Monday, September 30, 2019

Battles Over Boreas Ponds Brought Access to Wild Lands

four corners parking area sign provided by peter bauerJust after Labor Day weekend this year, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completed its work to fully open up public access to the Boreas Ponds, in the southern High Peaks Wilderness Area. These beautiful ponds are now easily accessible for people to either canoe or to hike.

New state facilities were constructed over the past two years to rehabilitate the six-mile-long Gulf Brook Road, build parking lots, public education kiosks, a canoe carry and canoe launches to make this extraordinary natural wonder fully accessible to the public.

The reconstructed road and new access points opens a new southern gateway to the High Peaks Wilderness Area and makes easily reachable one of the most scenic and visually dramatic areas in the Adirondacks. Paddling through the network of three inter-connected waterways gives one the sensation of paddling through mountaintops.

The Boreas Ponds were purchased by the State of New York from the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. This was part of the 165,000-acre protection deal of the former Finch, Pruyn and Company lands.  In 2010, Governor David Paterson purchased a conservation easement on 95,000 acres of the former Finch lands, which secured snowmobile trails from Indian Lake to Long Lake, and from Long Lake to Newcomb, among other things. From 2012-2015, Governor Cuomo purchased over 65,000 acres of the former Finch, Pruyn lands as Forest Preserve, including the Essex Chain Lakes, Blue Ledges in Hudson Gorge, long stretches of the Hudson, Opalescent and Cedar Rivers, and the Boreas Ponds, among other natural gems.

Over 11,000 acres surrounding the Boreas Ponds was classified as Wilderness in early 2018 by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), and 9,000 acres south of the ponds, including the Gulf Brook Road, was classified as Wild Forest. The lands around the Boreas Ponds connected the High Peaks Wilderness and Dix Mountain Wilderness areas, which were combined into one grand 275,000-acre High Peaks Wilderness Area in 2018. The enlarged High Peaks Wilderness Area is now the third largest Wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, behind the 1-million-acre Everglades in Florida and the 350,000-acre Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. This is yet another thing that highlights the national and international importance of the Adirondack Park.

The Boreas Ponds classification was part of a larger classification package of over 50,000 acres approved by the APA in early 2018, where over 25,000 acres was classified as Wilderness and more than 26,000 acres was classified as Wild Forest. The High Peaks Wilderness was expanded by over 25,000 acres through classifications of over 12,500 acres around the Boreas Ponds and Casey Brook tracts and over 13,000 acres around the MacIntyre east (headwaters of the Opalescent River) and MacIntyre West (flanks of Santanoni) tracts.

The Gulf Brook Road generally delineates the Wild Forest and Wilderness boundary line between the High Peaks Wilderness to the north and the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest to the south. The lands to the north of the Gulf Brook Road are Wilderness, where motorized recreation and bicycles are prohibited, while the lands to the south are classified as Wild Forest, where motorized recreation and bicycle use are allowed in designated areas. Today, when one drives the Gulf Brook Road, the Four Corners marks a junction where four logging roads intersected. The state built a Four Corners parking lot, which marks the end of the road for public motor vehicle use as the three former logging roads at that point are gated closed.

Since 1970, the Adirondack Forest Preserve has seen an expansion of its general motorless lands classified of Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe from 1,072,000 acres to 1,241,000 acres, roughly a growth of 169,000 acres in nearly 50 years. Over 25,000 acres alone of new Wilderness was added as part of the Boreas classification in 2018.

Clearly, gaining new Wilderness lands in the Adirondacks is always challenging, always difficult, and always hard. Wild Forest areas have grown by around 159,000 acres since 1970.

Public access to the Boreas Ponds is primarily set up along the controversial six-mile-long Gulf Brook Road. During the Finch, Pruyn days this was the main haul road where log trucks were loaded at numerous landings with trees cut on over 25,000 acres of managed forestlands. Prior to state ownership, this road was in rough shape, suitable for high-riding pickup trucks and log trucks, but a challenge for passenger vehicles.

The DEC worked on this road all through the summer of 2018 and through the spring and summer of 2019. Lots of boulders were dug out of the road and tons of gravel were brought in. The drainage was improved. These activities appeared to involve very little tree cutting and DEC appeared to stay within the narrow gravel road corridor. The DEC appears to have learned a lot from previous disasters in Forest Preserve road management, such as at Bear Pond Road in the Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest area.

