A 12.8-mile multi-use trail connecting Inlet and Raquette Lake in Hamilton County is now open, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced Friday.
The Seventh Lake Mountain Trail through the Moose River Plains Wild Forest will provide the public with four-season opportunities to snowmobile, hike and bike, DEC officials said. The new trail connects with the existing Moose River Plains trail system.
The trail has been built by DEC crews from Regions 5 and Region 6, with assistance from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program, the towns of Long Lake, Inlet and Indian Lake, the New York State Snowmobile Association and volunteers.
“The construction of this important multiple-use trail could not have been accomplished without the many organizations and municipalities we work with in partnership as stewards of the public lands in the Adirondack Park,” Martens said.
However, the trail has also been criticized by at least one environmental organization, which said it will encourage illegal motorized use in the Forest Preserve.
“We think this trail will be extremely attractive to ATV riders,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks.
The trail and the bridges on it are designed for use by motorized snowmobile trail groomers, which are much larger than snowmobiles, weighing four or five tons, Bauer said. “We think that state law prohibits groomers on these trails,” he said.
Protect the Adirondacks last month issued a report criticizing the trail’s construction.
“The current trail condition left us feeling disappointed about the environmental damage encountered, most notably regarding wetlands and stream crossings, and the lack of measures for stormwater pollution prevention and control,” the group said.
State officials, however, defended the trail.
“While there are a limited few who refuse to see the forest through the trees and how sustainable communities benefit both the Adirondack Park and the local economies, our many partners in this project demonstrate the broad-ranging support for this new trail,” Martens said in a statement.
DEC said efforts were made during construction to minimize the cutting of trees, removal of rocks, and altering terrain.
The Moose River Plains Wild Forest unit management plan approved construction of the trail, along with the closure of 46 miles of snowmobile trails that existed in more remote areas of the Moose River Plains. Under the plan, 15,000 acres of Moose River Plains Wild Forest were reclassified as Wilderness to create the new Little Moose Wilderness area.
A map of the trail may be viewed and downloaded at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/89235.html.