Sunday, October 29, 2023

From Rail to Trail

Adirondack Rail Trail closed for construction sign


From Rail to Trail

For an Adirondack Outlaw’s sneak peek at the new Adirondack Rail Trail, click the link & read on.















Photo provided by Dick Monroe.


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A veteran north country writer & story teller raised in Saranac Lake, Dick enjoys “Living in the Day I Am In”, and then writing about it. A severely speech impaired 3x cancer survivor, his pen is his voice. He shares many of his Adirondack Outlaw adventures & tales here. Read the rest on his blog @

23 Responses

  1. Tom Paine says:

    I would remind the author that under NYS law snowmobiles are not classified a motorised vehicle. I would also remind the author that the New York State Snowmobile Association has had the winter use permit for the corridor for well over twenty five years. The corridor like many other multi-use trails in NYS and across the snowbelt have been funtioning for many years. The Erie canal trail, Erie Cattaragus multi use trails are fine examples of multi user groups working together. The addition of this multi use trail will be a bright star for the north country.

  2. I would remind the reader that I did not author the sign. I presume that whatever NYS entity is responsible for such things authored the sign, which clearly reads, “No ATV’s, Horses, Motor Vehicles EXCEPT snowmobiles.” Clearly, SOMEONE amongst the NYS sign creating powers that be felt it necessary to make an explicitly stated exception, differentiating snowmobiles from ALL OTHER motor vehicles (except, apparently, certain classes of e-bikes,). Probably because, all regulatory “classifications” aside, a snowmobile is in fact, a vehicle. Powered by a motor. Which is in it. Which begs the question, I guess, “When is a motorized vehicle not a motor vehicle?” I suspect the answer to THAT question lies in which lobby group is asking the question, and how much money, political influence & power they have. All that aside, I look forward to the trail’s completion. I am very impressed with what I have observed of its construct, as I believe the positive tone of my article pretty clearly stated. I sincerely hope you enjoy the new trail, whatever your chosen means of conveyance, motorized or otherwise.

  3. Cat says:

    Thanks for the entertaining trip down your memory lane!

    • Cat, you are most welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy the new trail as well. Looks like a little winter weather is inbound! Thank you for reading & commenting. Have a great day.

  4. Tom Paine says:

    Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 2229
    Snowmobile, not a motor vehicle
    Notwithstanding its limited use on highways, a snowmobile shall not be determined a motor vehicle within the meaning of § 125 (Motor vehicles) or any other successor statutes.

  5. Judson Witham says:

    Asphalt LOL ….. Puhleeze

  6. Dana says:

    It is difficult to get my head around a snowmobile requiring a motor to move is not classified a motor vehicle, yet many eBikes where the motor is not always used ARE considered motorized. Yeah, I guess it depends on the power of the lobby supporting the technology.

    • Tom Paine says:

      Looks like the e-bikers need an association and a lobbyist in Albany.

    • JohnL says:

      I’m a regular old fashioned bicycler (not e-bikes) and my experience with e-bikers is that they are very seldom, if ever, actually pedaled, i.e. the motor is almost always propelling said ‘biker’. Therefore, classification of an ebike as a ‘motorized’ vehicle sounds right to me.

      • Boreas says:

        I have a different experience with them. The ones I see on the highway in front of my house are almost always being pedaled. There are (or at least WERE) some classes of eBike that will not give you motor assist unless you ARE pedaling. I believe there are 3 classes based on how the throttle is governed. But I have not investigated lately.

        • JohnL says:

          You could be right Boreas, about the pedals actually going around. What I mean by ‘not pedalled’ is where the bike is actually being propelled by the motor with the pedals themselves going around at a very leisurely pace, providing no, or little, energy to the wheels. I actually get very discouraged with this, particularly when I see young, healthy kids on e-bikes. Call me an old goat, but I think they should be providing the energy required for their own freedom. Thanks for the correction.

      • Steve B. says:

        As I understand current NY State law concerning e- bikes, is none of them are legally allowed on state owned and operated paths and trails, of any kind. They are only allowed on “some” roads and highways. This includes Class 1, which need pedal action to have forward movement. My opinion is the state needs to get up to speed on this rule and allow Class 1 e-bikes wherever they currently allow non motorized bicycles. Class 2 & 3 e-bikes are clearly motorized and should be banned. Can the6 enforce this ?. Nope.

        • Boreas says:

          Thanks for the clarification. That is what I remembered, but didn’t know if things had changed in the last year or so.

          I like the idea of Class 1 bikes to get people who can not use a typical bike (due to age or infirmity) out of the house, but IMO, their top speeds are too fast for that narrow trail. In a previous life, I used to bike FAST on the Old Erie Canal towpath. It wasn’t busy enough at the time to be an issue, but the corridor was probably 3 times wider.

          A speed limit would be a joke as it could not be enforced. Perhaps eBikes could be “governed” and certified to a maximum speed of say 12-15 mph and these could be allowed on the trail – but again, enforcement would be unlikely. Perhaps there could be sections where they would be allowed. But in reality, will there be enough enforcement to regulate eBikes at all?? Not likely with current DEC staffing.

