WAKELY DAM - A nearly eight-mile section of the Northville-Placid Trail in Hamilton County has been rerouted and will allow hikers to walk on a dirt trail through stretches of virgin forest in the Blue Ridge Wilderness instead of along the Cedar River Road.
"I think there's a pretty chance that a big part on the east section of this trail is original forest," state Department of Environmental Conservation Supervising Forester Rick Fenton said. "As you walk through it, you'll notice there's some beautiful examples of sugar maples, yellow birch, red spruce and hemlock."
The majority of the trail, which is between Wakely Dam and Lake Durant, is now officially open after a small ceremony was held on Aug. 27 at Wakely Dam on the Cedar River. The ceremony was attended by DEC staff, Adirondack Mountain Club staff and members, town of Indian Lake officials, and members of the public.
From left: ADK’s Director of Field Programs Wes Lampman, ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth, DEC Regional Forester Tom Martin and DEC Supervising Forester Rick Fenton celebrate the opening of a rerouted section of the Northville-Lake Placid Trail in Hamilton County Aug. 27.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The reroute work was completed by the ADK professional trail crew, under a contract with DEC. It took about 10 weeks to complete and was finished in August. The work cost $62,000.
The 132-mile Northville-Placid Trail opened as a foot trail 85 years ago, after two years of construction by the Adirondack Mountain Club. When it opened, this was one of the stretches that could not be routed through a forest because the land was privately owned.
Previously, the trail followed the Cedar River Road for 6.6 miles between Wakely Dam and the former McCane's Resort in the Town of Indian Lake. The new trail section eliminates all but 0.7 miles of road walking.
"I think some of the highlights along the trail are some interesting geological features that folks will walk by, some pretty large rock outcrops, and also crosses over Brown's Brook, which is a really pretty stream valley that it goes through," said Wes Lampman, who designed the trail as ADK's Director of Field Programs.
Five segments of the Northville-Placid trail are on roads open to motor vehicles. A major DEC goal in the development of management plans for forest preserve units containing the trail is to relocate segments of the trail that are on roads into the woods, according to a DEC press release. This is the first of the road-to-trail projects to be implemented. The new route will bypass private lands formerly known as McCane's Resort. At the request of the present landowner, the section of the trail through his land will be permanently closed to public use.
The trail now leaves Cedar River road about 0.7 miles north of Wakely Dam and enters the Moose River Plains Wild Forest. It travels northwestward along an interior road known as the Gould Road for about 1 mile. Then it proceeds northeastward approximately 6.6 miles through the Blue Ridge Wilderness to intersect the existing trail just south of Stephens Pond. Almost all of the 6.6-mile segment involved new trail construction, all done with hand tools.
The trail traverses a parcel of land formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn and Company and now owned by The Nature Conservancy. DEC is negotiating with TNC to add the parcel to the Forest Preserve.
The portion of the trail on the Gould Road is temporary. A future phase will construct a new route through the woods south of Wakely Dam, if conditions are suitable. In addition, the trail will be routed up the Wakely Mountain trail for about a mile, then northeastward along another arm of the Gould Road to the section of new trail construction. Once all construction is complete, the road walk along this part of the Northville Lake Placid Trail will be reduced from 7.8 miles to 0.3 miles.
"Hikers will no longer have to make the tedious trek along a paved road, but will instead follow a well-designed trail through a wilderness forest from Cedar River Flow to Lake Durant," ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth said. "This is not merely a major improvement to one of the nation's premier backpacking trails. This is also a new opportunity for hikers to discover one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Adirondack Park."