There are now three parking lots on the Gulf Brook Road; one just off of the Blue Ridge Highway, another that is still under construction 3.5 miles in (where cars can be parked, but where work is still ongoing), and the third at the “Four Corners” at the end of the road 6 miles in and roughly 0.8 miles from the ponds. The Four Corners parking lot has 17 parking spaces; 13 parking spaces for the general public, two parking spaces for disabled individuals, and two “trailered parking only” spaces presumably for vehicles with horse trailers. The facility is newly built. The parking spaces are numbered and there are a half dozen “No Parking” signs around the parking lot. The signs and kiosks are all new, not yet weathered, pummeled by falling trees, pierced with bullet holes, or chewed by porcupines.

The Four Corners parking lot has ample public information about hiking trails and other recreation opportunities available at the tract. There is a bathroom building designed to accommodate disabled individuals. It’s an easy walk from the parking area to the LeBiere Flow, where a new canoe launch was installed, or to walk or carry/wheel a canoe on the roughly 0.8 miles on a dirt road down the Boreas Ponds.

The carry down to the Boreas Ponds is an easy-going dirt road with some small rises. The public is allowed to ride bikes on the Gulf Brook Road and on the road/carry down the ponds. A third of a mile or so in on the road to the ponds, the carry from the LeBiere Flow connects to the road for paddlers who opted to shorten their carry with a paddle on the flow.

At around 0.6 miles in there’s a newly built parking lot with six parking spaces, four for the general public, including two for disabled users. The day I visited, this lot was not open to the public. The road leading to this parking area was classified by the APA-DEC as a Wild Forest corridor, though it’s really an illegal peninsula jutting into Wilderness lands. The DEC will regulate these parking spaces via a permit program that is expected to be launched in 2020. The fact that perfectly healthy people, anybody who puts in for a permit, could get a permit to drive within 0.2 miles of the ponds is indefensible and is just plain bad public policy.

Many expected that the Boreas classification would involve access for the disabled community under the successful and longstanding CP-3 policy that provides people with disabilities with special access with motor vehicles to the Forest Preserve, though not in Wilderness, Primitive or Canoe. The purpose of the special disabled access is that it’s special. The fact that anybody will be able to get one of these permits to drive to the inner parking area 0.2 miles from the Boreas Ponds undermines the very essence of the DEC’s CP-3 policy for universal access and is a major failure in the DEC’s overall public recreation planning for the Boreas Ponds.

The canoe launch to the Boreas Ponds is accompanied by the soundtrack of water flowing over the sturdy concrete dam some 50 feet away. There’s a bridge over the dam that provides access to the foot trails on the other side. A sign is posted on the dam that prohibits bicycle use beyond the dam.

The three Boreas Ponds are broken up with islands. A jagged shoreline wraps around a dozen or so bays and connects to three extensive wetlands. The abundant native plants accentuate the beauty of the area. Erratics dot the shore, and one dramatic erratic stands in open water.

What makes the Boreas Ponds experience different from paddling on other lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks is the stunning scenic beauty that envelopes the ponds. In many ways the Boreas Ponds sit in the palm of the Adirondacks. Whether one is paddling out, or paddling back, paddling east or west, the views are extraordinary, and the views change like a photo belt.

More than a dozen High Peaks can be seen at different points. From the canoe launch, Allen, Marcy, Haystack, Gothics, Basin, and Saddleback mountains stand to the north. Once out on the ponds, the views change with every few dozen canoe paddle strokes. There’s a window to Shepherd’s Tooth on the Algonquin Range at one location, views of Dix Mountain at another, an unreal view of the Sawteeth Mountains, and views of Blake and Colvin, among others, at other points. Gothics Mountain is massive at some points and then disappears. Allen Mountain looms most prominently over the ponds, not seeming quite as daunting as when viewed from other locations. The jagged Boreas and Moose Mountain chains stand in the east and west.

The farthest point that one can paddle away from the dam leads to a culvert that drains a wetland complex into the north end of the 3rd pond. There is a large diameter culvert there that channels the inlet into the ponds and also facilitates a road crossing on the former logging road to White Lily Pond, which is now designated as a foot trail. There are knee-high cedar trees growing up through the rubble of the gravel road.

