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NYS Recreation Circulars

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  • NYS Recreation Circulars

    My late father-in-law grew up in Syracuse and, before he enlisted in WWII, was an avid hiker, etc. in the Adirondacks. I inherited a copy of Recreation Circular 8, The Trails to Marcy, by A. S. Hopkins, dated 1941, and really enjoyed reading it.
    The other day I was searching for something on Google and, to my surprise, this circular (and the others in the series) came up! In their goal of digitizing everything, they had googled this document and put it on their free download site, so I downloaded it and have been reading it.
    The circulars then published are:
    1 - State Parks and Reservations (not included in the download)
    2 - Public Use of the Forest Preserve, by C. R. Pettis, 1920
    3 - Adirondack Highways, by C. R. Pettis
    4 - Catskill Highways, by C. R. Pettis, 1920
    5 - St. Lawrence Reservation, by Arthur B. Strough, 1919
    6 - Lake George, by A. S. Hopkins, 1920
    7 - Adirondack Canoe Routes, by William G. Howard, 1940
    8 - The Trails to Marcy, by A. S. Hopkins, 1941
    9 - Catskill Trails, by W. D. Mulholland, 1938
    10- Lake Placid Trails, by W. D. Mulholland, 1932

    Maps seem to have been included in some of these, but were not scanned by Google. Trying to follow the trail descriptions was an enjoyable challenge, because many of them have changed. Three typical example are of winter trails in #10:
    1. Heart Lake Loop from the Olympic Stadium past John Brown farm, up to the ADK Lodge, past Rock Falls, down to Bear Cub, and back to the Stadium (24.1 miles)
    2. Whiteface Mt. Loop from the Olympic Stadium, across frozen Mirror Lake and Lake Placid to Undercliff, up to and cross the Franklin Falls Trail to Whiteface, ascend Esther, cross Wilmington Trail to Whiteface, go to the Sunrise Notch Trail, pass Connery Pond, cross Mirror Lake and back to start (29.5 miles)
    3. Sentinel Range Loop (I won't describe it here except that again it begins and ends at the Olympic Stadium and goes along the West Branch of the Ausable River and (I guess) along the now current Jackrabbit Trail). (22.35 miles)

    I would really like to find these trails (on paper) but am hampered by a) trails don't exist anymore; b) landmarks such as "Old Lumber Camp" and "trail splits, red trail goes right, take the blue trail", etc.; and c) I don't have access to an appropriate map (I have older and newer ones).
    Last edited by MTVhike; 04-21-2020, 10:58 AM. Reason: added link

  • #2
    Sentinel Range Loop makes me wonder if this is in reference to the old ski trails that ascended to the ridge line of the Sentinel Range. I've always understood that they were used for the crosscountry skiing events in the first Olympics. You can still find (and follow) these trails but it's pretty tricky to do so in spots.

    These trails are still shown on the USGS maps (shows how old the USGS maps are). I've highlighted them in this screenshot:

    The southern trail is pretty easy to find and follow at the start, but it gets super brushy by the end and fades out near the marsh just west of South Notch. Of the 2 lean-tos shown, the lower one still exists (but is on private property). The upper lean-to was removed a long time ago; despite ample efforts on my part to find the site where it was located I was not able to find any trace of it. I used this trail as my approach to Slide Mountain when I climbed that peak back in 2012:

    The northern trail is pretty easy to follow for the first quarter mile or so, until it turns east and crosses the outlet of Holcomb Pond. From what I remember, there is a very obvious herd path that continues up the west side of the Holcomb Pond outlet right to the pond. The ski trail itself, however, pretty much disappears entirely in the swamps along the outlet. If you persevere and make your way through (the going is nasty), or bushwhack around, you can pick up the old trail again on the other side of the swamps and follow it all the way up near North Notch. I was one of the staff members that lead a wilderness trip through this area for a youth program that I was employed by in the summer of 2007- we spent a few nights camped out near Holcomb Pond, and a few more nights camped out not far from the stream that parallels this trail to the south. We did day hike from the second campsite all the way up into North Notch itself; I remember there was a single blue plastic square nailed to a tree in the notch (same as the blue plastic square I later found in South Notch). I haven't been back since that trip, and I imagine that 13 years have not made it any easier to follow this trail.

    I always wondered if maybe there was at one point a connector trail that joined the ends of these two trails- possibly something that looped around Slide Mountain, on the east side of the Sentinel Range ridge line.
    Last edited by DSettahr; 04-21-2020, 04:18 PM.


    • #3
      In trying to trace these hikes on USGS maps, I am hampered by the fact that the USGS Historical Topographic Maps site list no maps in that area between 1898 and 1955, skipping over the period of the 1932 Olympics. Might there be any maps of that era which show trails?


      • #4
        With some googling, I found this recent ADE article which includes a photo of a map: https://www.adirondackdailyenterpris...g-ump-process/

        The map does indeed confirm my thoughts- that both the North Notch and South Notch trails at one point did connect via a long loop to the east. Interestingly, the loop appears to have descended even further than I'd surmised- all the way down to Clifford Falls in Keene before looping back. This puts the low point of the course at the mid-point of the loop- meaning that the bigger climb was in the second half of the course.

        It also appears that a short segment of the present-day Jackrabbit Trail was a part of the loop- the stretch at the very end of Alstead Hill Ln. The course followed this segment for a little bit before veering north to climb up to South Notch. It seems like access to the east end of the north portion (along Clifford Brook) would be problematic due to private property, but it would be interesting to poke around along the Jack Rabbit Trail to see if any traces of the east end of the south portion could still be located.


        • #5
          Thank you for that link and map, very interesting. Did you get a chance to look at the Recreation Circular link I posted at the top of this thread? The description of the Sentinel Range Loop begins on page 20 of Circular 10 (page 257 of the entire PDF file). This loop is 22 miles long and I guess from the description in your link of the 50k race, must be the same thing!


          • #6
            I’ve been studying these 3 great ski loop trails for a while now. Parts of them are navigable, most of them are completely abandoned. Here’s the map.
            Last edited by Chef; 12-07-2020, 08:40 AM.


            • #7
              Thanks, Chef! Is there a similar map for the 1980 Games?


              • #8
                1980 Whiteface Olympic runs

                Mt. Van Hoevenberg info and trail map