New Land Trust

Good ski, great price

By Phil Brown

Martha Brown glides through the forest at the New Land Trust trails. Photo by Phil Brown.

When I went cross-country skiing with my daughter, I had two criteria: The trails should be not too far from Plattsburgh, where she attends college, and not too difficult, as Martha has not skied much in recent years.

We found the perfect place: the New Land Trust north of the hamlet of Saranac.

The New Land Trust began in the late 1970s as a back-to-the-land commune. “Everybody called it a hippie commune,” said John Tedford, who sits on the New Land Trust board. “They were planning to farm and form a community, which they did for a while.”

The commune didn’t last, but the trust stayed intact. This winter, the trust opened 10 miles of ski trails to the public at no charge. The trails crisscross gentle terrain in the shadow of 3,820-foot Lyon Mountain, the highest peak in this part of the Adirondacks. Most of the trails are suitable for novice skiers.

Martha and I visited the New Land Trust on a cold Saturday in January. From the parking lot on Plumadore Road, we skied a short distance to a small clubhouse heated by a woodstove. Outside the building are a register and a trail map.

We followed the Saranac Trail though a young hardwood forest and then took another trail that looped through a handsome evergreen forest. On the way back, we took another side trail with impressive views of Lyon Mountain and came to a rustic cabin. After climbing a small hill, we found ourselves back at the clubhouse.

Map by Nancy Bernstein.

Both of us were grateful for the chance to warm up. The trust also had put out jugs of water and paper cups. John Tedford was in the clubhouse, and he told us that the organization’s mission is to preserve the 287 acres and “to engage the public in outdoor non-motorized activities, like hiking and skiing.”

Steve Jenks, the board chairman, skis the trails after each snowfall to smooth the way for others. Snowshoers are asked to walk in a separate track beside the ski tracks.

After winter, the trails will be open for hiking and perhaps mountain biking. No hunting or motorized use is allowed. Besides the clubhouse and the cabin, the property contains a lean-to, composting outhouse and barn.

New Land Trust is seeking members to help pay for taxes, maintenance and other expenses. The annual dues are $140 for adults and $70 for students. “We’re hoping to get a lot of people here, let them enjoy it, and then work on the membership,” Tedford said.


From NY 3 in the hamlet of Saranac, turn north onto Chazy Lake Road, which makes a sharp left after 0.6 miles.  At 2.5 miles from NY 3, Chazy Lake Road reaches a four-way stop. Continue straight (this is now Clark Hill Road) to Plumadore Road, at 4.7 miles from NY 3. Turn right and go 1.1 miles to the New Land Trust parking lot on the right.

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The Adirondack Explorer is a nonprofit magazine covering the Adirondack Park's environment, recreation and communities.

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