Thursday, May 29, 2014

Connecting A Rail Trail With The Northville-Placid Trail

Rail Trail With Northville Placid Trail Connection MapA reader of my recent blog post “A Proposal For Rail AND Trail” asked the question, “Is it feasible to connect the Northville-Lake Placid Trail to a trail alongside the railroad tracks?”

I took a look at the map and sure enough it would be quite easy to extend the Northville-Lake Placid Trail 1.25 miles across the Averyville Road through the Saranac Lake Wild Forest and have it join the rail corridor.

When the Lake Placid to Saranac Lake trail alongside the tracks gets built (I’m forever the optimist) and planned changes to the trail in Northville are completed, it would allow hikers to hike from Northville to Lake Placid or Saranac Lake without having to walk along a highway, and start and finish in communities,  whereas right now you have to hike nearly three miles alongside roads to get to the center of Lake Placid.

If the 1.25 mile extension were built and the trail alongside the tracks were built, hikers could walk 3 miles to the Lake Placid Railroad Station or 8 miles to the Saranac Lake Railroad Station. Both routes would be through woods and along the railroad tracks and avoid roads completely.

Kind of a neat idea that continues to build on the possible synergy between the railroad and trails.


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Jack Drury is co-owner of Leading E.D.G.E., a professional development firm, professor emeritus of North Country Community College having founded the college's Wilderness Recreation Leadership Program and has been an Adirondack guide for 45 years.

19 Responses

  1. George L says:

    The linkage is a splendid idea. Your observation that the riding portion of the Rail & Trail also can be a no-car hiking route is an important contribution.

  2. Then… Complete a trail along side (in rough terms, not literally alongside) the RR South to Thendara and a connector between Thendara and Northville. Voila! You have a loop trail that hikers can jump on at any point of their choosing for a long distance hike that will bring them back to their car (or train) to go home.

    I know, I know. “We can’t afford it”. Whatever happened to the American “can do” attitude? President Kennedy said we’d go to the moon and we did it. I’m sure there were people around then who thought we couldn’t afford it. I’d like to see us, as a nation, get brash again about big ideas. The generation of ideas these days all seem to be limited to corporations and they have gotten over-cautious. If it doesn’t guarantee a fat profit they won’t take the risk.

  3. Bill Ingersoll says:

    Most N-P Trail through hikers skip the walk along Averyville Road altogether; the hike ends at the parking lot beside the Chubb River, without feeling obligated to continue by foot into town.

    All this idea does is replace one road with another road.

    • Paul says:

      I don’t understand. That purple line on the map doesn’t look like a road to me?

      This would also hook up Mt. bikers on the a rail trail with a cooler way to get to the Averyville road so they can get to the tail into pine pond. The only problem is that you have to get off your bike at the Wilderness boundary and walk the last quarter mile to the pond.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      Perhaps you missed the part about the “purple line” leading to a railroad that the author states should remain active, with the N-P Trail placed beside it. It’s an interesting thought that hikers will want to add several miles to a 120-hike to walk beside an active railroad. It misses the point of why the road sections of the old N-P Trail are considered undesirable.

      The name “Adirondack Scenic Railroad” refers to views FROM the train, not the views OF the train.

      • George L says:

        Bill –

        You have strenuous objections, but I am not sure why.

        What is the harm here?

        You don’t want a walking path besides the train because the views of the train aren’t scenic?

        It’s better to walk on the side of the road?

        Do you want a bike trail with rail, bike train with no rail, or what? Is the scenery really an issue?

        Personally, I advocate for a dedicated bike path between LP and SL. Do you support that?

        • Curt Austin says:

          “Do you want a bike trail with rail, bike train with no rail, or what?”

          This sort of question has appealing simplicity – the “right” answer seems obvious. It has the comforting sense of “let’s all just get along”. It seems reasonable to the casual observer.

          Your spouse says “I think my mother needs to move in with us. Can you get your crap out of the spare bedroom?” You say “Let’s just build her a house next door instead.” Your spouse should reply “Great idea! You’re so smart. Here are some boxes.”

          “Let’s just build a trail nearby” is the same sort of suggestion. Instead of re-purposing an underutilized, existing resource, build something from scratch.

          There’s another canard in this thread, that a huge loop trail is significant. On a planner’s map in a conference room, they generate oohs and ahhs. On the ground, you could sit in a lawn chair all day and not see a single person pass by. They’re like an unpaved town road, when a bike trail is more like Route 73.

