Moose River Plains closed to vehicles

Indian River Road in the Moose River Plains. Photo by Phil Brown.
Indian River Road in the Moose River Plains. Photo by Phil Brown.

Because of the state’s fiscal crisis, the Department of Environmental Conservation doesn’t plan to open the roads in the popular Moose River Plains Recreation Area this year.

The large tract of state land, located between the hamlets of Inlet and Indian Lake, has forty miles of dirt roads and 140 primitive campsites. The sites are often used by car campers, anglers, birders, and hunters.

DEC spokesman David Winchell said people will still be able to hike, bike, or ride horses on the roads, but the roads will remain gated to prevent access by motor vehicles. The roads are usually opened before Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s not a decision we wanted to make,” Winchell said. “It comes down to money, plain and simple. We can’t continue to provide the same services we have in the past under the current fiscal conditions.”

DEC also will keep closed several other Forest Preserve roads, including the roads to Lily Pond and Jabe Pond in the Lake George Wild Forest. For a full list, click the link to the department’s news release at the end of this post.

Most of the other roads, however, are relatively short and don’t see as much use as the Moose River Plains roads do.

Dean Nervik, who works in the Hamilton County tourism office, said the closure of the Plains roads will have a significant impact on the local economy. “It’s a disaster,” he said.

Even before DEC issued its news release, the county’s Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a resolution calling on the agency to immediately open the roads and requesting a meeting with the DEC commissioner “to resolve this important issue immediately.”

Inlet sponsors a mountain-bike race, the Black Fly Challenge, through the Plains each spring. Winchell said DEC will allow that race to continue.

Winchell said he did not know if the closure will affect snowmobiling .

DEC news release

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. Stephen Paul says

    I absolutely cannot believe this! The state just invested in ADA accessibility structures and sites in the plains. This area is one of the true jewels of the park with the best primitive camping in the state. Excellent birding and fishing opportunities abound. Unfortunately most people don’t have the time or energy or both to make the 6-10 mile trek back into the plains on foot. Ridiculous!!! As a teacher, I have witnessed first-hand the exodus of people from this state. It appears that Albany is fine with it as they continue to give us less and less reason to stay.

  2. lee miller says

    i work for the state dot, and this whole deal sucks. you gotta thank your gov. in albany. he is trying to take everything away.he is trying to ruin this state and make it harder and harder to live hear.

  3. Mike says

    This state is a joke. The costs to maintain these roads are un-measurable when compared to the overall dollars spent. I think it’s time we reduce the tax paying burden of NYS by reducing the ratio of state works vs. non-state workers. In fact if we pro-rate the pay of the state politicos to the actual number of days work would more than cover the expense of running the grader and few chainsaws. My property taxes have more than doubled in the last 7 years, but has the value of my services received warranted that?

  4. Ellen says

    This is outrageous. This park is for public use. We keep paying more and more each year to support Medicaid, the nonworkers, and we, the workers, get our services cut!!! We need to protest.

  5. tourpro says

    Maybe State-personnel should be giving piggy-back rides up Marcy too?

    This is an interesting development in our budget-crisis. You also forgot to point out:

    “While gates on these roads will remain closed and locked to prevent access by motor vehicles, the roads and surrounding lands will be open for authorized recreational use by the public.”

    There might be some good in reducing easy-access to some of the places mentioned.

  6. Dick Carlson says

    Boy – this will save a pile of money!!! Not! What a stupid idea. Let the towns take over and maintain this and any facilities they decide to abandon. The State of Arizona has done just that with many parks and historic sites…

    Let’s see, drive the local economy with recreation venues then just pull the rug out without warning – Idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Cris says

    When I first heard about this, it sounded pretty grim, but like most other “disasters” this one may have have some benefits – to birds and other wildlife, to hikers who will enjoy more quiet and solitude, to those who take our usual wide-ranging access for granted. And let’s stop trashing the governor over the economic crisis in NYS. He is merely trying (valiantly, I believe) to deal with a problem that was caused by others – our unconscious legislators, the greedy financial industry, and all the rest of us. We all want more and we want it now, for free (to us) when possible.

  8. Mitch Lee says

    For Immediate Release:

    From : Mitch Lee, Adirondack Storyteller, Columnist, Tourism Town Of Inlet 315-357-4602

    Closure of the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, one of New York States and America’s largest primitive camping areas is shameful.

    On May 6th I learned that the New York State DEC is planning to keep the gates at the Inlet and Cedar River entrances to the Moose River Plains Wild Forest closed for the summer of 2010. The reason given is that DEC feels with the current budget situation prevents them from properly maintaining the road.

