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New community trails are welcome

October 8, 2015
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Whether you have an hour to kill or a full day, whether you're training for a race or just trying to keep the blood circulating every once in a while, whether you're young or old, rich or poor, solo or in a group - try a local trail.

New trails opened last week in Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, which is excellent, useful news for local residents.

Tupper Lake now has a multi-purpose, 3.62-mile trail from the train station to the Wild Center museum. It has a crushed stone surface and allows biking in warm weather and snowmobiling in winter. Part of it runs along a former railroad spur from the Junction to the Oval Wood Dish factory. Other parts run through wooded areas, across village streets and along sidewalks. Hopefully someday it will all be in the woods, once property owners agree; Mayor Paul Maroun says the village plans to keep working on that.

Meanwhile, congratulations to him and other village officials who made this project happen nine years after it was originally proposed.

In Lake Placid this past weekend, we had a lovely time walking the new Heaven Hill Trails. While the forested portion of the 4-mile network is beautiful, the real treat here is to get out of the woods and into the wide-open Old Orchard Loop, a field with a mowed path around, as its name suggests, an old apple orchard. There are still a few apple trees left, their red fruit gleaming in the sun. In the background is the Great Range of the High Peaks Wilderness - hard to beat for scenery.

This land was all once Heaven Hill Farm, abode of the Uihlein family. Henry and Mildred Uihlein were generous to the community, and the Uihlein Foundation has been wise in sharing their wealth in useful ways. The nursing home that bears their surname was once part of their property, and Mid's Park in downtown Lake Placid bears Mildred's nickname because the foundation helped pay for the park and band shell's overhaul. The foundation officially opened Henry's Woods in 2009 as a public walking and cross-country ski loop on a former bridle path of Heaven Hill Farm. It's been a huge hit and is almost too busy sometimes.

That runaway success prompted spur and cross trails at Henry's Woods, and now an entirely new network. The Heaven Hill Trails are an outgrowth of that and are, if anything, even more pleasant since, in the Adirondacks, a public trail in an open field with mountain views is a relatively rare treat.

Like Henry's Woods, Heaven Hill Trails are well done. Signage is excellent, and trail depressions are filled to prevent muddy holes.

Of course, the state Adirondack Forest Preserve is loaded with excellent trails. We love to get out on our favorites and explore new ones as often as possible. But those few that allow bikes are too rough for anything but a mountain bike, unlike the new Tupper trail. The fact that new, more curated trails are so popular proves that there is high demand for them - more so than for most public recreation venues.

For instance, at the Tupper Lake trail opening, village Trustee David "Haji" Maroun reminisced about a baseball field that used to be by what's now the train station trailhead, when he was a kid in the 1980s.

"Every day, we played," he said. "We'd come here at 8 o'clock in the morning; we'd go home at 8 o'clock at night."

It's hard to find a pick-up game of baseball these days. There are still plenty of baseball fields around, but they are rarely used except for organized league games. That's OK; activities ebb and flow in popularity.

Trails, however, are in proven demand.

This topic cannot help but bring up the Great Adirondack Rail-Trail Debate. We've commented on that in the past and will surely do so again, but not this week.

 
 

 

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