Baker Mountain: To be or not to be a 6er?

To the editor:

I read, with great interest, the article “Will Baker be nixed from the 6?” I fear the real issues may fail to be addressed and believe there are alternative solutions that have yet to be explored.

First, it should be recognized that by eliminating Baker Mountain, the impact on solving the parking problem will be minimal. The word is out. Baker Mountain gives you a tremendous bang for your buck, or as I like to say, “The best view for energy expended.” The answer isn’t to eliminate people from hiking it, the solution is to address the parking, trail degradation, and litter issues.

Baker Mountain is part of the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Area, one of many Wilderness and Wild Forest units in desperate need of management. We need to encourage the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete the Unit Management Plan for the area. The plan needs to address overuse on Baker Mountain, trail degradation on both Baker and McKenzie mountains and explore additional trail options throughout the area.

I love Mount Pisgah, and it meets a great recreation need and has even more future potential. I certainly would encourage hikers to hike it. But comparing Baker Mountain with Mount Pisgah is akin to comparing Middle Saranac Lake to Lake Flower. They’re both nice bodies of water but they are in completely different environments. Despite the overuse issues, Baker Mountain is a totally natural wilderness environment while Pisgah is a wonderfully developed recreation area with buildings, roads, trails, communication towers, ski lift, etc.

The simplest solution is to prohibit parking on Moody Pond and encourage hikers to park in the village (increasing the chance that people will eat, drink and shop in the village). It would add about 40 minutes to their hike still making it the easiest 6er to hike.

Explore an alternative trailhead at the sewage treatment plant. A parking lot could be built with a sustainable trail up the northwest side of the mountain which could withstand the amount of use the mountain is getting. An access trail back along the river to the village could also be built. We could create another Dewey Mountain type recreation area on the Village owned land there.

No matter what is done, keep in mind the need for connectivity. If you really want to have a hiker and biker friendly community you need to ensure that hiking and biking trails are not isolated. We need to make sure to connect the trails to the downtown, to the rail-trail, to the Jackrabbit Trail, to Dewey Mountain, to Mount Pisgah, to Baker Mountain and the other wonderful recreation opportunities throughout our community.


Jack Drury

Saranac Lake


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