Surrounding this wetland are towering cedars, tamaracks, hemlocks, white pines and maples running up the hillsides. A major storm in future years will likely blow out this culvert and future storms will eat away the fill. I have seen any number of twisted culverts deep in the Forest Preserve rusting away in the sunshine on a wetland meadow, long since dislodged and washed out from an old road bed. There are over a hundred miles of roads like the road to White Lily Pond that cross-cross the former Finch, Pruyn lands on both side of the Gulf Brook Road, through Forest Preserve areas now classified as Wilderness and Wild Forest. The amount of road retained by the state as public motor vehicle roads was around 7 miles. The rest are fodder for wildness.

Any time land is added to the Forest Preserve the Adirondacks grows wilder.

Protections under Article XIV of the State Constitution require that lands are forever kept as wild forest lands. There’s plenty of great country and wild places that never see a footprint in both Wilderness and Wild Forest areas. In the history of the Adirondack Park, the acquisition of the Boreas Ponds and its classification as Wilderness and inclusion in the High Peaks Wilderness Area, will be written as a landmark event, and an important link in the chain between generations that have worked to defend and protect the last great wilderness in the Eastern United States.

At the time I visited the Boreas Ponds Boreas on September 22nd, 206 people had signed in at the Four Corners Trailhead register since the parking lot there opened up on September 4th. While some may say that’s no big deal, because 206 people is a Tuesday on Cascade Mountain, that’s a hefty crowd for an area that limits parking. It should also be noted that the draw of the Wilderness classification, because in less than three weeks the Boreas Ponds has attracted more than half of the visitors who have gone to the Essex Chain Lakes in all of 2019.

There are many folks who wanted to be able to drive motor vehicles across the Boreas Pond dam to White Lily Pond and beyond. Some demanded that dozens of miles of roads should be retained to allow the public to drive completely around the Boreas Ponds, in a loop akin to a National Park. There were many who wanted every inch of roads closed. The future of a potential class II community connector snowmobile trail that could connect to the Gulf Brook Road will be determined as part of a lawsuit brought by Protect the Adirondacks that is currently in front of the NYS Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

That we’re left to squabble about seven miles of road out of more than 100 miles shows the beauty and promise of the public constitutionally protected Forest Preserve in New York, the people’s land in every way. These lands have been protected through a 125-year bipartisan and multi-generational commitment of New Yorkers, a continuous work in progress, across a landscape shaped by scores of major public decisions.

Wilderness in the Adirondack Park is forward-looking. When lands are classified as Wilderness, management looks ahead at what these lands can become, and not backwards at what these lands were. Wilderness lands, and the Forest Preserve in general, in the Adirondacks are strewn with the relics and ruins of past uses and settlements.

I’ve long thought that there should be more active retrofitting actions when the state purchases new lands for the Forest Preserve where trees are planted along road corridors, geometric road shapes like bench cuts, rock cuts, and borrow pits are remediated, culverts and fill are removed, and natural stream and wetland channels are restored. During the Boreas Ponds classification a debate about the idea of removing the dam at the outlet of the ponds was taken off the table in the deliberations of state agencies, never researched, analyzed or considered. There’s time in the future to revisit these matters. Or, perhaps, the Boreas Ponds dam in the decades ahead may go the way other dams in the High Peaks Wilderness, like Marcy Dam and the dam at the Flowed Lands, which were not maintained, breached, and crumbled.

And, that’s what Wilderness is all about, a place where we intentionally draw boundary lines and say that everything inside will be managed differently from lands outside. The lands classified as Wilderness are lands where wild nature dominates, unfettered by humans to the greatest extent possible, where cedar trees can grow up through gravel roads and dams are breached. A place where the forest is allowed to reclaim vast areas, eat away the roads, overgrow the log landings, bury the culverts, and slowly transform, remake and recreate a wild landscape where natural processes are unimpeded and untrammeled by humans.

Photo of Four-Corners Parking Area sign.

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

57 Responses

  1. Thomas G Philo says:

    Peter, As Usual you advocate for anyone young and in great physical condition (re your statement about anyone in good health wishing to park within .2 of the ponds. How about the 70 – 80 year old’s that are in good health that have canoed (Yes I have a Hornbeck) and kayaked for many years but because of good health (thankfully) does not qualify for handicapped parking but simply can no longer carry for a mile. You constantly take position that such people should simply give up and go sit in a rocking chair.

