By Gwendolyn Craig
It’s still in the works but in the near future, an approximately 9-mile recreational trail will connect Overlook Park in Newcomb to the top of Goodnow Mountain, with other possible connector trails leading to destinations like Camp Santanoni.
The trail hub is spearheaded by the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb. Paul Hai, associate director, expects the trail to be completed in 2021.
“We know that not necessarily everybody wants to start out hiking a High Peak,” Hai said, referring to the Adirondacks’ tallest mountains. “This trail network provides for a range or opportunities, a range of exercise and allows people of all ages, not just those who are most fit, to access and enjoy the resources in wilderness, natural settings of Newcomb.”
The idea for the trail has been several years in the making, with trail work underway in 2019 and 2020. The town has contributed $52,500 over the two years to fund the trail crews. The state has also provided nearly $100,000 in funding over the two years for trail design, construction and training and management of the crew.
Hiring an expert
Wilderness Property Management was hired to design and manage the trail build, something owner Steve Ovitt is no stranger to doing in the Adirondacks.
Ovitt, a retired forest ranger with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has been building connector trails to communities for more than a decade in his ranger retirement. He’s helped other communities with remote downtowns link up to popular recreational trails.
Getting people off the road
Newcomb, Ovitt said, is a “long, linear community” and to get from the Adirondack Interpretive Center to the Goodnow Mountain trailhead, one has to walk along the shoulder or Route 28N. Students attending programs at the center would also risk the busy highway road to get to parts of their fieldwork or dorms, areas of the center that are closed to the public.
“The only pedestrian connection they had between all the facilities was that road shoulder,” Ovitt said. “The first thing I did was walk it so I could validate and experience, and it was incredible. Not something you would come to the central Adirondacks to experience.”
The hope is in the warmer months of 2021, Ovitt and a trail crew will finish the public part of the trail linking the Sawmill Driveway to the Goodnow Mountain Trailhead, and east from the area of the Rich Lake Beach Access Trail off of Route 28N to a trail around Lodo Pond, eventually linking up to a trail along Belden Lake. From there, hikers, skiers and snowshoers could head to Santanoni Preserve, or continue into town toward the Overlook Park.
Newcomb Supervisor Robin DeLoria said the trail connector system “would make a good alternate hiking trail through the town,” following the Hudson River and Lake Harris.
While the state has committed another year of $49,900, Hai said it could take longer for the center to see those dollars considering the state’s finances and the pandemic.
“We’re very hopeful to be able to get this done in 2021, but we’re also patient and realistic,” Hai said.
Improvements to Goodnow trail
This 2020 season, trail workers improved the Goodnow Mountain Trail, an approximately 4-mile round-trip fire tower hike with a 1,040-foot elevation gain. Ovitt and trail crew members also improved two stretches of trail meant for students only, which keep them off the highway and along the woods and shoreline of Rich Lake.
Another aspect of this project Hai and other partners have worked on is an interactive interpretive map and guide for the trail system that shows natural history information. This feature is available for about four miles of trails at the Adirondack Interpretive Center and shows some fixed points, like geology information along the trail, and some that change with the seasons.
“So if something is blooming, we’ll put a tag here and you can go out on the property,” Hai said. “You can look at this in May and say, ‘What’s happening on the interpretive center trails? Is trout lily blooming yet?’”
The center’s trails are open dawn to dusk, all year round. To learn more about the center, the trials and to view the interactive map, go to https://www.esf.edu/aic/.