DEC to take down Thomas Mountain cabin

In October I hiked up Thomas Mountain and Cat Mountain overlooking Lake George. I went up Thomas first, via old logging roads. Near the summit is a cabin built before the state bought the property in 2013. Inside the cabin were a sofa, table, lantern, a few foodstuffs, even some music speakers.

Cabins are not ordinarily found in the Forest Preserve. The exceptions are the ranger cabins at Lake Colden and a few other places. In fact, voters have rejected attempts to amend the state constitution to allow closed cabins—as opposed to lean-tos—in the forever-wild Preserve.

On the day of my hike, I ran into a few other parties who said they hoped that the Thomas Mountain cabin would remain. However, I suspected its days were numbered. When I returned to the office, I sent an email to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to inquire about their plans.

This week, I finally got an answer. The Thomas Mountain cabin will indeed be taken down, according to DEC’s Environmental Notice Bulletin. It says:

“DEC purchased the 1,900 acre Cat and Thomas land from the Lake George Land Conservancy in the Town of Bolton in 2013, and added it to the forever wild forest preserve. It has become a public nuisance and public health threat. The cabin is also considered non-conforming under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The Lake George Land Conservancy supported DEC’s decision to remove the cabin. DEC will be removing the cabin as soon as possible.”

The notice is dated August 23. There was no comment period. The notice was meant only to inform the public of a decision made by the department.

Incidentally, we posted an item earlier this week about two hikers who got lost and found their way to the Thomas Mountain cabin, where they waited for a ranger to rescue them.


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. LeRoy Hogan says

    I do not know if there is any history with the cabin but I do know the state has a bad habit of burning down and or tearing up historical structures in the Catskills and the Hudson River Valley. I can only assume the same is true in the Adirondacks.

    • Paul Gebhard says

      I met a DEC ranger at a winter hiking talk last week in Clifton Park who reported that he and other rangers helped put out a fire that threatened the cabin in the past, so if the goal was to let it burn down, I’m sure they would have not done as good a job putting the fire out at that time.

  2. adkDreamer says

    Although I understand a property owner has rights and in this case a Master Plan to conform property they own to whatever pleases them, the cabin appears well built and maintained. I agree with Lou Burke and Doris Hensler on this topic.

  3. Amy says

    No, sad to hear! This is such a fun place to bring out of towners. On what other mountain top can you find a surprise cabin? Too unique to destroy!!!

  4. Cj says

    So sad to hear that another ADK bit of history & safe haven for many could be destroyed instead of preserved. Not a good plan DEC!

  5. Rich C says

    I wonder if it’s more an issue of the state worrying about potential liability from personal injury (now that they own the land), etc? It always comes down to the lawyers pissing all over something in order to ruin it.

    I agree – modify it so it confirms. It’s in super shape.

  6. Robin says

    As I understand it and I have seen first hand, it is coming down because some hikers use is as a trash bin leaving behind bottles, wrappers, trash of all sorts. Medical supplies have also been found (needles etc.) So while we want to blame DEC, in this case we need to blame rude and thoughtless hikers for ruining a good thing for the rest of us. A sad day indeed.

  7. Michelle says

    So sad…The cabin should remain. Removing a bit of history using the excuse the cabin is a “public nuisance and public health threat” is crap. It should be preserved, not destroyed.

  8. Mary E says

    I was up there in October and noticed it’s deteriorating. A piece of the porch is rotted and broken out. I’m not surprised it’s slated for removal, just like all the other non-conforming structures on state land acquisitions. DEC has also started to do some nice work rerouting trails there.

  9. Stu says

    I like Lean-to idea but it is a bit close to roads. Cheap to do though in order to ‘comply’. While it can be said of trash and other things left there That is more an education and user problem than the existing structure being at fault.
    Porch planks are exposed to weather so those are always being replaced on any home etc, and may be the only thing urgently in need of repair.
    That said, if the cabin has indeed started to weather badly being left to its own demise by DEC, which like other agencies has a tendency to do with the excuse of “budget restrictions”, then it may be too costly to renovate and maintain. Further I dont think T & C mtn is that sensitive seeing as how farming and logging has taken place over the centuries on its flanks. So while it is an important watershed and headwaters which should be protected we are not talking about virgin or extremely fragile summit. There should be a stewardship program set up thru the LGLC/ DEC, the numerous camps and outdoor related schools in the region to use the Thomas Cabin as a base for education and nature experiences. A permit system or lottery could be engaged for the public when the cabin is not in use by organizations. However, with no comment period for review and no group stepping up to the plate for preservation / future oversight and maintenance, it seems sadly destined to fall.

  10. Steven Kalisz says

    I am going to be very upset to see the cabin be torn down… I have a lot of memories in the cabin and on the mountain itself.

  11. Jennifer says

    Please do not remove this cabin. It makes the hike and I always feel safer knowing it is there in case we get lost or bad weather.

    I was lost once with my kids and waited at the cabin for the ranger. 🙁 No!!!

  12. Jennifer W says

    My husband proposed in that cabin almost 10 years ago, January 7th to be exact. We hike up to it often with our children. I’m so saddened by this. I’ve been trying for over a week to get a hold of someone from the dec to tell me exactly when it will be coming down. Of course no one ever answers the phone or returns a phone call.

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