Hiking the Northville Placid TrailHiking the Northville Placid Trail

  Northville Placid Trail

[NPT Projects]


Northville Placid Trail Projects and Wish List -


Make Repairs and Improvements to the Northville Placid Trail

Many sections of the NPT need attention and improvements.  Below is a partial list and description of problem areas.  I have classified the problems as needing Trail Clearing; Bog Bridging; Trail Rerouting; Bridge Repairing.

Trail Clearing - Ongoing Attention:

As of 2013 we have approx. 117 miles of the NPTrail now covered with trail stewards.  This represents the majority of the NPTrail that is in the woods and off roads.  These dedicated volunteers are doing a great job keeping the trail clear of most blowdowns as well as sidecutting limbs and vegetation growth that takes over the trail in places.   In spite of their efforts, ongoing blowdowns occur routinely throughout the year. 

he NPTrail Chapter of ADK puts together volunteer trail crews to assist trail stewards with blow-down removal and other trail work.  If you have an interest in joining one of our trail work trips please contact Tom Wemett - email - phone: 518-524-8875.

Bog Bridging - There are many wet, muddy areas on the NPTrail that need bog bridging:

There continue to be several areas that need bog bridging either repaired, replaced or new.  Various volunteer groups take on bog bridging projects on the NPTrail each season. 

Trail Rerouting - The trail potentially needs to be rerouted in a number of beaver flooding prone areas:

North of Silver Lake lean-to just south of Canary Pond camping area
Areas south and north of Plumleys Point on Long Lake
Duck Hole to Moose Pond
Flooded area 4.5 miles north of Wanika Falls - 3.2 miles south of Averyville trailhead

Bridge Repairing/Replacing - Several bridges need repairs and/or replacing:

Bridge over the outlet from Sampson's Bog needs to be repositioned
Bridge over the outlet from Beaver Pond to Cedar Lakes needs repairing
Bridge is out of place just south of Catlin Bay lean-to and needs to be repositioned
Bridge over Ouluska Pass Brook needs to be repaired

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Add Lean-tos to the Northville Placid Trail

There are several areas on the Northville Placid Trail where the distance between lean-tos is 10, 11, 12 or more miles.  The goal should be to have a lean-to approximately every 5 to 6 miles.  There are other situations such as along Long Lake where hikers compete with boaters for lean-tos leading also to the need for additional lean-tos.  We have identified 6 locations below where new lean-tos should be built.

Most of the lean-tos along the NPT have lean-to adopters with the exception of the ones along Long Lake.  We will be working with the lean-to adopters to get pictures and assessments of what work needs to be done to their respective lean-tos.

Rock Lake - This is about 4.5 miles north of the Upper Benson Trailhead and 3 miles from the Silver Lake lean-to.  There was a lean-to here at one time that was removed rather than repaired.  There is a tent camping area here now.  A privy should also be added here.  This is a nice overnight hike and return area for those who can't or don't want to hike the additional 3 miles to Silver Lake lean-to. 

Fall Stream - This is about 4.4 miles north of the Haskells Rd trailhead in Piseco.  There is a hike of approximately 16.2 miles between lean-tos at Hamilton Lake Stream and Spruce Lake lean-to #1.  This needs to be broken up.  Having a lean-to at Fall Stream, where there already is a tent camping area and where a new lean-to has already been proposed, would make it easier on many hikers who can't handle long days and double digit mileage.  A privy should also be placed here.

Browns Brook - There is a 13.1 mile hike between the Carry lean-to and the next lean-to north, Stephens Pond lean-to.  Placing a lean-to near Browns Brook would make it an 8.8 mile hike from Carry lean-to to a new lean-to and 4.3 miles from Stephens Pond lean-to.  It would be a 4.5 mile hike from the parking area at Wakely Dam to the Browns Brook lean-to.  Building it near Browns Brook has the advantage of having a water source nearby.  Having hiked this rerouted section in July, 2010, I can attest to the fact that not many streams or other water flows are available except for Browns Brook.

Height of Land between Tirrell Pond lean-to and Rt. 28N, Long Lake
- The distance between Tirrell Pond lean-to and the next lean-to north, Catlin Bay, is 11.9 miles.  There needs to be a new lean-to built somewhere near the height of land or just south of it where the rise is gentle.  The location would need to be near some sort of reliable water source.

Long Lake - Somewhere between Rodney Point and Plumley Point - In the summertime hikers are generally out of luck with regard to using any of the lean-tos along Long Lake due to boater use with the exception perhaps of the Catlin Bay lean-to that is on the trail and away from the water.  Due to the stiff competition for these lean-tos, hikers are either forced to camp in the woods somewhere or to hike 11.4 miles from Catlin Bay lean-to to the Cold River lean-tos #3 and #4.  Placing a lean-to away from the lake and east of the trail between Rodney Point and Plumley Point would make an excellent place for the NPT hiker to camp approximately half way between Catlin Bay lean-to and Cold River lean-tos #3 and #4.

