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 is 2.5 miles from the parking area.
Just past LaBier Flow, Gulf Brook Road intersects with three other former logging roads. To reach Boreas Ponds, visitors should take a sharp right (soon passing a historic cabin).
The state Department of Environmental Conservation had closed Gulf Brook Road before last winter and reopened it last Friday.
It’s uncertain how much of the road will remain open in the long term. That will depend on how the Adirondack Park Agency classifies the Boreas Ponds Tract and how the state Department of Environmental Conservation decides to manage it.
Several environmental groups are in favor of opening the road as far as LaBier Flow. Others want the entire road closed. Local-government officials, however, want more public access.
The APA originally hoped to make a decision on the Boreas Ponds classification this spring, but this month’s agenda once again omits discussion of the matter. The issue has been complicated by a conceptual proposal – now being kicked around by the Cuomo administration – to establish semi-permanent lodging along part of the road to the ponds.
The state’s purchase of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract last year was the final piece of a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy.
Located on the edge of the High Peaks, Boreas Ponds is regarded as the crown jewel of the Finch lands. Other gems include the Essex Chain Lakes, OK Slip Falls, Blue Ledge in the Hudson Gorge, and a long stretch of the Opalescent River.
Last year, the Adirondack Explorer published a guidebook to the former Finch parcels titled 12 Adventures on New State Lands. It includes chapters on paddling Boreas Ponds (amazing views of the High Peaks) and hiking to the source of the Boreas River. The book sells for $9.95.
Photo of Boreas Ponds by Carl Heilman II.