    This latest news on New York State’s decisions to limit access to this public Adirondack Park area follows a litany of sites across the state, both historic and recreational, that are slated for closure in 2010.

    But this closure is unique because it affects not only the recreation of thousands of users for brook trout fishing, tent camping, hiking, backpacking, bird watching and mountain biking, it also dampens the local economy of two communities that depend on the eco-tourism that so many people go to “the Plains” for.

    The Moose River Plains Wild Forest was created around a core of some 50,000 acres purchased from the Gould Paper Company in 1963 to be used as a primitive recreation area. 140 sites are available to primitive free camping along the 48 miles of hard-scape dirt roads that wind through the Plains.

    Add to that more than 27 miles of trails that lead to hikers to beautiful remote ponds, some with primitive sites. The terrain varies from flat grassy plains filled with berry bush and beaver vly’s along the south branch of the Moose River to forested mountains with spectacular unspoiled views.

    This from the DEC Web Site

    “The Moose River Plains Wild Forest is bounded on the north by the Pigeon Lakes Wilderness Area, Raquette Lake and the Blue Ridge Wilderness, on the east and the south by the West Canada Lakes Wilderness and the private lands of the Adirondack League Club, and on the west by the Fulton Chain Lakes and State Route 28. It is the largest block of remote lands in the Adirondacks readily accessible by motor vehicle and includes the Red River, the South Branch of the Moose River and the 675 acre Cedar River Flow.

    The Moose River Plains Wild Forest offers many recreational opportunities, including hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, canoeing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and primitive camping. Miles of marked trails and numerous lakes and ponds make this unit an ideal destination for recreationists with varied interests and abilities.”

    Some of the best Adirondack brook trout fishing can be found at Ice house Pond & Squaw Lake and more good fishing is to be found at Lost, Helldiver, Mitchell, Sly & Whites pond as well. Beaver Lake, the largest body of water in the Moose River Plains, is one of the best mountain bike & camping destination rides in all of the Northeast. The five rivers that cut through the park have become home to a growing moose population. And great for a moose watch drive.

    The Moose River Plains also hosts four major outdoor events, The Adirondack Birding Festival safari drives, National Trails Day scenic day hikes, the Black Fly Challenge Mountain Bike Race, and the NYS Muzzle Loaders Primitive Rendezvous. Some of these events have been a part of the Plains for decades and are important to the thousands of people as well as the economies of Inlet and Indian Lake.

    The loss of use and access to these 50,000 acres would be a great sacrifice to so many visitors who are looking for a primitive experience like no other in New York and devastating to a local economy built on eco-tourism.

    To express your concern over the loss of the Moose River Plains Please contact:

    NYSDEC Lands and Forests Forest Preserve Mgmt

    625 Broadway FL 5

    Albany, NY 12233


    – Or –

    NYSDEC Region 5 PO Box 296

    1115 NYS Route 86

    Ray Brook, NY 12977


  9. Paul says

    This is no surprise. The state has been waiting for a chance like this. They don’t really “maintain” these roads anyway so to claim it is a financial issue is suspect. What is the dollar amount spent on maintaining this road vs. the amount spent to maintain and patrol the eastern high-peaks. Close that area also? This takes care of that problem we were discussing about non-closure of some other roads. Let’s shut them all down. Get it over with. Phil, it looks like your wishes are coming true. Look back at some of the writings back when the Adirondacks was becoming a “park”. The original plan is slowly coming to fruition.

  10. Solidago says

    The state’s broke folks, and things need to be cut, or our taxes need to be raised. Which do you want? There of course is the third option, borrowing, but that only defers the taxes. While demanding services out of one side of our mouth, we complain about taxes out of the other side. It’s finally hit the fan. I think its our civic duty to accept this, and not whine and complain about every cut. The “government owes me something for nothing” attitude is what got us into this mess.

    You should be directing your anger towards the legislature, which is so beholden to special interests that it isn’t even wiling to pass a tax on SODA to raise additional revenue. I wrote my local representative and got back an amazing response regarding how it was going to disproportionally affect low income people and kill jobs in the soda industry. Wow… seriously?

  11. JP says

    Every one wants tax cuts and budget cuts but no one wants THEIR slice of the pie eliminated. You can’t have it both ways.

  12. Paul says

    Solidago, I agree. I am just curious why they have selected these particular targets for the cuts, why not a more wholesale approach? This should be a more open process and then folks wouldn’t have so many questions. What are the costs to maintain the Moose River plains roads, what is the potential loss in revenue to the towns and the state from the closures? The claim is that it is the fact that there will not be assistant rangers in there to patrol. There are all kinds of state areas that have no patrol? What is going on? It is tough for you and your legislator to know what to focus your efforts on if you don’t have the data.

