|The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the approval of the Adirondack Park Trail Plan for the North Country National Scenic Trail (NST). The plan routes the National Scenic Trail through the Adirondack Park and incorporates the North Country NST into the state's Adirondack trail system. The announcement comes as North Country National Scenic Trails Day is tomorrow and is a day to celebrate the projected 4,600-mile trail, stretching from North Dakota across the northern tier of the United States with some 2,700 miles completed to date. Approval of the plan will be effective on October 10.
"Working with our federal and municipal partnerships, this plan will establish a new long distance hiking route across the Adirondack Park and incorporates the North Country National Scenic Trail into the state's Adirondack trail system," said DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman. "The trail will provide opportunities for families looking for day hikes as well as a route for experienced backpackers looking for a multi-state, long distance challenge."
The 158-mile Adirondack route for the North Country NST intersects eight state management units of the Forest Preserve: Black River Wild Forest, West Canada Lake Wilderness, Moose River Plains Wild Forest, Jessup River Wild Forest, Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, Hoffman Notch Wilderness and Hammond Pond Wild Forest.& Where new trail segments are needed, the proposed route will be incorporated into future Unit Management Plans (UMPs) for these management units. Through the UMP process, the route can be adjusted to take advantage of new opportunities and to avoid conflicts and adverse impacts.
Within New York State, many sections of the North Country NST already exist. The Trail enters the state in Allegany State Park, where it then overlaps with the Finger Lakes Trail for 460 miles. With the completion of the Adirondack Park Trail Plan, sections of existing trail within the Park can now be marked and maintained as the North Country NST, further eliminating gaps within the Trail.
In March 1980, federal legislation authorized the establishment of the NST as a component of the National Trails System. To date, Congress has authorized the establishment of 11 National Scenic Trails - long distance, non-motorized trails that follow major geographic features or pass through scenic areas. National Scenic Trails are patterned after the renowned Appalachian National Scenic Trail, commonly known as the Appalachian Trail.
In November 2007, DEC released the Draft Adirondack Park Trail Plan for the North Country NST for public comment and review. The plan described a proposed route for the North Country NST across the central region of the Adirondack Park. A 2014 draft refined the 2007 route based on public comment and information gained from scouting trail alternatives. The plan approves using approximately 81 miles of existing foot trail and constructing 39 miles of new trail within the park. It is estimated that 27 miles of temporary connections along roads will be initially used to make connections along this route. Within the Adirondack Park, the North Country NST will be approximately 158 total miles in length when complete, stretching from the Hamlet of Forestport in Oneida County to the Hamlet of Crown Point on the shore of Lake Champlain.
This NST will be developed and managed in accordance with applicable federal and state laws, policies and guidelines and outlines a viable trail route for the North Country NST across the central region of the Park and primarily on state land. The legislation that established the North Country NST requires that it be developed and managed through a federal-state-local-private partnership with the National Park Service providing overall administration and coordination. Senator Hugh T. Farley said, "The plan's approval marks an important step in the development of this ambitious trail. New York's participation in the North Country National Scenic Trail should help attract more visitors to the State and to the Adirondack region. It will also provide additional recreational opportunities for New Yorkers."
Senator Betty Little said, "We want more people coming to the Adirondacks, not only for the obvious tourism benefit, but for the mental wellness benefit which one cannot put a price on. You can drive through the Adirondacks and see its beauty, but to walk through, to hike the mountains, is truly a unique and unforgettable experience. You break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reacquaint with simply being. I am very pleased to join Governor Cuomo and others in making this announcement and look forward to seeing the trail system develop."
State Assemblyman Marc Butler said, "I am extremely excited about the continued opportunity that DEC is offering people from all over the world to further enjoy the immense beauty of the Adirondacks. The rerouting section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail connects the many small villages and communities to the vast wonders of the Forest Preserve. Economic Development, recreation, and appreciation for what lies just outside our doorway is enhanced by the DEC as they act as Stewards of this great land." This section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail was successfully executed after much work by the DEC and the Adirondack Mountain Club. Working together, they made this celebration possible.
State Assemblyman Dan Stec said, "The addition of recreational infrastructure such as this trail is very welcome. This will both add to our residents' quality of life while at the same time it will attract visitors to upstate New York."
Bill Farabee, Chairman, Essex County Board of Supervisors said, "Essex County and Crown Point is the eastern terminus of the NCST. This trail and the promotion of it will bring increased attention and interest by visitors to our region. We appreciate Governor Cuomo's support to develop this trail through and near our communities, as he is doing on many initiatives throughout the Park. This trail will be one more big reason for hikers and tourists from many states to visit this region and Essex County as a premier tourism destination."
Bill Farber, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman said, "The NCST is a grand effort to connect tourists and hikers from many states throughout the country to our fantastic natural resources and communities. Governor Cuomo's support of this trail is one more effort that does this at a national scale. We appreciate the Governor's support for this initiative and the many others that are helping so many enjoy our park and enable our communities to capture the value the Adirondack Park offers us. His support of this effort along with others such as exploring opportunities with the Great South Woods and development of a Hut to Hut system linking communities and wilderness helps strengthen this region and has it stand out as a tourist destination. That's good for the enjoyment of tourists, and the vibrancy of our communities that results from that."
Vincent J. Bono, Chairman, Herkimer County Board of Legislators said, "On a yearly basis, Herkimer County welcomes tens of thousands of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to our north country region. The new North Country Adirondack Scenic Trail will give our visitors and residents the opportunity to explore even more of an already beautiful experience we New Yorkers call home."
Anthony J. Picente Jr., Oneida County Executive said, "The trail will provide opportunities for families and tourists to enjoy all the Adirondacks have to offer. I thank the governor for his commitment to making Upstate a destination for tourism, recreation and everyone who loves the outdoors."
North Country Trail Association Executive Director Bruce Matthews said, "We've long viewed the Adirondacks as one of the most epic segments of the North Country National Scenic Trail-the nation's longest national scenic trail. Our volunteers have worked tirelessly with the DEC to help identify the route and start getting the trail on the ground. We're grateful this day has arrived, and look forward to building, marking and maintaining the trail for the benefit of hikers and Adirondack communities."
Neil F. Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club said, "The Adirondack Mountain Club strongly supports the routing, layout and trail construction of the North Country National Scenic Trail, one of the premier long distance hiking and backpacking trails in America. This famed trail will benefit many communities in the Adirondack Park. ADK is proud that many of its members helped scout and map the location of this valuable west to east route across the Adirondack Park. ADK is ready to help construct those sections of hiking trail that need to be created."
For more information on the route maps and to view the full plan, visit DEC's website.