Wednesday, August 10, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Daiker’s, Old Forge

Daiker’s, located on Fourth Lake in Old Forge, has something for everyone and ample space to accommodate many. Whether entering from the large parking area or from a boat on the lake, it will take some time to take it all in, including the lake view from the expansive porch and deck.

This was our fifth bar review on that Saturday in July. We had taken a break for an early dinner, planning Old Forge Pub Crawl Part II. We decided to resume at Daiker’s and make our way back to the hamlet of Old Forge for later foot travel. Janet, our host at Village Cottages, armed us with a referral and description of owner, Tal Daiker.

“Oh, #?!*%,” Pam thought, entering the bar, “This is going to take awhile! So much to absorb.” Daiker’s is an amusement park for adults. Taking a seat at the bar, two bartenders at the ready, we began the arduous task of the visual review, but not without first reviewing the bar selections and ordering our drinks. With a well-stocked bar, six drafts, and plenty of bottled beers, there’s something for everyone.

The place is huge, with a long, long bar and another one outside on the deck. A partition separates the bar area from the dining area. Bar stools along the partition provide additional seating. Daiker’s interior is a unique interpretation of Adirondack style with both subtle and overt accents. Pine walls display wildlife art and antler chandeliers hang from a high ceiling supported by sturdy log beams. A massive stone fireplace, dormant for the summer, commands the center of the room.

In an adjoining room, musicians haul amps and equipment for the night’s entertainment. A dance floor lay empty. A pool table sits in an area near the bar; interior walls lined with a photo booth, a vending machine for snacks and another for lottery tickets.

In another section, partially partitioned, is a gaming arcade. Beer advertisements and sports memorabilia covering the most popular events adorn the walls, with televisions and Quick Draw monitors strategically placed throughout the building. An Adirondack scene in diorama is displayed high above in an alcove in the ceiling. Tucked in the wall and protected by glass is a miniature of the original Daiker’s bar. Though we didn’t get the story behind the display of bras behind the bar, we trust it’s an interesting one. Daiker’s gear is on display and available for purchase there or online.

Tal Daiker was a friendly host and happily answered our many questions about the bar and its history and gave us some insight on his family’s commitment to Daiker’s. Originally called the Fulton House, Daiker’s was once a casino and a stop for the steamboat that ran along the lake. Tal’s dad bought it in 1956 and it has been Daiker family operated since then.

In 1988 Tal took over operations, instituting changes, expansions and improvements over the years with his wife Debbie. Their sons Devin and Dane also help with the business. The restaurant and bar are open 7 days a week, serving food from noon to 9 p.m. The bar is open from noon to 2 a.m. Live entertainment, from acoustic soloists to rock bands, is provided on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the summer. Both summer and winter are busy times at Daiker’s, with a substantial snowmobile following in winter. Tal maintains a Twitter account, Tal’s Trail Report, with regular updates on local snow conditions. They do close briefly off season, spring and fall, so be sure to check their website, before visiting off season.

On a mission with a minimum of three more bars to visit, we didn’t socialize with the patrons, but did observe the local camaraderie and diversity. Those observations led to our recognizing several of Daiker’s patrons in the next bar we visited, and the next, and much later yet, another. They, too, were on an Old Forge pub crawl?

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dan Crane: The Year of the Mosquito

Biting insects are the price of admission for playing in the backcountry of the Adirondacks. But this year these pests seem to be more plentiful and ferocious than in years past. This is particularly true for the blood-sucking scourge known worldwide as the pesky mosquito.

Last month I experienced the large number and ferocity of mosquitoes first hand during an eight-day trek within the remote interior of the Five Ponds Wilderness in the northwestern Adirondacks. Saying mosquitoes were plentiful would be a vast understatement given the near-Biblical proportions of the blood-suckers encountered there.

In addition to the vast numbers, the mosquitoes also displayed a greater bloodthirstiness than I have witnessed in many years. Even places usually light in mosquito activity had more than their fair share of the vicious blood-suckers this year. And they were literally out for blood.

There are at least two possible explanations for this near-historical level of mosquitoes. One explanation involves the record level of precipitation during the spring and early summer, while another revolves around the precipitous decline of one of their chief predators.

Few residents of the Adirondacks will soon forget the record amount of rainfall this spring and early summer, with its concomitant flooding causing numerous road closures, some of which continue to this day. All this extra water accumulated in the backcountry resulting in overflowing water bodies, bloated streams and soggy wetlands.