    • Peter Bauer says:

      Mr. Philo:

      I don’t believe that the long list of things that I’ve advocated has included the notion that anybody should “simply give up and got sit in a rocking chair.” There are many reasons that Wilderness is important that go beyond the needs or preferences of any one individual. The Adirondack Forest Preserve provides lots of access for people of all abilities,

      It would be unfortunate in my mind if the places I was fortunate enough to enjoy across the Forest Preserve in my 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s would need to be changed so that I could still reach them in my 70s and 80s.

      • Thomas G Philo says:

        That’s the point you seem to have an age bias!

        • Boreas says:


          I am in my mid 60’s, am not disabled, and I can no longer access 98% of the places I once could on foot. Is this a problem with NYS’s access planning, or simply the reality of aging? It isn’t ageism – people of all ages simply have different abilities and limitations. I believe the state’s access solutions to BP are reasonable considering it abuts a parcel with a Wilderness classification. Perhaps the legal definition of disabled needs to be reviewed.

          Peter’s (and my) issue is with the closest parking area. Why not give disabled people priority over others for competition with the 6 spaces? Why are only 2 spaces reserved for the disabled? Why should the reservation process ever exclude the disabled to allow parking for 4 non-disabled individuals? Why not simply reserve 4 or all 6 slots for the disabled?

          • Thomas G Philo says:

            No objection to more handicapped spaces ~ However these roads have been used for years by logging interests and by the private owners and that use hasn’t seemed to have been the ruination of the Adirondacks. The effort to restrict access to every new addition to the Adirondacks seems to be a subtle message to retirees to stay out you are not welcome here. Perhaps I should surrender, stay out and go to Maine. .

            • Marc Wanner says:

              OK, but now they are owned by the State, which changes the ballgame entirely. When land is added to the Forest Preserve, it is suddenly open to the entire world. Where would your idea of “access” for the aged end? Folks who aren’t comfortable getting in and out of canoes get to bring their motorboats? A tram up Marcy?

              • Neil Luckhurst says:

                Let’s not forget that once a road no longer has economic value to a private interest the maintenance costs have to be shouldered by somebody, such as the taxpayer. Based on what I’ve seen from walking on old roads here and there throughout the region, without ongoing maintenance these road quickly become impassable for the average car. Blowdown, washouts, erosion, forest reclamation must all be kept at bay.

                Perhaps if a user-pay system was put forth those who would rather drive than walk on certain roads could be sent a windshield sticker and a key to a gate for a fee that would cover the maintenance costs..

            • Boreas says:


              The F-P property was previously posted allowing virtually no access to the public except for leaseholders and guests. The state’s purchase now allows vehicular access 7 miles into the heart of the parcel for virtually anyone. It allows essentially unrestricted access to trails, old roads, forest lands, and LaBier Flow. I view that as a positive, not a negative. Could all of the old logging roads have been rebuilt like the Gulf Brook trail – yes, but a Wilderness classification would have problematic at best.

              Perhaps someone can clarify this, but I was also under the impression that a handicapped access trail (blacktop?) was planned to be provided from a parking area to the water. I don’t believe this has been constructed yet, but honestly do not know if it is still in the plans. This was to allow people using wheelchairs and such direct access to the ponds via the path. It would also allow for relatively easy transport of a craft using a cart.

              I don’t view these plans as a concerted effort to restrict access to BP. The parcel has been opened to horses, snowmobiles, bicycles, hikers, hunters, fishing, etc. that was not available before. Could it be better for the disabled? Yes, and many of us have supported increased handicapped access, but not at the expense of losing the wilderness character by allowing unrestricted vehicular access.

              • Neil Luckhurst says:

                Regarding the other roads that form a beltway around the ponds, I have hiked them all as part of access and egress from hikes of the various 3k peaks nearby. (Cheney Cobble, North River, Rist). IMO these roads would be of little interest to the average Boreas-goer. They have very rare and limited views of the ponds or peaks. Basically,they are a walk in the woods with little to no variation in scenery for miles.
                I do think they would be of interest to equestrians and perhaps cross-country skiers, which would preclude motorized access (and the maintenance cost I alluded to above).

            • Boreas says:


              This is an amendment excerpt from 2005 Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (May 2018)

              “Construct an unloading area adjacent to Gulf Brook
              Road near the LaBier Flow hand launch. This will not be sized for parking, but rather for the unloading and loading of persons and equipment seeking to use the LaBier Flow hand-carry launch.”

