NEWCOMB - A lake-studded region in the central Adirondacks is now open for backcountry tent camping.
Twenty-two tent sites are now available in the Essex Chain Lakes region south of Newcomb. Thirteen of the sites are along lakefronts and must be reserved, at no charge, through a permit system.
"Just in time for July 4th, the public can reserve camping sites and explore more of the secluded and pristine waters while also visiting towns along the way and boosting local economies," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release Wednesday.
Robert and Jessica Hunter paddle a canoe on Deer Pond on the Essex Chain Lakes tract in October 2013, when the state first opened the lakes to the public.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The permit system for the 13 designated campsites is in effect between May 15 and Oct. 15. To reserve a site, campers must call 518-582-2000 or visit the Adirondack Interpretive Center, located on state Route 28N in Newcomb. Campers can visit the AIC website at www.esf.edu/aic for maps and information about camping, the tent sites and the permit system.
Camping at the nine other designated tent sites in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex will not require a permit. The sites will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Six of these campsites are located off the Cornell/Deer Pond Road, one is located near the Iron Bridge, and two existing tent sites on the western end of First Lake may only be used by floatplane customers.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it plans to develop additional tent sites throughout the Essex Chain complex this summer.
The Essex Chain Lakes were among 69,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn and Co. timberlands that Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to buy from The Nature Conservancy in the summer 2012. In December, the APA approved a state land classification package that, among other things, created the 7,000-acre Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area.
The area was opened to the public last fall for the first time in more than 100 years, creating paddling opportunities on the Essex Chain Lakes and other nearby waters, and on the nearby Hudson River. Canoe carries have been signed and designated between the Deer Pond parking area and Deer Pond, and between Deer Pond and Third Lake. Signed carries have also been created between First Lake and Second Lake and First Lake and Grassy Pond.
In addition, DEC has opened the gate at the end of the Chain Lakes Road to vehicle access to a new parking area near the former Old Gooley Club. The state said the move reduces the distance people would have to walk to access the Cedar River, Pine Lake, Clear Pond, Mud Pond and Corner Pond in the southern Essex Chain Lakes complex. It also cuts down the walking distance for those paddling the Hudson River to a take- out point upstream of the confluence of the Hudson and Indian rivers.
Another new parking area was created on the Essex Chain Road at a put-in site on the Hudson River near the Iron Bridge.
Among other improvements this summer, DEC said it is working to designate and mark horseback riding trails, to construct a horse trailer parking area at the gravel pit on Chain Lakes Road North, and to establish three tent sites on Pine Lake in the Pine Lake Primitive Area, one of which will be reserved for use by floatplane customers only.
Longer-term infrastructure and recreational improvements have been proposed in the recently released Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex Draft Unit Management Plan. DEC is accepting comment on this plan through July 18.
In addition, DEC has released an Upper Hudson Woodlands ATP Conservation Easement Lands Draft Recreation Management Plan, which includes proposals to increase public access for outdoor recreational use on six tracts of land in the central Adirondacks. The plan is available for public review and comment through July 18.
For more information, visit DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov.