To the editor:
I have ridden all three of the rails-to-trails Phil Gallos references in his letter of Jan. 28, rejecting the appeal of an Adirondack recreational trail. And he is right: These trails traverse areas that are much more densely populated than the Adirondacks. For this reason, people are warned not to use the Heritage Trail in the York vicinity at dusk, due to the frequent muggings.
The Adirondack rail-to-trail won't have the same problems of a trail that runs through urban blight. For that very reason, tourists will be attracted to a safe family experience in a beautiful wilderness setting.
However, vast stretches of all three trails, and in particular the Heritage Trail and the Great Alleghany Passage Trail, are rural in character, and yet, miles from urban centers, there are all kinds of people walking, jogging, exercising their dogs and riding horses and bicycles far from the madding crowd.
So I agree with Phil: The Adirondack rail-to-trail escape would be incomparable - but incomparable in its draw to those who wish to escape all the crime and chaos urban living visits on them.
The Adirondack trail will be unique in its natural magnificence and serene wilderness surroundings. Build it, and they will come.
Phil suggests that the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy report should have used the Virginia Creeper Trail in its comparison. Its 34.3-mile length is almost exactly the same as the Lake Placid-Saranac Lake-Tupper Lake stretch would be.
But Phil is wrong to imply that the Virginia Creeper Trail should join the group of trails that are inappropriate to compare because they are situated in areas of high population density.
Whitetop, its eastern terminus, is high in the Mount Rogers National Forest where people are almost nonexistent. Midway, the Creeper Trail comes to the first town, Damascus, with a population of 900, and on its western terminus the trail ends in Abingdon, a town of 8,200.
It is so isolated that the only public telephone along its entire route can be found in Damascus. And yet, as remote as it is, more than 200,000 people enjoy the trail each year.
Build it, and they will come.