Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of the trail today in news release in which he also touted funding for equestrian trails in the central Adirondacks and for the repair of the Lake Abanakee Dam in Indian Lake.
The state acquired OK Slip Falls—one of the tallest cascades in the Adirondack Park—from the Nature Conservancy in 2013. Since then, people have been hiking to the falls along informal trails or bushwhacking.
The official trail starts on the north side of Route 28, at the same trailhead for a pre-existing trail that leads to Ross, Whortleberry, and Big Bad Luck ponds. The parking area is on the south side of the highway, about 7.5 miles east of the hamlet of Indian Lake and 0.2 miles west of the trailhead.
Hikers should go up the Ross Pond trail, marked by red disks, for a half-mile, then turn right onto the new trail, which is marked by blue disks. OK Slip Falls is reached 2.5 miles after the turn. The trail ends at an overlook with a view of the falls. OK Slip Brook flows into the Hudson Gorge. Much of the trail follows a route that had been used by the previous landowners.
The Student Conservation Society built and marked the new trail under the supervision of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In December, the Adirondack Park Agency voted to create the 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness. It includes lands purchased from the Nature Conservancy as well as pre-existing Forest Preserve lands.
Cuomo also announced that the state will spend $250,000 to develop equestrian trails and facilities in the towns of Minerva, Newcomb, North Hudson, Indian Lake, and Long Lake—the five towns that are home to some 22,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands that the state bought from the conservancy in 2012 and 2013.
The facilities will include parking areas for horse trailers, a pole barn, a horse-washing station, a holding tank for gray water and sewage from trailers, and two mounting platforms for the disabled. These will not be built on state land.
DEC plans to designate horse trails in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex. The department also has proposed building a bridge over the Cedar River that would allow horseback riders to access the Essex Chain Lakes Complex from Indian Lake. It is also looking at establishing horse trails in the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest and on conservation easement lands off Blue Ridge Road. All told the department may develop more than 30 miles of equestrian trails.
DEC operates a popular horse-trail system in the Independence River Wild Forest in the western Adirondacks, and equestrians have expressed interest in riding in the Essex Chain region, according to DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino. She described the Independence River network as “an extremely popular destination for trail riders who travel from across New York State, Canada and the northeast region of the U.S.”
The 19,200-acre Essex Chain Lakes Complex boasts 18 water bodies, ranging in size from three-acre Chub Pond to 216-acre Third Lake. The region is bordered on the east by the Hudson River, and the Cedar River flows through the southern part.
Finally, the governor announced that the town of Indian Lake will receive $750,000 to rehabilitate the Lake Abanakee Dam on the Indian River, which will bring the dam into compliance with state safety regulations.
The upgrade will allow the town to continue releasing water continued water releases from the dam for rafters who paddle down the Indian into the Hudson River and through the gorge. The rafting industry is important to the region’s economy.
Cuomo made the announcement the day after participating in the second Adirondack Challenge, in which he and other elected officials and business leaders competed in rafting races on the Indian. Cuomo said he tied Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin in their contest.
“The Adirondack Park is an unparalleled outdoor destination for New Yorkers and visitors, and also a major driver of tourism and economic activity for the surrounding communities,” Governor Cuomo said in the news release. “Yesterday we hosted the Adirondack Challenge to draw attention to all that the region has to offer, and today we’re going a step further by expanding and improving the facilities that help to draw travelers from around the globe.”
Photo of OK Slip Falls by Carl Heilman II.