Adirondack hikes included in NY guidebook
SARANAC LAKE — The fourth edition of Falcon Guides’ “Hiking New York” is out, and while the book features hikes in 10 different regions of the state, the Adirondacks loom large with two dozen hikes highlighted.
While not meant to be a comprehensive guide listing all the hikes in New York, Hiking offers an easy to read and accessible selection of some of the choicest hikes around the state. Broken up by region, the book has featured hikes as well as a number of “honorable mentions” for each region.
The Thousand Islands region gets five hikes, the Adirondacks has 24, and the Capital-Saratoga Region has four listed. Also included are hikes in the Niagara Frontier, Chautauqua-Allegheny, Finger Lakes, Central-Leatherstocking, the Catskills (eight hikes), Hudson Valley and Long Island.
The book was written by veteran guidebook authors Rhonda and George Ostertag. Although the pair has written books about Connecticut and Pennsylvania, several of their books are on western states and places like Oregon and California. With the popularity of hiking in New York and the proliferation of those writing about their adventures, it’s disappointing that Falcon Guides didn’t hire a New Yorker for the project.
The authors admit in the introduction to “bringing western expectations, and likely prejudices, to this project.” They then point out that, “a fine and willing volunteer corps keeps the trails passable for all of us and protects the state’s hiking resource.”
The Ostertags go on to list a number of trail groups in and around the Empire State, including the Adirondack Mountain Club and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, giving a nod to those who spend their time and energy in New York.
“As beneficiaries of their fine work, we should support these groups through membership and through the purchase of their maps, which typically hold the most current information on the lay of the trail, land ownership, shelters, facilities and obstacles.
“There are not many places to warrant a 3,000-mile drive to the trailhead, but New York State might be the exception.”
The Ostertags give brief primers on weather, along with flora and fauna (although black flies and no-see-ums are suspiciously absent) and navigation.
None of the High Peaks are featured in the book, and the Indian Pass-Lake Colden loop is the closest Hiking sends people to the most-visited region of the park.
This may be because the authors — and many locals — think the trails are in need of some redesign.
“If the New York trail system has one failing, it would be the design of its peak trails,” the Ostertags write. “Many charge straight at the summit, creating runoff channels and broad erosion scars. Some of these were trampled into place long before trail design came into practice.
“As hikers, we need to take a role at the forefront of conservation and support, rather than thwart, land management agencies and trail crews in their efforts to reroute and improve trails. Switchbacks, contours, and other design features help retain the integrity of the land. Our adventure should not come at the price of the land or the enjoyment of future generations.”
The Adirondack region has 16 featured hikes and eight “honorable mentions.” Featured hikes are the Floodwood Loop, Jenkins Mountain, Poke-O-Moonshine, High Falls, Van Hoevenberg, East Branch AuSable River loop, the entirety of the Northville-Placid Trail, Blue Mountain, Murphy Lake, Pharaoh Mountain and Lake, Stony Pond, Middle Settlement Lake, West Canada Lakes, Siamese Ponds, Tongue Mountain Range and Jockeybush Lake.
The honorable mention hikes are in the Grass River Wild Forest, the Indian Pass-Lake Colden loop, Camp Santanoni, Goodnow Mountain, Whetstone Gulf State Park, Gleasmans Falls, Peaked Mountain and Black Mountain.
Although it’s far from comprehensive, Hiking New York certainly offers a little something for everyone. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to venture outside the Blue Line, Hiking is a solid all-around guidebook to getting outdoors in New York.