              This statement does not mention the practicality of handicap access, but certainly could be considered. Paddling access to the ponds would be via LaBier Flow. Point being there will be vehicular access to the ponds via LF, just not BP proper. Keep in mind all of this construction – including wheelchair-accessible campsites is a work in progress.


      • M.P.Heller says:

        Though I tend to disagree with Peter something like 98 percent of the time, here he makes an extremely salient point. It’s also time to finally put to rest the red herring notion that there is nothing for the elderly and handicapped so we must open the entire park in the name of age discrimination. I call BS on that. I’m gonna be 45 in December. I definitely can’t do some things and won’t do many thi g’s that I once did in my 20s. 30s even. That being said there are plenty of extremely fit 20 somethings that will never be able to bushwhack like me. Suggesting we should make all wilderness accessible to or oldest constituent is akin to suggesting that we should cut trails in the Sawtooth Range to accommodate social media bugs.

    • Peter Bauer says:

      Mr. Philo:

      Here are some places you should visit before you give up and go to Maine.

      Try Little Tupper Lake in the Whitney Wilderness where the carry is 100 feet from parking lot to the canoe launch. Or the Round Lake Wilderness where the carry is 10 feet. Or the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area where the carry is 0.3 miles to Deer Pond, or Henderson Lake where the carry is less than 0.5 miles to get into the High Peaks Wilderness. Or Lake Durant on the edge of the Blue Ridge Wilderness where the carry is 10 feet. Or Low’s Lake where the carry to the lower lake is 50 feet. Or paddle the Oswegatchie River where the carry is 50 feet. The Raquette River/50 foot carry (Crusher or Axton). Cedar River Flow/30 foot carry. Jessup River/15 foot carry. Mason Lake/25 foot carry. Moss Lake/75 feet. Madawaska/0.3 mile carry. Take the horse and wagon into Santanoni to paddle Newcomb Lake. Or paddle any of the other 100 easy to access waters in the Park to say nothing of the 75+ DEC boat launches to dozens of great lakes. Or take a raft trip through the Hudson Gorge Wilderness where they’ll carry the raft for you.

      • Thomas G Philo says:


        I have paddled, I appreciate the tip but I have paddled everyone of those with the exception of Newcomb Lake, and most of them on Multiple occasions, also the North Branch of the Moose River, South Pond and Forked Lake into Brandreth Lake Outlet,, also South Outlet of Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake through Eagle and Utawana into and across Raquette Lake, the Upper Hudson, Lake Lila , Long Lake, Schroon River into Schroon Lake, the Miami River, Long Lake, Round Lake and more, and have photographed most.

  2. Robert Gdyk says:

    I am a 100% disabled veteran who is currently a holder of a CP-3 permit. Peter, I can assure you they are not as easy to obtain as you described. It required a doctor’s signed form detailing the severity of my service-connected injuries and my limitations. It’s unfortunate you feel this way about people who are disabled. It’s unfortunate that disabled veterans like myself who are only seeking easier access into the tract, ruin your sense of wilderness. It’s unfortunate that you consider it a sense of entitlement for me to go wherever I want, regardless that I’m a holder of a CP3 permit.

    • Thomas G Philo says:

      Spot ON!!!

    • Peter Bauer says:

      Mr. Gdyk:

      I was a signatory to the legal settlement that led to the creation of the CP-3 permits/program for disabled access at the DEC. I have been a supporter of this program for the last 20 years and I believe that it has been very successful.

      I also believe that the general public should not have the same opportunities as disabled people with CP-3 permits. These are permits that provide special access, often through the use of motor vehicles, in places where the general public is capable of walking.

      As I wrote above, at the new inner parking lot at Boreas Ponds, some 0.2 miles or so from the ponds, the state has created a parking area that has 2 spots for disabled individuals, which will be managed with CP-3 permits, and four for the general public. While we supported the two CP-3 special access parking for the disabled, the four parking spaces for the general public are unnecessary. Further, it is my belief that the DEC is undermining the CP-3 program by creating the exact same type of special access for the general public.

      I did not get into the question of universal access in this article, due to space, but that program by the DEC has many problems because its practical application is that it provides special access for anyone who wants it. Further, the DEC has no formal universal access program and has never held public hearings to formally adopt one.

