Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stillwater Fire Tower


 ~Article written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman,
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center.
 
I find it quite fascinating that Verplanck Colvin was out surveying all over the Adirondacks, even before there were any decent roads. He was the one who oversaw the building of the first wooden Stillwater Fire Tower in 1882. Colvin was a pioneer in both exploration and in conservation. While tree cutting and the lumber industry were still destroying our woods and clogging up the waterways, Colvin was one of the leaders trying to protect, restore, and preserve our wilderness areas.

Colvin’s original wooden fire tower on Stillwater Mountain was replaced by another wooden fire tower in 1912. Then in 1919 the steel fire tower was built, and this is the one that still stands on Stillwater Mountain today. But in 1988, the tower was closed because it was in need of repairs.
 

In 2009, the restoration process of the historic fire tower began. It was reopened in 2016, with amazing results. The tower offers views that boast sights of some of the high peaks to the east, and the wind towers of Tug Hill to the west.  It is educational as well. In the cab at the top of the tower is a very helpful map, with a pointer that helps sightseers know what they are looking at. The corners of the inside of the cab are marked with each direction - east, west, south, and north.  
 
Many hard-working volunteers, The Friends of Stillwater Mountain, and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have truly made this a great monument.

The best part about this tower is that it’s a very easy 2-mile round-trip hike, making it an adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

You can find this fire tower trail by turning off of Route 28 onto Big Moose Road  in Eagle Bay, NY. Drive all the way to Big Moose, to where the pavement ends and a backcountry dirt road begins. This dirt road has a sign that reads “Stillwater 10 mi”. 
Where the pavement ends and the dirt road begins
Follow this road about 7.5 miles to the trailhead parking on the left. This trip will be a good memory, but it does take some planning to do it, as it is about a half hour to 45 minute drive from the beginning of the Big Moose Road to the trailhead.
Trailhead for Stillwater tower
 


  



Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trail to the Historic Lock and Dam




~Articles written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman,
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center.


Anyone who has driven or walked over the Green Bridge in Thendara, has not been disappointed with the beauty of the Moose River from that vantage point.  On the southwest side of the bridge, right at the curve, there is a small parking area for the trailhead for the Lock and Dam trail. This easy (mostly flat) two mile hike is a favorite trail of both locals and visitors alike. Many locals enjoy it as a place to meet friends to walk their dogs, or make it part of their running routine. It is conveniently close to town, but feels like you're away from it all. The trail is well-groomed and well-marked, making it a family friendly trail that most anyone is able to negotiate.  

Each season offers its own uniqueness to the trail, making it a special place to go and return to often.  There are only a few spots on the trail that can get muddy and wet at times, but on nice days, a stroller could even be pushed on most of this two mile round trip. Once the lock and dam is reached, there is a nice area for bird and wildlife watching, a picnic, fishing, swimming and/or skipping stones on this picturesque branch of the Moose River.

In the winter, the sun sends its magnificent rays through sparkling snow-covered tree branches, while the snow provides for a beautiful, easy ski, hike or snowshoe through the fairytale-like woods.


Spring brings its own awakening beauty as it buds with new life. By summer, the trail teems with abundant ferns and other lush greenery. My favorite season to take this trail is in fall when the few views of the Moose River are most vibrant with color.  In fact, the whole trail offers outstanding splashes of color not only in the trees but in the brush and land that borders the mystical curviness of the Moose River.

The trail starts off into the woods and is very flat until about 0.4 miles; where there is a short, fairly easy hill.  Loose, slippery stones seem to make this small hill seem steeper than it really is.  Hike assured that once you successfully reach the top, you will know that you have completed the most challenging part of the trail.  Still, this is an easy uphill, really, compared with many other inclines in our area. After the hill, the rest of the hike is an enjoyable, very level, well-trodden path until it almost reaches the dam. At about 0.9 miles there is another trail that turns off to the left and follows a snowmobile trail up a hill known as Humphrey Hill.  At this point you have almost reached the lock and dam. As you approach it, you may be able to hear the water rushing over the dam. The very last part of the trail becomes more like a gully as the trail slopes down to an open grassy area at the top of the picture perfect falls. The grassy section before the falls is where down-stream paddlers get out and carry their boats around the dam. A short side trail to the left (south) of the dam leads to the bottom of the lock and dam.

The lock and dam was originally built in 1888, in order to improve the very rough transportation conditions of the time. A train would carry passengers coming from the McKeever area (what was called the Moose River Settlement) to “Jones Camp” which used to be located near the lock and dam. The passengers would then board a steamboat named "The Fawn” and continue up the river to the Fulton Chain of lakes. 


How to get there:

From the south on Route 28 North to Thendara, pass the Thendara Railroad Station on the right, drive under the “New York Central” railroad bridge and turn right onto Beech Street (before you get to the Steak House restaurant). Beech Street curves to the left after 2 blocks and becomes Green Bridge Road and then curves to the right and passes over the Moose River. Immediately after crossing the bridge, there is a small parking area to the right. This is the parking area for the trail.

