June, 2017

History Of The Stillwater Mt. Fire Tower


The famed surveyor Verplanck Colvin built the first tower on Stillwater Mountain way back in 1882. The hole that once held his copper marker is still visible on the summit bedrock. Colvin’s tower is long gone, but a steel fire tower built in 1919 still stands, and last week the state nominated the structure—along with the fire observer’s cabin and some other buildings—for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read the state’s application. The fifty-six-foot tower, which is on private land, has not been used for fire observation since 1988. However, it is open to >>More


June, 2017

Popular Owls Head Trail Closed On Weekends


The trail to one of the most popular small mountains in the High Peaks region is now closed on weekends because of problems with parking and hikers. Owls Head in Keene has long been a favorite with families and people looking for a short hike with a great view. The trail to the summit is just 0.6 miles long. Rock climbers also use the trail to reach cliffs just below the summit. The trail crosses private land at the start. The parking area on Owls Head Lane (off Route 73) also is on private land. The trail and parking area >>More


June, 2017

ADK Finishes Overhaul Of Guidebook Series


With this year’s publication of Western Trails, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) completed the most recent overhaul of its Forest Preserve Series of hiking guidebooks—and the club is already hard at work on the next edition of the series. ADK’s hiking guidebooks used to divide the Adirondack Park into six regions. The club has pared that down to four regions (still covering the entire Park). In addition, ADK continues to publish a separate guidebook for the Northville-Placid Trail. The regions have been reconfigured to coincide with National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps for the Adirondacks. Western Trails, for example, describes the >>More


June, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Brook Is Not Flatwater


I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting. Several years ago, I succumbed to curiosity. At the time, I was researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. I thought Big Brook might make the cut. It turned out to be a dumb idea. Big Brook starts as the outlet of Stony Pond in the William C. Whitney >>More


June, 2017

Fritz Wiessner’s Old Climbing Routes Still Hard


The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain. One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he >>More


June, 2017

DEC Reopens Part Of Road To Boreas Ponds


The state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year. As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. It’s a long haul for paddlers, but they have the option of shortening the portage by paddling a half-mile across LaBier Flow, a dammed stretch of the Boreas River. The flow >>More


May, 2017

State To Buy 618 Acres Along Lake Champlain


The Open Space Institute has purchased a 618-acre parcel along Lake Champlain, including 4,000 feet of shoreline, and plans to sell it to the state to be added to the forever-wild Forest Preserve. The property lies across from Schuyler Island, an undeveloped island already in the Forest Preserve. OSI bought the land, which includes Trembleau Mountain, from the Gellert family for $500,000. It offers views of the High Peaks, Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Department of Environmental Conservation plans to create trails after the state acquires the property. The highest summit of Trembleau is owned by >>More


May, 2017

Pitons Are Artifacts Of Adirondack Climbing History


  In a post on Tuesday, I noted that John Case eschewed pitons throughout his rock-climbing career. He adopted the view that pounding pitons into rock to protect against a fall was cheating. Later climbers were not so scrupulous. In fact, four pitons can be found on Case’s historic route on Chapel Pond Slab, known as Bob’s Knob Standard. Case established Bob’s Knob Standard, the first route on the slab, in 1933. The pitons were placed years later, though exactly when and by whom is unknown. Climbers generally do not use pitons anymore. Instead, they insert removable chocks and cams >>More


May, 2017

John Case’s Historic Climbing Route In Adirondacks


Bob’s Knob Standard is not the best rock-climbing route on Chapel Pond Slab, but for the novice it’s a superb introduction to multi-pitch climbing. As one of the oldest routes in the Adirondacks, it also lays claim to some interesting history. I climbed Bob’s Knob Standard last weekend with my girlfriend Carol. We had done it twice last year, but because she is new to climbing, she wanted to do it again for practice. Once again, she loved it. Though considered easy, it posed a few challenges and always kept our interest. The scenery as we climbed got better and >>More


May, 2017

State Adds Marion River Carry To Adirondack Forest Preserve


The state has added the historic Marion River carry to the Forest Preserve, ending a long-running dispute over the ownership of 216 parcels of land near the hamlet of Raquette Lake. The deal secures a five-hundred-yard trail used by paddlers portaging between Utowana Lake and the Marion River. The carry is an essential part of a canoe route between Blue Mountain Lake and Raquette Lake. The Open Space Institute bought the 296-acre parcel in 2012 for $2 million and transferred it to the state this year at no cost to the state. Before OSI stepped in, the Marion River property >>More


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