      • Robert Gdyk says:

        It was David Winchell from DEC who cued me on the universally accessible parking lot idea of theirs at Boreas Ponds.

        • Peter Bauer says:

          Mr. Gdyk:

          I think what DEC is doing at the inner parking area undermines the successful CP-3 program for special access for the disabled community to the Forest Preserve. The general public should not be able to get motorized access permits to areas like the inner parking area at Boreas Ponds. These should be reserved and managed solely for disabled access.

          • Robert Gdyk says:

            I agree, and I stand corrected if I originally misunderstood you Peter. The High Peaks parking lot should be reserved and managed solely for disabled access. When I arrived at Boreas Ponds this weekend, the Four Corners parking lot had only 1 of its 17 parking spaces still available — fortunately for me it was handicapped. However, by the time I left there were cars parked all throughout the “trailered parking only” spaces and those vehicles didn’t have any horse trailers attached. They weren’t ticketed, so I’m not sure how the enforcement of those spaces is being/ or will be managed. Frankly, this is not at all what I expected to see after receiving the update from David Winchell at DEC who described for me what their universally accessible parking lot would be like. Again, I stand corrected and hope you accept my apology.

  3. John Warren says:

    In your zeal to find an enemy you seem to have not read the story very carefully.

    He’s arguing that opening what should be CP-3 spots to the general public will restrict the number of spaces available for universal access.

    • Robert Gdyk says:

      I read the whole story very carefully, and there is no difference between a MAPPWD permit from a CP-3 permit or any other ‘permit’ program, which allows entry to the universally accessible parking lot. It was my understanding that DEC needs to determine the impacts of tree cutting based on a recent court ruling, so therefore my CP3 permit provides no additional access. Hopefully, they’ll be working to resolve all this next year.

      • Boreas says:


        Management of all state lands is an ongoing process. I personally wouldn’t expect the current rethinking and litigation of the “tree debate” to effect much of the planning in BP/Vanderwhacker/Elk Lake Rd. area except for possibly the proposed snowmobile connector route. Tree cutting will likely be necessary for the proposed remote and accessible campsites, horse facilities, and parking areas as well as proposed foot trails into the High Peaks. The BP project is still a work in progress and the UMP will likely be tweaked in the future.

        As you say, I too would hope this would be resolved soon. Perhaps even the CP3 permitting system needs to be re-evaluated in the process.

  4. Scott says:

    Same topic but for a different area: The second half of Coreys Road past Stony Creek also seems like a an ‘illegal peninsula’ into the high peaks wilderness.

    There is about 3400 acres of basically contiguous forest land for sale in the Herkimer County Town of Salisbury that abutts and consolidates Ferris Lake Wild forest. This parcel also contains some important watershed. Can you guys put some pressure on DEC to purchase this 3400 acres so it doesn’t get subdivided and developed.

  5. Justin Farrell says:

    I thought Mr. Bauer & the “Protect the Adirondacks” organization were in favor of easier access up to LeBiere Flow during the public comment period & classification debate a few years ago. This article almost seems like now they’re complaining about it.

    • Peter Bauer says:


      We advocated for retention of the Gulf Brook Road. Our position was that 3-season public motor vehicle use of the road/public parking lot should end at a point east of the LeBiere Flow and that public access would be through the flow to the ponds. That said, what the state has ended up with, we think by and large, is working well. The action that we did not support, and remains a key flaw in the program, is the Wild Forest corridor that provides public motorized access 0.2 miles from the ponds. We certainly were aware of the state’s desire to facilitate special CP-3 access for the disabled community close to the ponds, but we never envisioned that the DEC would break with 20 years of practice and piggyback special access for anyone who wants it with the special access for the disabled.

  6. Jon white says:

    It’s the same on all these newly acquired pieces.
    If you are disabled or elderly, the hiking community wants you to stay out of their wilderness.
    They have proved this on everyone of these parcels!

    • Thomas G Philo says:

      Right on Jon!

    • Boreas says:

      Hogwash. How can you have drive-in wilderness unless you consider vehicles part of wilderness? You make absolutely no sense. There are a lot of state lands out there, including new acquisitions, that are automobile accessible. This is what makes wilderness unique.

