Posts Tagged ‘Adirondack Land Trust’

By ALAN GREGORY, standardspeaker.com, link to original post

Many beautiful mountains can be seen off in the distance from the east shore of Lake Champlain and the city of Burlington’s waterfront in Vermont, the Green Mountain State.

Few people have the time, money or endurance to enjoy them way they ought to be: up close and personal. Folks who live on either side of the big lake that divides the North Country are in luck (even the out-of-shape ones).

I finally made it up to the summit of a longtime favorite the other day. Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, one of the first peaks my wife, Monica, and I hiked after I reported for duty at the SAC (that’s short for Strategic Air Command – for those people too young to remember the Cold War) bomber base at Plattsburgh, N.Y. It is among the dozens of Adirondack high points that can be seen from Burlington. From Plattsburgh, Poke-O-Moonshine is a mere half hour away, just three miles from Exit 33 of Interstate 87 (the Adirondack Northway). A recently opened new trail offers an easier route than I first hiked in 1987 and a way that everyone can enjoy the breathtaking views seen from the rocky top.

Derived from Algonquin words “Pohquis” (it is broken) and “Moosie” (smooth), Poke-O-Moonshine has dramatic cliffs and a much deserved name. It has been called a gateway to the Adirondacks – the first major mountain formation providing a welcoming entrance to the rest of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park for those headed south.

“Poke” is a popular draw for rock climbers who navigate its vertical east-facing cliffs and make their own route. Up until recently, hikers only had one option – a strenuous uphill trail that rises 1,280 feet in 1.2 miles. On paper, 1.2 miles doesn’t seem like much, but people who have climbed it know the muscular truth.

Immediately after the sign-in register (signing in at trailheads is a must for Adirondack hikers.) the trail abruptly turns steep and hikers until recently had few opportunities for a break until they the summit.

A recent land acquisition by the Adirondack Land Trust has changed that by turning 200 acres that were once privately owned into a public hiking path – part of the Forever Wild forest preserve owned by the people of New York. The new route follows an old logging road that climbs the same height over nearly twice the distance as the old trail (the one my feet still remember after more than two decades), making it much more of a hike than a strenuous workout.

The word has not gotten out yet because the route is so new, but I urge new Adirondack hikers to check it out – with good hiking boots on, of course.

A refurbished fire tower marks the final destination for hikers, when it’s open during the summer months. Once marked for demolition, it is now on the National Register for Historic Places. A 360-degree panorama from the top offers breathtaking views. To the east, Lake Champlain can be seen with the Green Mountains off in the distance. To the north is Lyon Mountain, another peak whose historic fire tower has been refurbished and saved from demolition. To the south is Deerfield Mountain with the Jay Range behind it. Hurricane, Giant and Gothics peaks can also be seen. To the west is Whiteface, the Olympic mountain near Lake Placid, the Olympic village made even more famous in 1980 when the American ice hockey team defeated the Soviet team in the “Miracle on Ice.” The views from atop Poke-O-Moonshine are magnificent and truly rewarding for such little effort.

The new trail is easy to navigate without large rocks or ruts, and there are a variety of things to see along the way that are not part of the old trail experience. My canine friend, Kestrel, a 12-year-old Sheltie, and I marveled at the mastery of dam-building by the resident beavers. There are two separate ponds along the trail; even though we didn’t see any beavers in action, we better understood the saying “busy as a beaver,” as demonstrated by the impressive size and effectiveness of their dams.

The new trail begins a mile south of the old one. The trailhead sits at the edge of the yard of a quaint farmhouse.

It is an experience that will long be a fond memory. It’s made all the more special by this fact: All the land you set foot on is public land. In fact, more than half of the 6 million acres in the park is now owned by the public. And the state Constitution guarantees that lands part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve can’t be logged. Next best thing for conservations is this: The same land is rich with wildlife; the habitat for which is high quality because it hasn’t been fragmented by roads, natural gas drill pads, landfills, utility line corridors, and blighted by billboards, junk yards, trophy homes, McMansions and turf farms.

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