Secretary of State takes part in paddling, hiking excursion to celebrate Adirondack tourism
By Jamie Organski
Adirondack Hamlets to Huts (a non-profit organization based out of Saranac Lake) went from a concept in 2014 to incorporating in November of 2016, and gained non-profit status in 2017.
At the core of their mission: providing visitors with planned excursions in different locations around the Adirondack Park. Participants take part in a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, paddling, snowshoeing, or skiing before dining out, browsing local shops, and settling down for the night in an area hotel/motel.
After years of planning and small steps forward, Hamlets to Huts is poised to launch on a bigger scale, due in part to support in the form of grants through New York’s state department.
A group of state department officials, Hamlets to Huts staff, and local leaders gathered Thursday to commemorate state-funded projects that promote Adirondack tourism before embarking on a guided paddling and hiking excursion. Following some remarks in Old Forge, participants stopped at The Woods Inn in Inlet for snacks, paddled from Inlet to Cascade Falls, and hiked to Great Camp Sagamore where they enjoyed on-site history interpretation over lunch.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said he is proud of the role his agency has in helping to boost economic opportunities, promote sustainable tourism, and contribute to the vibrancy of the area.
“The Hamlets to Huts Implementation projects tie all of these pieces together to maximize the enjoyment and appreciation of this spectacular area for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The ADKH2H initiative represents the perfect combination of outdoor recreation and exercise, hamlet revitalization, sustainable tourism, and economic development. It’s the perfect one-stop planning tool for tourists to get the true Adirondack experience,” he said.
Rodriguez joked that while he may not be the most seasoned paddler and hiker, he was honored to experience first hand one of the community-centered routes that Hamlets to Huts provides its clients.
According to Adirondack Hamlets to Huts Executive Director Joe Dadey, the programs his organization offers are geared toward introducing newcomers to the Adirondacks, as well as providing new outings for more experienced visitors.
“This is about fostering a love for the outdoors, promoting health and wellness, and maximizing sustainable tourism and our local economies,” said Adirondack Hamlets to Huts Executive Director Joe Dadey.
Dadey said staff helps to facilitate the experiences and manage the logistics, including lodging and canoe/equipment rentals. The idea is to invite tourists to explore the Adirondacks and all they offer, and encourage locals to recreate in other areas of the Park that they normally wouldn’t.
Since its inception, Adirondack Hamlets to Huts has received $667,370 in grants, two of which were from the NYS Department of State (DOS), including one for $220,000 in 2014, and one for $292,500 in 2017. The grants were sponsored by Hamilton County to allow faster access to the funding.
The initial NYS DOS grant was used to create a park-wide inventory of existing and needed trails and lodging, as well as the conceptualization of nearly 60 hut-to-hut routes over the course of the 3-year grant, according to Dadey. The second 3-year NYS DOS grant was utilized for the implementation of a marketing plan, developing a lodging affiliate network, and also developing a foundation for the reservation system. The reservation system is not yet ready to go, but many pieces have been set in place, Dadey continued.
The next step, Dadey says is to expand beyond the 10-12 trips done this summer to a goal of 10-12 trips a week.
“We want to put heads in beds, and get people in local shops and restaurants, all the while offering an outdoor excursion to get people out in the fresh, Adirondack air,” Dadey said. “We have only just begun, and we look forward to expanding our efforts throughout the Park.”