Baker, Saranac Lake 6 should be celebrated
To the editor:
We live in a park. We welcome visitors to the park. Baker Mountain should be celebrated, not hidden. It is a gem. As a previous writer noted, the cat is out of the bag. Hiking has exploded in popularity throughout the Adirondacks. Baker’s popularity is more due to its short distance and extraordinary view than its designation as one of the Saranac Lake 6er challenge. Mayor Jimmy Williams pointed this fact out at the recent meeting. He noted that registered 6ers numbered 5,500 since the program started 10 years ago. That translates to 1.5 hikers per day! If you discounted the winter months (giving a generous at six months), it is still only 3 hikers per day. And many hikers travel together, so the number of cars is even fewer.
I understand that this is an average, and there are beautiful sunny days when the trailhead seems crowded. The area lacks separate parking, but it is by no means an unmanageable and overwhelming problem. A few people wish it were quieter. To be fair, one should compare how many hours of the day or days of the year when there are 10 or fewer cars.
I have lived in Saranac Lake for 29 years and I wager I have climbed Baker 1,000 times. I never tire of it. The trail is wide and well used, but it is a solid trail, with few problems or wash outs. It is extremely rare to find refuse on the trail. In my 1,000 times hiking Baker, I have never had a problem parking.
A few years ago, a traffic study found the average speed on Forrest Hill Road was 15 mph, so speeding is not a problem. Considering only the last few years, when my Baker hiking frequency increased, I rarely encounter a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. And why, on a road that has a small amount of low-speed traffic, would it be deemed problematic if one had to slow down or pull over to pass an oncoming car?
However, I do think there is room for improvement. The best idea I have heard, is to turn a portion of the loop around Moody Pond into one way traffic. Voila, every concern is addressed! It would eliminate congestion. One lane could be for car traffic and the other lane would be designated for walking, biking and parking. It would be safer for the children, the elderly and others who enjoy the flat loop around a village pond. It would open up a tremendous amount of parking.
The Saranac Lake 6er challenge was such a good idea that Lake Placid and Tupper Lake copied it. Baker Mountain is iconic to Saranac Lake; it will remain popular and public. Let’s make a simple improvement and continue to celebrate the gift of beauty right in our town.