This summer, a small parcel of state land on the Fulton-Hamilton county line in the southern Adirondacks has been receiving an increased amount of public scrutiny. Most of it has enjoyed a quiet existence since the state started acquiring lots here at tax sales as early as the 1870s and 1880s; with no trails or famous landmarks, few people have had a reason to visit it. However, this little block of state land will soon become the site of a new section of the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT), fulfilling the goal of relocating the southern end of that long-distance hiking route closer to its official starting point in Northville. It has also been proposed for a wilderness reclassification, due to the acquisition of a former Finch Pruyn parcel to the south. Therefore if you are not familiar with this corner of the Adirondack Park, you will probably be hearing more about it soon.
The area that I am describing is a corner of the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest straddling the banks of West Stony Creek, immediately south of Benson. Most of it occupies the rectangular bulge in Hamilton County’s southern border that was created when the town of Benson was set apart from Hope in 1860, taking with it the northernmost portion of Mayfield. This has always been a blank spot on most maps—unsettled and unknown. To my knowledge there have never been any official state trails here, although it is possible that an ancient town road may have traversed the hillside south of the creek. It has one small pond, a range of unnamed mountains, and of course a section of West Stony Creek, which is here designated as a “scenic river” under state law. » Continue Reading.