Coverage ranged from first-person hiking adventures to management decisions about forest preserve lands
By Mike Lynch
In early December, the state announced that construction of the 10-mile Lake Placid to Saranac Lake section of the 34-mile Adirondack Rail Trail had been completed, officially opening the multi-use trail for the winter season.
The announcement was celebrated in a ceremony just outside the village of Saranac Lake, marking a major milestone following years of debate over the best use of the railroad corridor from Utica to Lake Placid.
The news was part of our recreation coverage in 2023 that ranged from Tim Rowland’s first-person hiking adventures to management decisions about forest preserve lands.
Rowland, who pens the humorous and witty weekly column Explore More, took readers all over the park on off-the-beaten path journeys. In the spring, he hiked Jones Hill near Schroon Lake, which is part of the North Country Scenic Trail. This jaunt took him to some vistas but also served as a reminder of the challenges of hiking during black fly season. Later, he ventured to the rugged Catamount Mountain in the northern Adirondacks and Round Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness. Merriam Swamp, which he sought during Halloween-esque bushwhack, was one of his most memorable journeys, as was his tour of the Spring Pond Bog, a Nature Conservancy Preserve near Tupper Lake.
Contributor Lisa Ballard, who grew up in Saranac Lake, has been heading into the Adirondack woods since the 1970s. This year, she took readers on a nostalgic journey to the fire tower on Bald Mountain, a place she first visited in her teens.
In one of our more popular stories, Michael Sean Gormley got a look under the water in Lake George in a feature about scuba diving, getting an up-close look at a shipwreck and some pretty big bass.
Tom French is an enthusiastic person who enjoys a variety of outdoor pursuits, whether it’s skiing after a big snowstorm on the Peavine Swamp, padding with loons in the early-morning hours or biking through an historic tornado route in St. Lawrence County. His writing regularly finds its way to the recreation section of the Explorer.
But not all our recreation coverage was as light and fun as the adventures with Rowland, Ballard and French. This past summer, some outdoor enthusiasts experienced crime while in the woods as their vehicles were broken into at trailheads. Police later arrested two men for the infractions.
In addition, state agencies continued to grapple with management of hikers in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Officials unveiled the High Peaks visitor use management project to the public at a meeting in Saranac Lake in the spring and advocates continued to conduct their own research, with the Adirondack Council releasing hiker data related to Algonquin Peak and Mount Marcy. In the field, the Adirondack Mountain Club made a major upgrade to one of the trails up Mount Jo, on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness.
Next year should offer many similar themes, as work on the Adirondack Rail Trail and management of the forest preserve will continue, especially in the High Peaks region.
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