Posts Tagged ‘Champlain Area Trails’

By LOHR McKINSTRY, Press-Republican Press-Republican

Despite gloomy weather, more than 40 hikers showed up to celebrate the opening of the new Cheney Mountain trail in Moriah.

The trailhead, located about one mile off Route 9N/22 on Pelfershire Road, was jammed on the trail’s first day.

Hikers in brightly colored rain slickers lined up at a registration table set up under a canvas canopy at the trailhead. Those who showed up the first day got a Cheney Mountain patch designed by Port Henry artist Lynda Smythe.

The 1,161-foot-high mountain is shaped like a loaf of bread, and its summit has a large, level surface with rock outcrops at the edges.

The view from the top looks over the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east and the Adirondack High Peaks to the northwest. The sight line also takes in the historic Moriah tailings pile, a towering leftover from the days when the town’s iron mines ran full blast.

A group of volunteers from Moriah, Port Henry, Mineville, Crown Point, Westport, Wadhams and Essex cut the 1.5-mile-long trail on property owned by the Town of Moriah to the summit of Cheney Mountain.

Trail coordinator and Moriah Town Councilman Timothy Garrison said their guiding reason was to enable community access to town-owned property for physical fitness, enjoyable hiking and local history education. “We wanted to improve our quality of life. The whole thing was volunteers. No money was spent from taxpayer dollars at all. Volunteers cut the trail, put up trail markers.”

It took several months to make the new trail, he said, and they still have to install the sign-in box and more signage. “It took three different work sessions; then, on cleanup day, we took truckloads of garbage out.”

Garrison said a refrigerator, old tires and general trash had to be removed from the woods off Pelfershire Road to create the new trail. “It was an old landfill. The town got Cheney Mountain many years ago and had it logged. Instead of just letting it sit here, we decided we might as well let the community utilize it.”

Next, they’ll create a perimeter trail and maybe a dog park, he said.

Moriah Deputy Supervisor Paul Salerno said they’ve been discussing what to do with Cheney Mountain since 2004. “It was suggested we look into doing something with the property where the community could enjoy the spectacular views. Years later, it was decided by the town board that we would establish a hiking trail to the top of Cheney Mountain.”

The town presented Champlain Area Trails Executive Director Chris Maron with an award for helping create the new hike.

“This is an honor for the organization I work with, Champlain Area Trails. The town has a wonderful resource (in Cheney Mountain). There are other places to hike than the High Peaks. We have trails really close by.

“We need to thank all the people, all the volunteers, who came out and cleaned this up and made an attractive trailhead.”

He said CATS has created about 20 miles of new trails since its inception two years ago. “We’ve been talking about it (creating new trails) for years, but rather than just continuing to talk about it, we decided to take action.”

Cheney Mountain is listed as hike No. 22 in the new trails brochure and map recently printed by CATS with help from the Essex County Department of Public Health’s Creating Healthy Places Program.

Jordan Craig drove down from Lake Placid to hike the new trail. “I wouldn’t have missed it,” he said. “This is the newest one. I told my friends, (but) they wouldn’t come down — they said it’s going to be a rainy day. “I think it’s neat.”

Read Full Post »

Get your pencils sharpened, your laptops powered, and your cameras ready, Champlain Area Trails (CATS) will soon launch its first Travel Writing Contest. It’s your chance to write about your travels in New York’s central Champlain Valley—to share your favorite experiences on the Champlain Area Trails–whether it’s hiking, walking, skiing, snowshoeing, birding, tracking, picnicking, or a little bit of each. Also tell us about other great recreational, cultural, or gastronomical adventures you enjoyed in the Champlain Valley. Perhaps you paddled on the Boquet River? Took in a play at the Depot Theatre? Biked along scenic back roads? Dined on delicious food at a family-owned cafe? Or savored fresh produce at a local farm? The Valley’s the limit, so start exploring!

