LAKE PLACID - A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday for Henry's Woods, a 200-acre preserve and multi-use trail system dedicated to philanthropist Henry Uihlein.
A large crowd showed up for the event including local leaders, friends of the Uihlein family and many people who were involved in the planning, design and construction of the trail network, which has been in the works for four years.
John Leekley, chairman of the Uihlein Foundation, said Henry's Woods will provide year-round recreational opportunities for the public.
Henry’s Woods, a 200-acre preserve with a multi-use trail network, was officially opened Monday. Cutting the ribbon, from right to left, are Steve Langdon and Jeremy Burns, who built the trails, North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi, Uihlein Foundation Chairman John Leekley and Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall.
"It's designed to provide residents and visitors with opportunities for relaxation, nature appreciation, walking and exercise, all in one trail system," Leekley said.
Designed by Tony Goodwin of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, the trail network includes a main loop and trail connector, measuring 2.5 miles. While the network was officially opened Monday, the public has been able to use the trails for walking and cross-country skiing since last year.
Two other trails will eventually be cut on steeper terrain that Leekley said would provide "spectacular" views of the High Peaks, Lake Placid's Olympic venues and both Mirror Lake and Lake Placid.
Steve Langdon and Jeremy Burns were given the job of constructing the trail network, which included building four bridges, installing drainage and bringing in more than 3,500 tons of gravel.
The parking area for the trail system is located off of Bear Cub Lane on property the Uihlein Foundation acquired in an exchange with Adirondack Medical Center.
Just a few steps down the trail, a kiosk was built with funds donated by North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi. Nearby, a brass plaque has been placed on a rock in remembrance of his father, Frank Politi, a horticulturist and longtime friend of the Uihlein family.
Leekley said Henry's Woods complements another nearby park that's been named for Henry Uihlein's wife, Mildred Uihlein - Mid's Park in the village's downtown.
"Mid is downtown shopping and Henry's out in the woods," Leekley joked.
Uihlein Trustee James McKenna said several options had been considered for the property at one time, including subdivision and development.
"But we unanimously decided a community preserve was in the best interest of what Henry Uihlein would have wanted and what the community wanted," he said.
While there are hundreds of miles of trails on nearby state land, McKenna said the attraction of Henry's Woods is that it's so close to the village. The trails have been graded, which makes them more accessible to the public and easier to maintain, he said.
Environmental interpretation of the trails for school and youth groups is planned in the future.