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Old 10-06-2019, 06:03 PM   #1
DSettahr
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I put together the most complete map of NY lean-to and backcountry shelter locations

I got tired of trying to use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of which lean-tos I have/have not stayed in yet towards the lean-to challenge, because with ~400 lean-tos it was a PITA to remember where each and every shelter is located exactly- useful information for planning future trips! So I decided to just map all of them out. The end product of my endeavors over the past few weeks is the most complete map of lean-to and backcountry shelter locations in NY that has ever been compiled.

Here's the link to the map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XR...aI&usp=sharing

The map key is as follows:

Red dots are lean-tos/shelters that are part of the lean-to challenge. To be eligible, a shelter needs to be available for free use at least part of the year. Note that some of these shelters do still require a permit to use (but the permit is free). Some of these shelters are fee use also during at least part of the year.

Blue dots are lean-tos/shelters that are not part of the lean-to challenge. I.e., they are fee use only, or day use only.

Important disclaimer: Use of this map is at the sole discretion and risk of the user. No certification is made regarding the accuracy of this map. Most lean-to locations shown are approximate. Some of the shelters shown require property owner permission/permits to use. Some of the shelters shown are planned future shelters that have not yet been constructed. Remember that DEC regulations do not permit pitching tents inside of or adjacent to shelters on DEC lands. Other regulations may apply to non-DEC lands. All information contained within this map should be verified independently before use.

While I have no doubt that this is the most extensive map of backcountry lean-tos and shelters in NY that anyone has ever compiled to date, I also have no doubt that it is anything but 100% accurate. So feel free to point out any inaccuracies/mistakes that you spot!

At some point in the future I may work on expanding this map to other states, but for now it is just limited to NY.

-------------------------------------------------

Already I've found the map to be super handy for my own planning purposes. I've even put together a version for personal use that just shows only those lean-tos/shelters that are part of the lean-to challenge, color coded by whether I've stayed in that particular shelter already or not.

BTW, my current count towards the lean-to challenge is 225 lean-tos camped in out of 398 total! 56% complete!

Last edited by DSettahr; 03-27-2020 at 12:09 PM..
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Old 10-06-2019, 06:50 PM   #2
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So you and I don't always agree on stuff, and that's fine. But two observations:

>You are as OCD as hell;

>This is actually a giant contribution and a great service to the hiking community, and the hiking community should thank you for this great work.

Thanks!
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Old 10-06-2019, 07:04 PM   #3
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Very cool! I hit #80 for myself this summer since you first posted the challenge.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:20 PM   #4
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Two weeks ago Lean2Rescue added a brand new leanto to campsite #27 on Indian Lake. There are three more such leanto kits to be erected on the lake. Site #51 is next at some future date.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:31 PM   #5
DSettahr
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Two weeks ago Lean2Rescue added a brand new leanto to campsite #27 on Indian Lake. There are there more such leanto kits to be erected on the lake. Site #51 is next at some future date.
Both are already included on the map.
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:37 PM   #6
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I recently read an article about the North Notch and South Notch ski trail through the Sentinel range that was used during the 1932 olympics. It briefly mentioned in the past tense that there used to be lean-tos, but didnt say what happened to them. Was wondering if anyone knows if the remnants are still around like the old Loch Bonnie lean-to?
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Old 10-06-2019, 10:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MaximusFunk24 View Post
I recently read an article about the North Notch and South Notch ski trail through the Sentinel range that was used during the 1932 olympics. It briefly mentioned in the past tense that there used to be lean-tos, but didnt say what happened to them. Was wondering if anyone knows if the remnants are still around like the old Loch Bonnie lean-to?
There were two lean-tos on the South Notch Trail. Both are shown on the old Plinth, Quoin & Cornice Associates maps of the High Peaks you can still find available for sale at some stores in the Adirondacks (despite being horrendously out of date at this point). One of the lean-tos still exists and is in pretty decent shape, but is on private property, not far from River Road on the outskirts of Lake Placid. I'm not entirely certain that there's any public access to it at present, hence why I did not include it on this map.

The other was located near South Notch itself (a short distance to the west and slightly downhill). I hiked the old South Notch ski trail back in 2012, and could not find any trace of it. The trail itself was pretty brushy and hard to follow in spots.

I've thought about possibly adding a third category- lean-tos that no longer exist (or, as in the case of the Loch Bonnie Lean-to, are in such horrendous shape that no one would have any desire to camp there). It'd require extensive research, though- especially concerning the numerous lean-tos that used to exist at Marcy Dam and Lake Colden.

