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For Release: Friday, October 5, 2018

DEC and ORDA Announce Opening Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail

Trail Designed and Built Using Sustainable Trail Design and Construction

Supports Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY Initiative to Connect New Yorkers with Nature

The new Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail, the newest trail in the Adirondacks, is now open to public use, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Bob Stegemann and Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) President Mike Pratt jointly announced today. The 1.7-mile trail, located in the town of North Elba, Essex County, climbs 920 feet to the 2,940-feet summit of the trail. The trailhead is located the Olympic Sports Complex, while the summit is located in the High Peaks Wilderness.

"DEC is pleased to open this sustainably designed and built trail for hikers to use this Columbus Day holiday weekend and beyond," said DEC Regional Director Stegemann. "This trail is part of DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks. Hikers will have a safe place to park while they enjoy a trail that can withstand considerable use and provides a beautiful view of the High Peaks."

"We're used to bringing hordes of outdoor enthusiasts to our venues and we're excited to work with the DEC to organize this trailhead which introduces new people to the Adirondacks and Mt. Van Hoevenberg," said ORDA President/CEO Mike Pratt.

The trail was designed and built to withstand heavier use with little impacts on the trail while providing a more enjoyable experience for hikers. The design employs bench cuts to allow water to cross the trail and not run down the trail length. Heavy turnpike construction and tread hardening also are used to combat erosion. The trail route also avoids extremely steep sections, making it less strenuous for hikers.

"The opening of a new trail is wonderful to celebrate especially this time of year when so many people are drawn to the autumn beauty of the Adirondacks," said Senator Betty Little. "This new trail incorporates what has been learned over the years about trail safety and mitigating impact and erosion. Designed with both the hiker and the ecology in mind, this is a long-lasting investment that will draw a lot of visitors to Mt. Van Hoevenberg and the Lake Placid Region."

"As an avid hiker I am aware first hand of the highway safety and trail congestion issues some of the High Peaks trails face," said Assemblyman Dan Stec. "I am pleased that DEC is working to find ways to address these. This new trail's design, construction and location will improve safety and sustainability and accommodate the growing number of hikers and families traveling to enjoy the beautiful recreational treasures of our region."

"The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is proud to have provided our Professional Trail Crew to construct this exciting new trail to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg," said Neil F. Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. "We believe that its design and construction features will minimize soil and vegetative erosion, make for a drier trail and thus provide a quality hiking experience for the public while protecting the natural environment of this important trail."

"This new trail makes complete sense for the safety reasons," said town of North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi. "It's not only about hiking, but it's also about the safety of the hikers and all who visit our region."

The view of the High Peaks from the summit is comparable to or exceeds the view from the summit of Cascade Mountain and includes the Great Range, Mt. Marcy, Mt. Colden, Algonquin Peak, Indian Pass, South Meadows, and more.

The trail is just one of many upgrades planned for the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Complex, aimed at increasing visitors' positive experiences, while at the same time maintaining DEC's ongoing commitment to the preservation of the unique and natural setting of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. New Nordic ski trails, snowmaking system enhancements, renovations to the base lodge, upgrades to the parking lots, and various other improvements are scheduled to begin soon. The route of the trail near bottom will change slightly after ORDA completes the World Cup Ski Trails.

While DEC determined the trail's route and designed the trail, the trail has been built by the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew. The trail crew continues to build the trail under a DEC contract with assistance from DEC, ORDA, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps, Student Conservation Association High Peaks Backcountry Stewards, State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Inmate Crews, and volunteers.

While the trail is usable, remaining work to be completed includes additional turnpiking and hardening on the lower slopes, technical rock work on the upper slopes, and extensive rock work near the summit overlooks to protect further trampling of vegetation and erosion of soils. Once completed, the trail will be the most sustainable trail in the High Peaks Wilderness.

DEC will begin building the new trail up Cascade Mountain in 2019. The lower section of the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail will provide access to the start of that trail. As described in the 2018 High Peaks Complex Amendment, once the trail is complete, DEC plans to close the current Cascade Mountain Trailhead and the lower approximately one mile of the current trail.

Under Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation, connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors, protect natural resources, and boost local economies. This initiative will support the completion of more than 75 projects over the next three years, ranging from improvements to youth camps and environmental education centers to new boat launches, duck blinds, and hiking trails. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative (PDF) (10.6 MB). For more information on planning an outdoor adventure in New York State.

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