Wanika Falls - There was a lean-to here that was removed rather than repaired.  A new one needs to be built here again.  It is a 9.3 mile hike from Moose Pond lean-to to the Averyville Rd. trailhead in Lake Placid.  Placing a lean-to again at Wanika Falls splits that distance and makes it a 1.6 mile hike from Moose Pong lean-to and 7.7 miles from the Averyville Rd. trailhead.  Many people do a hike into Wanika Falls and return.  Having a lean-to there would be a great benefit for many hikers.

Lean-to Repairs - There are several lean-tos in need of substantial repair and others that need some TLC. 

We are also in danger of loosing several NPTrail lean-tos including all four Cold River lean-tos, as well as Seward lean-to and Ouluska Pass lean-to.  These lean-tos, although allowed under the Adirondack Master Plan, do not meet the NYS Wild Rivers Act as currently written as no man-made objects, with the exception of bridges, may be located within a 1/2 mile corridor of a Wild and Scenic River.  The Cold River is classified as a Wild and Scenic River.  In order to save these 6 NPTrail lean-tos along with several others in the same area and others located on other Wild River designated rivers, an amendment is needed to 6 NYCRR Part 666 regulations to remove existing lean-tos from the list of prohibited non-residential structures located within the corridor of a designated wild river and amendments are needed to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and appropriate Unit Management Plans were necessary.    The ADK BOD has passed a resolution supporting the amendment(s) as necessary to save these lean-tos.  The DEC must now proceed with the amendment process in order for these lean-tos to be saved.  The hope is that it will be soon enough to save them.

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Complete a reroute of the Northville to Upper Benson 10 mile roadwalk of the NPT

This reroute would go through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.  It is already approved in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest UMP, Unit Management Plan.  The steps to get this reroute approved and built include:
  • Determining the best way to cross West Stony Creek.  West Stony is shallow but wide.  There are very little options to easily cross the creek with a bridge.  One location has been identified where two spans of a bridge could be built using a large rock in the center of the Creek as a pylon in the middle.  This would first have to be chosen as the site to cross the Creek and then engineering studies and options to build a bridge there completed.  Once the studies are completed and agreed to the rest of the trail can be laid out.
  • Funding the building of the bridge and trail work necessary to complete this rerouted section.  Funding can come from several sources including through the DEC using EPF (NYS Environmental Protection Fund) funding, private funding and funding through grants.
  • Coordination of Professional Trail Crew and volunteer labor to complete the trail work.  Several groups have already expressed interest in helping to build the trail and the bridge.  A Boy Scout Troop has already expressed interest in adopting the rerouted section of trail as Trail Stewards. 
We are currently working with DEC staff in the Northville Office of DEC to expedite the planning stage so that we can move forward with funding and trail building.  As part of this planning it has been suggested to actually extend the trail into the Village of Northville to provide parking and other resources for the NPT hiker. The rerouting of the NPTrail from Benson Road, near Woods Lake, north around Woods Lake to the east and then north of Lapland X-Country Ski area to reconnect with the NPTrail near the north side of the bridge over the North Branch of West Stoney Creek is taking place summer, 2013, by the ADK Pro Trail Crew under contract with DEC.  This will save approximately 4.5 miles of road walk. 

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Complete a reroute of the Piseco Route 8 to Haskells Road trailhead 3 mile roadwalk of the NPT

One alternative for this reroute would go behind the Piseco Post Office and the Piseco Airport and continue until coming back to the road near Route 8.  However, this alternative has some major obstacles and further alternative planning needs to be done before any further consideration to this reroute can be accomplished.  We are working with ADK and DEC to push this project along and may get involved as needed to help with potential negotiations with private owners and government entities who own property where potential rerouting of the NPT could take place.

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Complete repairs to the Duck Hole Dam to save it for future generations:

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there is enough interest or money to rebuild the Duck Hole Dam.  Those of us who had the chance to visit Duck Hole before Hurricane Irene took out the dam are fortunate.  It will be interesting to watch Mother Nature reclaim Duck Hole.

Duck Hole Dam is breached by hurricane Irene - Duck Hole Pond drains

Well, hurricane Irene certainly left her mark on the Adirondacks as roads, bridges and trails have been washed away and closed in many areas of the Eastern High Peaks. Irene also left her mark on the Northville-Placid Trail as part of the Duck Hole Dam breached with the result that Duck Hole Pond is dewatering.   How ironic it is that In the "It's Debatable" section of the current edition of the Adirondack Explorer the question debated was, "Should DEC repair the Duck Hole dam?"  I was the one debating from the "Yes it should" side of the debate.  I'll post a link here once it is available online.

Here is my position:  "Yes, Duck Hole Pond should be saved for its historic, scenic and recreational values as well as its fishery and wildlife habitats and resources. And, Duck Hole Dam helps to hold back silt from contaminating the Cold River, which starts at Duck Hole, and its fishery.  Duck Hole Pond is a magical place. Whether hiking to it on the Northville-Placid, Ward Brook, Bradley Pond, or Henderson Lake Trails or paddling to it from Upper Works and Henderson Lake through the Preston Ponds, those who arrive at Duck Hole are in awe of the stunning vistas and quiet solitude. It has been described as one of the most remote and most scenic water bodies in the High Peaks."

