Saturday, May 22, 2021

Dreaming About The New Tri-Lakes Public Multi Use Recreation Trail

I recently walked the stretch of the Remsen to Lake Placid Railroad corridor from where it crosses the Old Military Road near the firehouse in Lake Placid to where the Scarface Mountain hiking trail crosses the tracks. It’s a bit over four miles. The rails have been removed, and there were small piles of them stacked on the rail side, and many of the ties were loose. There were steel plates that held the rails to the ties and lots of railroad spikes were strewn on the disheveled ties. The removal of the steel rails is the first stage of the transformation of this long-defunct railroad into a public multi-use recreation trail.

The railroad corridor is thickly forested, mostly typical northern upland forest at the Lake Placid end, but cuts through boreal habitat and wetlands with some stands dominated by red pines. The rail corridor shares space in this stretch with the utility lines to Lake Placid. The poles have all been recently rebuilt and the new fiber optic line hangs on them.

The forest stands tall on both sides of the rail line and dwarfs the utility poles. The intricate beauty of the forest, shown in a continuous museum gallery display of the forest floor and lush understory on both sides of the trail, overwhelms the utility lines. The trail is bordered by a half dozen wetlands and then runs along the meandering Ray Brook. When I reached Ray Brook, the fairways of the Saranac Lake Golf Club could be seen through the trees. I threw a few golf balls from the tracks through the trees back onto the course.

In this stretch, the rail corridor has been maintained and there appeared that there would be very few trees needing to be cut down to undertake trail conversion work. I was happy to see, at least on this stretch, no Article 14 tree cutting issues.

Between Lake Placid and Ray Brook, there were three major bridges and a half dozen culverts. The bridges looked sturdy and in good conditions. Built to hold trains, I imagine they can hold people on snowmobiles and bikes.

In the sections that wind through downtown parts of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, I imagine that this trail will be popular for people walking and running. It’s far prettier than walking or running around town and the new trail surface will probably be smoother than road shoulders or sidewalks.

In the winter, the trail will principally be a snowmobile trail, though as fat-tire biking grows in popularity, winter biking could take off. I think this trail will be popular with snowmobilers. The rail corridor rises or drops with very gentle, gradual grades. I do not think it will be great cross-country skiing, it’s pretty flat and will not be nearly as fun as something like the Jackrabbit Trail, but given the width of the trail and the fact that it will be groomed for snowmobiling, I foresee it being popular for those who enjoy skating on their cross-country skis.

This trail will be a true multi-use trail. State agencies regularly approve fictional “multi-use” trails in the Forest Preserve, but these are principally designed as snowmobile trails and receive next to no use for hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. This trail, I’m confident, will see huge numbers of bicycle riders, walkers and runners, in addition to big numbers of snowmobiling. A true multi-use trail in fact, not fiction.

Down the road, as the trail is built out, it’s going to cause some friction. Questions remain about the impact of this trail. There will be various proposals for trailside businesses. Does Lake Placid want to be a snowmobile town? Does Saranac Lake want to be a snowmobile town? They’re going to find out. You’re building it, and they will come.

This trail runs close to residential areas in Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, but it runs through many different neighborhoods as it winds through the heart of downtown Saranac Lake, passing numerous residences so close one could easily hit them with a snowball from the tracks. In Lake Clear, the railroad runs within a few dozen feet of some residences. I’m not worried a bicyclists or roller-bladers or roller-skiers or runners whizzing through residential areas early in the morning or late at night. However, I do foresee issues with loud snowmobiles operating late at night and communities pushed to enact speed limits and hours of operation and setting up DUI checkpoints.

From Lake Clear to Tupper the trail passes through some quiet and remote places, deep in the Forest Preserve. The trail runs on the shores of Hoel Pond and Floodwood Pond and through a massive wetland bog west of Lead Pond. The trail will change things at Floodwood Lake, where it passes close by a series of secluded private cabins, their own slice of paradise heretofore, they will be secluded no more.

Yet, this stretch from Lake Clear to Tupper Lake will also arguably be the most beautiful stretch of the new trail, perhaps the most beautiful stretch of bike trail anywhere. There are no utility lines and the rail line twists and turns, and runs along lakes and ponds and massive wetlands, which provide sweeping views of forested hillsides and ridges. This area will have the longest stretch between road crossings where bicyclists can tune out the world and pedal away lost in their thoughts. The section from Saranac Lake around Lake Colby is also visually stunning.

I think this trail will be knockout. I think that the use of this trail all year-round will be off the charts. I think this trail is a great long-term investment in the Adirondack Park that builds the quality of life for residents and will bring people to visit. This trail will link together the communities of the tri-lakes in a way they have not been linked before, though it will not be without its hiccups and controversies that the state and communities and trail users will need to work through.

Further down the road, I think that the success of this trail will inspire transformation of the North Creek to Saratoga Railroad into a 55-mile multi-use trail. A potential rail trail from North Creek to Saratoga Springs will ride along the banks of the Hudson River for 20 miles and provide dozens of grand views of the river and beyond. When that trail gets built, it too will be a knockout and transformational for Saratoga Springs at the south end and North Creek at the north end, and for Stony Creek, Thurman and Lake Luzerne, among other communities, in between.

I also think that the success of the trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake will lead inexorably to the conversion of the line from Thendara to Tupper Lake. A tourist train in that country makes no sense. The state should not waste tens of millions of dollars to maintain the rail line from Thendara to Tupper Lake. The only place the scenic train has worked is the run south of Thendara along the Moose River.

A popular snowmobile trail and bike trail that runs along Hitchin’s Pond and near Lake Lila will change things in places I hold dear and have enjoyed over the years as I watched them grow wilder. I don’t think the idea of ripping up the rail line from Tupper Lake to Thendara, where it passes among different Wilderness Areas, and rewilding the rail corridor will ever get a real hearing.

I think the success of the trail at the north end will inspire the greater Old Forge community to see that they will benefit enormously by being the southern gateway to this multi use trail. Extending the multi-use trail south of Tupper Lake to Thendara will make the snowmobilers happy, but it will also provide a unified bike route like no other.

This trail is a big moment for the Adirondacks. Hats off to all who got us here and made it happen.

