A Win For the Adirondack Rail Trail!

In 1892, the opening of the New York Central Railroad’s Adirondack Division transformed the Adirondacks into the vacation destination it remains today. The rail service allowed for easy access to the region’s scenic beauty for millions of visitors over the years. Now, the rebirth of the corridor with the construction of a rail-trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid and the reinvigoration of rail service between Remsen and Tupper Lake promises to once again draw tourists from around the country. And this month, New York State announced the next step in making that vision a reality.

The transformation of this corridor into a rail trail has been envisioned by a group of local trail supporters, the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA), since 2010. These local advocates have pushed the state for almost ten years to reimagine the future of this largely unused rail line and explore converting the line into a rail trail. However, the initial push to make this vision a reality was delayed and subverted by numerous legal challenges, requiring the state to go back and redo the management plan for the corridor. On November 15, 2019, NYSDEC and NYSDOT released the updated Unit Management Plan for the entire Remsen-Lake Placid corridor. The proposal includes converting the northern portion of the corridor, from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, into a multi-use trail while from Tupper Lake down to Remsen will be rehabilitated, allowing the Adirondack Scenic Railroad to extend their operations. The new trail is envisioned to strengthen connectivity between Adirondack communities and provide enticing recreational opportunities that have the potential to attract greater tourism and economic development throughout all seasons.

The new Adirondack Rail Trail will consist of 34-miles of stone-dust trail that will extend from Tupper Lake through Saranac Lake to Lake Placid. The trail will be on a safe and scenic route - and as a former rail corridor, the grade doesn't exceed more than 2% over its length, a rarity in the wilds of the Adirondacks. This great new resource will serve users of all ages and abilities year-round, providing numerous outdoor recreational opportunities such as cycling, running, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and other outdoor and wildlife activities.

When complete, the trail will connect some of the Adirondack's most storied communities. The eastern end is in the Village of Lake Placid, the host of two winter Olympics and home to numerous sporting opportunities. In Lake Placid, trail-users will be presented with a charming Main Street where local artisans and exciting dining options are plentiful. This area is one of the oldest vacation destinations in the United States and caters to families looking for a fun and eventful getaway during all seasons.

Travelling nine-miles west will bring trail-users to Saranac Lake, the largest village in the Adirondack Park. Surrounded by six mountains, the 6er Hiking Challenge encourages tourists and local residents to experience the unforgettable views of the Adirondacks by climbing to the summit of these mountains over hikes of various difficulties. Historians may also enjoy the rich architecture that was heavily influenced by the history of the village. From here, the terrain becomes much wilder (although the trail will remain flat)! Trail-users will experience environments ranging from wetlands to forests, to open fields - all situated within the heart of the Adirondack Park. Moving south, Tupper Lake will be the southern terminus of the rail-trail. Here, the Wild Center, a science-based museum that seeks to better explore our relationship with nature, attracts tourists from all corners of the State. The whole family can explore the Wild Walk and travel across the treetops or stay inside and learn about the history and science of the Adirondack Park. Afterwards, trail-users can relax in the quaint downtown area where they will find local beer and scenic views. The new multi-purpose trail will offer numerous benefits for the surrounding communities and future tourists including recreation, transportation, public health, and economic development.

However, this proposal is not yet reality! Speak up and voice your support for the Adirondack Rail Trail by commenting at one of three public meetings, held from 6 p.m. to 8 p. m. at three different locations:

  • Tuesday, December 3 at Tupper Lake Middle-High School,
  • Wednesday, December 4 at the Lake Placid Conference Center, and
  • Thursday, December 5 at the View Arts Center in Old Forge.
Public comments can also be submitted to John Schmid at NYSDEC via email to adirondackpark@dec.ny.gov or by mail to 625 Broadway, Albany, NY, 12233-4254. The public comment period will end on December 20, 2019.