Friday, June 9, 2017

Owls Head Trail Being Closed By Land Owner

Owls Head Trail Map courtesy Adirondack AtlasThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the trail to the summit of Owls Head in the town of Keene is closed to public access and use on weekends, effective immediately. The trailhead and all but the last 0.1 mile of the trail are located on private lands.

According to an announcement by DEC: “The large number of vehicles parked on the private road during the Memorial Day weekend blocked access for private landowners, and now the landowners are prohibiting the public to park on the private road between 4 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Monday and have posted signs along the road reflecting this decision.”

The announcement said the trail to the summit of Owls Head is not an official DEC trail nor does DEC have an easement for public use on the trail – the landowner has allowed the public to use the trail. However, the landowner has informed DEC the trail will be closed for public use at the end of this hiking season.

The DEC’s announcement said they’re in the process of identifying an alternate trail route on Forest Preserve lands from the Molly Nye Road on the opposite side of the mountain, and will pursue an amendment to the High Peaks Wilderness Unit Management Plan which would be necessary to facilitate construction of a new trailhead and trail.

Phil Brown has more of the story at Adirondack Explorer.

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25 Responses

  1. Phil says:

    Remember …. Your right to swing your fist wildly about ends at the tip of my nose.

    You can not blame the landowners; private land, private road. And those who were guilty of blocking the roadway did impede the rights of others.

    It isn’t “Bernie’s World” quite yet.

  2. Geogymn says:

    There is a somewhat similar situation with the “Forty Mountain Trail” which starts at the end of the Lite Rd. in the Black River Wild Forest albeit not a popular trail. The trail and road are separated by about 100 feet of private land. And the owner of the land lives in New Jersey!

  3. frank w says:

    the future

    if people took responsibility for themselves the trail may have continued to be open

    I’m sure people parking like meat heads and not thinking about where they dump their car is the real problem. Trash, noise, human waste, dog waste, trampled vegetation, and the general disregard for other peoples private property all add up

  4. Richard W Maxwell says:

    Unfortunately I am afraid this is just the beginning of trails being closed off, not only the ones that are on private property but also state owned trails. A lot of people have no respect for the outdoors, they are out there because “it’s a thing to do”. I see and pick up trash all the time while out hiking. It would be nice to know how many out of state plates were seen during memorial day weekend at this trail head.

    • Kathy says:

      I’m sure out of state people do not trash more than nys people . You either are a person who litters or doesn’t care or someone who does care. Geographical origin does not determine that aspect of character.

    • Boreas says:

      In this case, it appears the incident that prompted the closure was due to parking inconsiderately on the private road. It is likely litter has been an issue in the past, but the closure seems to have been prompted by blocking owners’ access to their property.

  5. Boreas says:

    BTW, I am not sure what the attached map shows. It shows the trailhead at RT 73, not off of the private road as I remember it. Is the map correct?

  6. Linda Peterson says:

    Fair enough. Great summit but the trail is mighty eroded.

  7. George says:

    I was on Owls Head Lane on Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend. Cars were parked up and down the road and created a hazard for people trying to reach their properties. The proper action was taken.

    I was even more astounded by the amount of cars parked at the Cascade trailhead making it quite dangerous.

  8. Wally says:

    Selfish and inconsiderate people get what they deserve and all of us pay a price.

    • Bruce says:


      You’re so right. Instead of asking how many were out of state folks, as Richard Maxwell did, perhaps the more pertinent question might be how many were inconsiderate folks who live in or near the Adirondacks?

  9. Tony Goodwin says:

    The Town of Keene is concerned about this closure, and will help n coming up with a solution. The DEC press release mentions a trail from Molly Nye Road in Keene, but that would be a much longer trail with significantly more vertical ascent. More importantly, there is no good area to create parking on the narrow strip where the state land intersects the road.

