State agencies give project updates on the Lake Placid/Tupper Lake rail trail, and rail rehab from Big Moose to Tupper
Editor’s note: Explorer contributor Tim Rowland touched base with representatives from New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation on how two simultaneous projects are coming along: The rehabilitation of the rail line between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and the creation of a trail connecting Tupper Lake and Lake Placid on the former rail bed.
Q: Lots of people have seen work being performed on the Placid to Tupper rail trail (also known as the Adirondack Rail Trail), and are eager to learn when it will be ready for use. Can you give us an update on where the project stands now, and a targeted completion date?
A: There is a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation for a completed rail trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid.
At this stage in the project, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has jurisdiction of the entire corridor. The contractor is expected to complete the rail infrastructure removal work this fall, and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) expects to obtain jurisdiction of the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment after the contractor is finished.
In the meantime, DEC and the Office of General Services (OGS) are working on obtaining the necessary wetlands permits from the APA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Additional information and details on the length, start/end points, and number of phases in the development of the trail will be determined by the terms of the wetland permits and completion of the engineering and design.
Once the track has been removed, is it permissible to ride or hike on the trail before its official opening? If so, what kind of bike is recommended prior to resurfacing (hybrid, fat tire, etc.)?
To protect public safety, recreational use is strongly discouraged due to uneven terrain. DEC is developing guidance for recreational use during the transition period between transfer of jurisdiction and the completion of the trail.
When will the scenic railroad portion of the route be completed?
DOT projects the rehabilitation project between Big Moose and Tupper Lake will be completed this fall. DOT has conducted additional public outreach on the construction of new platforms and rail sidings at Beaver River, Sabattis and Tupper Lake. Based on public comments received, DOT is currently assessing the length and height of the platform design. Construction is expected to commence in the spring of 2022 and be completed during the fall of 2023.
Why is the bike trail building going to take longer than the rail rehab south of Tupper Lake (assuming that’s still the case)?
The construction of the Adirondack Rail Trail requires engineering design work and wetlands permitting that is not required for the rail rehabilitation project.
What is being done with the rails and ties (are they being recycled/upcycled/mulched/sold for scrap?)
Ties that are in serviceable condition are being salvaged and reused for railroad purposes. Ties that can’t be reused are ground into wood chips on site and safely disposed of at a DEC approved facility.
More rail trail coverage
PROJECT BREAKS GROUND: Work began last fall. READ MORE
TRAIL POTENTIAL: Former Explorer editor Phil Brown checked out a portion of the trail READ MORE
ANOTHER TRAIL: A trip on the historic Grasse River rail trail in Cranberry Lake READ MORE
A LOOK BACK: Peruse all the stories in our archive tagged “rail trail.” READ MORE
Photo by Mike Lynch
Are you going to compete the trail in sections, so people can start using it sooner?
The trail will be completed in sections.
What about other trail infrastructure (parking lots, access points, etc), where are they going to be located — both for the rail trail and scenic railroad?
DEC and OGS are identifying opportunities for parking and access in preliminary rail trail designs currently under development. Potential parking opportunities are available at numerous locations along the future rail trail.
What is the best source of information for people wanting to learn more?
For more information about the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor rail trail project, including background, historical considerations, and management objectives, please visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62816.html.
DEC is developing a webpage to provide updates on the progress of the rail trail construction, status of various segments, and guidelines for public use of the rail trail. The webpage will be available upon completion of the transfer of jurisdiction from DOT to DEC.
Don’t miss a thing
Sign up for our “Adk News Briefing” newsletter, a weekly look at the hottest Adirondack stories
Will there be a needed permit for recreational vehicles?
Alvin R Breisch says
When I read the response to “Once the track has been removed, is it permissible to ride or hike on the trail before its official opening? If so, what kind of bike is recommended prior to resurfacing (hybrid, fat tire, etc.)?” I actually laughed out loud.
