Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that 7,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands are about to open to the public, enabling canoeists and kayakers to paddle down a remote stretch of the Hudson River and fishermen and hikers to walk to the Cedar River.
The state recently acquired 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy, but most of the lands are still under lease to hunting clubs and so not open to the public.
The 7,200 acres will be open as of midday Friday, according to Dave Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The lands include a twelve-mile corridor of the Hudson River south of the hamlet of Newcomb. As a result, paddlers will be able to put in at the town beach on Harris Lake in Newcomb and travel downriver to one of two takeouts, the first just after the confluence with the Goodnow River and the second just before the confluence with the Indian River. Both takeouts are marked by signs.
Beware that this part of the river is not for beginning paddlers. It includes several class II rapids, some approaching class III in difficulty. Flat-water paddlers could carry around the rapids or line their boats, but when we did the trip to the Goodnow this spring, the carry trails were only rough paths. DEC does not expect to construct carry trails for a while.
We did the trip with state officials who had a key to the gate to Essex Chain Tract. As a result, we were able to drive through the property most of the way to the Hudson. Soon the public will be allowed to do the same. The carry from the parking area to the put-in/takeout on the river is 0.9 miles.
The trip from Harris Lake to the first takeout, near an iron bridge, is roughly six miles. It’s possible to continue another six miles or so to the second takeout. Again, paddlers will encounter a number of class II rapids. Paddlers will need to carry about 0.8 miles to Chain Lakes Road in Indian Lake.
The parking area at Chain Lakes Road is also the start of a 3.7-mile hiking trail that leads to the Cedar River.
DEC has constructed informational kiosks at the Harris Lake put-in and the two parking areas for the Hudson.
The Essex Chain Lakes, at the heart of the tract, will be open to the public starting October 1, when the Gooley Club’s exclusive lease expires.
Another tract, the OK Slip Falls Tract, also has been acquired by the state. The main attraction is 250-foot OK Slip Falls. DEC is discouraging use until it opens a trail to the waterfall, which could happen this autumn.
The Adirondack Park Agency will hold the first of eight public hearings tonight to gather input on how to manage the former Finch lands.
Photo by Carl Heilman II: Essex Chain Lakes.