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Peter Bauer

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 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 and two children, 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 Twitter.




134 Responses

  1. Paul Wylie says:

    Peter, I too am excited about this project. I have enjoyed the Rail Trails on Cape Cod for years.

    Will the surface work well for Inline skating? I was under ok the impression that the surface was not smooth but had small gravel in it?

    PW

    • Boreas says:

      Paul,

      The last I knew, areas of heavy usage through towns, etc. may eventually be blacktopped, but the vast majority of the trail will be gravel/gravel dust composition.

    • Steve B. says:

      Last I heard the trail is going to be gravel, not paved, thus suitable for snowmobiles, likely not roller skates

  2. Boreas says:

    Peter,

    Did you happen to note what sections had any cellular service?

  3. Joan Grabe says:

    Thanks to Lee Keet and all the Rail Trail Advocates who kept this idea alive for many years and never gave up in the face of concentrated opposition. Success is sweet !

  4. James Bullard says:

    In view of the fact that the trail will allow snowmobiles in winter will it also allow ebikes in summer? At least they are quiet.

    • Steve B. says:

      Not unless NY changes its state law which says all e-bikes are illegal in bike paths and trails.

      Somewhat dumb, there will almost certainly be new businesses cropping up renting class 3 bikes.

    • Hope says:

      My understanding is that e-bikes, without throttles, will be permitted on the rail trail. It is one of the individual recreation trails, that are specified in the regulation, that e-bikes will be permitted. Also it is already a corridor that allows motorized use with trains and snowmobile use.

      • James Bullard says:

        So, are only snowmobiles without throttles permitted? Rhetorical question. I know the answer. I’m just being snarky over the hypocrisy of NYS rules & regulations. We have a governor who likes snowmobiling so snowmobilers are a privileged group.

        • Boreas says:

          Indeed! May the strongest lobby win!

        • Rosanne says:

          Really not a fair statement. There is a master plan to snowmobiling in NY and we fall under that. There are UMP within the park that we fall under as well but we have never gotten to the cap on the trail mileage allowed within the park. I’m sure Peter Bauer can give you more details on that so I would disagree with your statement that snowmobilers are privileged. I would take the tack that we are more discriminated against especially within the blue line.

          • James Bullard says:

            My admitted snark comment was to point out inconsistency. Snowmobiles will be allowed despite the fact they they are entirely motor powered all the time (I have yet to see a pedal assisted snowmobile) yet use of ebikes on the new trail can only be of the pedal assisted variety. If they have a throttle that allows the bike to be powered without pedalling, they are banned. And if I read the rules correctly, this trail will be the sole exception to a total ban of ebikes (including pedal assisted) *anywhere* in the forest preserve.
            I own neither and am not particularly in favor of either in the forest preserve but I am annoyed by irrational and inconsistent rules that favor one group over another. As for being more discriminated against, the law that finally allowed ebikes in NY limits them to roads/streets with speed limits of 30 mph or less and designated bike lanes. Under that I can ride my ordinary bike to town 6 miles away, and do, but if I were to buy an ebike I couldn’t even legally use it on the road in front of my house because the nearest 30 mph zone is over 2 miles away.
            This of course brings up the real problem. The rule makers want to allow snowmobiles but don’t want to allow ATVs/UTVs and are grasping at straws to find distinctions between various forms of motorized transportation. Ebikers and powered scooter riders (and even drone operators) are caught in the middle. If we want to be consistent “no motorized vehicles” should mean exactly that.

      • Paul says:

        If trains and snowmobiles and e-bikes (all motorized) are permitted, why are 4 wheelers not?

        If you put one of those “track” things on an ATV for snow can you use it?

        • Rosanne says:

          Four wheelers with tracks does not fit the definition on a snowmobile so I would think they would not be allowed. And if they were, no doubt someone would lose their mind over it.

  5. Bob Glennon says:

    Does anybody know where the pulled-up rails and ties will go? Is there any kind of afteruse for such things?

    Just wonderin’.

    • James Bullard says:

      Rails and other steel can be recycled. The ties cannot be sold in NYS because the creosote is a suspected carcinogen. They used to be sold for landscaping but that has been illegal since 2008. If they are reusable as RR ties by another line they can go there, otherwise they have to go to an appropriate landfill.

  6. Scott K.Willis says:

    The destruction of the railroad is a criminal act.

    I am a tax payer in the Town of Santa Clara and have spent the better part of my life in Saranac Lake.

    This disgusts me.

    New York State ignores and violates the Historic Registry, with approval from the Governor, supported by his local cronies.

    Shame on ALL of you.

    Sad photos indeed.

    Scott K. Willis

    • ben says:

      Oh man of little wisdom or knowledge, how is removing the rails a criminal act?

    • Bill Keller says:

      My tax dollars were wasted on the refurbishing of the rail line between Saratoga and North Creek. “Train stations” were built that sit idle. The one in Thurman cost over $1.5 million. Then they moved the “ice cream caboose” from North Creek to Thurman never to open. The rail trail system is a much better use of the defunct tracks/bedding and will bring more visitors to the area compared to a tourist train that is not self sustaining and needs an endless supply of tax dollars to keep it running. That’s just my opinion

  7. George L. says:

    Re-extending the rail line from Tupper Lake to Montreal would be transfomational.

  8. Bob Glennon says:

    Thanks so much, Mr. Bullard. Much appreciated.

    My best regards to all, Bob G.

  9. Andrew Albright says:

    I heartily disagree with the idea of converting the entire RR corridor to a recreational trail. If the tracks are removed, the forest should be restored. A trail will invite inappropriate motorsport use (ATVs and dirt bikes). In my opinion that use doesn’t comply with either the letter or intent of “forever wild.” Leave the tracks or restore the forest, but don’t give ATVs access to the wildest part of the park.

    • Steve B. says:

      The rail section from Tupper south is being retained and improved. That was the compromise.

    • Russ Nelson says:

      ATVs have already been illegally using the tracks. It’s still going to be illegal once the rails have been removed. Not sure how that’s going to dissuade them given that it’s already illegal.

