If you are into time travel and are blessed with a good imagination, I suspect you would enjoy skiing the Jackrabbit Trail as it passes along Old Mountain Road, a trace that, at somewhere around 230 years old, has to rank as one of the most ancient remaining pieces of still-identifiable pieces of Adirondack infrastructure.
The historic route between North Elba and Keene, it is more easily accessed from the Keene side from Alstead Hill Lane, where it gradually gains elevation and traverses a beaver-assisted wetlands as it becomes increasingly pinched between the rugged backside of Pitchoff and the shoulders of Black and Slide mountains in the Sentinel wilderness.
The state attorney general is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a long-running feud over the status of Old Mountain Road in the towns of North Elba and Keene.
The state is also seeking to transfer the case from State Supreme Court in Essex County to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany.
The Old Mountain Road is a dirt thoroughfare, often flooded by beavers, that runs through the Sentinel Range Wilderness. It is part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, which stretches from Keene to Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
Thirteen years after he was first ticketed for driving a snowmobile on Old Mountain Road, Jim McCulley is still fighting the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In his latest legal action, McCulley claims DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens violated his civil rights when Martens overturned earlier decisions in the case and ruled that Old Mountain Road is part of the Forest Preserve, not a town road.
“It’s like beating your head against the wall, over and over. Why do they keep coming back?” said Lake Placid attorney Matt Norfolk, who represents McCulley.
In one of his last acts as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, Joe Martens overturned a predecessor’s finding that part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail was still a town road and therefore could be open to snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.
Martens, who left his post last week, wrote in a July 22 decision that the road had long been abandoned and so the state had the power to close it to vehicular use. The road in question — known as the Old Mountain Road — cuts through the Sentinel Range Wilderness between Keene and North Elba.
Oseetah Marsh just outside Saranac Lake is the destination of one of my regular lunch-hour ski trips. It’s short, easy, and scenic, with views of the McKenzie Range, the Sawtooth Range, and nearby Scarface Mountain.
Yesterday I did the trip for the first time this winter. Why did I wait so long? To get to the marsh, I follow a snowmobile trail through a beautiful pine forest. Until this afternoon, every time I reached the edge of the marsh I found a small pool of black water, bordered by very thin ice. » Continue Reading.
A week ago today, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis effectively reopened Old Mountain Road between North Elba (Route 73) and Keene (Shackett Road / Route 40) in Essex County. According to surveys made in 1893-1894 (here, and here), the road had been abandoned since the 19th century; it was believed to have been officially closed when the Sentinel Wilderness Area UMP was ratified in 1974. Beginning in 1986 part of the road has been maintained as the popular 35-mile long Jackrabbit Trail by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The Grannis decision was forced by Lake Placid Snowmobile Club President James McCulley who drove his truck down the trail in May of 2005 and was ticketed (he previously beat a 2003 ticket for doing the same thing with his snowmobile). An agency administrative judge later found that the road had never been closed properly (it required public hearings). » Continue Reading.
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