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SUNY ESF Trails Link Adirondack Towns and Resources Avoid overuse and crowding on SUNY ESF trails12/1/2020

A trail at ESF

Hikers looking for an opportunity to experience the peace and wonder of nature - without the overcrowding documented in a recent poll conducted by Siena College - are encouraged to consider exploring trails maintained by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

SUNY ESF manages more than six miles of public hiking trails in the central Adirondack town of Newcomb, where it operates the 15,000-acre Newcomb Campus field station. While the Siena College poll confirmed that trails in the High Peaks region - especially those along the Route 73 Corridor - face overuse and crowding, SUNY ESF trails still enable visitors to enjoy the solitude and wilderness atmosphere characteristic of the Adirondack region. The trails also enable hikers to reach countless remote destinations, including peaks and ponds, lakes and waterfalls, and connect the many towns and villages in the Adirondacks, including providing access to community-based assets within each of the towns.

"The Adirondacks encompasses six million acres, of which three million are public/owned by the State," said Paul Hai, Associate Director of ESF's Northern Forest Institute "The High Peaks region accounts for some of the most well-traveled of those acres, but hikers have so many additional options. Much of the Adirondacks is underutilized, and although many trails do enable hikers to reach countless remote destinations, including peaks and ponds, lakes and waterfalls, there are few, if any, trails connecting the many the towns and villages in the Adirondacks, or connecting community-based assets within each of the towns. SUNY ESF's Adirondack research and education programs work to help mitigate overcrowding in the High Peaks region. We are also implementing a trail-expansion concept in Newcomb that is unique in capitalizing on the Adirondack's community-based assets in a way not really done elsewhere in the Park."

With support from the town of Newcomb, ESF has constructed new public trails on College property linking to trails already developed by the New York State Department of Conservation and the town of Newcomb. Collectively, these now-integrated trails create a community-level trail system that offers options for all ages and all abilities, including wheelchair accessible trails. The result is a public trail corridor extending more than seven miles across the entire community of Newcomb. In addition to the new connector trails, the regional campus maintains a wide variety of existing and improved trails, including lakeside and streamside trails at ESF's Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), and the recently rebuilt trail up Goodnow Mountain.

"While some hikers are ready for high peaks and strenuous activity, we have found that many visitors to the Adirondacks are looking for a more mild restorative outdoor experience," said Hai. "We focus on recreation, health, and safety, as well as a connection to nature."

This College and Community partnership, focused on expanding trail opportunities and completing the Community Corridor connection, just completed the second summer of four focused on designing and building new trails. With the help of seven trail crew members who worked for 12 weeks this past summer, the crew rehabilitated two miles and added almost two miles more of new trails.

"The work completed during the 2020 season improved user experience and safety; expanded the number and variety of trails; and advanced the connection of trails maintained by the DEC and the town of Newcomb, ultimately linking Goodnow Mountain on the west through DEC's Great Camp Santanoni, and on to the Overlook Park and Newcomb golf course on the east."

Work completed in 2020 also set the stage for a new trail expected to come online in 2021.

"The loop around Lodo Pond will add new views and habitats to our existing trail mix," said Hai. "This trail, which helps link the AIC to Goodnow, is a fantastic addition to our lake- and streamside trails, providing access to a beautiful pond where beaver and otters play all year. And there's more to come!"