  10. Tom B says:

    I agree that this trail will get a lot of use. Extending it to Old Forge will only make it more attractive. While biking or skiing on varied terrain is definitely more challenging, I think it would be of interest to many people to bike or ski from Old Forge to Lake Placid camping along the way.

  11. Mary says:

    I am looking forward to this trail, in particular, the tupper lake to lake clear piece.

    Snowmobiles already use the rail lines from tupper south but only when the snow is deep. Removing the rails will help when snow pack is not the best. The nice thing would be to keep snowmobiles on a trail so they can avoid lake surfaces. Most of the winter the lakes are now more dangerous for snowmobiles.

    Climate change will mean a rail trail will be more for hiking and biking… and actually relieve some of the pressure on the high peaks trails.

    I can see many opportunities for bird watching on areas of the trail. This is another activity with new interest, perhaps requiring a new type of adirondack guide?

  12. Joe Martens says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s points and perspectives on this one. But while he never hesitates to name names when it comes to criticisms, he simply ends by tipping his hat to those that made it happen. In this case, it was Dick Beamish, Lee Keet and many other advocates who made the persuasive case for a rail trail and it was the Cuomo Administration that made it happen. Give credit where credit is due.

  13. Marsha Stanley Marsha Stanley says:

    Peter, thanks for his wonderful review of the soon-to-be trail. I want to thank Lee and Nancy Keet and others who bought into this vision early and worked so hard to make it real. My husband is off this week to do the wildly successful Lehigh Gorge Trail near Jim Thorpe, Pa. Some day soon thousands of people will come to the Adirondacks to ride our new trail — all the way to Old Forge.

  14. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    If the state were to extend the rail trail to Old Forge, it could capitalize on two of the hottest trends in cycling: gravel bikes and bike-packing. Imagine this itinerary:

    Day 1: start in Lake Placid, lunch or breakfast in Saranac Lake, continue to Tupper Lake. Stay in local hotel if you want comfort.

    Day 2: bike to Lake Lila and camp out

    Day 3: Swim in Lila, hike to Mt. Frederica. In afternoon, bike to Beaver River, a hamlet on Stillwater Reservoir normally reached only by water. Stay in lodge or camp out.

    Day 4: Bike to Old Forge, southern terminus of the trail.

    This trip would take cyclists through some of the wildest country in the East. Except for the stop at Lila, they would have the option of staying in hotels. This would be one of the best rail trails in the country and easily marketable.

    PS: I want to thank Peter for finding my golf balls.

    • Hope says:

      This is something that I have been advocating for and still advocate for and also a majority of Tupper Lake wishes would have happened all along. The only reason it didn’t happen is because Old Forge was afraid of losing market share of the snowmobile community. Unfortunately for them, the expanded St Lawrence Trail system connecting to the Franklin County trails and now the Rail Trail will find most snowmobilers headed further into the Park to be able to ride on these longer trails. The rails south of Tupper will effectively stop that traffic from heading to Old Forge for most.

    • Marc Wanner says:

      And when the trail proves so popular that there are no campsites available when numerous bike campers arrive at Lila on a beautiful summer weekend, what then?

      • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

        Accessing many of Lake Lila’s campsites without a canoe or kayak would be difficult, if not impossible. Also, bikes are not allowed in the wilderness area. If DEC were to extend the rail trail past Lake Lila, I assume they would create campsites along the corridor to accommodate bike-packers.

    • Bill c says:

      Great itinerary. Then after the bike trip, resupply in Old Forge. Take shuttle to Northville, backpack the Northville – Placid Trail. Upon arriving Lake Placid, resupply, eat some good food, drink some good beer, and then backpack the rail trail home to your car in Old Forge with sidetrip around Cranberry Lake 50 along the way.
      Rail trail to Old Forge would create unbeatable options for back country travel. I hope it happens.

  15. Boreas says:

    While I understand the desire to convert the entire corridor to a multi-use trail, I feel we should give the current compromise plan at least 10 years to flesh out before we look to change it. See what happens on each section of trail, THEN consider a new plan. If the rail section to TL flourishes, it will be more than we have now, and will benefit towns on both ends. If it fizzles, then consider converting the southern section to trail. Patience!

    • Joan Grabe says:

      We have been patient and realistic enough to know that every mile south of Tupper Lake will have to be adjudicated again even if the stretch between Tupper and Placid is wildly successful.

    • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

      Boreas, it would be a waste of tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the rails between Old Forge and Tupper and then tear them up if the experiment doesn’t work. Instead, the state should take another look at what’s best for the Park–appeasing a small number of train aficionados or creating a world-class rail trail.

      • Boreas says:

        Haven’t they already started the upgrade?? Depending on what contracts have been signed, it may also cost a considerable sum to stop. I think I would place a lot of emphasis on what TL and Thendara want. Do we really know??

        • Boreas says:

          Another thing to consider is that if/when the remaining rails are ever to be removed, it may be handy to have at least reasonably sturdy rails to ship rail/tie debris south on the RR instead of by truck – especially considering the lack of roads in that area. My understanding is that it is barely navigable in some areas now.

      • Scott Thompson says:

        As the only business between Big Moose and Tupper Lake, we have watched the Railroad go down down down until it ran empty 90% of the time and that’s when there was some freight, the mail, frozen foods cars tank farms and warehouses not to mention A LOT more working population. The age of the big hotels is gone, forest products are a fraction of what they were and on and on. Times change and if the Olympics did not jumpstart a new railroad ( and that was only 15 years after it ran) why will it succeed now? It will not. It is time for bikes, ebikes, snowmobiles ( last year registrations were up 10,000) and people who want to be out in it not watching the world go by.

        • Russ Nelson says:

          Oh, Scotty. Scotty, Scotty, Scotty. You’re just mad because the railroad stopped you from carrying gasoline to your camp using your Hy-Rail pickup truck.

          • Scott Thompson says:

            You realize your talking about over 20 years ago and the fuel truck is barged and comes right to the door now. The real bone of contention here is that the thousands of snowmobilers ( see DOT traffic count ) are limited to a few weeks a year and we can’t have bicycle adventures both of which are attractions in themselves. For us its the economy. NO ONE has explained a way that the train could be better.

