About Philip Terrie

Philip Terrie is an Adirondack and environmental historian, and the author of five books on regional history, including Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks (2nd ed., Syracuse UP, 2008) and Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian (Saranac Lake: Adirondack Explorer, 2017).

Reader Interactions


  1. toofargone says

    I couldn’t agree with you more Philip, and we are not alone or new to this debate as you note. In my readings of the Adirondacks, including Joel T. Headley, Alfred Billing Street, Charles Dudley Warner, Verplanck Colvin, T. Morris Longstreth, Russell M.L. Carson, Phelps (Bill Healy), and your fine work, Contested Terrain, it is apparent that those who understood the beauty and intrinsic value of the Adirondacks wanted to share those experiences with the public at large, not to be hogged-up by the few. Colvin understood, and commented in his 1879 report, that while Lake Tear of the Clouds was forever changed after his initial discovery and report, by the blazed trail, worn path, and exponential increase of visitors that followed, he nevertheless realized that, on balance, the Adirondacks should be experienced and enjoyed by everyone and the public should not be deterred or restricted. This was the opinion of the person who initially advocated for the creation of the Adirondack preserve in 1874, that “the heart of the Adirindacks… should be preserved in its natural wilderness condition as a forest park or timber preserve for the benefit of the people of the State of New York.” Simply put, more public resources are needed to ensure the public’s continued access to the Adirondacks. Public policy should reject any narrow attempt to restrict public access based upon pretext and the government police power. There is good reason why the Adirondacks are so popular, and plenty of wilderness left that seldon, if ever, experiences the exploration of those seeking true solitude and a wilderness experience away from humanity. Selfish and misguided notions of restricted access is antithetical to the very notion of the creation of the Adirondack preserve for the use and enjoyment of the People and public at large. As an ADK 46r, and ADK outings leader, I can say firsthand that we should do all we can to accommodate everyone who seeks to experience the grace and beauty awaiting on the summit of Cascade, Whiteface and Marcy, etc., as well as those who seek the relative tranquility of MacNaughton, etc. or the absolute solitude of Hoffman Notch Brook, Hoffman Mountain, Blue Ridge Mountain, etc. This is our public land and heritage.

  2. Boreas says

    I disagree with unrestricted usage in the EHPW at the current state of the old, poorly routed, difficult to maintain trails. I feel we should protect the asset first or we will lose it. The EHPW is teetering as we speak. Regardless of how popular it was in the past, no one can deny the numbers we have now. We need to stop managing the HPW as its Wilderness designation dictates, and manage it as Intensive Use, or as a unique classification that combines the ability to safely handle these types of numbers AND the ability to effectively and efficiently maintain and/or rebuild the trails as needed. Until this happens, parking and shuttle restrictions should remain.

    • toofargone says

      Teetering as we speak, protecting assets or lose them, intensive, unique, safely, effectively, efficiently, dictates, and restrictions? Quite an alarmimg call to action. More restrictions! Make them stop! Have the crowds all go away! La Marseillaise! Allons enfants! Le jour de gloire! Let’s drive up to teetering Whiteface, park the car, hug some rocks, question some Quebecois, and leer at the ski lift and trails on Little Whiteface. No more worries about the mid-station lodge anymore, or will they rebuild it? More summit stewards to “educate” the masses! Limit group size! Limit length of stay! Limit locations. Limit parking! Limitlessly limit! Here are some numbers no one can deny: until the State returns the $980,000,000 it has stolen from the Environmental Protection Fund for the State’s General Fund, the public should not be kept from the use and enjoyment of public lands. Period. The focus should be on making public resources available to ensure the public’s continued access to the Adirondacks, instead of crying the sky is falling. No one should be denied access, and that is exactly your intention.

        • toofargone says

          Your argument is disingenuous at best. The problem as you well know is not waiting in lines. Rather, it’s denial of access when there are overbearing parking restrictions and lack of adequate parking that actually prevents people from hiking. All too often there is no available parking later in the day to scamper up Cascade/Porter, Giant or Noonmark on a delightful afternoon, or go for a paddle on Henderson from Upper Works. Access denied because there is no room to park and parking restrictions. The shuttle is a poor substitute for countless reasons. Same can be said for any number of popular spots, except there always seems to be enough room for the trailhead welcome committees or summit stewards trying to educate the masses to earn a patch and garner some recognition for their valiant efforts. Ask yourself, how many more signs do we need in the woods to educate the public on toilet paper, etc., and how is your patch collection doing? Silly is ignoring the raid on the EPF and resources earmarked for environmental work, such as trail work and improvements to “protect the asset,” as you phrase it. Sadly, your misguided public policy leaves little doubt that you are content with the raid on the EPF and lack of funding that enables your vision of limited access and, of course, waiting in line. You really don’t want improvements to be made if it will support public access to the mountains, lakes, meadows, tarns and streams. Spolier alert. The public will continue to come in increasing numbers. If we truly want to protect the Adirondacks, then there needs to be adequate resources from the EPF and/or other State resources to do the work that’s necessary to accommodate the public. Boreas Ponds was a small victory for the public, but there still needs to be more parking. Everyone should see it; it’s awesome! Also provides great access to teetering Cheney Cobble.


    Adirondack Murray’s book makes me think of Collin Fletcher and his Complete Walker book from the 1970s. It too had a national impact on the backpacker movement. Published in 1968, it gave simple advice about equipment and methods.

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