  7. Ballian the Cat says:

    I think where bikes are considered, they either have a motor or they don’t. The line from a motorized e-bike with big knobby tires to what we would all think of as a dirt bike is pretty clear. I understand that a growing segment of the population believes they would benefit from the mechanical assist and I am making no comment whatever on what type of bike belongs where – but if a trail is designated as “non-motorized” then it follows that something with a motor would not be allowed.

    • Steve B. says:

      The federal government has somewhat taken the lead on allowing Class 1, which are pedal assist (non throttle), to be used on paths and trails where non motorized bikes are allowed. The Acadia Nat’l Park carriage roads are a good example of this policy.

      • Balian the Cat says:

        Thanks, Steve. I guess I did know that. Personally, I think that’s a bad precedent – we’ll boil that frog until there are motors being used everywhere they aren’t intended to be used and no one will have noticed – but it does present a model for some regulation/guidance in this and similar cases.

    • Boreas says:

      I think we should keep in mind this is not a typical backcountry trail. Up until recently, you could run a locomotive through the corridor!! Snowmobiles are still allowed seasonally. Why should the trail be restricted as a hiking trail that merely “allows” bikes the majority of the year? It is clearly not a typical hiking trail – why should it be regulated as such along its entire length?

      I hope the DEC keeps an open mind moving forward toward regulating the trail (perhaps in sections) to appeal to many users. Obviously, higher-speed use will turn off many potential pedestrian users if they don’t feel safe. I think so far the DEC has made the right decision at least short-term WRT usage. But once up and running, public input for usage tweaks should be regarded as significant and not simply ignored.

  8. William says:

    Most articles on the Almanack one can sort of predict what direction the comment section is going to go. This one, not so much, lol. Thanks for the good read Dick.

    • Thank you for reading & commenting, William. As the old saying goes “ride ’em if ya got ’em” (or something like that), I guess. Maybe some warning signs: “CAUTION! HIGH SPEED NON-MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC! Pedestrian’s Proceed at Their Own Risk” should be installed. Or a “Non-Motor vehicle” traffic cop to enforce that 25 MPH Area Speed Limit sign already posted down by Margaret Street. He/she could patrol the trail on an e-bike and ticket offenders to help fund ongoing maintenance & upkeep. Enjoy the new trail.

  9. JOHN SOCIA says:

    I am 75 and have lived the Adirondacks since I went there as a kid in the fifties. I have been a fan of the Adirondack Railroad was formed in the 90s. One of the most scenic and historic railroads, at one time going to Montreal. I just took the train to Tupper Lake Sunday and really enjoyed it. It would have been nice to go to Lake Placid. I am an off road motorcycle racer, bicyclist, and runner and have ridden many rail trails. But to tear up track on an operating middle railroad was senseless, like knocking down the original Penn Station. There are plenty of rail trails and now one you can ride the whole state. In this case money talked as usual. I was also disgusted to see a banner outside a bar next to the railroad celebrating the rail trail. I was told by the railroad supervisor even told the rail bikes not to come there because he didn’t want to do anything to support the railroad. I guess that’s why he has a bar in the middle of nowhere. Pretty ignorant. I hope someday people will come to their senses and rebuild the rails, you can ride a bike or hike anywhere.

  10. Paul says:

    The idea of allowing snowmobile use on forest preserve land is an important part of how the Adirondack park agency act was gotten through the legislature. Richard, was your father part of those discussions as the region 5 director? You should write some on his work. He was the best region 5 director that we have ever had. Navigation of “those waters” back in the 70’s and 80’s is a fascinating story. People like that who can bring different opinionated people together are a rare breed. He is sorely missed in the Adirondacks!

    • Thank you, Paul. Yes, I am proud to say that Tom Monroe was my father, DEC Region 5 Director for over 20 years, until he retired in 1994. I learned a great deal from my father. I was old enough to be aware of and have a basic understanding of many of the issues he was dealing with. From State Land Master Plans, to land acquisitions, APA interactions, early invasive species mitigations (lamprey eels/zebra mussels), land use & tribal land rights issues…you name it. Not to mention the unending array of politics & personnel issues involved in overseeing such a diverse, wide-ranging region. Above all else, the most foundational lesson I learned from my father was the art of negotiation. He was a master in that arena. One thing he always told me was “Son, the easy part of a negotiation is identifying the “middle ground” on an issue. The challenging part is, guiding everyone else to it.” I have made an effort, (indirectly perhaps), to incorporate the lessons and appreciation for the Adirondacks my father gave me into my articles and stories. Thank you for the remembrance and kind words on my father. He was, above all else, my very best friend.

  11. For anyone who cares to weigh in, I have an Adirondack Rail Trail question. Not being a snowmobiler, and thus not having penned my “From Rail to Trail” piece through that lens, now that the paved Saranac Lake section of the Adirondack Rail Trail has been in place well into this year’s snowmobile season, I was wondering, how are folks feeling about the new rail trail now?

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