Entrants may submit works in two categories: Writing (800- to 1,200-word article with two to four photos) and Multimedia (audio, video, slideshow). First-place winners will receive a $500 cash prize and online publication in our CATS Destination Guide. There will also be goodies for the runners-up. Full details will be announced in August, but it’s not too early to start jotting down your special memories at the places and trails in New York’s central Champlain Valley. (via Champlain Area Trails.)

Read Full Post »

By ALVIN REINER, Press Republican, link to original post

Though the High Peaks draw thousands of hikers each year, trails through the lower elevations have their allure and need for preservation. An effort is now under way to designate and develop hiking trails in North Country communities.

Champlain Area Trails, Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership, the Adirondack Council, the Eddy Foundation, 2C1Forest, and the Northeast Wilderness Trust have banded together to provide a multi-pronged approach to save the landscape from over-use, provide wildlife with natural byways and offer hiking opportunities.

Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership Director Chris Maron recently recalled a 2006 encounter he had with a Greek tourist who inquired about a place to hike.

Maron, together with Steven Kellogg and Bruce Klink, later developed an idea for a local trail system.

Jim Northup of Northeast Wilderness Trust said the intent is to “conserve a wild-way stretching together parcels of wild land that will benefit wildlife, nature and people. “We want to create a greater permeability for wildlife to be comfortable.”

Kellogg, a nationally known author and illustrator who lives in Essex, is a firm believer in developing the trail system.
“This is such an exciting idea to have people hike from hamlet to hamlet. The scenery here rivals the Lake Country of England.”

Northup indicated the project will involve either buying or obtaining conservation easements on hundreds of parcels of land.

Conservation easements are legal agreements between landowners and a land trust or government agency that limit uses of the land in order to protect conservation values.

They allow land owners to continue to own and use land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. But hikers could use the land, as well.

In Vermont, Northeast Wilderness Trust is doing a similar project that will go from Button Bay to Camel’s Hump, as well as to the Northeast Kingdom and into Canada.

Champlain Area Trails board member John Davis, who is conservation director for the Adirondack Council, said they looked at maps “and realized that a trail network between Essex and Westport could easily be established using lands already open to the public. These include the state’s Split Rock Wild Forest, Adirondack Land Trust’s Coon Mountain Preserve, Eddy Foundation property and willing landowners.”

Eventually, the hope is to create trails north from Essex to Willsboro and Keeseville.

“We also want to go south to Port Henry and Crown Point, as well as west to Elizabethtown and to the borders of the Jay and Giant wilderness areas,” said Champlain Area Trails board member David Reuther. “Our dream is to eventually create a network of trails like they have in Europe, where visitors take the train to a trailhead, hike from town to town for a week or two and then return to their homes by train.”

Champlain Area Trails makes the trails user friendly, with maps, trail descriptions and guides to flora and fauna one might come across during the hike.

Most of the hikes are described as “there and back,” with “mild” ratings.

Hundreds of hours have already been volunteered by crews to create or improve trails. Existing trails, many previously used by loggers, have become overgrown and need to be cleared. The trails are kept narrow to reduce erosion and prevent vehicular intrusions.

Volunteer Donna Sonnett of Essex considers the trails “a great resource out of the High Peaks as a draw for this area. It is very accessible and provides a different view of the Adirondack Park. It’s a great opportunity for spotting wildlife, such as deer, bear and coyote. It’s quite a thrill.” Sonnett feels the trails will be good for local businesses and draw Vermont tourists, as they are close to the ferry.

Another volunteer, Keith Giles of Westport, notes the unique terrain and ecology in this area. “I have felt the Adirondack Park needs to balance preservation with recreational opportunities and tourism. This is a way to get back to nature without being overly strenuous.”

Taking a break from clearing a trail, Kevin Raines of Wadhams said that in a relatively populated area, “the quiet of these trails is amazing. I just fell in love with this place. For me, a lot of the draw is the land itself and the people who live here. The persistence of the people matches the persistence of the landscape.”