The plentiful water provided a boom for mosquitoes and other blood-sucking pests, providing numerous opportunities to lay their eggs and ample habitat for their larval young.

The reduction in the bat population may be another possible explanation for the proliferation of mosquitoes in the Adirondacks this year.

Bats are flying mammals with webbed forelimbs that have evolved into wings used in flight. Bats are unique among mammals as they are the only members of this class capable of sustained flight.

There are nine different species of bats present within the Adirondacks and all of these consume insects, including mosquitoes, as their main source of food.

Although bats are not exclusive predators of mosquitoes there is evidence they consume prodigious levels of mosquitoes as well as other flying insects. Typically an individual bat can devour up to one third of its own weight in insects each night. That could potentially add up to a whole lot of mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, bat populations along the eastern United States have been devastated by the white-nose syndrome. This syndrome has been associated with the death of over a million bats in the northeastern United States.

The white-nose syndrome is named after the white fungus found on affected bat’s nose, ears and wings. Mortality rates of 90 to 100% have been observed in some caves leaving the long-term viability of some species survival in doubt. The Adirondack bat populations have not been immune to this devastating condition.

Over the last couple of years I have witnessed the reduction in the bat populations first hand. Areas in the northwestern Adirondacks where I observed bats in the early hours of the evening now appear to be devoid of these flying mammals.

Recently, while exploring remote areas south of the Robinson River in the Five Ponds Wilderness I made a concentrated effort to observe some bats early in the evening. Unfortunately the numbers and ferocity of the mosquito horde limited my time viewing the early evening skies without putting both my physical and mental health at risk.

However during the early evening hours of six of the days where weather permitted I failed to see a single bat flying through the darkening skies. The mosquitoes took full advantage of the lack of these flying mammals by feasting on me until I was near the point of insanity.

An abundant mosquito population coupled with an increased bloodthirstiness may be the result of the prodigious amount of rainfall or the depletion of a natural predator — it is difficult to say. When you are in the backcountry surrounded by a swarm of these blood-suckers, reasons are not as important as the sweet relief that insect netting or a good bottle of bug repellent can provide.

Do not fret though; these blood-suckers will get their comeuppance with winter just a few short months away.

Photos: Mosquito by Joaquim Alves Gaspar, high water at Sand Lake by Dan Crane, and bat with white-nose syndrome by US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dan Crane blogs about his bushwhacking adventures at Bushwhacking Fool.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Artists Reception: Great Camps and Rustic Lodges

The 7444 Gallery in Saranac Lake will host a ‘Meet the Artists’ opening reception Saturday, August 13 at 5 p.m. for f-Stop Fitzgerald and Richard McCaffrey. Their photographs will be on display until October 6.

The exhibit features more than 25 canvas-print photographs drawn from a book to be published by Rizzoli this fall, Adirondack Style: Great Camps and Rustic Lodges.

Adirondack Style describes the architecture, design, and natural beauty of Adirondack great camps and rustic camps. The structures make use of the materials readily available in the area — rough-hewn log exteriors that contrast with sometimes lavish and elegant interiors featuring intricate stonework and hand-carved furniture.

The book’s introduction is by Adirondack preservationist Dr. Howard Kirschenbaum; the foreward is by Laura S. Rice, chief curator of the Adirondack Museum; and text is by Adirondack Life contributors Jane Mackintosh and Lynn Woods.

Natural elements such as tree roots, twigs, and bark often played an integral part in the décor, and the simple yet elegant Adirondack chair has become an international symbol of leisure. Many camps had boathouses, teahouses, game rooms, and even bowling alleys, and several were designed by top architects of the era and incorporated their international influences: Pine Knot resembled a Swiss chalet; the architectural flourishes of Santanoni were Japanese-inspired; and The Hedges had Dutch doors.

Approximately forty of these extravagant camps survive, including ten that are National Historic Landmarks. Adirondack Style will feature thirty-seven of these camps, including Pine Knot, Uncas, and Sagamore, all of which were built for William West Durant, a pioneer of the Great Camp style; Wonundra, which was built for William Avery Rockefeller and his family; and White Pine, which President Calvin Coolidge once used as his Summer White House.


f-Stop Fitzgerald is a noted photographer whose work has appeared in more than 100 periodicals, including Rolling Stone, GQ, Publishers Weekly, and The Village Voice. His collaboration with Stephen King, Nightmares in the Sky, was a national best seller.

Richard McCaffrey is currently staff photographer for The Providence Phoenix. He is represented by Getty Images and his work appears in numerous national and international books and publications.

