The Adirondack Rail Trail held up as example of providing accessible recreation year-round
By Chloe Bennett
A comprehensive study and analysis of climate change’s effects on New York detailed what many in the Adirondacks already believe: winters are warming.
The New York State Climate Impacts Assessment, which includes contributions from North Country researchers and experts, devotes hundreds of pages to how climate change alters people, ecosystems, industries and more. Paul Smith’s College researchers and professors including John Foppert, Michale Glennon and Curt Stager worked on the assessment. Kelley Tucker, executive director of the Ausable River Association and Hallie Bond, historian for the town of Long Lake, were also involved.
The Adirondack Park is expected to stay the coldest region in the state, yet is expected to see some of the largest warming rates statewide.
“The Adirondacks have already experienced a long-term decrease in snowfall,” an analysis of the assessment reads. “Winter precipitation is predicted to increase in this region, but more will fall as rain than snow due to warmer temperatures.”
Much of the park’s extensive tourism industry has implemented adaptation efforts to continue drawing visitors to the region.
Ski centers, including Mt. Pisgah, are ramping up snowmaking as snow falls less frequently than in decades before. To create a four-season visiting experience, parts of the Adirondacks are expanding cycling routes. The Adirondack Rail Trail, which is partially open, was highlighted by the assessment team as an example.
“The Adirondack Rail Trail illustrates how cycling infrastructure can support adaptation to changing winter conditions,” the text states.
To adapt, Lake George’s winter attractions this year were updated to be less dependent on weather. Winter Realms has an ice skating rink supported by a glycol chiller to keep the surface frozen and a snowmaking machine is in place for days without powder. A separate event in the area, Winter’s Dream, uses multimedia to simulate winter.
In Old Forge, a trail system is seeing an increase in mountain biking when unseasonable temperatures prevent winter sports. Mike Farmer, tourism director for the town of Webb, said biking trails around McCauley Mountain are steadily getting more use.
“We’re not here just to complain about, ‘well, I wish we had more snow, I wish the rain didn’t come,’ that’s not getting us anywhere,” he said. “So we’re going to enjoy ourselves and so are the people that are coming here to visit.”
Photo at top: The Adirondack Rail Trail, which is partially open, was highlighted by the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment as a four-seasons tourism spot. Photo by Chloe Bennett