So now with the dam breached and Duck Hole draining rapidly, what next.  Well, my position hasn't changed one bit.  The Duck Hole Dam still should be repaired and Duck Hole Pond restored.  However, the questions raised in the "It's debatable" section should be changed.  The question really is "Should Duck Hole Pond be restored?"  We all know that the DEC has been hit with budget problems and basically doesn't have the resources to repair the dam.  So it really isn't fair saying it is the DEC's responsibility.  There are ways the DEC certainly can help with some limited resources but the real job is up to volunteers and a sponsor group.    There have been major efforts put into attempts to repair Duck Hole Dam going back 5 or 6 years.  Yet nothing meaningful has taken place and the dam has been left to deteriorate while its fate is debated.  Hurricane Irene has now brought the debate front and center.  In a sense that is good.

Here are aerial photos of the Duck Hole Dam and Duck Hole Pond taken by Kris Alberga, DEC Staff, on Monday, August 29, 2011:

Duck Hole Dam breachedDuck Hole Pond Dewatering

Here are aerial photos taken by DEC Staff from their 2008 Duck Hole Dam Assessment (See below for a link to the full document):

Duck Hole DamDuck Hole Pond

Here are photos on the ground - one by Phil Brown, Editor - Adirondack Explorer and the other by Gary Dean, Professional Photographer:

Duck Hole Pond DewateredDuck Hole Pond

Here are some photos taken by Bob Liseno, the trail steward for Duck Hole to Moose Pond lean-to following hurricane Irene:

Duck Hole Dam DestroyedDuck Hole Pond Drained

Duck Hole Dam BreachedDuck Hole Dam breached

Here are recent articles, blogs and a video about Duck Hole for your review:

DEC Won't Repair Duck Hole Dam - Photos and blog by Phil Brown, Adirondack Explorer

First Photos from Duck Hole - Photos and Blog by Phil Brown, Adirondack Explorer

Portage to Paradise - Adirondack Explorer article about paddling to Duck Hole from Upper Works and Henderson Lake

Should Duck Hole Dam be Repaired - Adirondack Explorer debate

Will Duck Hole be Saved? - Adirondack Daily Enterprise article

Duck Hole is the crown jewel of the Western High Peaks - More Duck Hole photos from Gary Dean, professional photographer

Visiting Duck Hole and the Cold River Valley - CNY Hiking website

Dams and Wilderness - Adirondack Almanack

Troop 95 Venture Patrol paddles from Henderson Lake to Duck Hole


Duck Hole Dam
Duck Hole Dam lies within the High Peaks Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan.  Quoting from the High Peaks Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan, Citizens Advisory Committee Report, recommendation re: Duck Hole Dam,  "Duck Hole - Maintain impoundment for scenic and recreational value."  We have heard the same thing from many, many hikers and paddlers who have visited Duck Hole time and time again that it has a magical quality about it.  Having hiked there myself and stayed there twice I can attest to that fact. 

Click Here for a copy of the latest DEC position on Duck Hole

Click Here for a copy of the DEC Duck Hole Dam Assessment from 2008

Click Here for a copy of the Addendum to the Duck Hole Dam Assessment Report - note that this is a large file and may take several minutes to download.


Plan a celebration for the 2014, 90th anniversary of the opening of the trail in 1924

The Northville Placid Trail is 90 years old come 2014.  According to the ADK Northville Placid Trail guidebook 4th Edition, it was started in 1922 and opened in 1924.  The hope is to complete all the above projects in time for a grand 90th Anniversary Celebration in 2014 perhaps timed with National Trails Day in June, 2014 and perhaps held in the Northville, NY area at the southern terminus of the NPT to include events all along the trail from Northville to Lake Placid.

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Complete a Policy Statement for the Northville Placid Trail

Each Forest Preserve Management Area has a Unit Management Plan.  The Northville Placid Trail runs through eight different Management Areas and thus is mentioned in several different UMPs.  The problem is that the NPT is treated like any other trail in each management area and there is no cohesive guideline for the trail that can be followed within each management area and UMP.  Although the NPT isn't a Forest Preserve Management Area it still should have some sort of Policy Statement or Trail Plan that can be used by the DEC and APA when writing or updating UMPs for the various Forest Preserve Management Areas that the NPT traverses. 

Currently, the Northville Placid Trail enters and exits through the following Management Areas from the south to the north - a link is also provided to the UMP for each Management Area with the exception of the West Canada Lake Wilderness which is still in process: 
Although a Policy Statement or Trail Plan needs to be initiated by the DEC or the APA it has been suggested that we might write a "white paper" on the NPT starting with its history and stating a vision for the trail including a comprehensive inventory of bridges, lean-tos, privies, stream crossings, etc., and suggested changes to the trail (such as beaver activity reroutes), and such structures (such as adding bridges or lean-tos or privies in certain areas).  We welcome anyone to help us with such a project.

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