7444 Gallery is on Depot Street, near Stewart’s and the train station.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Wilderness Swimming with Kids

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

One of the greatest privileges in visiting and living in the Adirondack Park is being able to swim in all the natural swimming holes, pools and ponds.

Swimming in ponds and streams can be tricky with small children but not impossible. Being able to go for a refreshing dip in a natural setting is worth a few precautions. Though it is a fun family activity there are a few things to remember before you go.

The first rule is to never swim in springtime when the water is at its swiftest from recent snow-melt and mountain runoff. Each year there are incidences where people of all ages believe that they can outwit Mother Nature and battle the strong currents. Even expert swimmers have been known to drown during these rough, unpredictable times.

Never swim alone and remind children we are never too old for the buddy system. It worked when we were all in summer camp for a reason. In a wilderness setting it is always a good idea for a friend to be there to help.

Depending on your comfort zone, you may want to wear water shoes. Stones can be sharp on tender feet or slippery from algae. We always encourage children to crawl like a crab when crossing a riverbed unless rocks are dry and close together. Keep your body weight low and take your time. Let children explore the area and develop a love for nature.

Bring a swim top. Adirondack lakes and streams can be cold so tuck in that swim top to ward off the chill.

Always have the strongest swimmer perform an underwater sweep of any swimming hole. Just because you jumped off a rock into a wilderness pool last week, doesn’t mean that a tree branch didn’t break off in the mean time. A sunken branch or log can cause serious injury.

If children and adults are used to the clear waters of a chlorinated pool, swimming in the tannin-tinged Adirondack waters can be frightening. One of the largest concerns I find when we guide families is “monsters under the water.” Bring a mask and let children explore underwater. It won’t be as clear as a pool but they will still be able to see enough to stymie the fear factor and be able to explore the underwater native life.

If your child is not a strong swimmer or the current is stronger than usual, bring out that lifejacket. You can always take it off once children are comfortable.

Never push this or any experience. There is certainly enough adventures to be found just exploring along any Adirondack shoreline. Of course, with any wilderness experience swim at your own risk, use common sense and please carry in what you carry out. Enjoy your wilderness experience.

Photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Reunions Planned

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began on March 31, 1933 under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to relieve the poverty and unemployment of the Depression. Camps were set up in many New York towns, state parks, & forests. Workers built trails, roads, campsites & dams, stocked fish, built & maintained fire tower observer’s cabins & telephone lines, fought fires, and planted millions of trees. The CCC disbanded in 1942 due to the need for men

in WW II.

At each upcoming event, author and historian Marty Podskoch will give a short Power Point presentation on the history, memories & legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in New York. CCC alumni will share stories of their days in CCC camps both in New York and other


Marty Podskoch will also have his new book: Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Its History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC available for purchase and signing. The 352-page book contains 185 interviews, over 50 charts

& maps, and over 500 pictures & illustrations.

Podskoch is also the author of five other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, two Adirondack fire tower books: Adirondack Fire

Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts, and Northern Districts and two other books, Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches
from his weekly illustrated newspaper column.

For those unable to attend this first reunion in Malone, there are four other reunions planned:

– August 15, 2011 at 10:00 am Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY (518) 374-0263

– August 26, 2011 at 10 am Crandall Library, 251 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY (518) 792-6508

– August 26, 2011 at 6 pm Hamilton County Historical Society, at the former Speculator CCC camp and 4-H Camp, Lake Pleasant, NY; 7 pm the group will go to the Lake Pleasant School. 518) 648-5377

– September 23, 2011 at 1 pm Oneida Historical Society, 1608 Genesee St., Utica, NY (315) 735-3642

For more information on the reunion, contact Anne Werley Smallman, Director of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society at: (518)483-2750 or

If any one has information or pictures of relatives or friends who worked at one of the CCC camps, please contact Marty Podskoch at: 36 Waterhole Rd., Colchester, CT 06415 or 860-267-2442, or

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

John Warren: An Open Letter to Brian Mann

Dear Brian,

I just finished reading your latest editorial piece, “The Other Endangered Species,” in the September/October issue of Adirondack Life magazine. I’m writing to say that your premise is all wrong.

You wrote that it’s time to end the discussion of whether or not the Adirondack Park “as a conservation model” is a success or a failure. You say “the various factions in the Adirondacks need to accept that the human community is in peril.”