        • Rosanne says:

          Scott, registrations were over 100,000 last year and I agree with you. If the train was going to sustain itself – it would have by now. No one likes to see change or nostalgic trains go away but if there is little interest and no money to maintain – what can you do. I hear there was a train up by you this past week, how many riders did you see on it?
          Guessing not enough to support the argument to keep the rails.

          • Scott Thompson says:

            No passengers yet, only a work train and that was derailed for a couple days. I’m sure that will be some time before they carry passengers. The RR was all excited and the DOT spent over $8 mill to get to the run around siding at Big Moose; they ran a schedule for two years but so few took the ride, they stopped except 10-12 trains all during foliage. Big Moose Station Restaurant served meals, but unless you ate, you sat on the train and waited. Didn’t work.

    • Chris says:

      The experiment was done already, they put millions into the rails between Thendura and Big Moose station a while ago and now that section is lucky to see a few trains a year.

  16. Joel says:

    Let’s hope that all the snowmobiles are electric by the time this trail is finished.

    • James Bullard says:

      And only pedal assisted, no throttle.

    • Paul says:

      They will be super duper fast and have even better acceleration once they are. Plus you won’t hear them coming! Some electric cars do 0-60 in under 3 seconds imagine a snowmobile!

      • Jess says:

        Yea! And you just plug in to the nearest pine tree for a recharge in the middle of the forest and wait in the cold for an hour while it recharges.

    • Rosanne says:

      As a matter of fact there are countless Universities all across the country who have been working on electric snowmobiles and participate in the “Clean Sled Challenge”. The New York State Snowmobile Association supports this engineering initiative and donates money to three NYS universities every year to assist students in paying for their designs. Most responsible snowmobilers support quieter sleds contrary to the beliefs of many.

  17. Steve B. says:

    As an avid cyclist for 33 years, I’m not sold on the attraction for extending the rail line as a rail-trial from Tupper to Old Forge. I know that many hard-core cyclists, bikebackers and cycle tourists would love it, but not seeing this as any kind of family attraction. Mostly as there are (I think) 4 road access points – Mt. Arab, Horseshoe, Sabattis and Big Moose. There are zero attractions at those locations in terms of restaurants (excepting I think Big Moose), bathrooms (could be built), etc…. and it’s a LONG way from Tupper to Old Forge thru what is essentially 56 miles of backwoods riding.

    What I don’t know is how well these kind of long distance rail trails work in other locations. Maine has the 85 mile Down East Sunrise Trail, but that has a lot of access to local towns along the Rt 1 corridor. The Katy Trail in Missouri is very popular and remote in spots. There are others out west from what I’ve read, not sure how well they provide access to local towns where amenities are located. That’s an issue here.

    • Thomas Barker Eastman says:

      Get some more experience and consider how such a trail is an amazing entry into the real of bike adventure…

    • Boreas says:

      Steve B,

      I share some of your concerns. While I am certainly not against the idea of a trail between Thendara and TL, the support of operating such a trail through the wild needs to be investigated. I do not know what cellular coverage, if any, exists along the route. Is there a possibility of something like the old solar-powered satellite phones that used to be along the Northway? Would a simple buried phone line to a dispatch be an option? Will there be a paid patrol force, and if so, who will pay for it?

      Who would be responsible for responding to distress calls along the corridor? Rangers? Police? Without roads nearby, how effective will emergency services be? I assume emergency ATV use by officials would be acceptable, but if they are using road-access points, may not be quick in coming. How will dispatch respond to flat tires and mechanical problems? Collisions? Dehydration? Illness? We shouldn’t assume users will be any more prepared than hikers.

      I am all for a trail from Thendara to TL, but it needs to be fully thought out before breaking any ground.

      Will there be a paid patrol force?

      • Boreas says:

        Sorry, strike my last redundant sentence.

      • JB says:

        Agree. Building out a higher capacity trail through such a remote area would need to come along with infrastructure to enable people to enjoy the resource without degrading it (or hurting themselves). Finding a proper way to add the necessary density of designated campsites and outhouses that can be accessed by users of the trail, without going overboard with development (emphasis), would be important. But I do believe that building trails like these that are centered around hamlet communities within the Park is probably the most sane way to expand access to the Park to accommodate increasing usership in a way that would most effectively benefit the “dying communities” which people are so concerned about. Most hamlets have the preexisting first-world infrastructure that allows people to congregate and stay without degrading the environment and those residents and governments who want the infusion of visitors and money (although some of us have been overwhelmed by visitors this year). Anyway, it seems like a win-win, if done right. On the contrary, charting new paths and building new infrastructure in deep wilderness should only be done as part of an overuse remediation strategy to benefit ecosystems and visitors (wilderness enthusiasts), not as part of an “if you build it, they will come” campaign that inevitably becomes a detriment to all involved, which we have unfortunately seen with some DEC projects in past decades.

  18. Pat Smith says:

    We can’t wait to bring the horses up to ride these great trails.

    • James Bullard says:

      Will, horse riders clean up after their horses or the bikers and hikers have to dodge the droppings?

      • hillary j. ryan says:

        Recreationists have always had to dodge droppings left by rude or ignorant dog owners that don’t pick up after their dog(s) takes a poop. This occurs on all trails, roads, and walkways, even when there are signs posted to pick up after your dog AND baggies are provided. Clearly, rules will have to be established to minimize this nuisance and—in some cases— hazard.
        What concerns me more is snowmobile emissions. I am ecstatic at the potential of this trail and I understand its existence is possible because it promised to serve all types of recreationists, including snowmobiles. I have often skied or run the Bog Trail sections that go from Saranac Lake to Buck Pond. Knowing it is primarily a snowmobile corridor in winter, I step aside when I hear snowmobiles approaching and resume my activity after they pass, sucking in all the lingering fumes. It’s not pleasant but knowing I’m in “their” territory I’ll put up with it for the benefit of using that corridor. The shared use of the Rail Trail, however, will mean a lot more fume sucking as we all have to share trail usage, side by side, and I’ll pass more snowmobiles than normal. I could probably find something to filter the air but my thinking is: those causing the issue should find a solution. Your dog or horse poops: pick it up so others don’t have to deal with the mess. Your snowmobile emits noxious fumes that choke others on a shared-use passageway: buy a cleaner vehicle or find a method to eliminate emissions.

