Adirondack Mountain Club gears up for summer visitors to former Cascade Ski Center
By Mike Lynch
P.J. Serafin walked into Adirondack Mountain Club’s new Cascade Welcome Center Tuesday morning looking for advice on where he could go hiking with his brother.
After a few minutes of talking with ADK Deputy Director Julia Goren, the Buffalo resident settled on trekking up Mount Van Hoevenberg, a sustainable trail the state built in recent years to attract hikers away from some of the popular destinations in the High Peaks region.
Serafin is one of the many hikers ADK hopes to interact with at the center that was purchased earlier this year from the Jubin family, who ran the facility as a ski center for more than 40 years. The 200-acre property that the nonprofit hiking club took over in April contains 10 miles of trails.
Located between Lake Placid and Keene on Route 73, the center will provide visitors with information, basic outdoor gear such as headlamps, maps and bear-resistant canisters, during the hiking season and continue to be a cross-country skiing center in the winter. ADK also plans to host educational programs for outdoor users at its new property.
“We are intent at the Mountain Club to play an important role in helping the state manage visitor use,” said ADK Executive Director Michael Barrett said Tuesday at a press conference to announce the arrival of the facility, which opened at full capacity this past weekend.
ADK also hopes to collect data from visitors, though it’s not part of any formal process with the state, Barrett said.
“We’re asking, just to get a sense of who’s coming, when they’re coming, what kind of information that they’re looking for — to assist them,” Barrett said. “It’s a work in progress.”
For now, Cascade’s interior hasn’t undergone any structural changes. However, the ski and winter gear inventory has been replaced by some hiking gear and information, and tables for gathering.
Major changes won’t occur until ADK has finished its master plan for the location, based on advice from consultants and input from the public that it received during input sessions this spring.
Sale pending on club’s Lake George property
ADK purchased the property for $2.5 million. ADK put down $500,000 cash at closing, and will add $500,000 from its sale of its Lake George property and $500,000 from a state grant it received, Barrett said.
The sale of its Lake George property to Fish307.com, a local fishing tackle store owned by Jeffrey Goldberg, is currently pending. The goal is to have the closing late this month or in July, Barrett said. ADK is now looking to open a smaller office space in Lake George or Glens Falls, while moving some staff to its Lake Placid facilities.
When ADK receives funds from the Lake George building’s sale and grant, the nonprofit will have a $1 million debt on the purchase. It plans to pay that off and make renovations using money from grants and fundraising. The plan is to start a capital campaign once they’ve gotten the master plan and architectural renderings.
Barrett said ADK is meeting with a representative from the state on Friday regarding the grant and said the public access plan still needs to be developed. “It’s very similar to the easements that exist at Heart Lake: we manage the property, the public does have continued access to it,” he said.
At the press conference, Barrett also acknowledged the support of the Adirondack 46ers hiking club and its recent donation of $71,000 for trail maintenance and summit stewards. The club also gave six bear canisters to the center to rent to campers, while providing a total of 96 bear canisters to local organizations and businesses this year.
ADK also received a $47,000 grant from the state to help pay for a year-round employee, two seasonal workers and a portable toilet at Cascade.
Gearing up for summer
The Cascade property is one of two that ADK owns in the Lake Placid region. The other is “one square mile” at the end of Adirondack Loj Road. That property is home to its campground, High Peaks Information Center, Adirondak Loj, and trailheads for popular mountains, such as Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak, and Mount Jo.
Goren said the hiking season has already gotten off to a busy start at its other property. Last hiking season saw a dip in visitors compared to recent years.
“We’ve already seen some days where the parking lot has filled. We’ve definitely seen the return of the Canadians,” she said. “Everything depends a bit on the weather, but I expect to see numbers that are above last summer’s numbers.” The caveat, she said, is that gas prices could prevent people from coming from far distances.
Cascade Welcome Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. For current information about the property, visit ADK.org or call 518-837-5047.