  7. Tammy says:

    All of you have valid points! The other part of society being overlooked here is the poor and people without accessibility to computers or printers!! One question not touched on is the cost and waiting pierod for a regular parking permit. If free, when will a potential customer base be made to pay? This test run of turning the Park into a permit only parking for the privileged few needs close scrutiny of New York State’s Adirondack laws protecting accessibility to NYS’s tax paying citizens before applied in 2020 to Boreas! Our elected officials need to hear from the taxpayers of the Empire State who financialy payed for the past, present & future acquisitions of properties added into the state’s vastly growing assets and subsidized poorer towns. We want something in return for our hard earned tax $’s dumped into the Adirondack Park!!

  8. Tim says:

    Regardless of the pros and cons of disabled parking close to the Boreas Ponds, the public should be aware there is only one, small spot on land from which to view the mountains. Without a boat of some kind, the views, albeit stunning, are limited.

    • Neil Luckhurst says:

      The best views are from on the water? This means that the manner in which the DEC has decided to manage Boreas Ponds discriminates against those who do not own boats. Also, there is no public transit leading to the ponds so anybody who does not own a motor vehicle is being discriminated against.

      Sarcasm aside, I rode a bike into the Ponds three times prior to the road’s renovation for hiking, not paddling, purposes. Just a week after the opening of the road to LaBier flow I drove in and admired the view from the dam. People were wheeling or carrying their boats to Boreas Ponds. It was a Monday and without exception the people we saw launching their crafts were grey-haired and nearly all of them had Hornbecks. Previously, I had not observed what looked like elderly retirees at or on the Pond.
      This suggests to me that the opening of the road and the (now common) accessibility of very light-weight water craft has removed a discriminatory barrier against an entire demographic with regards the Ponds.
      Previously, anyone with say, a degenerated hip, spine or knee would have balked at a 7 mile self-propelled round-trip into Boreas Ponds.

      Next to the disabled parking area I noticed a wheel chair accessible outhouse. However, close inspection showed that entrance thereto would be tricky in a wheel chair but would be easily remedied by some leveling across the entrance.

      As far as declaring people who can walk a few miles on a decent road as being uber-fit or part of an elite is utter nonsense. Moderately, or even minimally fit would be more apt descriptors. Disease notwithstanding, if one prioritizes being able to hike and climb mountains one makes a consciouss effort to maintain their fitness level to be able to do so for as long as possible. This requires sacrifice and discipline. I know this because I’m 63 and I still do a lot of hiking and bushwhacking in the High Peaks.

  9. Balian the Cat says:

    My head swims at what we have become as a society. There isn’t a single topic, perspective, or notion that a person could present that wouldn’t elicit an immediate response to the effect that it discriminates against somebody. Seemingly everyone in the United Sates feels entitled to instant access to whatever they want regardless of consequences to the whole. Was there a watershed moment for this paradigm? I fully support reasonable accommodations for whomever needs them, but I lament the attitude of absolute entitlement we seem to have accepted as normal today.

    And, before you ask, yes – there are LOTS of things I would like to be able to do but cannot based upon some reality of my life. No, I don’t hold You or anyone else responsible for those realities. They are what they are.

    • Robert Gdyk says:

      I am a disabled veteran who has handicap difficulty limitations on getting to the Boreas Ponds – especially with a canoe. It’s really not any more complicated than that.

      • Boreas says:


        I understand your point. There are many disabled persons who would not be able to launch or even paddle a craft even if they could drive to a launch. Perhaps friends or volunteers would be available to help with the logistics of getting your watercraft transported from the parking lot and launched. I think this would be a good project similar to Trail Stewards. During the parking reservation process, a list of volunteers or organizations could be made available who could help in transport, launching, and even guiding and paddling. I suspect any entrepreneurial person or guide could set up a small business for this purpose. Give it a little time – the road was just opened!

  10. John says:

    There are numerous old roads that are/have gone undeveloped and have reverted to “nature.” The state should revisit all of these and rehabilitate them. Why limit the access discussion to those with physical issues? The National Parks have almost 400,000 miles of roads, which allow access to the deepest parts of the parks. If the DEC emulated this model, there would be no issue with parking and everyone could see the top of Mt. Marcy.

  11. roger dziengeleski says:

    Walked to Slide Brook from the four corners. This road is very, very underutilized. Not a track was visible. These roads should have been opened to used other than just hiking and horses (no horse dropping(s) either).

