News Staff Writer
WILMINGTON — Under overcast skies, four volunteers put the finishing touches Saturday on a trail connecting the Wilmington Flume trails with the Marble Mountain trail.
According to Bert Yost, mountain biking coordinator for the town of Wilmington, the new connector trail will allow hikers to access the trail to Whiteface Mountain from the Flume parking lot and will only add about four-tenths of a mile onto the total distance.
Currently, Whiteface is most commonly accessed from a trailhead near the Wilmington reservoir.
“It will take a little pressure off the reservoir if they can go in by the Flume,” said Wilmington town Supervisor Randy Preston.
A favorite spot of locals for years, the Flume Trail System was officially opened this spring as one of the only places in the state Forest Preserve specifically designed for mountain biking. Yost, who walks and bikes the trails three or four times a week, said use has increased since the grand opening.
“There’s a big increase,” he said. “We can see it in just the number of cars parked in the Flume.”
The trail connecting the Flume trails to Marble Mountain runs roughly parallel to state Route 86 in Wilmington.
“Theoretically, you could have bike trails that come down to places like the Wilderness Inn and the A&W, instead of just the Flume,” Yost said.
Because the Flume trails connect with the trails on Whiteface Mountain Ski Center, they combine to make one of the best mountain bike trail systems in the East, Preston said.
“Anyone of any ability can walk that trail,” he said. “Those trails along the river are breathtaking. This spring there were five osprey nests. It’s really very interesting and people don’t know it’s back there.”
According to Matt McNamara, trails coordinator for the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Flume trails have historically been used for fishing access to the Ausable River. But now the spot is open to all kinds of recreational pasttimes.
“You can make it as hard or as easy as you want,” McNamara said. “The higher up the hillside you go, the more challenging it’s going to become.”
Now that the Marble Mountain Trail and the Flume Trail System connect, the next step is integrating other mountain biking trails in Wilmington, like those off Hardy Road, McNamara said.
“We are trying to see if there’s a way those two areas could be connected,” he said.
Hiking the Flume
The trail starts out wide and flat, with a thick, cushy covering of pine needles. Roots and rocks still pop up, so hikers have to watch their footing. There are many interconnecting trails, and all are very well marked with brown and yellow DEC signs and trail markers. Some are simply very short connectors. It’s almost impossible to get lost, but you could end up going in circles.
“I tell people, if you get turned around, just go downhill,” McNamara said.
The best option is to just pick a way and see where it takes you.
Ridge Trail: From the trailhead, take the first right. Then take a second right onto the Marble Mountain Trail. This will bring you to the Ridge Trail, a 1.5-mile loop. The trail winds up the hillside in a series of switch-backs. This is also a challenging mountain biking trail, with rocks and roots that make it a very technical ride. The surrounding oak forest is dropping its acorns onto the trail this time of year, so hikers and trail runners should watch their footing.
Flume Knob: This short but steep hike (four miles round-trip) to a rocky ledge offers great views of the town of Wilmington. From the trailhead, follow the signs for Flume Knob. The first mile climbs gradually, but the second mile is straight up. The open rocky ledge is a good place for lunch. Quaker Mountain and the settlement of Wilmington dominates the view. The cliffs of the Wilmington Notch, Hamlin Mountain and Bassett Mountain can also be seen.
Upper Connector Trail Loop: This trail will take you uphill and eventually to the Kids Kampus parking lot at Whiteface Mountain Ski Area. Several stream crossings make this a muddy excursion. Crossing the parking lot, follow the Lower Connector Trail past a beaver pond and back to the trailhead. This is roughly a three-mile loop.
Signs at the trailhead at the Wilmington Flume Trails System
Fact BoxIf you go:
Driving from Lake Placid, the Wilmington Flume Trail System trailhead is off of state Route 86 in Wilmington, just past the Hungry Trout. The parking area is on the left, immediately after crossing a bridge over the Ausable River. For more information, or to check out maps of the trail system, go to www.adktrailrun.com/?p=17.