Adirondack Mountain Club’s New Video Winter on the Trails
Check out the Adirondack Mountain Club’s new video “Winter on the Trails” about equipment use and trail etiquette.
This is the first of a series of new educational videos that the ADK is planning to share critically important information on backcountry preparedness with the next generation of hikers.
For additional information on this initiative go to the Conservation Trust page.
Boreas Ponds Tract: The Newest Addition to the Forest Preserve
Exploring the Public Access Opportunities
On August 31, 2016 the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced an interim plan to allow access to the newest addition to the State Forest Preserve – the roughly 21,000 acre Boreas Pond Tract. The lure of exploring a wilderness area that had been off limits to the public for years was too much to ignore. The crystal clear, cloudless Sunday of Labor Day weekend offered the perfect opportunity to skip the crowds of hikers on the trails of the High Peaks and visit what Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has called “this amazing tract of land.”
The Boreas Tract is accessed via Gulf Brook Road off of Blue Ridge Road, a short distance from the turn-off into Elk Lake. The entire 6.7 miles of Gulf Brook Road from the Blue Ridge is open to bicyclists. But motor vehicles are only allowed to travel the road for its first 3.2 miles. While a high clearance vehicle isn’t necessary to travel the road, it would have come in handy at a few spots where some care was needed to avoid the large rocks that litter the dirt roadway. As advertised, at 3.2 miles a large parking lot and a gate mark the end of car access. It was time to lace up the boots and don the packs to complete the rest of the trip to the Boreas Pond Dam on foot.
The road walk is an easy, slightly downhill stroll through dense forest. The LaBier Flow is reached at about 2.5 miles from the gate. Under the access plan paddlers are permitted to carry their canoes and kayaks to the Boreas Dam along the road, or put in at the flow, paddle across most of it and portage an additional half-mile to the dam for access to the three Boreas Ponds. Continuing past the LaBier flow a rustic cabin, built by Finch Pruyn, the former landowners, is passed. Prominent “No Trespassing” signs at the cabin site and at the beginning of several roads indicate that the State’s access plan for the Boreas Tract is still a work in progress. A handful of lease holders retain special access to their camps and use of the roads through September 30, 2018.
The Boreas Tract includes the lowland area between the North River Mountain Range to the west and the Boreas Mountain Range to the east; the summits of the Boreas Range; the ponds themselves, a 320-acre body of water; and a number of brooks and wetlands. But arguably the star power and main attraction of the tract is the sublime view from the dam of the Upper Range – Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, Marcy—and stretching over to Skylight, and Allen. Simply spectacular. Those who have the energy to bring canoes or kayaks into the ponds will be rewarded with an unobstructed view of the entire panorama.
Approximately 25 miles of seven roadways within the Boreas Tract are open to hikers and horses and horse-drawn wagons. One of these roads takes off from the dam for about 2.5 miles. It roughly follows the eastern shore of the ponds, although not close enough to offer glimpses of the ponds themselves through the incredibly dense forests. This road/trail eventually leads to the Boreas River, which enters the north end of the ponds.
There are numerous old woods roads that angle off from the main tracks just waiting to be explored. It’s a fascinating area. But take note, the map that the DEC has prepared (see link http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/mapboreasrec.pdf) only identifies the areas that have been designated as open to hikers, bicyclists, and horse travel. It is not a complete map of all of the roads and paths. There are also no trail markers or signs noting mileage. So if you choose to explore the area, keep track of your location and the time it takes you to travel from point to point.
Check out Phil Brown’s article in Adirondack Almanack that provides more detailed information on some of the logging roads and possible hikes in the area. http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2016/09/hiking-logging-roads-near-boreas-ponds.html#more-64342
As mentioned previously, the current access to the Boreas Tract is an interim plan as the process to classify the lands under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan is ongoing. This process involves, among other factors, careful consideration of the natural resources’ capacity to withstand use. After the land is classified, DEC will develop a management plan to fully identify and develop the recreational infrastructure on these lands.
If you plan on taking a trip into the Boreas Tract, please take note. This is pristine wilderness! Please respect all “No Trespassing” signs and practice all “Leave No Trace” principles https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles (particularly the proper disposal of human waste, as there are no outhouses currently in the area). Help keep this newest addition to the Forest Preserve a beacon of wildness for generations to come.
A piece of Adirondack 46er history was preserved for future generations to enjoy. Marta Bolton Quilliam #2971W generously donated the manuscript for the 1958 46er book The Adirondack 46ers that was hand edited by Grace Hudowalski to the Adirondack museum. Below are pictures of the manuscript the book along with Marta Bolton Quilliam and Jerold Pepper the museum librarian.