In theory, the state’s recent acquisition of the 6,200-acre MacIntyre East tract could shorten the hike and eliminate the ford.
The parcel lies between the Hudson River and Allen. A logging road extends several miles into the tract. If the state opened the road to motor vehicles, hikers could begin their hike closer to the 4,340-foot peak.
I won’t offer an opinion as to whether making Allen easier to get to is a worthy object. I suspect many Adirondack Forty-Sixers feel it would detract from Allen’s reputation as a monster hike.
In the debate over how the state should manage MacIntyre East, the road could become an issue. Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, has said he’d like to see at least part of the road open to vehicles.
Last Friday, I walked the logging road to see if it is passable by vehicles and to see the lay of the land.
The dirt-and-gravel thoroughfare begins off County 25, the dead-end road that leads to Tahawus and the Upper Works trailhead. Almost immediately, it crosses the Hudson and reaches a kiosk and register maintained by the Opalescent Hunting Club.
The club’s members have a few dozen camps on conservation-easement lands owned by ATP, a Danish pension fund. The logging road starts on Forest Preserve, passes through the easement lands, and then re-enters the Preserve. The two Preserve pieces are part of the MacIntyre East purchase.
Before my hike I checked with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees the easements, to make sure I had the right to walk along the road through the ATP lands. I was told I did.
As I walked past the camps, however, I was accosted by two club members who claimed I was trespassing. I told them that I had been informed otherwise by DEC. Believing them mistaken, I continued on my way.
Less than a mile from the camps, the road crossed LeClaire Brook on a bridge and re-entered the Forest Preserve. I hiked up the road a total of six miles before turning around, less than three miles from Allen’s summit. On the way back, I took side trips to the Opalescent River and a large, apparently unnamed pond (at least on my maps).
As I passed the camps on the walk back, I encountered four club members. They told me they had called the local forest ranger and hoped I got a ticket.
I never saw the ranger, but I called a DEC spokesman on Tuesday to straighten out the legal situation. As it turns out, the department had misinformed me last week.
So here’s the scoop: DEC is planning on building a parking area roughly 1.75 miles up the road, before the hunting-club camps. Until then, the public is not allowed to drive on the road (which is gated). And at the moment, the parking-lot site is as far as the public is permitted to hike.
DEC spokesman Pete Constantakes said the department plans to build a hiking trail leading from the parking area across the easement lands, giving the public access to the MacIntyre East tract north of LeClaire Brook. At that point, people could continue hiking up the road. Why not let the public walk (or drive) on the mile-long stretch of road passing through the easement lands?
“We are trying to provide access without infringing on the hunting camps,” Constantakes said.
Constantakes added that the department hopes to have the trail built sometime this summer. Meanwhile, DEC will put up a sign letting people know where they must turn back on the road.
Until the trail is built, there is little reason to hike on the logging road. You can’t get to Allen, you can’t get to the unnamed pond, and you can’t get to the Opalescent River.
Constantakes cautioned that the plans for the parking lot and hiking trail are not set in stone, so things could change. Assuming things go forward as planned, though, what will that mean for people hiking Allen?
They’ll still have a long hike, perhaps 14 or 15 miles round trip. However, it will be mostly on logging roads, which will make the hiking easy and fast. Presumably, DEC would have to cut a trail to connect the logging road to the existing hiking trail.
Some people may be interested in visiting the unnamed pond. From the proposed parking area, it would be a hike of under two miles. I got to it by turning onto an old skid road or ATV trail soon after crossing the LeClaire Brook bridge. It’s a pretty pond, enlarged by beaver dams, with an impressive view of the High Peaks. Evidently, ATVs have reached it by driving through LeClaire Brook near the pond’s south end. Since the pond is now in the Forest Preserve, this is no longer legal.
I should add that I passed a few hunting camps of another hunt club, the East River Club, north of LeClaire Brook on the section of MacIntyre East that is now Forest Preserve. These camps will have to be dismantled in 2018. Until then, hikers should steer clear of the camps and respect the privacy of the lessees.
One final note: it’s a good thing I encountered those club members. Otherwise, I would have written a story describing a hike that I assumed was legal, and others might have made the same mistake.
Photos by Phil Brown: the logging road north of LeClaire Brook; the view over the unnamed pond toward the High Peaks.
Map provided by DEC. MacIntyre East is shown in red.