The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently released a conceptual plan for a so-called “hut-to-hut” trail system in the central Adirondacks. The effort is another attempt to bring more tourists to the region.
The plan would connect the five towns in the center of the Adirondack Park — Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, Minerva and North Hudson — with 26 trails that provide lodging along the hiking corridor. The DEC says the system will use existing lodging whenever possible or could incorporate platform tents, yurts or eco-lodges, to existing bed-and-breakfasts, rental cabins and five-star hotels.
The plan is based on the Adirondack Community-based Trails and Lodging System. Project Director Jack Drury explains that there are two tiers to the plan. His firm, Leading E.D.G.E. Consulting, received a grant from New York Department of State about two years ago to devise a park-wide hut-to-hut trail system. The state DEC then asked for a fast-tracked version focusing on the five towns in the central Adirondacks. “For them our goal was to identify potential routes and potential locations for lodging. We identified 26 potential routes and approximately 50 different strategic locations for lodging with most of those being in the communities themselves. I think the key term here is community based. That we identify these routes as starting and finishing in the communities and then between there going into the back country.”
Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Farber says a key challenge for local communities is that many people come to the Adirondacks as day-trippers. “We developed this using the examples of what works in Maine and in other countries this idea of developing a hut to hut system whereby people would come for multi-day excursions. They could expect consistency of amenities at all the huts and so they could travel lighter. So it creates a series of hikes, a series of you name the outdoor recreation. But the whole idea is to give recreational users, tourists, the ability to come and enjoy the spectrum of amenities that the Adirondacks has to offer, but for more than just a day trip.”
The five towns are already working together and with the state to build an interconnected trail system according to Town of Minerva Supervisor Stephen McNally. But he adds accommodations are lacking. “The thing about the hut to hut is there is some nice hotels in the area. You know there bed and breakfasts. There is some nice campsites. Our town currently has a campsite on our lake. But we’re hoping to get just that additional opportunity for people to come and a way to spend more than one day besides living in a tent with no amenities.”
Indian Lake Supervisor Brian Wells see the hut-to-hut trail concept as a way to enhance economic opportunities in the central Adirondacks. “We all have hiking trails in the Adirondacks. They're all pretty remote. This concept of people actually being able to start in town and then ending up in a town I think is kind of a neat idea, a really novel approach to something. And I think it's going to help bring a little bit of business into town.”