The Open Space Institute has acquired a 1,285-acre property that will facilitate access to Huckleberry Mountain, a crag in the southeastern Adirondacks with great views and dozens of rock-climbing routes.
Katharine Petronis, OSI’s northern program manager, said the non-profit organization will sell the property to the state for inclusion in the public Forest Preserve. That could happen within three years, she said.
For now, the tract remains closed to the public. Petronis said she didn’t know if OSI will open it before the transfer to the state.
The acquisition is good news for Adirondack rock climbers. The guidebook Adirondack Rock lists fifty-five climbing routes on Huckleberry’s cliffs, but the cliffs became hard to reach after a landowner closed the access trail, which crosses his property. As a result, climbers must begin their approach at the Crane Mountain trailhead and hike a few hours.
The newly acquired parcel, which abuts Warren County’s Route 57, will shorten the approach considerably, though visitors probably will still have to hike more than a mile to reach the cliffs.
Jim Lawyer, a co-author of Adirondack Rock, expects that climbers will rediscover Huckleberry once the property is open to the public. “After forty years of climbing abuse, my knees just can’t handle the approach over Crane,” Lawyer said. “With this purchase, I’m thrilled to think that I can, once again, visit this lovely cliff.”
Huckleberry also had been a well-known hiking destination before the access trail was closed. A guidebook published by the Adirondack Mountain Club described it as “one of the most scenic mountains in the southern Adirondacks.”
Petronis said the OSI property contains a number of old logging roads that could be converted into trails. She said OSI will scout potential routes and might develop trails with volunteer help “if we can find the right partners.”
The tract contains a variety of wildlife habitats, including a heron rookery, a trout stream, and breeding grounds for peregrine falcons, which nest on cliffs.
“Protecting this pristine parcel will connect more hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to the Adirondacks and ensure future generations have the opportunity to explore and experience all of the wonder these lands have to offer,” said state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.
The climbing cliffs are already owned by the state and are part of the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. OSI’s tract includes the summit of Huckleberry.
Less than a year ago, OSI sold a different Huckleberry Mountain to the state, located not far to the east in the Lake George Wild Forest. After that deal, OSI received calls urging it to acquire the Huckleberry near Crane Mountain. When the property went on the market, a broker contacted Petronis.
Based in New York City, OSI has been active in the Adirondacks since 1992 and has conserved more than twenty-two thousand acres in the region.