  13. Steve Cutting says

    For the last ten years, our family has been going camping in the Moose River Plains Recreation Area. It is one of the most beautiful, pristine, primitive camping areas in NY. I agree with Governor Patterson on most issues, realizing the position that he’s in as Governor with the financial crisis that NYS is in. But what enrages me is that the State spends money on radio advertisements promoting teen pregnancy instead of the preservation of wilderness areas such as the Moose River Plains which encourage family bonds with themselves and the great outdoors.

  14. Solidago says

    Paul, I agree, it would be nice to see some more facts and figures. But 40 miles is a lot of road to maintain. If they had closed the road to Lake Lila, that would raise my eyebrows, but the simple mileage involved in MRP is justification enough.

    The legislature, and most importantly – the citizens of the State of New York who feel they are entitled to everything yet want to pay nothing – deserve a lot more blame for this than the Governor, who’s just cleaning up the mess.

  15. Jim Murray says

    Come on people. Some of you need to wise up. The Governor is an idiot! I worked in Albany for nearly twenty years and I can tell you there are a lot of Joe Brunos down there. Get all the goodies for your area and make a few bucks along the way. How many cuts do you think are being made downstate? They will nickel and dime Upstate as much as they can. This has been going on for years, nothing new. Other states with much lower tax rates run cirles around our park systems. Check out how many millions the State paid to put in the brown rusty guard rails to appease the environmentalist groups and then have to replace them all a couple of years later because they were considered unsafe due to rust. The contractors must be laughing all the way to the bank on that one. Hopefully we will get a governor in there that will straighten out this crew we call legistators.

  16. Jim Murray says

    I would also like to add the fact that the State is planning on spending millions to buy the land the Nature Conservancy recently purchased in the Adirondacks. Now there’s one needs to be looked at a lot closer. There motive behind this is that the land needs to be protected. Like the Nature Conservancy cannot protect it? The State can’t even handle the land they own now. Come on, close the Moose River roads but spend taxpayers millions on a questionable deal with the Nature Conservancy?

  17. Dan Nickerson says

    I am a Mainer with family in the Adirondacks. Before engaging in NY-State-bashing or reactive movements to “throw all the bums out of office” I would take a step back. 48 of the 50 states are facing enormous budget shortfalls.

    Without a hard look at how the nation’s economic system functions (which can no longer be separated from global capitalism) we–the great majority of us–at the bottom of the food chain will be picking each other apart over resources made scarce by the siphoning of wealth from the vast majority to fewer and fewer economic entities. And these few are not the people on “welfare”.

    These consolidations of wealth are one of the distinctive features of “depressions” such as the Great Depression when, for instance, the percentage of family farms went from 80% before the Depression to 30% after the Depression.

    We have just seen and are still in the middle of this shift in assets through individual bankruptcies, foreclosures, failures of small businesses, small banks, our retirement and pension accounts to a smaller and smaller number of financial entities who rule the roost. As for those who govern–some support this shift and some are the unwitting agents.

    IMHO two risky ideas have held court in this country for three decades now: 1. Take care of big business and they will take care of us and 2. If each person takes care of themselves then everything will be fine. These beliefs allow the forces of greed and speculation to prosper.

    There is a role for government but it is not to dicker over which of us gets to enjoy the crumbs left by our vast economic machine it is to see that the benefits are enjoyed by all.

  18. Ken Harper says

    I appears this is just another in a long line of Patterson tactics that are just aimed at breaking the will of the people of the state so they will stop standing up to the “bullying” way that he wishes to govern.

    He hits at all the things that the people of this state hold dear. Our parks and wild areas are something that we are very proud of and that are also very much a part of economy of many upstate areas however the way that government works in this state is that upstate areas really don’t matter all that much!!!

  19. Brandon says

    I am a local businessman and avid outdoorsman, and lived in the Adirondacks for 25 years. LISTEN….Inlet and Indian Lake offered to pick up the tab on this one, to maintain the plains. That is reasonable and up until now was not accepted. Let’s get together and make this happen.

  20. Lou Flanigan says

    I don’t like everything Patterson has done, but I will say one thing about him. He is one politician that seems to realize that the government has to cut. And like one other poster here indicated, nobody wants the cuts made in areas that affect them. As already stated, you can’t have it both ways. That being said, I do agree that closing this road seems pretty nickel and dime to me. I’m for throwing out the entire legislature. Vote out the incumbents.