The lean-to on the northeast shore of Osgood Pond is in similar condition, albeit in better shape than Loch Bonnie (hence it's inclusion on this map). I suspect that this is a "renegade lean-to," and was not constructed with DEC knowledge or authorization.
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Old 10-06-2019, 11:16 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info, though I will probably abandon the idea of searching on private property. I have looked for that lean-to on Osgood while paddling up the river, but must have missed it. Now that I have corroboration that it still exists I will go back and look harder sometime.
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Old 10-06-2019, 11:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MaximusFunk24 View Post
Thanks for the info, though I will probably abandon the idea of searching on private property. I have looked for that lean-to on Osgood while paddling up the river, but must have missed it. Now that I have corroboration that it still exists I will go back and look harder sometime.
I took a few photos of it while snowshoeing on Osgood this past winter: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vdhvqyTad2gXz4SPA
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Old 10-07-2019, 12:15 PM   #10
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Wow, that's ridiculous, and so incredibly helpful. I've already started adding the PA shelters on there (Old Logger's Path & Susquehannock Trail so far). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:13 AM   #11
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Well done. For the heck of it, I took your data and compared it to the NYSDEC dataset called "Points of Interest on Department of Environmental Conservation Lands"

I overlaid the two. You definitely have more Lean-to's plotted.

Here is the result: https://arcg.is/1XybHL

The green dots are your lean-to sites and the larger purple ones are from the NYSDEC dataset.

The NYSDEC dataset is still valuable because it has more than just lean-to's. I use it frequently for parking and primitive campsites. But I will be using your data for lean-to's going forward.

Thanks for taking the time to create it and share with the commuity.
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:08 PM   #12
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Do you guys know which Adirondack Lean-to Challenge is associated with this patch?

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1d/07...4c6ebe150e.png
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:13 PM   #13
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OK, found this on the WayBackMachine:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160820...org/challenge/

Looks like the site shut down in 2016. Sorry for the thread hi-jack.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:04 PM   #14
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Thanks for sharing, canít wait for the Lean-To book
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Old 10-16-2019, 08:14 PM   #15
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Thanks for the map, and the discussion. Once had the displeasure of staying at Camp Solitude on Lake Placid and decided hiking in the rain in mid-30's temps was better than being in the leaking, unheated house. I ended up at an equally decrepit lean-to but I was never able to pinpoint where I'd been and wondered why the lean-to didn't show up on any maps: Loch Bonnie.
One of the people I was with came across a real estate add listing Camp Solitude being for sale, I hope someone bought it and made improvements.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikerads View Post
Well done. For the heck of it, I took your data and compared it to the NYSDEC dataset called "Points of Interest on Department of Environmental Conservation Lands"

I overlaid the two. You definitely have more Lean-to's plotted.

Here is the result: https://arcg.is/1XybHL

The green dots are your lean-to sites and the larger purple ones are from the NYSDEC dataset.

The NYSDEC dataset is still valuable because it has more than just lean-to's. I use it frequently for parking and primitive campsites. But I will be using your data for lean-to's going forward.

Thanks for taking the time to create it and share with the commuity.
Most the lean-tos that appear in my set but don't appear in the DEC's set fall into one of several categories:
  • They are newer lean-tos and the DEC has not yet updated their GIS information (the GIS information is managed out of Albany, I believe, so there's usually a delay in updates to the data).
  • They are on non-DEC lands. Most of the remaining lean-tos are on State Parks lands outside of the Adirondack and Catskill State Parks, which are managed by a different agency- the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Of the remainder, some are on federal lands along the Appalachian Trail which falls under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, some are on county park lands (such as the shelters along the Eastside and Westside Overland Trails in western NY) and a few are on private property but are available for public use.
  • There are a few that are on DEC lands- and have existed for long enough that one would think they'd have been added to the database well before now. These appear mostly to be oversights- especially the significant number that are on State Forest lands on the western half of the Finger Lakes Trail that are completely missing. Again, the GIS databases are primarily maintained out of an office in (I believe) Albany, so there's unfortunately not always necessarily any direct knowledge of of the areas the databases contain information for by the staff that are tasked with maintaining them.

It's also interesting to note that there's one lean-to in the database you used for comparison that is missing from my information- the mythical "Crab Pond Lean-to" in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, which apparently just will not die. There is not a lean-to at Crab Pond, and there never has been one there. As near as I can tell, when the GIS databases were first created, what was actually a tent site was mistakenly recorded as a lean-to, and the information stuck. Even National Geographic included the Crab Pond Lean-to in their first edition of their map for the eastern Adirondacks.

I'd thought we'd finally killed the Crab Pond Lean-to but it looks like it's back once more, risen from the dead yet again. Just out of curiosity, where specifically did you source the data from? This particular data set looks to be somewhat recent, judging by the presence of the Cheney Pond Lean-to, which is only about 5 or 6 years old. Although it's missing Wolf Pond which I think is maybe 3 or 4 years old.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AvalanchePass View Post
Do you guys know which Adirondack Lean-to Challenge is associated with this patch?

