DEC finalizes proposals for High Peaks region

LaBier Flow and Boreas Ponds, with High Peaks in distance. Photo by Carl Heilman II

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has finalized its proposed changes to the High Peaks Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest unit management plans, and the Adirondack Park Agency is expected vote on them next week.

The amendments call for a variety of new trails, parking areas, campsites, and other amenities. Most of the facilities will be on lands acquired by the state over the past two decades, including Boreas Ponds and the two MacIntyre Tracts near Tahawus.

The July/August issue of the Adirondack Explorer devoted six stories to the proposals. Click here to read the main article.

DEC held three public hearings on the draft amendments. After receiving public input, the department made few substantial changes in the proposals. Following are some of the bigger revisions:

LaBier Flow carry. DEC plans to build a short carry trail from the north end of the flow to an old logging road known as Boreas Road. So paddlers will be able to drive to the flow, put in at the south end, take out at the north end, and carry (maybe a half-mile) to Boreas Ponds.

Dudley Brook Connector. This is renamed the White Lily Connector in the High Peaks amendment. This trail will skirt the east side of White Lily Pond.

Cheney Cobble Trail. The draft included a two-mile spur trail from the Dudley Brook Connector to a lookout on Cheney Cobble. This trail has been deleted from the revised amendment.

Van Hoevenberg Loop. Both the draft and revised amendments for the High Peaks call for construction of a trail from the Van Hoevenberg cross-country center to the top of Mount Van Hoevenberg, but the revised version also calls for a second trail, enabling hikers to travel in a loop. The second trail (called the 1932 Trail) would approach the summit from the bobsled run.

Klondike Notch Trail. The revised High Peaks amendment proposes upgrading the southern end of the Klondike Notch Trail (the Johns Brook valley section) and making it suitable for backcountry skiing.

Rock climbing. The revised amendments for both the High Peaks and Vanderwhacker now recognize that rock climbing “has long been recognized as a legitimate recreational use of public lands.” DEC plans to convene a task force to come up with a policy of the use of fixed anchors in the Forest Preserve.

Ragged Mountain. The revised Vanderwhacker amendment proposes creating a short trail to access the climbing cliffs on Ragged Mountain. It would start from a proposed hiking trail to the summit of Ragged.

Wildland Monitoring Plan. The revised amendments also contain more details about DEC’s plan to monitor usage and identify problems in the two regions. DEC plans to convene a focus group to come up with a plan within a year.

The APA staff has reviewed the proposed amendments and concluded that they conform to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The APA board could approve the amendments at its meeting next Friday. Some environmental groups have criticized DEC and the APA for moving too quickly to approve the proposals.

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Proposed trails (shown in green) in Boreas Ponds region. NYSDEC map.


About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Steve says

    Wow, this will be an impressive amount of trails and access to these ADK wonders for ALL to enjoy. The lands should be accessible to everyone and that includes the disabled and elderly. It should NOT be hard for others to let those that can’t use their own muscle power anymore to remain back due to the elitist attitude of others. Those who are against all this have no real clue on economic and environmental assessments with respect to Essex county. If they did, they would have provided proof with hard unbiased data instead of speculation and obfuscation.

    This will be tied to the new campground and day use area in North Hudson which use to be the former Frontier Town attraction. This will bring be much needed jobs in the form of increased year round tourism to an already depressed area.

    This is a no brainer and I am glad the Essex County Board of Supervisors had the taxpayers back against the environmental groups that used copy and paste letters, out of state people/groups and other failed tactics. It didn’t work and sometimes that’s life. Let’s now, look to the future instead of crying over spilled milk and make these places fantastic for all to experience.

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