  21. Dave Surprenant says

    I can understand cutbacks due to the states fiscal crisis. But, why not take from the “non-taxpaying” “bloodsucking” welfare clients first. Everyday is a Saturday for them. The working middleclass works it’s tail off every day of the week to support these “leaches”. We earn the rest and relaxation of the Moose River Recreation Area. The state takes THAT away from us, but, takes nothing from those who just take and take and take, and give NOTHING in return. Enough is enough!!! These cutbacks haven’t affected our family until now. We’ve been camping and enjoying the lakes, trails and camping areas of the Moose River Plains for almost 30 years. We’ve always looked forward to spending a few weekends in there after a tough week at work. We’ve EARNED that time with our families. Our family has done some real bonding sitting around a campfire just talking with each other and learning about nature. While, the “Bloodsucking” welfare clients sit in their houses watching state provided cable TV learning how to procreate with the nieghbor’s wife. “Come on guys! Give us a break!”

  22. Alan R R says

    …what enrages me is that the State spends money on radio advertisements promoting teen pregnancy instead of the preservation of wilderness areas such as the Moose River Plains..

    Okay… I’m calling BS on this claim. Give us a link to these ads. Fifty dollars to you if one NYS ad contains wording to the effect of “..New York State desires to increase the rate of teen pregnancy”

  23. yourang? says

    last time i checked, state land belonged to the

    people of the state, not the people who run the state, who supposedly represent us

    the politicians in albany can pass laws so that they can be paid, yet allow the rest of us to shoulder the burden of their inability to pass

    a working budget

    remember this when these guys want our vote in

    the next election

    we want to go to the woods to get AWAY from this

    stuff and here we find that even in the woods, we

    cant run away from it

  24. Bill Kozel says

    This is what happens when tyrants gain power. The NY State politics is absurd as the politicians believe this is “their” state not “ours”, and punish us “subjects/serfs” for their wild spending.

    We had a budget surplus when this dolt took “power”, it’s him and his ilk that blew all the money trying to buy and curry favor and by stuffing the pockets of their cronnies… and now now they blame the citizens by telling us we have to suffer for their fiscal stupidity!

    VOTE them OUT!

  25. Name says

    I would believe the DEC except for the record of the Pete Grannis administration. He has let the enviro-extremists take over the department, and destroy Upstate NY with their suburbanite political agenda.

    Here is some of the things they’ve done since taking over from Erin Crotty / George Pataki:

    – Kill the NY State ATV Master Plan

    – Close off all ATV trails in NYS

    – Kill the NY State Snowmobile Plan

    – Ban bonfires with flames higher then 4 feet

    – Ban burn barrels and all on-farm burning of wastes in very rural communities, a practice allowed for decades

    – Closed off many forest roads

    – Cut funds for maintenance of truck trails repeatably

    – Closed off dozens, if not hundreds of informal, but popular, road-side camping sites across the state

    – Denied many camping permits they previously issued

    – Forcing people who have wood boilers built before 2006, to throw them away, despite spending often $5,000-$10,000 dollars, and requiring people buy very expensive “clean air” versions, in rural areas that don’t have pollution problems

    We know the political agenda of the enviros. It’s to close off all access to state lands.

  26. Jim Murray says

    It amazes me these days how a few “enviro-extremists” can decide what’s best for the rest of the world.

  27. WT says

    There may very well be a fiscal crisis in NYS but it is caused by those who pretend to govern us and not the economy. Every time things get tight, government cuts where it hurts the every day citizen – school aid, aid to towns, medical benefits, eliminating state workers, state park closures, etc. There is just no reason this needs to be done.

    Perhaps those in Albany making over $50,000, including the governor, his staff, and those in the legislature, could start by taking a furlough of one day a week themselves. They aren’t there most of the time anyhow so why should they get paid for a full week?

    Next, let’s eliminate all those chauffers for NYS officials as well as their state vehicles. Let them drive themselves using their own cars just like we do. The list could go on and on but you get the idea. Let’s start with cutting the unnecessary things first and unnecessary includes the legislature and governor. They all need to go asap!!

    NYS bowed to environmentalists to allow “rustic” guardrails to be installed throughout the Adirondacks and even in southern NY several years ago, even where the present guardrails were good, despite warnings from some engineers that the rustic ones would not hold up. Guess what?? The rustic ones rusted too fast and within two years they needed to be replaced so last year the state started to replace them at a cost of over $140 million to taxpayers. These are the kinds of things they do and then they say there is no money. I bet $140 million would go a long ways toward keeping the roads open in the Moose River area!!

