The Professional Trail Crew’s (pro crew) season began with a week of skills training in May. Most of the training projects focused on replacing foot bridges, some that were damaged during Tropical Storm Irene. The eighteen person crew split up into three different crews. One crew repaired the bridge at the beginning of the Klondike Trail that spans 32 feet over the West Branch of the Ausable River. Almost all of the original parts of the bridge including the stringers were reused. After completing this bridge, this crew moved on to the Mr. Van Ski Trail to replace a 25 foot bridge that fell into disrepair. The second crew replaced the Fangorn Forest Trail ski bridge on ADK’s Heart Lake property. This 28 foot bridge was built out of trees that were harvested on site. A third crew worked at the summit of Mt. Jo. Ten wood steps were erected over a steep, rocky section of trail. Next year the steps will be continued to complete this project. The three crews spent five days total at their respective locations. The entire crew, including the volunteer leaders, participated in a two day wilderness first aid course that was run by Wilderness Medical Associates. To finish up training, the entire crew embarked on two days of patrols of trails primarily in the High Peaks Region. Due to the two feet of snow that was present at higher elevations, many drainage ditches could not be cleaned out. The crew did however manage to remove over 195 pieces of blown down trees. Training and patrols were made possible by funding that was provided once again by the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.
Catskills – Region 3
An ADK crew got an early start at the beginning of May to work on the popular trail to Mt. Tremper from Phoenicia. On the steeper sections of this old fire tower access road, a crew installed 38 rock waterbars with 297 feet of drainage ditches and five rock steps. In June, a crew visited the Biscuit Brook Trail for two weeks and replaced two twenty foot native log foot bridges. The crew also set eleven rock steps and fourteen stepping stones. On the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail a crew repaired an eroded bridge abutment that was damaged during tropical storm Irene. After two weeks, 49 boulders were installed and now the abutment should last for many years to come. The last week was spent conducting patrols on various trails throughout Region 3. Over seventeen miles of trails were patrolled and 124 blown down trees were removed.
Catskills – Region 4
In early May, a separate ADK pro crew spent three weeks repairing sections of the Kaaterskill Falls Trail. Retaining walls were rebuilt using 71 boulders quarried on site. This material was hoisted into place using griphoists and a high line system. Because this trail has many visitors, usually hundreds each day, the crew had a difficult time working while keeping a safe environment for pedestrians. A reroute was not feasible due to the steep, unstable slopes present at that location.
A crew returned to the Elm Ridge Wild Forest near Windham to build more multi-use trail. This year, the crew built just over a mile of trail with drainage and some rock work. The new section of trail is accessed from the southern trailhead at the end of Peck Road.
Adirondacks – Region 5
After training and patrols, a crew embarked on building raised bridging on the herd path between Algonquin and Iroquois peaks in the McIntyre Range. Working above tree line in the High Peaks has its own set of challenges, but the four weeks that the pro crew spent working on the trail were made that much harder due to the record amount of rain that fell in June. In spite of the difficult conditions, forty one bridge sections were installed totaling 410 feet along with five new cairns on Algonquin and one on Wright Peak. The Adirondack Forty-Sixers paid for the trail crew time and without a doubt this project would not have been possible if not for this considerable donation. Materials were also donated by an anonymous donor and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) transported the material to the work location with their helicopter.
For a third season, a trail crew returned to the Orebed Brook Trail to finish the wood steps. The crew spent five weeks carrying dimensional lumber a half a mile up the steep trail and built 130 wood steps. All told, after twelve weeks a total of 386 steps were installed on the slide. A short, twenty foot section of bog bridging was also built near the summit of Basin where the trail was rerouted to avoid a washout that occurred in 2012.
After years of planning by both the DEC and ADK, work has started on a portion of the southern re-route of the Northville-Placid Trail (N-PT). Ultimately, the beginning of the N-PT will be rerouted off of route 30 and the Benson Road to the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest and the Silver Lake Wilderness. This season the crew completed the first phase of this major reroute that is north of the Benson Road in the Silver Lake Wilderness. A crew spent eleven weeks installing this 7.5 mile long section of trail. The crew used non-motorized hand tools to dig out and establish the tread way. Five native log foot bridges were also constructed using native materials, primarily hemlock.
After finishing the new hiking trail to the Jay Range in 2012, a crew returned for one week this season to put some finishing touches on the route. Some adjustments were made to small portions of the trail to lessen the grade and to aid drainage. Twelve blown down trees were also removed from the trail.
A crew visited the Split Rock Wild Forest near Lake Champlain to build a new section of trail. Almost a mile of trail was created that leads to two different viewpoints. The trail was hand grubbed and over 40 blown down trees were removed to create the path. The new trail section departs from the northernmost loop (#7) and the easiest access point is from the Cross Road/Route 9 trail head.
In the Wilmington Wild Forest at the Flume multi-use trail network, the pro crew worked for one week to improve several trail sections. On the Ridge Trail, twenty stepping stones were set and one new foot bridge was constructed. A new foot bridge was also built on the Erratic Trail along with three bridges at the beginning of the Rock Garden Trail. Six water bars were installed on the lower section of the Marble Mountain access trail to remediate soil erosion that was taking place.
Adirondacks – Region 6
ADK’s pro crew worked only four weeks in Region 6 this season. Three of those weeks were spent on Mt. Arab. This is at least the third season that a pro crew has worked on Mt. Arab. This time, a lot of rock work was completed including forty rock steps, sixteen stepping stones, and seventeen rock water bars containing 103 boulders. Over 100 feet of new drainage ditches were also created.
The fourth week in Region 6 an ADK pro crew spent one week on Coney Mountain to make some minor repairs. ADK designed and installed the trail in 2009. A number of different structures were built including: four water bars with 24 feet of ditches, twelve rock steps, and a 32 square foot turnpike over a wet section of trail.
Central New York – Region 7
Located south of Syracuse and east of Tully, the Labrador Hollow Unique Area is a popular destination year around. One of the main attractions is Tinker Falls, a small waterfall that is easily accessed from the trail head. In 2011, a pro crew started on a two phase trail rehabilitation project at Tinker Falls. The first phase was to install a rock stair case that would access the Falls from above and to place stones around the “amphitheater” trail behind the Falls. This sounds easier than it is considering all of the stone needed to be brought in on a 300 foot long high line. A crew worked just over three weeks until Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Lee halted the operation. This season an ADK pro crew returned to complete phase one of this access project. A well seasoned crew spent three weeks installing 32 rock steps above the Falls. Next season a crew will return to complete phase two of the project that will involve placing close to one hundred rock steps starting from the bottom of the Falls to the amphitheater trail.
You can view the complete Adirondack Trails Newsletter here.
You can help support ADK’s Professional Trail Crew and the work they do by making a donation to the Adirondack Mountain Club.