field season-bog bridges
Bog bridges between Boundary and Iroquois

The 2013 field season was one to remember. Not for the 2-3 feet of snow that blanketed the High Peaks region on Memorial Day Weekend or the seemingly endless rainfall in June or the incredibly wet trail conditions that were a result from said snow and rain, but for the incredible accomplishments that were made by the people working on the trails and summits in spite of the inhospitable conditions. As you will see, the quantity and quality of work that was completed by ADK volunteers and staff is staggering.

Looking forward to the 2014 field season, there are many exciting projects and opportunities for volunteers as well as for the professional summit stewards and trail crew. On National Trails Day ADK’s Supervised Volunteer Trails Program (SVTP) will be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the completion of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail (N-PT) in Northville. Trail projects will focus on the newly constructed reroute of the trail in the Silver Lake Wilderness and continuing the southern reroute into the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. The Town of Northville is very excited to be hosting the event and has a number of activities planned that will be simultaneously taking place on Saturday in the town park during the trail work day. Register soon to secure your spot and to ensure that you can be a part of this historic reroute of the N-PT.

 Join the SVTP at Great Camp Sagamore in June to improve some of the surrounding foot trails and to learn more about this National Historic Landmark. Participants will stay in one of the restored cottages during the trail work project. This is a unique opportunity…do not miss out! This trip will fill quickly, just like the five day trail project at Elk Lake, which is offered again this year.

And for the teen (14-17 yrs.) that aspires to be involved in the natural resources field, there is no better way to be introduced to grassroots, resource management than to join one of the five different weeklong teen crews working throughout the Adirondack Park. Scholarships are available to help out with the participation fee. Visit ADK’s website and the SVTP schedule to learn more.

In the High Peaks, the ADK professional crew will embark on a three year long trail upgrade on Mount Colden. The first phase will concentrate efforts on the summit where new foot bridges will be built to remediate trail erosion and vegetation loss. The three weeks of trail work will be generously funded by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and material will be transported to the work site by the N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward program will embark on its 25th field season. Five paid and over ten volunteer summit stewards will be positioned on Mount Marcy, Algonquin, Cascade, and other High Peaks this summer to speak to over twenty-thousand hikers.

2013 Accomplishments

Trail Steward Workshops
Similar to 2012, two trail steward workshops were conducted in 2013. The first workshop was held on the trail to Mt. Arab which is positioned just west of Tupper Lake. The second one-day workshop took place on the trail to Severance Hill located near Schroon Lake. The trail steward workshop is intended to give trail maintainers an understanding of basic trail maintenance concepts and standards. Eight volunteers on Mt. Arab and five volunteers on Severance Hill learned the principles of cleaning drainage, blow-down removal, side-cutting, and trail marking. These new trail maintainers were provided the training necessary to become official trail stewards under ADK’s volunteer agreement with the DEC.  Upon completion of the workshop, participants were supplied with a copy of ADK’s Basic Trail Maintenance Manual.

National Trails Day
On June 1st, ADK hosted a National Trails Day (NTD) event at its Heart Lake property located near Lake Placid. The event was a huge success with 119 participants attending and sunny skies overhead. With nine trail projects in five different state land units, there were some great opportunities for people to choose from. From replacing two pit privies, side cutting over 2 miles of ski trail, constructing 1.5 miles of new multi-use trails, to making two new rock cairns on a High Peak summit, the impact of the volunteer trail work that was completed will be appreciated by many different kinds of non-motorized recreationists. Free camping was available to all participants in ADK’s Wilderness campground. Dinner was prepared and provided by ADK Loj staff and beverages were donated by Davidson Brothers Brewing Company.

field season-Work on the Klondike Trail
Work on the Klondike Trail near Johns Brook Lodge

Johns Brook Valley Trail Work Weekend
Fourteen ADK trail volunteers returned to Johns Brook Lodge to complete patrols (drainage cleaning and blown down tree removal) of some nearby trails. After receiving nearly three feet of snow on Memorial Day weekend, many trees were damaged and fell across the trail. One large crew started up the Big Slide Trail and continued over Yard Mountain. At the end of a long day, over 120 blown down trees were cleared. Other trail work that volunteers completed included installing a 100 square foot rock turnpike to firm up a short section of the Klondike trail.

