The Northville-Placid Trail (N-P Trail) received an exciting new re-route this year. First completed in 1924, the N-P Trail is a 135 mile long distance hiking trail that traverses through the heart of the Adirondacks from Northville, NY to Lake Placid, NY. The final piece of a three-phase project by The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to move sections of the N-P Trail from a road walk to a woodland trail was celebrated during a ribbon cutting (hiking boot lace untying) ceremony yesterday afternoon. According to DEC this final segment eliminated 7.6 miles of road walking along Route 30 and Benson Road, rerouting the trail 8.6 miles through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. This new route will still require a 3.5 mile road walk to reach state lands from the Village of Northville but helped eliminate a previous 12 mile road walk that hikers would have to make to Upper Benson.
“This reroute is a wonderful change to the N-P Trail, “ commended Diana Niland, Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) N-P Trail Chapter Outings Chair. “We in the [ADK] N-P Trail Chapter are so excited to explore this beautiful new segment of trail!” This section of the N-P Trail starts on Collins-Gifford Valley Road, 3.5 miles from the village of Northville, where the trail slowly ascends to Mud Lake, crosses West Stony Creek and comes out at Benson Road. The N-P Trail continues across the road into the Silver Lake Wilderness. Along the way the trail passes through old stands of oak and beautiful groves of hemlock.
Under contract from DEC, ADK’s Professional Trail Crew (Pro-Crew) started working on this reroute in 2014. Spending seven weeks in 2014 and nine weeks in 2015 the Pro-Crew not only grubbed, dug and raked in the new tread of the trail but also installed 19 rock steps, 80 feet of new drainage ditches, cleared 270 blown down trees and installed two foot bridges. The first bridge was 20 feet long with a railing made out of dimensional lumber and the second was 29 feet long made out of logs harvested on site.
“ADK is proud to have had the opportunity to design and build the last major re-route of the N-P Trail,” said ADK’s North Country Operations Director Wes Lampman. “Building the N-P Trail was the first major project that ADK undertook in 1922. This 8.6 mile reroute into the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest and away from paved roads brings the trail closer to the original vision of a premier long distance trail through the wilderness of the Adirondack Park.”
One obstacle that hikers still face is the crossing of West Stony Creek, which is a 90 foot water crossing that hikers might have trouble traversing during high water. The installation of a bridge over West Stony Creek is included in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan so it already has the consent of the Adirondack Park Agency and has already received public comment. According to DEC Forester Jon DeSantis, “DEC is committed to the completion of this bridge and is currently drawing up designs for the foot bridge but a construction date has not been set yet.” In the meantime hikers will have to ford the creek.
The construction of lean-to shelters and designated campsites are also needed along the new re-routed section. Currently the closest lean-to from the Village of Northville is on Silver Lake, 19 miles away. The closest designated campsite is on Woods Lake, 12 miles from Northville. For the short term, through hikers will have to primitive camp at least 150 ft. from a water body or trail.
In 2009 phase one of this project was completed, eliminating 5.9 miles of walking along the Cedar River Road north of Wakely Dam. Phase two eliminated 2 miles of walking along Benson and Godfrey Roads and was completed in 2013. All three phases eliminated 15.5 miles of road walking on the N-P Trail.
A map of this new section of trail is already included in the National Geographic Trails Illustrated topographic map. ADK is anticipating the release of a new edition of Northville-Placid Trail Guide Book next year.
We invite everyone to check out this exciting new re-route and to explore the Northville-Placid Trail.
Seth Jones is the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Education Programs Coordinator. He has worked for ADK since 2008 and is a former High Peaks Summit Steward and Johns Brook Lodge Hutmaster. Seth has a B.S. in Conservation Biology from SUNY ESF. He enjoys a variety of outdoor activities that includes paddling, fly fishing, hiking, skiing and photography.