    I have had a conversation with the owner of Owls Head Rustic Furniture that owns some undeveloped land south of the store. They are willing to donate an easement to the state for a trail across their land, and this would include a parking area off Rt. 73 on land next to their store. Years ago I scouted a possible route on this land when the owners hoped to sell two unneeded parcels of their land to the state. The asking price was perhaps a bit high, and the state had other priorities , so that effort failed. Now that the state can possibly restore access to this long-standing popular piece of state land for the cost of a parking lot, perhaps we can move forward.

    As the Chinese saying goes, “Out of crisis comes opportunity.”

  10. Tammy Loewy says:

    I can appreciate that living by a trailhead on a busy weekend must be very difficult. People are sometimes ignorant of how their actions effect the people and place around them. That being said it is so sad to me that many of the firsts I enjoyed on Owls head will no longer be available to the public at large
    My first evening hike
    My first winter hike
    First hike picking wild blueberries
    First rock climbing
    My daughters first hike
    My daughter and my first night hike
    Owls head needs a real parking area and significant atttention to stop herdpaths from growing. Signage to steer visitors away from houses nearby.
    I wonder why the owners bought this property. It must be that they loved nature and wanted to live near it. I hope closing the trail will spread awareness of the issues of trail maintenance on owls head and create a way for them to share their love of owls head again with us all

    • Boreas says:

      Owl’s Head was a jewel I learned about 35+ years ago when I was an active hiker. It was never extremely popular because it was never a “destination” with a DEC marked trail. I believe the parcel was originally purchased by a developer who subdivided it and sold it off as lots. Apparently the original owner(s) did not see the need at the time to restrict the trail parking and access.

      But with HPW overcrowding in general, trailhead parking has become a major issue that communities and DEC are struggling to deal with. Some of us have floated fixes in this forum in the past, but the “Come To The ADKs” media juggernaut is picking up momentum even as I write. The Owl’s Head incident may not be a huge crisis, but the administration has been suggesting users fan out throughout the park to take the immediate pressure off of the HPW, and this is one of the things that can happen with that directive.

      I believe there needs to be some sort of tool or forum made available for DEC, APA, community officials, developers, recreationists, and environmentalists to sit down and hash out these issues and attempt to come up with a plan forward, instead of knee-jerk fixes as crises arise. As we all know, temporary fixes tend to become permanent policy.

  11. Chris says:

    Is this an indication of overuse?

    It would be great to understand if there’s a trend in visits, which one hears about elsewhere.

    • Boreas says:


      Hard to say from one incident. For instance, was there a large, organized group of people that went there on that weekend (like the Loj incident last summer), or were they just random hikers? My suspicion is that it is a sign of people driving past the small city of cars parked at Cascade and saying – “not for me – let’s find a hike with fewer people.” So, in my opinion, yes – it is a sign of overuse of the AREA – not necessarily the Owl’s Head trail.

      • Paul says:

        The condition of that trail, like lots of others, is terrible. That trail is overused no question. “Incident” – get real.

        • Boreas says:

          Get real?? The article stated they closed the trail because of the parking incident, not trail erosion (not mentioned in the article). Just trying to keep to the facts as I understood them from the article Paul. Seems I can’t win with you.

  12. Nancy says:

    Is it known when the owner of this property considers the end of hiking season? Labor Day or Columbus Day or another time? I am local and would like to do this hike as it has been on my to do list for a while now. Prefer not to do it during the summer. Thanks for any information.

  13. Charlie S says:

    Frank W. says: “I’m sure people parking like meat heads and not thinking about where they dump their car is the real problem.”

    That’s what it sounds like Frank. When I read this in this morning’s paper i said to myself….good! If it was my property I would have done the same thing.

  14. Charlie S says:

    Richard W. Maxwell says: “A lot of people have no respect for the outdoors, they are out there because “it’s a thing to do”.

    You are so right about this, and they’ll be looking into and/or talking into a handheld device as they move along.

  15. Charlie S says:

    Kathy says: “I’m sure out of state people do not trash more than nys people . ….Geographical origin does not determine that aspect of character.”

    You are so right about this as ignorance knows no bounds.

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