One Day Trail Projects
ADK Supervised Volunteer Trails Program hosted two 1-day trail projects in June. On Cascade Mountain, a volunteer crew of six spent the day installing two new rock water bars that contain eight boulders. Twenty feet of drainage ditches was created to accompany the rock water bars. The volunteer crew also had time to set six new stepping stones in a muddy section of trail.

This year’s popular Ruth’s Easy Trail Project was well attended with twenty volunteers side cutting back vegetation that was starting to obscure some of the trails around Heart Lake and the Adirondak Loj. Led by crew leaders Bethany Krawiec & Mary Jean Bland, almost two miles of trail was side cut and two blown down trees were removed.

Multi-Day Front Country Trail Projects
Two 5-day long front country trail projects were supervised by ADK volunteer leaders Crystal Tyndall and Evan Curtis at the end of June. The first week was spent repairing a section of the Goodnow Mountain Trail. The sixteen member volunteer crew reused wood timbers to build 9 wooden steps and also set thirty rock stagger steps.

During the second week a volunteer crew of eleven constructed 400 square feet of cedar turnpike on a section of trail nearby the Elk Lake Lodge located in the town of North Hudson. Volunteers ate all of their meals and stayed at the Elk Lake Lodge during the trail project. Many of the 2012 volunteers returned to participate in this unique trail project.

While volunteers were working at Elk Lake, ADK Trails Coordinator Andrew Hamlin was leading a five day Road Scholar service project. With five participants, over one mile of trail was patrolled and seven logs steps were built near the beginning of the Klondike Trail at South Meadows.

Multi-Day Teen Trail Projects
Geared specifically for people between 14-17 years of age, five 5-day long back country trail projects took place. The projects were located on Jay Mountain, Hurricane Mountain, West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area, and in the Johns Brook Valley. During the first week on Jay Mountain, seven volunteers dug over sixty earthen water bars with over eighty feet of new drainage ditches. They also rehabilitated approximately two tenths of a mile of side hilling that needed more definition.

The second week was used to continue hardening a section of trail near the beginning of the Orebed Trail in the Johns Brook Valley. While working in the Johns Brook Valley, participants used one of ADK’s lean-tos as a base camp each week. Picking up where last year’s volunteer trail crew left off, eight participants installed 25 stepping stones and lined the edges with scree rock. Over sixteen feet of drainage ditches were also created.

For the second week in the Johns Brook Valley, a teen crew did some heavy lifting to repair a steep section of the Phelps Trail below Bushnell Falls. Eight volunteers set ten rock steps and armored the sides of the staircase with scree rock.

field season-N-PT foot bridges
Teens put the finishing touches on the N-PT foot bridges

During the fourth week in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area, a crew of eight worked on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail near Spruce Lake. Two, thirteen foot long native log foot bridges were built to replace older bridges that were not useable anymore. This is the third season in a row that volunteers have replaced foot bridges on the N-PT. All of the bridges were built by past volunteer crews in the 1990’s.

And on the fifth week, seven volunteers spent a week installing a new foot trail on Hurricane Mountain. Just over a half mile of trail was completed. This new trail is a big improvement over the existing trail which was steep and wet.

Two Day Trail Project
In September, the Canadian hiking group Randonée visited the Adirondacks to complete their 15th trail service project with ADK. This weekend seven volunteers join Trails Coordinator Andrew Hamlin on Mount Jo. As a team, they completed three native log foot bridges totaling 34 feet.

Fall Trails Day
This is an annual event for ADK where volunteer trail crews patrol all of the hiking paths that radiate out from the Heart Lake Property. Crews removed fallen leaves and other organic debris from existing drainage structures so water can be drained from the trail. This is especially important for the following spring when clear drainages will be needed most. On October 19th, 49 volunteers spent a beautiful autumn day patrolling 22 miles of trail in the High Peaks Region and removed 15 pieces of blown down trees from the trail.

Part II of Adirondack Trails will be posted March 5th.