The answer was “To protect public safety, recreational use is strongly discouraged due to uneven terrain.” Uneven terrain? It is a former railroad. Nearly flat. Sure there may be depressions at first where the railroad ties were removed but I hardly imagine the “uneven terrain” will be as uneven as many of the High Peaks trails.
I suspect the word they meant was surface, not “terrain”. Poor choice of wording. There may also be bridges that are unsafe or perhaps even unusable. I think they are just not encouraging use at this time until they feel it is relatively safe to use as a mountain bike trail.
The tracks never should have been removed. There are more than enough trails for pollution spewing snowmobiles and ATVs in the park already.
Cynthia Clark says
The State of Pennsylvania has taken over Rail Trails. PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Snowmobile Clubs, ATV clubs cutting down trees using their gasoline vehicles and doing a lot of damage to properties along these corridors. The land was supposed to revert back to the landowners when the railroads went bankrupt. The landowners pay taxes and insurance on their land that the railroads went through while these organizations get grants to takeover the landowners land. Don’t be fooled into thinking these are nature trails. They are just big land grabs that the states are getting for nothing. We pay their state salaries, so in essence the people are funding it all.
I am not sure what you are trying to say. NYS bought this particular corridor ages ago and has owned it ever since. The question was, what to do with it after the trains stopped running, since it runs mostly through state lands. No land was “grabbed” – the taxpayers have “owned” it for a long time.
Scott Thompson says
R U serious? The rail removal will not add motorized recreation yet the rail restoration will add smokin’ diesels rather than hikers and bikers. Look on YouTube and watch the diesels. Then there is the railroad ties; there will be well over 100,000 new stinking ties leaching preservatives into the watershed. The worst thing is loss of business. The Adirondacks are losing population at an alarming rate.
Daniel P. says
I’m not replying to be argumentative, I’m seriously asking, I know where trails are for snowmobiles but are there any state owned trails for ATV’s? I do agree 100%, should have left the rails there and made some other accommodation.
Alan Fisher says
Several years ago my family rode from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake on the rail train. Guess that will never happen again. At that time there was a talk that it might be maintained. Now it is gone from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake. Will the same thing happen to the rail from Tupper to Big moose? I expect the rail was originally used for logging and perhaps the only or best way to traverse the area. Is there any writings of the history, development and decline?
william c hill says
“In the meantime, DEC and the Office of General Services (OGS) are working on obtaining the necessary wetlands permits from the APA “-
Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into an albatross around the neck of the entire project.
Daniel C. says
Back when the whole thing was in court, I argued, that I would travel to places to ride the train for the fall foliage, mystery dinner theatre, or even the rail bike. I’m not traveling to those places to ride my bicycle or walk the trail, I can do that right where I am.
Bill Keller says
Yet another waste of tax dollars for the rail portion. The Saratoga to North Creek rail line failed twice. Not many people want to pay to ride old worn out rail cars and if they do it’s only once. Today the stations in Thurman and Hadley sit idle.Trains are not profitable, period. That means after wasting tax dollars on repairing the rail line, building sidings, etc. tax dollars will be needed to keep it in operation. Politicians never learn from previous mistakes, they keep repeating them.
I just want to know if the “bike path” from Flower Lake to Tupper is complete
Mark Jacob says
And for the locals who think it’s “great”, do they agree it’s great that their tax dollars will have been spent to 1.) rehab the railroad, then 2.) remove the railroad, then 3.) build the trail?( and hopefully eventually when cooler heads prevail, once again 4.) rehab the railroad)?
I know I’d be some pissed if my taxes got spent 3 times over in the same place on this back and forth boondoggle and then in the end of it all, all there was was a path through the woods. I love paths in the woods. But there are probably thousands of miles of them in the ADKs, most of them are “better” paths in the woods than this, and most of them only required a fraction of tax dollar expenditure and only required it once. Maybe next will tear up some of I87, make it into a trail, and then come back in 10 years and make it I87 again all with “your tax dollars at work”?