  28. Wayne Dosztan says

    I feel this is not a lack of funding to maintain the Moose River Plains but a take over by the rich politians to control a new playground for themselves,as I’ve seen them fly in & out I traveled all these roads many of years to camp and fish. I find these roads wouldn’t take much funding at all to maintain. As a matter of fact, I find these roads to be in good enough shape that they don’t need to be maintained other than fallen trees, which the public or vistors of the Moose River Plains could take care of themselves. Where are the NYS taxes, increased hunters & fishing license fees beening spent? Please ask the state & DEC, I bet they wouldn’t tell you. I foresee the State & DEC shutting down the excess roads to the Plains as being another attempt to close the Plains down to the public as which was tried by Gov. Cuomo and other rich politicians back in the late ’70’s or the early ’80’s to shut down the Plains for thier private use only and with no public excess which they were defeated by concerned taxpayers. We need to keep a close eye on the issue because I feel that their trying to do so again! Don’t trust our State or the DEC’s decisions. To me its astonishing that the only roads being closed are in the Adirondack Park.I would like you to know I also travel state forest roads outside of the Park which aren’t maintain by the state and I have very little problem if any excessing these roads. So whats the DEC’s problem with closing the Moose River Plains roads as far as maintainance is concern. I find this issue very bogus.

  29. Weaver Family says

    I have been going to the Moose River Plains since I was just a kid. It was a family tradition as I was growing up to go camp there every Year. I have alot of fond memories from my youth. I now have a family of my own and have continued this tradition. We usually go to the Moose River Plains to camp twice every summer staying for a week at a time. I spend money in the local towns while we are there as do the other tourist that come to this area. Closing the access to the Moose River Plains is not only a tragety to my family’s long lived tradition but others as well. It will also cause an Income crunch on the local buisnesses that survive on the Touring season. I think that the Moose River Plains should remain open that is the way that God intended this earth to be. Open and free for all to enjoy the beauty that God Created. Thanks

  30. Jennifer says

    I am completely disapointed by the states decision to close Moose River. A group of us have begun to write, call and e-mail anyone who will listen to have it reopened. I have started a Facebook page to gather more support for the cause as well. Please become a friend, the DEC is monitoring it as well. I think that the state should be willing to compromise ans even possibly charge a fee or take donations to assist with trail maintenance. I know that the amount of time that i spend there, i would be more than happy to contribute monetarily to keeping it open and usable. heck out the Facebook page, SAVE MOOSE RIVER!!!!!!!!/group.php?gid=120015814699641&ref=mf.

  31. Debbie says

    Our government needs to rethink its priorities. Closing Moose River Plains will not only affect those of us who love to go there, but what is it going to do to the local economy of the Adirondacks? We were in Indian Lake just yesterday and the local grocery store has closed down, along with a few other necessary businesses. It won’t be long and some of these small towns that gain revenue from campers will be ghost towns. Our government doesn’t seem to be for the people any more. It seems to be for the politicians. And isn’t this how America was started in the first place? People trying to escape greed and tyranny from their government? Wake up Albany!

  32. Terry says



    The towns offered to TAKE a DEC worker/maintenance worker with them but the DEC refused!!!

    I’m not making this up! It was written in the local news paper by a county representative!!!

    I believe the powers that be are trying to completely control or depopulate the Adirondacks! If this is true, it will lead to one heck of a fight I don’t think the State really wants to start.

    Everyone got your bolt cutters???

  33. paul winters says

    what the hell is New York state thinking?..Closing off all the popular areas for tourists,doesn’t Gannis realise the impact to the local economy?Not to mention all the lost revenue in sales tax,property tax,when bussinesses close? i just dont understand how this is a cost savings,and when the towns offer to take over maintenence of the acess roads and DEC refuses…seems to me that “someone” has a master plan for the ADKS!!!! CHANGE HAS TO COME…GANNIS HAS TO GO!!!

  34. Patrick says

    What a tragedy this is. So many people and families have used this area over the years, mine being one of them. I’m flying back home from the UK to near Fulton in July and was looking so much forward to camping, hiking photographing within the Moose river plains again. Have my tickets in hand now.

    I am now going to be denied that pleasure. I started vacationing in there back in the early 60’s now that I’m in my 60’s getting ready to retire I find that a pleasure that makes life such a pleasure and so enjoyable will be denied so many of us. What can one say? Is anywhere open up in the area for primitive camping?

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  1. […] spokesman David Winchell told the Explorer on Thursday (see yesterday’s post) that the department is forced to make cuts. “It’s not a decision we wanted to make,” he said […]

  2. […] director of economic development and tourism has written Governor David Paterson to protest the state’s plan to close to vehicles all the roads in the Moose River Plains Recreation Area. The main road in the […]

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