Brian, the Adirondack human community is not in peril, human communities in the Adirondacks are not endangered, and there is no chance, despite your claims, that the Adirondacks “will be reduced to a patchwork of ghost towns and hollow vacation resorts.”
» Continue Reading.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Adirondack Insects: Fall Webworms

As August progresses, numerous subtle signs in nature arise, indicating that the change in seasons is approaching. Yet, of all of the sights, sounds, and smells that characterize the latter part of summer in the Adirondacks, few elicits as unappealing a response as the appearance of the communal shelters used by the fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea).

During the first week or two of August in the Adirondacks, the silken tents of the fall webworms become conspicuous enough for people driving along a highway, walking through an open hardwood forest, or biking on a backcountry road to notice. These unsightly masses of thin white fibers are woven by over a hundred tiger moth larvae that live inside them and are always placed on the very end of a twig of a preferred tree, like a cherry or willow. » Continue Reading.

Monday, August 8, 2011

John Dunlap: America’s ‘Second Old Hickory’

Eccentrics—they’re part of virtually every community, and, in fact, are usually the people we remember best. The definition of eccentric—behavior that is peculiar, odd, or non-customary—certainly fit Watertown’s John L. Dunlap. Historians noted his “peculiar kinks of mind,” and referred to him as “a person of comic interest,” but they knew little of the man before he reached the age of 50. His peculiarities overshadowed an entertaining life filled with plenty of substance. And he just may have been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

Dunlap’s story began more than 200 years ago, rooted in the American Revolution. In 1774, his father (John) and grandfather emigrated from Scotland to Washington County, N.Y. In 1777–78 they fought in the War of Independence and saw plenty of action. According to a payroll attachment from his regiment, Dunlap served at Ticonderoga.

Years later, he became a Presbyterian pastor in Cambridge, N.Y., and in 1791 married Catherine Courtenius. It took time for the reverend to see the light about the rights of man—records indicate that he freed Nell, his slave, in September 1814, not long after several of his parishioners had liberated their own slaves.

Among the children born to John and Catherine Dunlap was John L., who arrived in the late 1790s. He was reared on stories of his dad and grand-dad battling for America’s freedom. While his father ministered to the spiritual needs of several Washington County communities for many decades, John L. became a doctor in 1826 and likewise tended to their physical needs for more than 20 years, serving in Cambridge, Salem, and Shushan.

Dunlap focused on two passions in life: his line of self-developed remedies for all sorts of illnesses, and a consuming interest in politics on both the state and national level. He pursued both with great vigor and developed a reputation as an orator in the Albany-Troy area.

On July 4, 1848, John delivered a stirring oration at the courthouse in Troy, an event so popular that reportedly “thousands were unable to find admission.” Repeat performances were so in demand that for the next two years he gave the same speech in Troy, Utica, and elsewhere, at the same time marketing and selling his various medicines. Dunlap’s Syrup was claimed to cure Consumption, Dyspepsia, Scrofula, Liver Complaints, and other ills.

Just as his father had left Washington County decades earlier to help establish churches in several central New York towns, Dunlap took his speech on the road to Schenectady, Utica, and other locales. Crowds gathered to hear his famous lecture and purchase his line of medicines.

He had sought public office in the past, but his increasingly high profile and passion for politics presented new opportunities. At the 1850 State Democratic Convention in Syracuse, Dunlap’s name was among those submitted as the party candidate for governor. Horatio Seymour eventually won the nomination.

Shortly after, Dunlap resettled in Watertown and announced his Independent candidacy as a Jefferson County representative. He was as outspoken as always—some viewed him as eccentric, while others saw in him a free thinker. Fearless in taking a stand, he called for the annexation of Cuba and Canada, and was a proponent of women’s rights.

Viewed from more recent times, some of those stances might sound a little off-the-wall, but there was actually nothing eccentric about the annexation issues. The Cuban idea was a prominent topic in 1850, and the annexation of Canada was based in America’s Articles of Confederation, which contained a specific clause allowing Canada to join the United States. And as far as women’s rights are concerned, he proved to be a man far ahead of his time.

In late 1851, Dunlap went on a speaking tour, including stops in Syracuse and Rochester, and announced his candidacy for President. The Syracuse Star said, “We suspect he is just as fit a man for president as Zachary Taylor was.”

From that point on, Dunlap was a perennial candidate for office, always running but never winning. In 1855–56, he announced for the US Senate; not gaining the nomination, he announced for the Presidency (he was promoted as the “Second Old Hickory of America”); and not winning that nomination, he announced for the governorship of New York. And he did all of that within a 12-month span.

