The New York State Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation, in cooperation with the State Office of General Services, today announced a major milestone in the development of the world-class Adirondack Rail Trail, a 34-mile multi-use recreational path for outdoor adventurers between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. The New York State Department of Transportation has broken ground on a $1.9 million project to remove the tracks from the former railroad right-of-way, clearing the way for its conversion into a shared-use path ideal for hikers, bikers, cross country skiers, and snowmobile enthusiasts.
A second project will commence in the coming weeks to rehabilitate the existing rails between Big Moose and Tupper Lake in order to create the longest scenic railway in the country.
The rail trail and scenic railway are key components of the recently completed 2020 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan (UMP), which provides a blueprint for sustainably developing this picturesque 119-mile travel corridor to bolster tourism and further recreation opportunities. The corridor follows the path of a once-thriving rail line constructed in 1892 and operated continuously until 1972. The line and its right-of-way were purchased by New York State in 1974.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Today is a critical step in the creation of the Adirondack Rail Trail. Providing a 34-mile accessible recreation trail in the northern corridor and the nation’s longest scenic railway in the southern corridor, this development will expand and enhance visitor experiences and help to drive Adirondack economies. Visitors and local residents alike will be able to experience the excitement of a trail ride through some of the Adirondacks’ most remote and spectacular areas. For those who prefer hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and more, the trail offers a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities.”
Under the project administered by DOT, existing tracks will be removed from the northern portions of the line above Tupper Lake. The Adirondack Rail Trail will be constructed in their place to connect Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake, allowing trail users to enjoy the unique charm and amenities of each community while providing access to miles of breathtaking trails, numerous campsites, and abundant waterways in the Forest Preserve lands adjacent to the travel corridor. The corridor will also feature signage to help visitors interpret the history of the railway, the cultures of adjacent communities, and the natural resources of surrounding lands and waters to create a linear museum.
The New York State Office of General Services is leading the trail’s design and working to ensure it will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Upon completion of construction, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will assume day-to-day management of the trail and, working closely with stakeholders and municipalities, will ensure it remains a world-class accessible outdoor recreation destination.
Construction of the trail is scheduled to begin in 2022 and will be completed in phases. The multi-use recreation trail is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.
The $19.1 million project to rehabilitate the rails between Big Moose and Tupper Lake will allow the current scenic railway service – presently operated by the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society under a use and occupancy permit from the State – to be extended 45 miles further into the Adirondacks. Rail rehabilitation is expected to be complete by the end of 2021. Plans also call for the Tupper Lake Station to be redeveloped to serve as a terminus for rail operations.
Additional details about the 2020 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan Amendment/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement are available at DEC’s website.
Photo: Lee Keet on the future Adirondack Rail Trail/Almanack archive