        • Scott Thompson says:

          Snowmobiles have and are getting cleaner every year, but I get the point. Compare to the Diesel locomotive; nasty black smoke and diesel is much worse than gas. Watch Adirondack Railroad clips on YouTube. It’s ( the trail) still a low impact way to put a huge infusion in the regions economy.

      • Boreas says:

        One thing I will note about horses on trails like this: With years of bike riding on the Old Erie Canal Towpath between Syracuse and Rome, it was VERY obvious which sections of the trail were used by horses. With a stone/dust trail, softer sections can really be torn up by horses hooves – especially during wet weather. It can also be torn up by cyclists as well. Proper surfacing, personal clean-up and good maintenance will be important.

        • Rosanne says:

          First I will say that I agree that dog feces is a problem on the Erie Canal – that you are 100% correct about. Horse feces – well that is less of a problem as there are not many of them riding it and horse feces is more biodegradable than dog crap given it is made up primarily of hay product. Within one or 2 rains, it is typically gone unlike dog poo that sticks with you for months.

          Secondly, horses were instrumental in the building of the Erie Canal. Their use should always be there and everyone should keep in mind that they ALWAYS have the right of way and all other users are to yield to horses.

          Hmmmm, funny – I see horses on the Erie Canal in the winter and have never had a problem. I shut off my sled, they pass, we all wave to each other and everyone goes on their merry way. Guess down in CNY they just know how to play nice in the sandbox better than up north???

          • Boreas says:

            Rosanne,

            Frankly, I was speaking more of hoof damage than I was “organic deposits”. But both are considerations, but droppings (like litter) – whether horse, dog, or human – need to be cleaned up by the dropper. Leave no trace.

            As I recall, sections of the towpath near Rome were converted to coarse gravel in these areas. With my hybrid bike, I had to detour onto the highway because the gravel was so loose. But this was ages ago – I don’t know the current situation. Ideally, a bike trail should be able to be used by mountain, fat, and hybrid style bikes. If you can’t ride a hybrid bike through a section, it will be difficult to use a typical wheelchair or stroller as well.

  19. Lawrence Van Garrett says:

    My family has been waiting patiently for this to happen. We are avid cyclists(road,gravel & fat tire.) we understand the worry from local residents about the reshaping of the beautiful landscape that generations of their family’s have enjoyed. More people in the ADK is a double edge sword, and understandably. While our family only lives 1.5 hours away from Old Forge. We try to visit every weekend. We love Walt’s Diner, we always try to grab a sandwich at the local store in Inlet, grab a burger at the Tap Room in Raquette Lake, grab coffee at the local shop in Blue Mt Lake etc etc. We always respect the environment that we bike, swim, kayak and fish in. We hope that when we leave, we have helped the locals help pay their bills by spending money directly with them. Having this trail will help people live healthier lives, experience what the ADK does best, stand beautiful. Most are not fortunate enough to own land in the ADK and it’s important for those that do to understand that most of us love it and want to share in it’s beauty just as those who have owned lake front homes on Saranac and Mirror Lake for generations. I could see at some point a bike packing event be held on this new trail, bringing wonderful people and much needed money into the local economy. Local restaurants and gas stations can’t and won’t survive on just local patrons. With the right kind of voice and education, this trail can and will be a positive for all.

  20. Jack Delehanty says:

    Let’s see…have NYS taxpayers put $35+ million into reestablishing a railroad line between Big Moose and Tupper Lake now//or wait a dozen or more years to have taxpayers pay multiple-times more to rip it up to extend a multiple use trail in its place???? Every year we are not connected to Old Forge will cost the Tri-Lakes and Long Lake, Lake Clear and Cranberry Lake millions of dollars in tourist income. The flawed “compromise” of railroad south from Tupper and trail east to Placid epitomizes the folly of politics. Politicians never have to pay the freight. (intended) Taxpayers always do. Open the corridor now!!!

    • Scott Thompson says:

      This says it. The area needs this attraction like yesterday! It has taken nearly 20 years to get this much trail, we can not afford to wait.

    • Rosanne says:

      I’d rather see NY put 35 million into fixing roads and bridges. Especially Rt 28 and Rt 365 which have gotten better but still need a lot of work.

      • Jack Delehanty says:

        Me too!! And reconstructing the poor excuse for a road between North River and Indian Lake would be great!

  21. Todd Eastman says:

    Well if the trail between TL and points south doesn’t work…

    … the stage coach tours on tracks should pull in millions of $$$…?

  22. SCOTT S THOMPSON says:

    Anecdote: Syracuse TV interviewed businesses in the Old Forge area to see how they did or what was missed during ” covid” summer, They lemented the loss of dining, music, the Enchanted Forest/Water Safari, events but NOT ONE mentioned the Railroad not operating. Im sure the many volunteers and rail fans missed their activities , but it just does not mean much to the local economy.

  23. Sivart says:

    Can’t wait to go for a morning ride from LP to Saranac Lake for a coffee!

  24. Andrew says:

    Peter I enjoyed this article and I believe what is good for one community may not be for another. At this moment a company called revolution rail uses the stretch of railroad you are speaking about to bring over 50,000 customers to the north creek area every summer. Their unique and method of sustainable tourism is based on rail bikes that smoothly glide down the old railroad when pedaling.

    • wbb says:

      50,000? I think the rail bikes are great but I have a hard time believing that number, what is your source
      ?

  25. Phil Brown P says:

    I don’t understand the hand-wringing over the possibility that people would be biking on a rail trail through wild areas. People already venture deep into the Adirondack wilderness–to hike, ski, snowmobile, etc. Why is this different? In fact, the rail trail is never that far from roads. Rangers could access the trail at Sabattis, Lake Lila and several other spots. If necessary, they could take an ATV on the trail to reach a person in need of a rescue. It’d probably be an easier rescue than many that have taken place in the High Peaks. Rangers often have trouble ascertaining a person’s whereabouts if he/she has wandered off a hiking trail. That would be less of an issue for a biker on a rail trail.