From Old Forge and points north, follow Route 28 South to Thendara.  Just before the Steak House Restaurant, veer slightly left onto Forge Street to the left of the restaurant. Turn left onto Beech Street. Beech Street curves to the left after 2 blocks and becomes Green Bridge Road and then curves to the right and passes over the Moose River. Immediately after crossing the bridge, there is a small parking area to the right. This is the parking area for the trail.

For more information of the history of the lock and dam, here are some references:

Charles Herr, The Fulton Chain Steamer ‘Fawn’, Adirondack Almanac. Retrieved from http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2013/10/fulton-chain-steamer-fawn.html.

                Palmer, Richard F. (copyright 2008) Wooden Rails in the Adirondacks: The “Peg Leg” Railroad .



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

McCauley Mountain-Maple Ridge Multi use trail system

~ Article written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman, 
Publicity Clerk, Old Forge Visitor Information Center. 

Mid-September was the start of bear hunting season, and now the deer hunters are out trying to get their game. Hunting season lasts long into December. I truly respect hunters and understand the need for them in our back country, but as a hiker and trail runner, I find this season difficult. I know I can, and often do, run the roads during this time. Still, there is something about my mornings beginning in the wilderness which just makes my day. I realize that there are others who feel the same way and so I have decided to write about trails which will help us keep a respectable distance from hunters.

Town-owned McCauley Mountain to Maple Ridge offers a multi-use trail system, with biking and hiking for three of our four seasons and it offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. This means that there is no hunting here, and in the winter there are no snowmobiles.


I must admit that I really didn’t like the thought of this maze-like array of trails, because I am the kind of person who really likes to go somewhere and see something.  The area at first seems a little confusing, and it definitely calls for a use of a map, as well as keeping a careful eye out for trail markers. After studying the map of the area, I realized that there are only two main trails with many side trails weaving in and out of them.

I decided I’d at least give the two main trails a try. Have you ever seen a movie trailer that features all the best scenes of the movie? Well this blog is kind of like that. I describe the best of this hike right here, but I am not like those writers who give people every detail of the hike. I like to leave some things for the adventurers to discover for themselves.

Gray Lake
Following the signs to McCauley Mountain, drive past a parking area and garage on the left. The trail begins on the left shortly after the brown Yurt. The blue diamond trail and the yellow trail start off together. I decided to follow the yellow trail, which is called The Wall, going in a northeastern direction, and then winding around to go west to the Grey Lake Trail. After a short ascent heading north again, the fall colors were at about 30 percent on the day of my hike. I thought the trail wouldn’t give me a view of anything but trees, but it opened up and offered a colorful vista of Grey Lake.


I followed Slalom Trail then began following the blue diamond trail up Boy’s Hill and started up a small incline of the Abenaki Trail. After the hike up the hill, I was rewarded with a picnic table and some Adirondack chairs perfect for a rest. They face a tree line offering glimpses of McCauley’s downhill slope. This area is also near where they had the slalom ski run, although it is hard to tell, because of all the tree growth.

The old truck at the top of Abenaki Trail
I continued up this trail and got to see historic ski tow equipment. People who grew up here have the advantage of hearing the stories from past generations, so I picked some brains about the old time tows. I also did some research on line and in the library. What I learned is that the tow was created by attaching a rope to the axle of an old truck’s wheels after the truck was mounted securely. As someone ran the truck, the truck’s wheel axle would turn and become the pulley for the tow rope. One year after obtaining their first tow rope, the Old Forge Winter Sports Association voted to get another tow line. Old Forge Hardware provided the rope and the equipment. The old truck used to run the second tow line is the one which remains on the top of Abenaki Trail today.


After visiting this historic truck, I continued following the McCauley Trail around where it joins up to Mocha’s Loop and goes over to the former Maple Ridge ski hill. This ski area was started in the 1930’s with a single rope tow. The town continued using this mountain for downhill skiing into the 1990’s. There is equipment left here, as well, that tells of the bygone era.

Ski equipment at the top of  Maple Ridge 




I followed the Maple Ridge yellow/orange trail to the Girl’s Hill and took the D Loop cutoff and Reggie’s Loop Cutoff and back to the blue diamond McCauley Trail back to my starting point.

To say the least, my original opinion of this area has changed. I now see it as a good getaway, with the option of a full-day, partial-day or short hike into a quiet place in the woods.


[For more information on Maple Ridge, one can read the book Lost Ski Areas of the Adirondacks by Jeremy K. Davis.]


How to get there:  From Old Forge follow the signs to McCauley Mountain. Park at the closed gate and walk on paved driveway pass the brown yurk on the left and trail is on the left. 
Yurk 
Trail head from McCauley enterance










Top of Maple Ridge overlooking Old Forge

Another way to access this trail network is from Park Ave. The parking area is right across from the Town of Webb School. The trail heads straight up the hill to the Maple Ridge Trail, where there’s a picnic area lookout over Old Forge.


