Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Upper Hudson Hut-To-Hut Trail System Proposed

adk hut to hut planNew York State has partnered with the Five Towns of the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub expected to help develop tourist destinations that rely on the extensive trail network of the Adirondack Park and existing and new lodging options.

The Concept Plan for a Hut-to-Hut Destination-based Trail System for the Five Towns of Long Lake, Newcomb, Indian Lake, Minerva, and North Hudson presents 26 trail or “traverse” trips involving overnight stays and multi-day hike opportunities for visitors to the Upper Hudson region.

Traverses are defined in the report as hikes that begin in communities, go into the backcountry, and end in another community. The concept is lodging about 8-12 miles apart that is connected by trails with gaps filled by new amenities on private lands or huts on “forever wild” New York State Forest Preserve lands.

The Five Towns surround the 65,000 acres of the former Finch lands that have been added to the Forest Preserve. According to the report, the Recreation Hub area encompasses a total of 1,293 square miles, including 485,000 acres of Forest Preserve and 341,000 acres of private land. It contains 154 miles of wild, scenic and recreational rivers, including 36 miles of the Hudson River; 305 miles of foot trails, including 47 miles of the Northville Placid Trail; several mountain ranges, the Santanoni Great Camp, the historic McIntyre Works at Tahawus, 62 lean-tos, 195 designated primitive campsites and many other amenities.

The proposed multi-use Hut-to-Hut trail system would utilize existing lodging from platform tents to yurts to eco-lodges, to existing bed and breakfasts, rental cabins and hotels. It would range from low-cost, hostel-type lodging to expensive, amenity-rich, upscale lodging. Some lodgings would be self-service, where visitors prepare their own meals, while other lodgings would be full service accommodations that provide meals. The Adirondack Hut system is expected to be designed to accommodate visitors year round.

A copy of the plan can be found on the DEC’s website.

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10 Responses

  1. Bill Ingersoll says:

    Unfortunately, the authors of this plan seem to be in denial of the fact that the question of “closed camps” in the Adirondack Forest Preserve–that is, four-walled enclosed structures for public camping use–was settled way back when FDR was governor.

    A popular program that allowed “temporary” enclosed structures was curtailed in the 1960s. Ordinary citizens could obtain a permit from the state to erect a tent platform on the Forest Preserve for seasonal use, but these “platforms” evolved into mini camp structures and the program was ended due to abuse of the system and degradation of the land resource.

    This is why we have limits on camping duration today. You can’t even reserve a campsite at a developed campground for an entire season. However, I flipped through the various route proposals in this plan, and the authors do indeed envision installing “temporary” structures on state land–most notably places like Newcomb Lake, Boreas Ponds, and Wakely Dam.

    To the extent these proposed routes connect towns and commercial lodging facilities, it’s an interesting idea… that needs more than anecdotal evidence to support the perceived need for this concept.

    To the extent that this plan envisions enclosed camping structures on state land, I see a profound absence of contextual awareness here.

    • Justin Levine says:

      The plan calls for routing trails close to private land to avoid exactly what you are talking about and also create opportunities for land owners to create jobs and new businesses.

  2. Jim S. says:

    Huts on forest preserve lands raises alarms for me, it sounds totally inappropriate.

  3. Charlie s says:

    “A popular program that allowed “temporary” enclosed structures was curtailed in the 1960s. Ordinary citizens could obtain a permit from the state to erect a tent platform on the Forest Preserve for seasonal use, but these “platforms” evolved into mini camp structures and the program was ended due to abuse of the system and degradation of the land resource.”

    When I camped back at Moose River a few years ago there was a mobile home trailer at one of the campsites near Otter Brook where the heavy steel bridge is way in the back. That trailer was in that camp the whole four days and nights I was there and nobody ever showed up. According to the above this should have been illegal…am I correct?

  4. Justin Farrell says:

    An interesting concept for willing & able private land owners, but the article indicates “huts on ‘forever wild’ NYS forest preserve lands”, which I would never support.

  5. Curt Austin says:

    I usually don’t like the product of planning exercises like this one, where reality gets twisted by a facilitator in a conference room, squeaky marker in hand, flip charts, group dynamics, etc. With this prejudice, I read as far as the description of Route #03. My summary:

    The first route is from North Creek, through the woods and around the south of 13th Lake, then to Indian Lake. With a rafting trip back to North Creek, it becomes a loop. Seems attractive and doable.

    The second route (note the routes are not connected together) begins in Newcomb, goes past the Santanoni Great Camp (lodging needed nearby), then to Henderson Lake (lodging needed), goes through the High Peaks to Adk Loj (lodging already there?), and then to LP or Keene. Spectacular. The new lodging might seem a problem, but there is private land at those locations.

    The third route is near Blue Mountain Lake, composed of trails that connect with the Northville-Lake Placid Trail, offering through-hikers access to the hamlet and a loop for others. This is an interesting idea, and doable.

    All require some new trails. All increase the number of people in the wilderness. Each has at least a few complications. All of it means a greater burden on DEC. Their effect on the local economy will not be dramatic, but they will certainly be a cool feature to put in a brochure.

    Based on the first three routes, and some familiarity with those areas, this plan seems pretty good provided you like the premise. There are arguments for and against that premise, of course, involving principles that naturally conflict. I’m for the usual noisy compromise.

    • Boreas says:

      I would think an enterprise such as this would help the DEC by providing trail patrolling and light trail maintenance. This could be similar to the Adopt a Lean-to project.

  6. RC says:

    I’ve done hut-to-hut hikes and skiing trips in Switzerland and France. Amazing experiences that have minimal adverse ecological impact and allow “normal” (read: not wealthy) people to experience multi-day outdoors adventures. The huts I visited were staffed by knowledgeable, friendly keepers who were there to help visitors, while caring for the site and insuring that it would be protected for the future.

    Allowing more people to enjoy the outdoors can only have a positive effect on society.

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