  26. Ben says:

    Well in reading all of these comments people are for or against it. Those that are against it, want to see a forever wild forest again, or they are afraid of noise, overuse, misuse of the trail or they worry about who./what/how emergencies will be handled. A trail from Tupper Lake north thru Saranac Lake & on into Lake Placid will be an immense benefit to those towns. Going south to Old Forge, we’ll have to wait & see. The ASR didn’t run at all last year & WAS NOT MISSED & according to their web page they don’t plane to run until November of this year. They run rail bikes out of Old Forge, but you could just as easy take the rail wheels off & put on actual bike tires & do the same ride on a TRAIL! The ASR has had a go fund me webpage now going for almost 2 months at hasn’t come close to what they need to supposedly buy another train to use in Tupper Lake. Will the state have to bail them out again? Two years ago when they were running they stiffed the Town of Webb their 1/3 of the cost for the shuttle bus service in Old Forge. They then tried to get the TOW to pay for shuttles for the fall foliage needs in Thendara. Now with Van Aukens closed/up for sale there is NOTHING in Thendara when the train arrives. The train has not made a profit at all in the last few years. They need to pre sale their polar express rides each year, just to have the money to use during the year to operate. The state will go ahead & waste millions rebuilding rails for a train that is on its last ends. If it survives a few more years great, if it dies in a few more years great! Is there enough business to run a train all the way from Old Forge to Tupper Lake, NO! At the speed the ASR runs it is an all day effort to get between Old Forge & Tupper by train. You can drive it in 2 – 2/12 hours and you have your transportation when you arrive in Tupper. IS Tupper going to develop town transportation services to move rail passengers around. They don’t have it now, so at what cost to taxpayers are they willing to go to build a service? Will the train run this year, who knows. They have bills to pay from last year & bills to pay this year so far, with no train running, where is the money coming from? The rail bikes in Old Forge only make enough to keep that operation afloat!
    The ASR needs to stop in Thendara & a trail goes north from there. ATVs by law aren’t permitted on it. Emergency services are in place now or would need to be in place to deal with emergencies from a train accident? For all you smart people you complain about emergency services for a injured snowmobile, hiker or biker, what about a train with passengers on it that breaks down, derails, or some other emergency? What’s you plan for that type of emergency!

    • Boreas says:

      Those of us “hand-wringing” about trail emergencies are not necessarily against the trail. Commenters would be wise not no paint everyone with a broad brush – the “my way or the wrong way” attitude.

      My intention was to bring up a point that often gets rationalized away by trail supporters – and I am a trail supporter! One of my points is, what will constitute an emergency when a bike or sled is simply broken? Or a horse throwing a rider and taking off for Beaver River? Or a horse with a medical problem? If you look at what dispatchers handle now with absurd “emergencies” by unprepared hikers, and ADD mechanical and equestrian problems over a 100 mile stretch of trail, that is going to keep responders pretty busy. Who will those responders be? Is Seggos going to spring for more Rangers? Should it be a Town service? Perhaps mounted Rangers? It will have to be figured out sooner or later, why not discuss it calmly now? Sledders have a pretty good reputation for not sledding alone, but as in hiking, I see bikers often being just as unprepared and not knowing their limitations. But maybe I am just being an old fart. Caution grows with age – just like your ears.

    • Russ Nelson says:

      “but you could just as easy take the rail wheels off & put on actual bike tires & do the same ride on a TRAIL! ”

      No. Bicycling is nothing like riding a rail bike. You don’t have to steer, so you can enjoy the view. Everyone is going in the same direction, so you don’t have to worry about staying on your side of the trail. Metal or plastic wheels on steel rails are very low friction, so the ride is much easier. When you’re riding a quad bike, you really only need two people pedaling, so that you can take grandma and grandpa out for a ride. Or your little kids.

      It’s almost like you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  27. Paul says:

    Well they are building it so we will see. I doubt it will have the popularity much beyond the snowmobile users but I hope I’m wrong. I will skate ski on it if they groom. But I do worry about a snowmobile coming 60-70 miles per hour hitting me.

    It is so loud and the sleds go so fast out in Lake Clear on those old rail bed trails near the airport, and this will allow even faster use. It’s deafening when they come by. If you are looking for peace and quiet this will not be your place in the winter.

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Ticketing the bubbleheads for speeding and booze could bring much needed revenue… ?

    • You can expect a snowmobile monopoly in the winter. You’ll be taking your life in your hands if you ski on a weekend!

    • Steve B. says:

      Ive ridden a bunch back in the Horseshoe and Sabbatis areas, there is zero cell service. Ditto down to Old Forge. Trail access for emergency response isn’t the issue, though its a long way from Sabattis or Lake Lila down to Big Moose. Any kind of emergency is going to require a third party to ride and drive to a point where there is cell service. Dunno, maybe some land line emergency phones every few miles.

      Not really the point though which is whats the attraction to riding 56 miles of deep-in-the-woods rail trail. Maybe with a bunch of primitive campsites it’ll see cycling tourists equipped to camp. Not likely mom and dad and the kids. I’d love it as i’d arrange a shuttle pickup at finish

      • Hope says:

        Not sure why you don’t think families would ride through the wilderness. We took ours camping in the wilderness by canoeing to an island in Lake Lila when my son was an infant and there was no cell service, then, just about everywhere. We even road along the tracks back in the day with first generation mountain bikes. Been riding into Sabattis for 30 plus years. People take their kids lots of places with no cell service. Sometimes they do it on purpose lol.

        • Steve B. says:

          Because the Tupper to Big Moose section is 56 miles long. What kids can ride that distance ?. Thus any ride will be a drive to the trail head at Sabattis, then an out and back of whatever distance the kids can handle. No amenities at any point, the parents need go be well prepared with a cooler of water, sodas, food, etc…., Dunno, maybe the Horseshoe to Tupper would be manageable. Possibly an astute business person will open up a deli at Mt. Arab.

          Its an interesting discussion as the same questions may get asked as to viability if the North Creek to Tahawus line ever gets made into a trail. I’m aware there a a bunch of long distance rail trails out west that go thru long sections of Nat’l Forest, am curious as to how much they get sued and by whom.