      • Bill Ingersoll says:

        What I’m saying is that hiking beside an active train track is the same as hiking beside a road. There is no aesthetic difference, so salivation in anticipation of the experience.

        When I completed my NPT through-hike in 2010, the trip ended at the parking area on Averyville Road beside the Chubb River. We happily got in a car and drove into Lake Placid for food and beverages. There was no walk along the roadside that needed to be replaced with something longer.

        As for my views on the various proposals for the corridor, thank you for asking, but I will only say that I do not see this as a black-or-white issue. I see no reason to take sides in someone else’s rhetorical slugfest.

  4. Paul says:

    “What I’m saying is that hiking beside an active train track is the same as hiking beside a road. There is no aesthetic difference, so salivation in anticipation of the experience.”

    Not really. A road has many cars and other vehicles driving down it. A RR like this might have a few trains a day. If you happen to be hiking or biking when the train goes by you might see it for like 5 minutes at most.

    Sure it is different than a trail without a rail next to it but it isn’t at all like being on a road.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      Well, then, have fun hiking the RR tracks. No need to wait–you can walk portions of it today if you want. Demonstrate to us that you are willing to back up your numerous opinions with first-hand experience. (By the way, it must be nice winning the internet every day through circular reasoning. Do you get trophies for that?)

      It’s not just the trains that would make the railroad corridor unappealing for hiking, it’s the “road” part of “railroad.” It makes no difference if it’s a road built for cars or a road built for trains, it’s still a road: long, flat, dull, tedious, artificial, hard-surfaced, uninteresting. The frequency of traffic is only a part of the issue.

      This isn’t some theory for me; I’ve walked portions of this RR before as a means to get to specific sites on state land. It’s a thing that I do as quickly as possible, and only because I have to do it. These places include the new Nelson Lake Lean-to, or the canoe carry between Lake Lila and Bog Lake. I skied another short segment this winter to access the St. Regis Canoe Area. Otherwise, walking the railroad just because it’s there is definitively NOT on this hiker’s agenda. Sorry.

      If hiking a road was the type of outdoor experience that did excite me, then why would I feel motivated to drive up north to the Adirondacks when I have perfectly good country roads all around my house? Why not just hike the Erie Canal towpath?

      And for what it’s worth, I can’t say that I’m all that fond of anonymous trolls telling me they know more about hiking than I do, just because credibility isn’t required to have an opinion. If you really believe half the stuff you say here, have the courage of your convictions and post with your full name.

      • Paul says:

        Bill, see my comment below. I have no interest in hiking on this even w/o the tracks. You and I appear to share that opinion.

        My comments were not any kind of endorsement of a rail and trail? I personally think it is a bad idea. Also, I didn’t say that I knew more about hiking that you, clearly I do not, or my name would be on many of the books in my library not yours!

        My only point was that there is a difference between hiking on a RR bed like that (with or without a track) and a road that may be busy with cars. Neither is fun in my opinion but I do think they are different. You and I just simply disagree on that point.

        I have been on some of the RR corridor. But mostly only on the sections around the tri lakes.

      • Bill Ingersoll says:

        Paul, you don’t comment, you just contradict without even bothering to supply reasons why you think the way you do. And I did read that comment below. You began with the words “I agree” and then proceeded to tell that person you thought she was wrong, without even making the effort to explain why. This is not making a point, it’s just arguing for the sake of argument.

        • Paul says:

          I said. “There is (should be ‘are’) much better places that already exist for hiking in the Adirondacks than what would be a long flat dusty trail.”

          Seems like a pretty good reason to me?

          Didn’t say she was wrong. I said she was right.

  5. Paul says:

    This could also connect the NP trail to a trail without an active train track if there wasn’t one there. People are so cheesed on this topic that they assume it always about rail versus trail.

  6. Hope says:

    I’m with Bill on this. Hiking or biking, for that matter, alongside an active rail road doesn’t do it for me either. While I wouldn’t necessarily object to that in an urban/suburban setting, it is not the experience I’m looking for in the ADKs.

    • Paul says:

      I agree. But it is not the same as riding or hiking on a road.

      I personally would not hike on this corridor even if it didn’t have rails. There is much better places that already exist for hiking in the Adirondacks than what would be a long flat dusty trail. No thanks.

    • Wally says:

      No one will be forced to use it.

  7. Big Burly says:

    Thank you Jack for continuing to think how to make interesting the resources that abound in our region.

  8. Carter Oaks says:

    You want to hike a trail, blaze a trail. Why do you have to condemn or confiscate what others have built? The iron horse has a place in our history and in our park. Go make your own.

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