Lake Placid to get new parking, restrooms
By Gwendolyn Craig
Funding is coming together for an Essex County trailhead for the new Adirondack Rail Trail, a 34-mile multi-use trail connecting the Lake Placid to Tupper Lake.
In an update to the Adirondack Park Agency last week, Deputy Director for Planning Megan Phillips said a Lake Placid trailhead near Station Street and Trillium Drive is expected to have parking, restrooms and a bike maintenance hub. The parking portion of the project could be completed by the fall.
The Open Space Institute (OSI), a land conservation organization focused on protecting natural, scenic and historic landscapes, is partnering with state and local groups to acquire the land for the trailhead from the Lake Placid Historical Society. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposes $300,000 to the village of Lake Placid for the acquisition. A spokesperson for OSI said it is currently working with the society on the terms of the property transfer.
OSI estimates trailhead construction will cost $1.2 million, not including the property purchase. The New York State Regional Economic Development Council awarded the nonprofit $500,000 in January through the 2022 Environmental Protection Fund for building the trailhead. OSI needs to raise an additional $700,000.
Kim Elliman, president and CEO of OSI, noted the importance of the environmental fund, which increased to a record $400 million last year. Hochul is proposing to keep it at that amount in the coming fiscal year. OSI was awarded another EPF grant for construction of a multi-use trail in Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County.
“These grants, awarded to OSI after a competitive process with a focus on positive economic impact, underscore the important role outdoor recreation and trails play as economic drivers,” Elliman said in a news release. “OSI is proud to leverage our expertise to accomplish projects that are improving outdoor experiences for residents and visitors and ultimately encouraging more people to get out and enjoy New York’s premier state parks and trail systems.”
Adirondack Park Agency commissioners have expressed particular interest in the rail trail and requested Phillips to provide monthly updates at their meetings. The APA is charged with protecting the approximately 6-million-acre park and overseeing public and private development.
Commissioner Mark Hall asked Phillips at last week’s meeting if there was any information collected about the use of the trail and its economic impact on businesses so far. Phillips looked to Joe Zalewski, director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 5. Zalewski did not have specifics, but noted “it’s not even built yet and people are using it.”
Commissioner Art Lussi said anecdotally he drives by Lake Placid’s fire house every day and sees the parking lot used for snow removal full of vehicles.
The DEC provides regular updates on its website about the status of the trail and what is currently open to public use. The last update was Dec. 20 allowing for interim winter recreation while construction is on pause. For more information go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/124911.html.
Correction: This story incorrectly said the Environmental Protection Fund was increased to $400,000. It has been corrected to say it was increased to $400 million.
The OSI’s trailhead plans are, at the moment, the only permanent toilets planned for the trail until the Tupper Lake Junction and the only accessible parking lot to access the trail in Lake Placid (there have been no updates on the status of the Saranac Lake Depot). The Adirondack Rail Trail Association is working to raise money for portable, accessible toilets along the trail at locations where parking will occur, but the first 9 miles of the trail will open later this year and we as a community need to band together to ensure that the trailhead and the organizations leading the effort have what is needed so that individuals of all ages and abilities have the means to enjoy the trail. Interested in donating to the Open Space Institute?
Timothy Dannenhoffer says
Will camping be allowed directly off this trail if you wanted to backpack it?
From the Rail Trail website:
Q: Is camping allowed along the trail?
A: Camping and campfires along the corridor are prohibited. There are a range of camping opportunities nearby on both undeveloped state land and campgrounds. Nearby State Campgrounds: Fish Creek Pond Campground & Day Use Area, Rollins Pond Campground, Saranac Lake Islands Campground & Day Use Area, and Wilmington Notch Campground & Day Use Area. Nearby Primitive Camping Areas: Bog River Complex – Tupper Lake, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest – Saranac Lake, St. Regis Canoe Area – Saranac Lake, Lake Clear, Santa Clara, William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness – Tupper Lake
Now this being said, how is “along the corridor” defined? Is within 100 feet considered “along the corridor”? 100 yards? 1/4 mile? Simply out of sight? The corridor does go through certain state lands after all, where primitive camping is NOT prohibited except in proximity to water. IIRC, the limit along backcountry trails is 100 feet (yards?). I would certainly assume some people will use the corridor for “backcountry” 4-season primitive camping, and I also envision designated camping spots to minimize damage from informal camping.
Marc Wanner says
Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at areas designated by a “camp here” disk.
Groups of ten or more campers or stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the DEC Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
Do not use soap to wash yourself, clothing, or dishes within 150 ft of water.
Dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6″-8″ deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites. Cover with leaves and soil.
Use only dead and down wood for fires. Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch.
Carry out what you carry in. Practice “leave no trace” camping and hiking.