henderson Lake, Stillwater Reservoir, etc. from the nearest highway, improve the wilderness experience, once you arrive?

    Is wilderness defined by inaccessibility, or by its own characteristics?

    After all, the Adirondacks is situated near millions of people. It is not in Alaska.

  8. Wally Elton Wally Elton says:

    Most wilderness areas have trails. But a lack of trails does not make one “inaccessible.” It would be fine to have wilderness with no or very limited trail access for those who want to explore such an area on its own terms for its “own characteristics.”