About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

Reader Interactions


  1. An Adirondack Resident says

    I don’t blame them.

    As far as building an alternate trail, on state “forever wild” forest preserve, it won’t happen if it requires any tree-cutting, bridge-building, or whatever. You can thank the environmental groups and their recent lawsuit for that.

    • GrouseMan says

      Exactly! Thank you Peter Bauer and “Protect” for the law suit that lead to the DEC not being able to cut trees larger than about 2″, at least for snowmobile trails. OK for hiking though…

      As a home owner who’s property borders a Siamese Ponds access trail I have witnessed first hand the actions of some of the slob public: trash, drug paraphernalia, poop (canine and human) parking that blocks access to my driveway, blocking snow plow turn arounds, speeding, etc.

      When a new loop trail was created the person from the DEC that manages the SPWA said they were going to create a new parking area for the increased traffic- – never happened. It is sometimes the “Department of Environmental Confusion”.

      • Rob says

        Why is it ok to cut trees for a hiking trail but not a snowmobile?? If this double posts it is because my question that yesterday was awaiting moderation is still not there 24 hrs later so I’ll ask again. Why is it ok to cut trees for a hiking trail but not a snowmobile trail???

  2. ECH says

    Public land should stay public. This is ridiculous that these people can just shut down access to a trail which is on public land and the state does nothing. Take them to court!

    • Jon says

      It’s not public land. Their property is solely theirs and off the conservation easement. I’m not happy about it either but this is probably more of the DECs fault than anything. They shouldn’t have kept the property off the easement or they should have had an alternate route as the main trail. Make contact with the owners and make your grievance known. Contact DEC and let them know you aren’t happy. Leave google reviews.

    • MDW says

      *Parking not on public lands.
      *You would have to cross part of the trail on private property.
      *Not to mention people these days have no respect for private property or private belongings. And with today’s society… everybody trying to file a lawsuit because they chipped a fingernail… can’t say as I blame them.

      Learn to the facts before you sound off!

    • Bill says

      It’s amazing the number of people attacking the property owners but seemingly condoning the behaviors that caused the closure.
      This is the selfish behavior that has caused many areas to close.
      Some people seem to think that a private person doesn’t have the right to own a large parcel of land, somehow they are under the impression that though a person has paid for the property, and pays taxes on the property that they are obligated to grant public access.
      We can’t take every land parcel off of the tax rolls, someone has to pay for the giveaways.

  3. Jim says

    “Marks said there is a trail from Johns Pond that intersects with the Puffer Pond trail, which would eventually lead hikers to the Chimney Mountain trail”

    This is not an accurate statement. The Chimney Mountain trail does not intersect the Puffer Pond Trail except at the trailhead on private property. One would have to bushwack nearly the entire way from the Puffer Pond crossover trail from John’s Pond to the Chimney Mountain summit.

  4. Dillon says

    It seems the new owners have been looking for a reason to close things down and unfortunately they got one.

    Also unfortunate that the state never locked down this Right-of-Way over the years.

    Seems like the public is not so slowly getting blocked out of their Public Land.

  5. JOE says

    The new owners of the private land are simply not allowing people to cross their lands any longer to get to the state trail to Chimney Mountain. The DEC does not have legal access to the public lands. The new owners are tired of trespassers, garbage and unleashed dogs on their property.

  6. Faith says

    So how are the owners going to know who is an Indian Lake resident and who isn’t?? It’s not an issue for me as I’ve hiked Chimney twice and I can be done with that one but for other hikers….how sad……how sad that some people ruined it for the rest…….i think the reservation system would be best. But who’s to say someone who reserves a spot won’t also trash the place???? I’ve been there twice in the last 10 years (most recently in 2021) and NEVER did i see trash, or any kind of abuse of the property. Perhaps they need to install surveillance cameras like are on Severance??

  7. Sue Stevens says

    Even local small parks have seen more trash & dogs off leash + poop on the trails, it’s seems a lot of “new users” have forgotten/ or never learned common courtesy.

    They learn growing up – so teach your kids & find ways to reach out to others along the trails.

  8. Matt says

    It’s a shame for the public to lose access to this beautiful area. I have climbed Chimney at least twice and camped at one of the Puffer pond Lean tos on another trip. I understand the owners frustration, the public’s behavior has gotten outrageously inconsiderate and disrespectful as outdoor activities have gained popularity. Shameful though that the bad actors ruin it for everyone. I don’t really like the reservation system idea because it makes trip planning more cumbersome (predicting weather far in advance) and takes the spontaneity and freedom away being able to explore a 6 million acre wilderness playground. Hopefully access is returned in the future.

  9. Maria L Pflegl says

    As a biker with great respect for the land, I find it despicable that visitors cannot observe the ” leave no trace” concept that most of us understand.
    And those who would cast blame on the property/ business owners for actually
    doing something to protect their property and guests are ignorant and no better than those who create the problems.

    The DEC SHOULD create alternate access …AND and police both the old area for a while AND the new trailhead to ensure compliance and security.
    Cameras installed on site by DEC,
    Online reservations, prepaid fees, windshield permits and ticketing for lack thereof would go a long way to ensuring trespassers are disciplined financially.
    Just as state campsites take reservations,trailheads should also electronically ratber tban by signing an old school ledger…this way rangers have an accurate account of who is in the woods and where approximately. It would also help hikers who may travel a far distance only to arrive and find nowhere to park or aid in emergencies.

  10. Elle says

    I’m increasingly frustrated with dog owners who ignore leash laws. “He’s friendly!” is not an excuse for letting your dog run loose, run up to strangers, and to other dogs. One, your friendly dog may run toward someone who has a great fear of dogs or – as happened to me – was just getting outside after recovering from surgery. These people cannot handle a friendly dog bumping or jumping on them. Two, my dachshund (who was always on a leash) was very aggressive toward other dogs. Your “friendly” dog who came close to my unfriendly dog was going to get bit. And all because you find it uncomfortable to hike with your dog leashed. Heck, I find it uncomfortable to do that but that’s the law. It’s not just what makes you happy.

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