This trail system offers easy to moderate trails ranging from half a mile to 1.5 miles. For a map of this area click below:
http://www.oldforgeny.com/documents/WARDAMapofMapleRidge.pdf


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Outside the TOW Line

Article written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman




The paddler who does the length of Long Lake will attest that the lake is appropriately named.
On day two of the Adirondack Canoe Classic, also known as the 90 -Miler, I was one of the L-o-n-g Lake paddlers. My legs, arms, shoulders and back were begging to get out of the boat. I had been warned and told about the horror stories of the upcoming portage around Raquette Falls. Stone lined stair steps threaten the faint hearted canoe/kayak carrier, but I was na├»ve to think that if I could just huff that bow of our tandem canoe up that hill, I'd be fine… but I was not told of the literal ups and downs of the carry.  Anyone who has done the 90-Miler will not soon forget the agony of that second day portage.  The whole 1.25 miles seemed to drag and the canoe seemed to gain weight with every step. The same arms, shoulders and back that were begging to get out of the boat, now longed to get back in.

I wondered how many racers were thinking about the falls, wondering if it would be an easier, better choice to run the rapids. I promised myself that someday I would come back to see those falls that caused me so much pain.
Steps leading up the carry

The trail to the falls is one of the best groomed trails I have been on in a while. I am not sure if this is due to my habit of picking more "wild" trails, or maybe the groomers are more attentive to this 
trail because it's popular. It is a fairly easy to
 moderate trail which makes for a 8.6 mile 
roundtrip, but I decided to do the extra 2.5 miles 
to hike the portage to get pictures of the beginning 
of the carry, making my trip over 11 miles.  But I 
felt like I had to do it, even if it was mostly to prove
to non-participants of the 90-Miler that we aren’t 
exaggerating about having to carry that canoe up those steps!

                   
The falls are beautiful to look at and well worth the hike in to see them.     They are a horseshoe shape and the water runs dangerously fast over         them.  As for skipping the portage to go over them in a canoe or kayak,      well, that would definitely not be a good choice!

If someone wants to paddle to see these falls, they could forgo the agony of the carry. They could enjoy an easier paddle and short hike by starting at the Axton Landing and paddle about 6.5 miles upstream to the take out and trail-head for the falls.

How to get there:
From Tupper Lake follow Route 30 and 3 east. Continue on 3 East about 7 or so miles and turn right on Corey road.   Warning: Corey Road starts out paved, but then turns into a gravely, rough road.


About 2 miles down Corey Road is Axton Landing on the right.  To get to the trailhead, continue your drive down Corey Road for another 7/10 of a mile. The trailhead parking is on the right. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Paddling the Moose River

Article written and pictures taken by Linda M. Heistman
Publicity Clerk-Old Forge Visitor Center


From Rondaxe Road to North Street Bridge:

The Moose River winds through beautiful wild areas, giving the paddler a true wilderness experience and a chance to see some wildlife. There are a number of small beach-like areas that offer nice rest stop and picnic opportunities.

How to get there:
From Old Forge Visitor Information Center, follow Route 28N about 4.5 miles to Rondaxe Road on the left. Follow Rondaxe Road about 1.5 miles, and bear right onto Carter Road. 
Sign for Carter Road
Carter Road is a gravel road. Follow Carter Road about ½ mile, past the sand pit on the right to the bridge which flows over the river. Put in on the far side of the bridge. There is a pull off parking on the right. 

A little about the paddling route:
The paddle route heads south from Rondaxe Road Bridge to North Street Bridge, approximately four miles. It could easily be made into a full day trip by continuing down the river and ending at one of the two local canoe/kayak outfitters (Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company and Tickner’s Moose River Paddling Trails). The longer trip requires a short carry (approx. 300 yards) around some rapids (more about the longer trip in an upcoming blog). 

This enjoyable, easy paddle runs with the current and the paddler is held in continuous suspense waiting to see the changing landscape around each of a multitude of bends. Less than a mile downstream, the river flows under a steel footbridge.  Some wildlife may be seen on this trip. On my outing, I saw a Great Blue Heron fly over.  As for any wilderness trip, good planning is advised. For this trip, two cars are needed or help from our local canoe and kayak outfitters to get you to your starting points. For local outfitters, please scroll down.
Rondaxe Bridge

Distances:
From Rondaxe Bridge to North St. Bridge:

·         Approximately four miles.
·         A family with small children should plan for at least four hours.
·         All other paddlers should plan for at least three hours.


Local Outfitters:

Tickner’s Moose River Paddling Trails
113 Riverside Lane, Box 267                                                                    
Old Forge, NY 13420
315-369-6286

Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company
2855 State Rt. 28
Old Forge, NY 13420
315-369-2300

Frisky Otter Tours
On the grounds of The Woods Inn
148 State Route 28
Inlet, NY
315-357-3444