    The view of the high peaks from the Boreas dam, and the fishing and paddling draw of the ponds, are the reason for the visitation rate. The road makes the visits possible. Thank goodness the UMP didn’t keep the gate at the Blue Ridge road entrance. So many fewer people would have been able to see this magnificent view.

  12. Neil Luckhurst says:

    Obviously a large sum of money has been allocated to Boreas Ponds in order to accommodate vehicle access. Perhaps more is earmarked to develop the shoreline (ie. campsites?) Does anybody know the actual amount? If the same sum was allocated to improving the infrastructure (parking, trail improvement, ranger presence etc.) in the High Peaks Region, how far would that go?

  13. MOFYC says:

    “At the time I visited the Boreas Ponds Boreas on September 22nd, 206 people had signed in at the Four Corners Trailhead register since the parking lot there opened up on September 4th.”

    206 people in 18 days is 11-12 people per day. So no, I don’t think that is a big deal.

    • Dana says:


      High Peaks crazy – no it isn’t. But considering many people don’t even know the road just opened, it isn’t bad. Many of us hope it will stay relatively quiet.

  14. Sandor says:

    Pete you can’t win by being honest.You also can’t appease every citizen of NYS.Realistically there is a major separation from within this state that ignorance and ooh my hand is out because my Gov
    needs my vote that I am entitled. Let’s bus everyone into Gulf Brook rd ,shuttle them around the pond and feed them for free.As far as the handicapped go I do believe they should be given privileges for their sacrifice.But at what point do we say .. “this is the ADKS “there is only so much we can do for you. ” The parking lot for handicapped access is plenty/ real/and just.Pete you continue to be who you are!

  15. Roger Jette says:

    The illegal peninsula into the wilderness is the dam. Not until the dam is removed will BP be wilderness. Remove the dam now or prepare for a lawsuit to force its removal in the near future.

    • Steve B. says:

      I think the general approach by the DEC with man made infrastructure in areas that become wilderness is to let nature take its course. Thus Marcy Dam not getting repaired, just let it go. Better approach than illegally bringing in heavy equipment to a wilderness area to remove infrastructure. I recall well the controversy to the state burning down the interior ranger cabin at West Canada Lakes.

  16. roger dziengeleski says:

    Only the dam should be removed? Why stop there? Lets remove all the roads and all the trails too (should only cost a few million dollars which I am sure you would donate?). Wait, lets remove the people first and foremost. Talk about a blemish on an otherwise perfect wilderness! People are the worst, they kill nature with every footfall and pollute the air with every exhale.

    Removing the dam removes the ponds and a lot of enjoyment for the public. Shame on you for such a silly suggestion.

    • Boreas says:

      You may want to look up the DEC’s position and history on non-conforming structures in Wilderness areas.

    • Neil Luckhurst says:

      When Irene removed the dam at Duck Hole there was little to no impetus or lobbying from the public for rebuilding it. Does this suggest that a beauty spot in the Adirondacks has to be accessible by motor vehicle for people to take an interest in it and get worked up over it?

      As for the Boreas Dam and ponds, it’s there now, it’s an incredibly beautiful spot and you can drive (almost) right up to it. Why would anyone want to eliminate that?

  17. Thomas G Philo says:

    SPOT ON Roger ~ We have far too many people who absolutely do not want people to enjoy the Adirondacks. They want a private play ground

    • Boreas says:


      This statement is nonsense! Were you complaining when BP actually WAS private land and virtually no one could use it except for leaseholders? Who are these “too many people” you refer to? It must be a movement I am unfamiliar with.

  18. JohnL says:

    When in doubt, if it’s a slow news day, start an article about Boreas Ponds. That’ll get the natives restless and talking.

  19. Paradox M says:

    Unfortunately the Halloween storm did much damage to the newly regraded Gulf Brook Rd. We tried to go there today and found active road repair in progress, starting with 2 large piles of asphalt next to two large ditches of collapsed road at the entrance on the Blue Ridge Rd. While there are tire tracks in the snow snaking through the ditches and piles, they may belong to the road crew trucks that we spotted further up the road. I can’t say for sure that the road was closed, but it certainly didn’t look open.

    • Boreas says:

      It is likely it won’t open again until spring. I think seasonal roads of this sort typically close Dec. 1.

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