Brian Mann and I had been on the water for several hours when we came to a fallen tree stretched across the river. We pulled over to a sandbank to carry our canoes around.
“Human footprints,” Brian remarked.
“So I guess we’re not Lewis and Clark,” I replied.
If we weren’t intrepid explorers, at least we could pretend. For even if we weren’t the first, we must have been among the first to paddle the upper Hudson River and Opalescent River since the state purchased the 6,200-acre MacIntyre East tract from the Nature Conservancy in April. The land was formerly owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
When researching my Adirondack Paddlingguidebook a few years ago, I canoed a stretch of the upper Hudson River and the lower Opalescent River. At the time, legal options for accessing both rivers were limited, despite their proximity to County Route 25, the road leading to the Upper Works trailhead.
I parked along the road next to a Forest Preserve sign and put in the Hudson from a sloping boulder with poor footing. In the book, I recommended people paddle downriver to the Opalescent and then paddle back up the Hudson a few miles to take out at a bridge on County Route 76, the road that leads to the former NL Industries mine.
It was frustrating, because there were plenty of better places to take out along County 25, which parallels the Hudson, but the land was owned by the Nature Conservancy. With the state’s acquisition of MacIntyre East, that is no longer the case.
The state has acquired a 6,200-acre tract next to the High Peaks Wilderness that includes long stretches of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers, making them easily accessible to flatwater paddlers.
The state bought the property for $4.24 million from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy as part of a multi-year agreement to acquire sixty-five thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands. It is now open to the public.
Known as MacIntyre East, the property lies between Mount Adams and Allen Mountain and just east of the road leading to the Upper Works Trailhead in Newcomb. Last year, the state bought a companion tract known as MacIntyre West, which lies on the other side of the road. » Continue Reading.
“Where do you plan to camp tonight?” our river guide yelled to the young man paddling his raft past our campsite. “North River,” he said.
“That’s too far, you’ll never make it before dark,” our guide responded – although his words went unheard as the raft disappeared around a bend of the Upper Hudson River.
More rafts followed with a half-dozen young men and women waving and laughing as they paddled by our campsite, seemingly oblivious to the set of whitewater rapids they were about to encounter. » Continue Reading.
Last week I was doing a little research for a book project when a web search returned an interesting line from a Wikipedia entry on the Hudson River. It piqued my curiosity, going as it did against conventional wisdom. Wikipedia being Wikipedia I wasn’t about to take it as gospel, but it provoked me to start digging around just for fun. After all, if one learns anything in research and the sciences it is that conventional wisdom or historical tradition are no sure bets.
In this case, both conventional wisdom and historical tradition say that Lake Tear of the Clouds, nestled between Mounts Marcy and Skylight in the Adirondack High Peaks, is the source of the Hudson River. Thus has it been generally accepted ever since Verplanck Colvin determined it to be so, on his second visit to Lake Tear in August of 1873. For generations of hikers Lake Tear has been a special destination, an upward trek to the ultimate source of one of America’s greatest rivers. But is it? » Continue Reading.
In my book Echoes in These Mountains, I suggested two possible routes for the old military road used by Sir William Johnson during the French and Indian War, and later used by his son Sir John Johnson in his raids on the Mohawk Valley. In recent years however, I’ve given this historical problem more thought as new evidence has come forward.
For example, I’ve seen the swivel cannon said to have been left by Sir John Johnson’s raiders near Bartman Road in Bakers Mills. Also, Tom Askens has shared with me that he has found small “cannon balls” in his garden at the intersection of Bartman Road and Coulter/Armstrong Road. » Continue Reading.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has opened a new cross-country-ski trail on former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that takes you along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in the town of Newcomb.
I skied the 4.2-mile loop trail on Wednesday afternoon with my neighbor, Tim Peartree, and we had a blast.
“I liked the variety, the ups and downs, the scenery. It’s a terrific trail,” Tim said after our trip.
The ski trip is possible thanks to the state’s purchase of lands in the Essex Chain Lakes region from the Nature Conservancy a few years ago. The conservancy had purchased the land from Finch, Pruyn & Company in 2007.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a Stewardship Plan to guide interim management for public access and use of newly acquired lands in the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex in the Central Adirondacks. The Stewardship Plan outlines a range of recreational activities that may occur in the Essex Chain while DEC develops a long-term Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Complex area. This new Stewardship Plan supersedes the 2013 Interim Access Plan.
The Stewardship Plan is now in effect and can be viewed on DEC’s website via pdf. Under the plan, additional access to the Essex Chain Lakes includes: » Continue Reading.
It’s a gloomy Saturday morning with rain in the forecast, but we’re determined to see OK Slip Falls. When we sign the register, we learn we are not alone: four other parties have preceded us on the trail to the tallest waterfall in the Adirondacks.
