Hikers will be able to drive to within a tenth of a mile of Boreas Ponds, but most probably will have to park farther away, under a draft management plan written by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Boreas Ponds parking area is just one of numerous proposals for other parking areas, trails, canoe launches, campsites, kiosks, and other facilities in the High Peaks Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Wild Forest.
Most of the facilities would be on former Finch, Pruyn lands or other tracts acquired by the state in recent years. One major recommendation on pre-existing Forest Preserve calls for the closure of the Cascade Mountain trailhead on Route 73.
The proposals are contained in draft amendments to the management plans for the High Peaks and Vanderwhacker tracts. The Adirondack Park Agency is expected to vote next week to schedule public hearings on the draft amendments. The APA might approve the plans as early as this summer.
Motorized access—how much or how little?—has been one of the biggest issues in the debate over how to manage the Boreas Ponds Tract. It was the main topic at a public hearing in Newcomb in April.
On the question, DEC seems to have sided with local officials over environmental groups.
DEC proposes to create a six-car parking area a tenth of a mile from the Boreas Ponds dam. Two of the spots would be available only to the disabled. The other four would be available by permit to anyone. Permits would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. This area would be open only to day-use visitors.
The department also wants to construct a parking area for ten to fifteen cars at a junction of former logging roads known as the Four Corners, about a mile from the ponds.
When these two lots fill up, visitors will be allowed to park at the interim parking area DEC created in 2016 on Gulf Brook Road, one of the logging roads. Known as the Fly Pond Parking Area, this is about 3.6 miles from the ponds by road. DEC plans to build a trail to enable hikers to avoid the road.
In addition, the department recommends building an unloading station at LaBier Flow, an impoundment of the Boreas River near the Four Corners. Presumably, this would be used by people parking in the Fly Pond lot. They could drive to LaBier Flow to drop off canoes and other gear.
DEC seeks to build more than fifty miles of new trails in the High Peaks Wilderness. Several are in the Boreas Ponds region. They include:
Boreas Ponds Trail. A 7.5-mile trail from the Boreas Road to Boreas Ponds. People will also be able to access this trail from the Fly Pond parking area.
Casey Brook Connector. This five-mile trail will connect Boreas Ponds to Elk Lake-Mount Marcy Trail and “will serve as the main route into the High Peaks Wilderness” from the ponds.
Boreas Mountain Trail. A 2.5-mile trail up Boreas Mountain starting from the Boreas Ponds Trail.
RNT Loop Trail. From the Boreas summit, hikers would have the option of returning by this 4.2-mile route, which follows a ridge before descending to the Casey Brook Connector.
White Lily Trail. Starting on the Casey Brook Connector, this trail would lead 2.2 miles to scenic White Lily Pond northwest of Boreas Ponds.
Dudley Brook Connector. This six-mile route would connect the White Lily Trail to other trails in the High Peaks Wilderness.
Cheney Cobble Trail. This two-mile trail would lead from the Dudley Brook to Cheney Cobble’s summit views.
The plan also calls for up to five campsites and an accessible lean-to on Boreas Ponds. It also calls for several other campsites in the area, including two at White Lily Pond.
These are just the proposals for the former Boreas Ponds Tract. There many more for other parts of the High Peaks Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Wild Forest. We’ll try to write about some of them in future posts.