The latest issue of National Geographic Adventure features an Adirondack canoe trip as one of its “50 Best American Adventures.” The trip in question is a forty-five-mile loop, beginning and ending at Little Tupper Lake. In between you visit Lake Lila, Lows Lake, the Bog River, Round Lake, and several smaller ponds and streams.
“So new is this route that it has no official name and several of the portages, or ‘carries,’ are merely flagged with tape,” the magazine says in its one-paragraph description.
It so happens that I did part of this route in late May, going from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila. I can attest that the carry trails are “merely flagged.” Yet the truth is that this part of the route, at least, is not so new. The state bought the Little Tupper tract in 1998, more than a decade ago.
Frankly, it’s a shame that the state has yet to properly mark the carry trails after all these years. This is one of the premier wilderness canoe routes in the Northeast. The lack of trail markers and signs makes it seem as though the state is neglecting this wonderful resource (for which it paid $17 million). Is that the impression we want to leave with people who drive hundreds of miles to do this route?
David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, says the trails cannot be signed and marked until the agency writes a management plan for the Whitney Wilderness. He can’t say when the plan will be finished.
DEC is years and sometimes decades behind in writing management plans for Forest Preserve tracts around the Adirondack Park. The agency lacks the staff and money to get them done.
Something has to give. The public shouldn’t have to wait more than a decade for DEC to mark canoe-carry trails that are already in use. There must be a way to undertake small projects such as this, in a responsible manner, before a management plan is written.