All the while, Dunlap continued selling his medicines and seeing patients in his office at Watertown’s Hungerford Block. An 1856 advertisement noted: “His justly celebrated Cough and Lung Syrup, to cure asthma and bleeding of the lungs, surpasses all the preparations now in use in the United States.”

Another of his concoctions was advertised in verse:

“Let me advise you ’ere it be too late

And the grim foe, Consumption, seals your fate,

To get that remedy most sure and calm,

A bottle of Dr. Dunlap’s Healing Balm.”

His vegetable compounds were claimed as cures for dozens of ailments ranging from general weakness to eruptions of the skin to heart palpitations. There was no restraint in his advertisements, one of which placed him in particularly high company.

It read: “Christopher Columbus was raised up to discover a new world. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, captivated by her charms two Roman Generals, Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony. Napoleon Bonaparte was raised up to conquer nearly all of Europe and put down the Inquisition in Spain. George Washington was raised up to be the deliverer of his country. Dr. John L. Dunlap of Watertown, N.Y. was raised up to make great and important discoveries in medicine, and to alleviate the sufferings and prolong the lives of thousands of human beings.”

In 1863, urged by New York’s 35th Regiment to run for President, Dunlap consented and was again promoted as the Second Old Hickory of America. He wanted Ulysses Grant as his running mate (Grant was busy at the time, leading the North in the Civil War), and he received impressive promises of political support at the Chicago convention.

A poll of passengers on a train running from Rochester to Syracuse yielded surprising results: For Abraham Lincoln, 50 votes; George B. McLellan, 61; John C. Fremont, 6; and Dr. John L. Dunlap, Watertown, 71.

History reveals that Lincoln did, in fact, triumph, but Dunlap didn’t lose for lack of trying. He secured the nomination of the Peoples’ Party at their convention in Columbus, Ohio, and none other than Ulysses S. Grant was selected as his vice-presidential running mate. Dunlap received congratulations from New York Governor Horatio Seymour for winning the nomination.

The widely distributed handbill (poster) for Dunlap/Grant used the slogan, “Trust in God, and keep your powder dry,” and promised, “Clear the track, the two Great War Horses of the North and West are coming! The one will suppress the rebellion with the sword, and the other will heal the nation with his medicines and his advice.”

Among Dunlap’s early campaign stops in the 1864 election were Troy, Albany, and Washington, D.C. He was handicapped by having to stump alone since Grant was still pursuing Lee on the battlefield. But as always, Dunlap gave it his best effort. Known as a fierce patriot and a man of the people, he was very popular at many stops.

Two years later, he sought the nomination for governor and also received 12 votes for representative in the 20th Congressional District—not a lot, but higher than four of his opponents.

In 1868, Dunlap again pursued the presidency, this time seeking General Philip Sheridan as his running mate. Had the effort been supported, he would have squared off against two familiar faces—his former running mate, Grant, was the Republican nominee, while his former opponent for governor, Horatio Seymour, won the Democratic nomination.

Shortly after President Grant’s inauguration, he received a special congratulatory gift: a case of medicines from Dr. John L. Dunlap. In a related story (from the Watertown Daily Times in the 1920s), the Scott family of Watertown claimed that Dunlap once sent a bottle of cough syrup via Judge Ross Scott to Secretary of State William Seward (in Auburn, NY).

Seward delivered the bottle to Lincoln, who reportedly said, “Tell Dr. Dunlap I’ve tried it on my buckwheat pancakes and it’s the best substitute for maple syrup I know of.”

Next week: Part 2 of the John Dunlap story.

Photo: Official handbill of the People’s Convention promoting the candidacy of Dunlap and Grant (1864).

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Adirondack Park Population Growing Faster Than NYS

In the many discussions concerning the present and future of the Adirondacks, one of the foundational assumptions is that the region is being held back by the controversial Adirondack Park Agency (APA). An analysis of population data shows something quite different: the Park’s population is growing at a significantly faster rate than the rest of New York since the creation of the APA.

At the suggestion of The Post-Star‘s Will Doolittle, a harsh critic of the APA, I analyzed population data from the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV)*, whose most recent numbers are from 2006. Mr. Doolittle also criticized previous analyses that he considered distorted by relatively populous towns like Queensbury and Plattsburgh that had land both inside and outside the Park, so I looked at numbers of municipalities that were entirely inside the Blue Line. I compared those figures to 1970 numbers, the last census before the establishment of the APA. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Adirondack Forest Preserve Land Classification

What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).