  28. Peter Bauer is the executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks yet is all for Snowmobiles destroying and polluting the Adirondacks. I’d have more respect for him if he said convert it all to ‘Non-Motorized’ trails! Keep your hands off the North Creek Railroad, you’ve already destroyed one major piece of history! And how wonderful the people on snow machines will enjoy the beautiful scenery between Tupper Lake and Placid. A shame that the handicap can’t enjoy it in a railcar!

    • Russ Nelson says:

      Now that the railroad is gone, the snowmobiles will be next to be shut out of the Adirondacks. If you’ll notice, the Forever-Wilders have been keeping a very low profile, not saying much about the wilderness areas that the railroad goes through. You know they’re greedily eyeing them.

      • Ben says:

        The state OWNS the corridor, so unless the state changes the rules, snowmobiles will be riding the corridor for years to come, while down south in Old Forge the train will be long gone!

    • Rosanne says:

      I would not consider Peter Bauer a Pro-Snowmobile guy. I met him on one occasion and would say he is not a bad person but pro-snowmobile he is not.

      • Hope says:

        He is just anticipating global warming and biking and hiking the corridor for longer periods of time. You will also see more fat bikes enjoying the Rail Trail for for flat groomed surface. He also doesn’t want alternative snowmobile trails built elsewhere.

  29. Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

    There’s an old saying – be very careful what you wish for.

  30. Steve Richards says:

    The State already wasted money on a trail nobody will use.Does not make sense when there are lots of trails around already

  31. Charlie Stehlin says:

    James Bullard says: “will it also allow ebikes in summer?”

    What’s an ebike? Is this a bicycle that can be attained through the pressing of a icon on Ebay? Is it anything like what bicycles used to be before we became so much more complicated as a society?

  32. Charlie Stehlin says:

    James Bullard says: “I am annoyed by irrational and inconsistent rules that favor one group over another.”

    So you’re fed up with partisan politics too I see. An e-bike must be considered a minority bicycle for it to be less favored than, say….a snowmobile. What can we do about this James? This partisanship! We’re so divided because!

  33. Charlie Stehlin says:

    ” the law that finally allowed ebikes in NY limits them to roads/streets with speed limits of 30 mph or less ”

    I see! It’s another motorized contraption. At a time when the Earth is cooking and carbon emissions should be limited. Makes sense backwards that we are!

  34. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “If we want to be consistent “no motorized vehicles” should mean exactly that.”

    Consistent? As in one politician saying ‘don’t wear a mask’, another saying ‘wear a mask’; One saying ‘sell the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’, the other saying, ‘Preserve & protect.’ Consistency! Is there sucha thing?

  35. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Paul says: “If trains and snowmobiles and e-bikes (all motorized) are permitted, why are 4 wheelers not?”

    Ruts Paul! Have you seen their ruts on dirt paths in the Adirondack woods? I have. Not a purty sight! This is one answer to your query.

  36. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Scott K.Willis says: “The destruction of the railroad is a criminal act.”

    > So should be the allowing of gas & or oil wells in our National Parks Scott! So should be the disenfranchising of legal voters in the commonwealth! So should be pouring toxins into our air and soil and waterways! Pick your criminal acts Scott! A dime a dozen! We all have different value systems….is why one sees beauty in ugly, another sees nothing in beauty.

  37. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Andrew Albright says: “A trail will invite inappropriate motorsport use (ATVs and dirt bikes).”

    > Not to be dismissive of the same being a vector for aliens, or invasive species along that same course.

  38. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Phil Brown says: “PS: I want to thank Peter for finding my golf balls.”

    Ahhh…humor! Just what we can use more of in these gloomy times. Thank you for that!

  39. Charlie Stehlin says:

    James Bullard says: “Will, horse riders clean up after their horses or the bikers and hikers have to dodge the droppings?”

    > Back in the days, horse & buggy days that is, manure was considered a a major commodity, such that people eagerly went out with their shovels and kept the streets free of this aromatic waste in NYC. They used it for their gardens, or farm crops. Farm crops in NYC. Imagine that!

  40. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “ignorant dog owners…”

    >This is a whole new ball game…dog poop! (Ignorant dog owners too!) To think of all the bacteria and germs and possibly worms! Egads! The smell too! I live in a neighborhood where the ignorant folk from two blocks down walk their dogs to my neighborhood, let their dogs do their thing, then walk away leaving it where it lay…..even though there are poop scoop plastic baggies in a receptacle on a post nearby. Yep, a dime a dozen!

  41. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Rosanne says: ” horse feces is more biodegradable than dog crap ”

    Yes! It’s not like NYC folk from the 1800’s went around gladly picking up dog poop from the streets to use for their gardens.

  42. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Hope says: “We took ours camping in the wilderness by canoeing to an island in Lake Lila when my son was an infant and there was no cell service, then, just about everywhere.”

    >Yep, but now we have cellphones and we’re lost without them, we lost the ability to navigate with less. We’re afraid to go into the woods without them, or anywhere without them for that matter. If a nuclear war began today and all human life on earth ceased to exist because, and each one of us were frozen in time in the position we were in last, just seconds before the bombs lit up; and if a thousand years from now aliens on ufo’s came here to Earth, they would be curious as to the standard positions of our frozen-in-time skeletal corpses….. an arm raised in the air with a skeletal hand grasping the remains of some antiquated electronic device!

    Now we have remote car (or truck) starters, which, at the press of a button from a hundred feet away (or more or less), we can start our vehicles up without having to be an occupant within. A new excuse to not only become less self-sufficient, but also to add carbon emissions to our ever-shrinking, ever-polluted home we call planet Earth. Now we can leave our vehicles running for half an hour before we even enter them thanks to the new gadgetry.

    Take away our cellphones and we’re worse than lost little children, we’re insecure adults too reliant on a dysfunctional system which is rapidly eroding the old, simple way of doing things.

