Saratoga County

Trail to cross through Adirondack preserve

Part of a planned national hiking trail would be built in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness west of Schro
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Part of a planned national hiking trail would be built in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness west of Schroon Lake under a proposed state management plan.

The draft plan includes building a portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a multistate trail envisioned as someday stretching from North Dakota to Lake Champlain.

The draft, released last week and currently open for public comment, is being developed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency.

“If approved, the proposals in the plan will better protect the natural resources of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness, make the wilderness more enjoyable for visitors and become more of an asset to area communities,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement.

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness consists of 38,500 acres of forest preserve land in the towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake in southern Essex County.

The plan proposes developing a 12.5-mile segment of the national scenic trail, including 6.6 miles of newly constructed trail, through the southern portion of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. The trail is a proposed 4,600-mile non-motorized trail system from Lake Sakakawea, N.D., to Lake Champlain. It is one of eight federally designated National Scenic Trails, meant to be hiking destinations in the same way as the existing Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

The Adirondack portion of the trail would stretch 140 miles, from Forestport to Crown Point. Some of it would be on existing trails, some on newly constructed trails.

The draft plan does not say how construction might be funded.

The plan’s other proposed improvements include an improved parking area along Blue Ridge Road to serve as the northern trailhead for the Hoffman Notch Trail. It also proposes constructing lean-tos near Platt Brook and a primitive campsite on Bailey Pond.

Currently, the wilderness includes more than 18 miles of marked trails, highlighted by the trail through Hoffman Notch and a trail up Mount Severance. It also includes fishing spots like Bailey Pond and Big Pond.

Public comment on the draft plan is being taken through March 7 at DEC’s regional office in Ray Brook. An initial determination is expected at the APA’s March meeting.

The draft plan is available for viewing or downloading from the Adirondack Park Agency website.

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