Bill Amadon is at the forefront of making the trails a reality by leading trail crews. “I grew up bushwhacking,” he said. “I feel this is low-impact use of the land and will be great for local businesses. We are trying to create trails that are not difficult, but there is a lot of variance in the woods, from grown-over farmland to a progression of forests.

“Hikers can see a lot of changes and different species of trees, ground cover and flowers.

“These trails give a recreation potential that is more than just walking the local roads. We need to encourage a trail system and thus people will be more in contact with the land, rather than have it be something that needs to be tamed.”

Amadon said it’s important to work with private landowners. Hikers need to respect the landowners and stay on the trails on easement lands, he said.

“There also needs to be more education through the schools.”We want to encourage diversity and not create polarization, such as motorized vehicle users and tree-huggers. “I try to develop the trail to be self-sustaining and thus need little maintaining.

Champlain Area Trails has received financial support from International Paper Co. Foundation, Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Mini-Grant Program and the Eddy Foundation.

Eddy Foundation President Jamie Phillips is a member of the Champlain Area Trails Board of Directors. “We are pleased to make our land available for this segment of the trail network,” Phillips said. “The trails provide residents with a nearby place to hike and offer visitors non-motorized outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Read Full Post »

by Dennis Aprill, Press-Republican, link to original post

There are a number of mountains, actually little nubs, that rise near the shore of Lake Champlain, and they are often overlooked by serious mountain climbers out to conquer the ultimate 46.

However, size is relative, and when you consider these lower peaks rise 900 feet above the big lake, they provide some excellent views for the casual hiker.

One such mountain is South Boquet in the Town of Essex. On Wednesday, April 21, fellow writer Elizabeth Lee and I hiked to its top on a relatively new trail created by Champlain Area Trails, or CATS, a group of volunteers out to improve foot travel opportunities in Essex County.

It had the makings of a warm day, with highs predicted in the 70s. I hoped to do the hike early, before dark clouds or mist rolled in to obscure the vista. The trailhead is 0.7 mile down Brookfield Road from where it cuts off right from Jersey Street. There is no formal parking area, so look carefully for the green and white CATS signs nailed to trees on the left (if you are coming from the north).

The trail goes immediately uphill, and we passed through a young hardwood forest with a couple of large shagbark hickories, spared from the last logging cut. It is, by my Tech-O watch measuring device, 1.1 miles to the lookout, almost all uphill on a well-marked trail. Though there is ascent, it is not the back-breaking climb of the Central Adirondacks.

Along the way, Elizabeth pointed out some early flowers: hepatica, spring beauties and shadbush. After a half-hour, we were at the lookout, and it was easy to see why this diminutive mountain will, because of the ease of the climb, become a favorite of elderly climbers and those with younger children.

To the east, the Green Mountains spread out before us, with Camelback clearly identifiable. In the foreground was Lake Champlain, a little fuzzy due to the hazy conditions, but Whallons Bay points were clear to pick out. Split Rock stood to the southeast, and even farther south was Coon Mountain, one of my favorite climbs. Coon is still popular because, at 1,000 feet, it too offers great views for little energy expended. The opening here is not a full 360 degrees, but I did catch a glimpse of the Adirondacks to the west.

Champlain Area Trails is a volunteer organization that creates and maintains trails, many on private lands open to the public for hiking, bird watching and cross-country skiing.

After maybe 45 minutes spent at the lookout, Elizabeth and I hiked down to our vehicles, convinced South Boquet Mountain was definitely a hike worth taking that day.

Field Notes

To get to the trailhead from Northway Exit 32, take Jersey Street from the off-ramp east about 5 miles to Brookfield Road, then go down Brookfield 0.7 mile to the CATS markers on the left.

Check out the CATS website www.champlainareatrails.com for more details on this hike and others. Volunteers are always needed.

Read Full Post »