Added to the Forest Preserve last year, OK Slip Falls has become a popular destination since the state Department of Environmental Conservation opened a trail this year. Long owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company, the waterfall had been closed to the public for a century before the state bought it from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy. As a result of the acquisition, the falls and other state lands in the vicinity are part of the recently created Hudson Gorge Wilderness.
The hike to the falls is fairly easy: a three-mile walk through a handsome forest, with hardly any elevation gain, leads to an overlook with a spectacular view of the 250-foot cascade. Those seeking a harder challenge can extend the outing by hiking a mile or so from the falls to the Hudson River, a side trip that will require a steep climb on the return.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will make revisions to the Essex Chain Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP), DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced on Friday.
“In response to public comments from local businesses, community representatives, individuals and a variety of stakeholders – including many who recommended that potential locations for a snowmobile trail should be addressed in the current Draft UMP – DEC has decided it will revise the Draft UMP to fully assess the options for locating a snowmobile trail and propose a preferred alternative,” a statement to the press said.
DEC expects to release the revised draft UMP for public comment this fall and complete the UMP in time for implementation in 2015. Until that plan is approved, DEC will continue to manage these recently acquired lands and resources under a stewardship plan to guide access and recreation. » Continue Reading.
The owner of Hudson River Rafting Company is scheduled to appear in State Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon to answer accusations that he is operating his business in violation of a court order.
Assistant State Attorney General G. Nicholas Garin is asking Justice Richard Giardino to forbid Hudson River Rafting from operating whitewater trips on rivers that require licensed guides until its owner, Patrick Cunningham, replenishes a $50,000 performance bond. » Continue Reading.
The draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Essex Chain of Lakes is out and available for public comment until July 18th. To discerning readers, it will be clear that many of its recommendations and management actions, which the APA must deem to be in compliance with the State Land Master Plan, are just going ahead anyway. For example, primitive tent sites, parking lots and other facilities throughout are being completed this summer “prior to adoption of the Unit Management Plan.” These are not interim steps. These are final decisions as to number, design, and location.
I understand why the State appears to be rushing to complete this parking and camping by permit system on the Essex Chain and Upper Hudson River. These are vulnerable aquatic systems and nobody wants to establish an early pattern of recreational overuse which could degrade these ponds and their shorelines and rare ecological plant and fish communities. I conceptually support this UMP’s camping permit reservation system. It makes management and stewardship sense, as does the inclusion of the Student Conservation Association and the Adirondack Interpretive Center in managing such a camping reservation system. » Continue Reading.
Increased opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks would be available under two proposed plans released today for public review and comment, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced. Comments will be accepted on the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) and a Draft Community Connector Multiple-Use Trail Plan (Draft Trail Plan) through July 18.
The Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex includes the 6,956-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, the 2,788-acre Pine Lake Primitive Area and a portion of the 42,537-acre Blue Mountain Wild Forest. These lands are located in the Town of Indian Lake in Hamilton County, and towns of Newcomb and Minerva in Essex County. » Continue Reading.
From time to time I’ve played with the idea of putting together a list of quintessential Adirondack adventures. It would include, for example, climbing the Trap Dike on Mount Colden, skiing Mount Marcy on a bluebird day, and scaling the eight-hundred-foot cliff on Wallface.
Last summer, I ticked off another adventure on my bucket list: rafting the Hudson Gorge.
My friend Mike got me into this one. He arranged a trip with North Creek Rafting Company with the intention of writing an article for the Associated Press. I readily agreed to shoot some photos and video.
Our Hudson Gorge outing differed from most in one important respect: instead of riding in rafts, we piloted inflatable kayaks, known as duckies. These vessels are open, like canoes, but as in a kayak, you maneuver with a double-bladed paddle and sit with your legs stretched out.
“It’ll be like going down the river in a lawn chair,” remarked Nate Pelton, the thirty-eight-year-old owner of North Creek Rafting.
As I entered the upper Hudson from the outlet of Lake Harris, the sign was more utilitarian than it appeared at first glance. The coffee colored water was completely still, with no discernible current, and boaters exiting the lake could easily become confused about which way to go.
I had wanted to paddle this section of the Hudson ever since I read in the Adirondack Explorer last year that the adjacent land had been acquired by the State. Starting at Lake Harris in Newcomb, two trips are now possible. The shorter one ends near the Hudson’s confluence with the Goodnow River, the other near the confluence with the Indian. My attempt to round up a group of paddling buddies last autumn was thwarted by low water levels. This year’s snowmelt and April showers raised the level, but the access roads to the two take-outs had been closed by the DEC due to muddy conditions. A fortuitous combination of events finally gave me the opportunity I sought: the access road for the shorter trip was opened, the water level was just right, there was a one-day break in the rain, and my darling wife consented to spending four hours in the car shuttling my boat and me on her day off from work. » Continue Reading.
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