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Brown provides early look at Finch lands

November 30, 2016
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

Phil Brown, the editor of the Adirondack Explorer and author of the "Short Hikes" series, has come out with a new book on the recently acquired Finch, Pruyn and Co. lands.

"12 Adventures on New State Lands: Exploring the Finch, Pruyn tracts" follows the same pattern as Brown's previous guidebooks. It offers a dozen trips with maps, pictures and descriptions of the adventures.

However, unlike his previous guidebooks on hikes near Lake Placid, Keene and Old Forge, New State Lands offers a mix of trips on water, land and rock.

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This variety of trips is due to the nature of the Boreas Ponds tract and other parcels of land that were formerly owned by the paper company. New York State recently completed the purchase of several tracts of land from the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which bought the lands with the intention of having them added to the state's forest preserve.

Since the state formally sealed the deal on these lands in May, it's impressive that Brown was able to get a guidebook out so quickly. But he said this has been a work in progress for some time.

"I visited all the Finch, Pruyn lands as they were acquired by the state and wrote stories about my outings for the Adirondack Explorer. So when it came time to write the book, I already had the basic information needed for the guidebook such as driving directions, GPS coordinates, trail mileage, etc.," Brown wrote in an email. "The hardest place to get to was Boreas Ponds, because when I went there the road to the ponds was still gated. I had to carry my canoe about six and a half miles each way. Fortunately, it weighs only 12 pounds."

The first six trips in the book are the waterways. The new state lands offer a plethora of opportunities to paddle, including the much sought after Boreas Ponds.

Brown explains that the one large pond used to be three separate water bodies before a dam was put in to assist in logging operations. Although Brown had to tote his canoe more than 6 miles, the state Department of Environmental Conservation shortened that carry with its temporary access plan. As of now, there is a parking area about halfway up the road, significantly shortening the carry.

"As the eagle flies, the ponds are only a mile and a half long, but if you do a circuit close to the shore, you can get in more than 5 miles of paddling," Brown writes. "In addition, you can paddle up the inlet more than a half-mile if the water is high enough."

Brown also highlights paddling trips on newly opened sections of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers, Hudson Whitewater and the Essex chain of lakes.

"It's hard to name a favorite outing. They were all good. However, I really enjoyed my day paddling Boreas Ponds and the upper reaches of the Boreas River. The views of the High Peaks are out of this world. I was alone except for the loons," he wrote to the News. "I also enjoyed my hike (on a different day) to the headwater pond of the Boreas River, where I enjoyed another stunning view rarely seen by the public."

In addition to the half-dozen paddles, Brown also details six trips on land. Some of these are a combination of mountain biking and hiking, like his trip to the Boreas headwaters, while others he notes would make nice cross-country ski trips.

The Upper Hudson ski loop is one of the trips in this book that could serve as a hike in the summer months, but offers views of two different rivers on a loop in the Essex Chain tract.

"The 4.2-mile lollipop loop lies near the confluence of the Hudson and Goodnow rivers, at different times paralleling one or the other of the rivers," the description of the trail says. Brown also notes that the state is planning to build a trail that would connect this loop with the hamlet of Newcomb.

He goes on to write about biking in the Essex Chain and at Pine Lake, as well as hikes to OK Slip Falls and Lake Andrew.

Brown also includes a bonus "Adventures on rock" section that highlights rock climbing on Sugarloaf and Ragged mountains.

Brown's guidebooks are a handy tool to have, and offer insight into places that might not get much attention otherwise. The small and light books easily fit in a pocket, and the hand-drawn maps cut down on some of the clutter that larger topo maps can have.

To find out more about the "Short Hikes" book series or to purchase the New State Lands book, visit The books can also be found in gear shops around the region.



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