The state owned lands of the Adirondacks are identified in the New York State Constitution as forest preserve lands and protected by the State constitution to “be forever kept as wild forest lands.” Currently, there are 2.7 million acres of forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks. The Department of Environmental Conservation, under State law, has “care, custody and control” of the forest preserve lands.

Further, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, overseen by the Adirondack Park Agency, identifies the various management units of the forest preserve, assigns each of the units a land classification category and provides the guidelines for management and recreation for each classification. While there are nine lands classes, the majority of the state lands in the Adirondacks are included in one of the four classification categories below.

Wilderness – 18 forest preserve units, containing approximately 1.1 million acres of land, are classified as “Wilderness”. Recreational activities on wilderness lands and waters is limited to non-motorized recreation such as hiking, hunting, fishing, primitive camping, rock climbing, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing and kayaking. Motorized vehicles, motorized boats and mountain biking are prohibited on wilderness lands. Except in very rare cases, the only structures or facilities permitted on these lands are leantos, primitive tent sites, trails, foot bridges and pit privies.

Wild Forest – 20 forest preserve units, containing approximately 1.3 million acres of land, are classified as “Wild Forest”. A wider variety of recreational activities are allowed on the lands and waters in wild forest areas. In addition to the recreational activities allowed on wilderness lands and waters, some forms of motorized recreation are allowed with restrictions. Cars and trucks may only drive on designated roads; snowmobiles may only use designated trails and roads; mountain bikes can use any trails or roads unless prohibited by signs and some specific waters have restrictions on the horsepower of a boat’s motor, allow the use of electric motors only or may be prohibit any motors. Drive up camp sites are provided along some roadways in wild forests areas.

Primitive Areas – 11 forest preserve units larger than 1000 acres, and more than 20 corridors or other small pieces, totaling approximately 66,000 acres, are classified as “Primitive”. Primitive areas are managed the same as wilderness areas and recreational activities are restricted to those allowed on lands and waters classified as wilderness. (The tracts classified “Primitive rather than “Wilderness” because of substantial privately owned “in-holdings” or structures that don’t conform with wilderness guidelines.) The primitive corridors are typically public or private roads within a wilderness area, if it is public road, cars and trucks are allowed on them.

Canoe Area – Only one forest preserve unit, the 18,000 acre St. Regis Canoe Area, is classified as a “Canoe Area”. Canoe areas are managed as wilderness areas, with a focus on non-motorized, water-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Primitive camping is allowed at sites accessible only by water. Mountain biking is allowed on the administrative roads.

Intensive Use Areas – These areas are limited in size but provide facilities such as bathrooms, developed beaches, boat launches, paved roadways, and other amenities for the recreating public. There are 42 campgrounds, 25 boat launches, 6 day use areas and 2 ski centers owned by the state in the Adirondack Park. These areas provide for recreational activities like group camping (though without utility hookups), swimming, boating, picnicking, and skiing.

Conservation Easement – Currently there are more than 580,000 acres of privately owned lands in the Adirondack Park which the State owns development rights, and often public recreation rights, called “Conservation Easement Lands”. Typically, these lands are owned and/or managed by timber companies, but the ability to subdivide and build structures on these lands are prohibited or severely limited. The public recreation rights on these lands range from no public access, to access limited to specific corridors or locations, to full public recreation rights. The recreation activities on these lands can be restricted by type, location and season. Check with the Department of Environmental Conservation to learn what recreational activities are allowed on specific parcels. DEC State land regulations apply on any conservation easement land that has public recreational rights.

Special Notes

Other than on intensive use areas, the forest preserve lands are designed and managed to emphasize the self-sufficiency of the recreational users. When recreating on the forest preserve you must assume a high degree of responsibility for environmentally-sound use of such areas and for your own health, safety and welfare.

Be sure to know the laws and regulations governing a recreational activity before participating in that activity.

Horseback riding is allowed on roads open for public use, trails that are marked for horse use, and trails marked for skiing or snowmobiling when there is no snow or ice on the ground.

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are prohibited on all forest preserve lands.

Recreational activities on the approximately 2.4 million acres of private lands within the Adirondack Park, not under a conservation easement, are not restricted any more than activities on private lands throughout the rest of the state. The public is prohibited from entering private lands without permission of the landowner.

Contact the Department of Environmental Conservation Lands & Forests office for more information: Region 5 – 518-897-1291 or Region 6 – 315-785-2261

This guest essay was contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands. To learn more about AFPEP visit

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