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1d/07...4c6ebe150e.png
Quote:
Originally Posted by AvalanchePass View Post
OK, found this on the WayBackMachine:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160820...org/challenge/

Looks like the site shut down in 2016. Sorry for the thread hi-jack.
That "challenge" was short lived. There was some level of critique directed towards it, mainly that it was not particularly well thought out, and the site and all information pertaining to the challenge disappeared shortly thereafter. I will freely admit that some of that critique came from myself- despite the risk that it may have come across as self-righteous ("do as I say, not as a I do"). I'd question the rationality, however, of any sort of "challenge" that mandates overnight use as a requirement for meeting said challenge, given the potential for added impacts should that challenge ever gain popularity. And as I recall, the "Lean-to Challenge" required no fewer than 3 overnight trips into the High Peaks specifically (one each in the Eastern, Western, and Canoe Route zones). To encourage more overnight use in what is already a very heavily used area was not appropriate in my mind.

In contrast, my "Lean-to Challenge" has always been a fun little personal endeavor. And while I've definitely not held back from sharing information about it publicly, I've also never done so in a way that I feel provides motivation for others to attempt the same, so I'm not particularly worried about the potential for impacts. Sure maybe 1 or 2 other folks out there might feel inspired to follow in my footsteps (and maybe there's even someone out there who's closer to finishing than even I am), but I feel quite confident in that my endeavors are very much not the same thing as aspiring to be the next big patch that everyone and their mother runs (literally, in some cases) to achieve.

(And that's not to say that I have a problem with patch goals generally- that would be pretty hypocritical given how many of them I've worked towards personally. But I do have a problem with ones that aren't well thought out with consideration towards the potential for undue added impacts.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banjoe View Post
Thanks for the map, and the discussion. Once had the displeasure of staying at Camp Solitude on Lake Placid and decided hiking in the rain in mid-30's temps was better than being in the leaking, unheated house. I ended up at an equally decrepit lean-to but I was never able to pinpoint where I'd been and wondered why the lean-to didn't show up on any maps: Loch Bonnie.
One of the people I was with came across a real estate add listing Camp Solitude being for sale, I hope someone bought it and made improvements.
Yeah Loch Bonnie definitely fits the description of "decrepit." When I was there (nearly 10 years ago), the lean-to was very nearly in the loch thanks to the beavers. It also looked like you could stargaze through the ceiling.

I haven't been back since, but a friend hiked there last summer- and she said that the trails were horrendously overgrown in that neck of the woods. Forward progress on some stretches was apparently limited to a half-mile an hour at best.
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Old 03-27-2020, 01:55 PM   #17
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I've updated the information on the map. I added a few lean-tos that I've learned about since initially creating the map, and removed one that when I visited I found to have burned down years ago.

I did also change the color scheme to one that is color-blind-friendly- a request that was made when I initially posted this (sorry it took so long for me to get around to doing this, I've had a pretty busy winter). The new color scheme key is as follows:

Red dots are lean-tos/shelters that are part of the lean-to challenge. To be eligible, a shelter needs to be available for free use at least part of the year. Note that some of these shelters do still require a permit to use (but the permit is free). Some of these shelters are fee use also during at least part of the year.

Blue dots are lean-tos/shelters that are not part of the lean-to challenge. I.e., they are fee use only, or day use only.

I was able to add a few new lean-tos to my total over the course of the winter, and accordingly I also updated my personal map to reflect this.
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Old 03-27-2020, 05:02 PM   #18
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I am going to have to schedule quite a few longer trips to do all the lean-tos at Tioga Point.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:28 PM   #19
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I am going to have to schedule quite a few longer trips to do all the lean-tos at Tioga Point.
Yeah, I think to myself, "I really need to get started on those ones" every time I scroll past them while working on the map. I believe they revert to backcountry regulations in the off season, after the campground closes (although you might need a permit to camp there, not 100% sure on this).

One thought I had was to hike in via the trail from Sargent Ponds and spend a week hanging out there. Stay in a different lean-to each night. That would knock a good chuck of them out (although a week wouldn't net even the majority of them).

Thank goodness Alger Island doesn't revert to backcountry regulations in the off season, and thus doesn't meet my qualifications for what lean-tos I need to stay in. I don't have to worry about all of those lean-tos, at least. :-)

Last edited by DSettahr; 03-28-2020 at 07:19 AM..
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Old 03-29-2020, 12:56 PM   #20
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I am going to have to schedule quite a few longer trips to do all the lean-tos at Tioga Point.
Most of them are very close together & not very big. Off season or early/late in the season is an ideal time to stay at Tioga Point, but it can be very windy so you kinda take the good with the bad. Some friends and I have been going mid May/early June past few years and it’s been pretty quiet, except for us of course lol. Autumn, the AFR & caretaker, is a super nice lady!
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