  43. Keith Gorgas says:

    Well, I’ve skied, hunted, and hiked all of the tracks from Lake Clear through Ray Brook, and I’ve rode Rail Explorers and rode the last Adirondack Scenic train between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, and I now that I am completely handicapped, I’m looking forward to spending my days riding my wheel chair back and forth between the villages on this world class trail. I do hope it is better taken care and more used than our rail trail that goes from Saranac Lake to Montreal.
    With no disrespect meant to the good people of Tupper Lake, it seems to me that by terminating in Tupper Lake, the rail section is designed to fail. It’s funny how thinking convolutes over time. It was the more environmentally conscious people who first undertook to save the railroad as a potential low impact means of bringing tourists through the wilderness into the northern villages of the Park. Knowing that this route would not be economically self -sustaining (what is in the Adirondacks? Does anything get done without public money?) the idea arose for a tourist excursion railroad to help subsidize restored public transportation.
    Now the psuedo-environmentalists have joined forces, at least for a time, with the snowmobile lobby to destroy the railroad infrastructure, much as Sherman did to the South at the end of the Civil War to keep the south from rising again. The crippling effect was felt for generations, as will the effects of this short sighted maneuver, which is really just the “Haves” making sure that the “Have-nots” will never have.

    • Steve B. says:

      The trail has attractions at LP, Saranac, Lake Clear (potentially), and Tupper. Maybe sandwich shops, deli’s, bathrooms, bike rental, etc….. this is over a 30 mile trail.

      There’s nothing for 56 miles between Tupper and Big Moose and no place to build anything, convert an old building to new use, etc…… long way. Thus a hard sell to convert for the occasional long distance cyclist who can cover the distance ( like me, ill love every mile). No family will go there unless they want an hours drive then an out and back.

  44. People should ride the Degrasse to Parishville trail. It is a excellent atv ride . The Tooley Pond road is amazing.

  45. Charlie Stehlin says:

    2 strikes and I’m out….for good!
    ……………………………………………………………………………………..

    Hope says: “We took ours camping in the wilderness by canoeing to an island in Lake Lila when my son was an infant and there was no cell service, then, just about everywhere.”

    >Yep, but now we have cellphones and we’re lost without them, we lost the ability to navigate with less. We’re afraid to go into the woods without them, or anywhere without them for that matter. If a nuclear war began today and all human life on earth ceased to exist because, and each one of us were frozen in time in the position we were in last, just seconds before the bombs lit up; and if a thousand years from now aliens on ufo’s came here to Earth, they would be curious as to the standard positions of our frozen-in-time skeletal corpses….. an arm raised in the air with a skeletal hand grasping the remains of some antiquated electronic device!

    Now we have remote car (or truck) starters, which, at the press of a button from a hundred feet away (or more or less), we can start our vehicles up without having to be an occupant within. A new excuse to not only become less self-sufficient, but also to add carbon emissions to our ever-shrinking, ever-polluted home we call planet Earth. Now we can leave our vehicles running for half an hour before we even enter them thanks to the new gadgetry. Take away our cellphones and we’re worse than lost little children, we’re insecure adults too reliant on a dysfunctional system which is rapidly eroding the old, simple way of doing things.

    • JohnL says:

      I like to start my car (remotely) at least 45 minutes before I need it to be sure it’s nice and warm. But it’s OK. I’m not wasting my time during that warm up period. I use that 45 minutes to catch up on my texts and phone calls.

  46. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    As much as I am enjoying the comparison of dog and horse feces, the discussion is irrelevant. Horses will not be allowed on the rail trail.

  47. ben says:

    Poop or no poop, who cares what poop is on the trail or not. We’ll still have a world class trail to use between Tupper Lake & Lake Placid. Going south, we’ll have a rail line going nowhere. The ASR hasn’t run since 2019. According to their schedule they won’t run until November 2021 at the earliest. Who has been paying their bills? They kept the polar express money from pre season ticket sales last year and they are again doing pre season polar express ticket sales this year for something that may or may not happen. They’ve only raised 19 K on their go fund me page! But I guess the state can just continue to prop up a business that failed years ago. Ask any business in Old Forge if they miss the train. I bet the majority would say no! I can probably say with 100% certainty that if you take the state aid away from the ASR they WOULD fail. Now trying to run all the way to Tupper Lake can be the final nail in their coffin. The rail bikes are a good idea. Run them from Thendara to Carter Station & stop there. Pull the tracks from there north. A trail that even in limited use, is better than a train with no use!

    • Dana says:

      I choose NO poop…

      • Pat Smith says:

        Everyone wants to enjoy the beauty of the rail trail as long as they’re not inconvenienced by someone else. Play nice Dana and share our resources

        • Dana says:

          So, you are a poop fan? I am just saying – clean up after yourself and your pet. Them’s the rules on any trail or public place.

          • Pat Smith says:

            Lol I’ve been around livestock my entire life, so picking up after my critters is nothing new. I knew when the UMP was open for comment people didn’t want this trail open to equestrians. Their main concern was manure. NYS Horse Council tried to gather support but by that time it was toward the end of the process. I share the trails I frequent with hikers, cyclists and runners. To bad the rail/trail enthusiasts don’t reciprocate.

    • Scott Thompson says:

      Good points all, but I would see the trail all the way to Thendara where there is access to the beds and services in Old Forge area. The rail bikes could easily run South between the few trains that are scheduled on the track.

      • Steve B. says:

        The issue with this is a new trail needs to be constructed alongside the RR bed. You cannot ride on railroad ties. Building alongside can be an issue in some of the wetter areas where the berm for the track is not wide enough for a track and trail. As well there are many stream crossings on a single bridge, thus either a 2nd bridge for a trail needs to get added, or the trail users need to use the RR bridge. Not seeing how that works,

  48. Scott Thompson says:

    Let’s ALL have an outline of operation from the Railroad. Preferably an ASR official.
    So far I have only seen the train operate when the area accommodations are operating at or near capacity. The train will need over 100 riders to make it break even. Where will they stay? How can businesses stock and staff for such irregular clientele?

  49. ben says:

    If the state was smart, they would make a legal agreement with the ASR:

    1. The state will fix the rails thru to Tupper Lake.
    2. ASR has 3 years to make it profitable after beginning use; after those 3 years any state aid will stop.
    3. If the ASR cannot survive on it’s own after a total period of 5 years, the rails will be converted to a trail from Remsen to Tupper Lake.

    See if ASR has the balls to sign it!

  50. Susan Cohen says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to get our bikes up there and do some multi-day rides- sound like a beautiful trail. We love riding rail trails.

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