The New York conservation group the Adirondack Land Trust recently acquired 600 acres of land with an eye toward improving mountain biking opportunities in the Adirondacks.
On Wednesday, the Adirondack Land Trust announced the purchase of Four Peaks, a 600-acre tract in the towns of Jay and Wilmington adjacent to Wilmington Wild Forest’s Beaver Brook tract, which is popular for mountain biking, trail running, hiking and hunting.
“We believe this acquisition will help spread the positive impact of mountain biking in Adirondack communities while maintaining the intact forest between Bassett Mountain, Wainwright Mountain, Ebenezer Mountain and Rattlesnake Knob,” said Adirondack Land Trust board chairman Bill Paternotte. “Our objectives are to make the Adirondack Park a better place to live, work and play, and this project helps advance all of those goals.”
In Wilmington, mountain biking is powering a revival of small businesses catering to cyclists. In 2017, Wilmington was named one of “America’s 20 Best Mountain Bike Towns” by National Geographic. The community hosts a variety of trail systems built mainly by Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) in partnership with the Adirondack Mountain Club and Student Conservation Association. BETA is a volunteer-driven organization that maintains over 100 miles of ski and bike trails across six Adirondack towns.
New York State has identified the Four Peaks tract in its Open Space Conservation Plan for the potential to expand multi-use recreational opportunities from the Beaver Brook trail network (known locally as Hardy Road), which features 8.5 miles of single-track bike trail. The Land Trust will conduct an ecological inventory to ensure that future trails are sited with consideration of conservation values. The Land Trust will consult with partners (BETA, Town of Jay, Town of Wilmington, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation[NYSDEC]) to plan trails that connect the Wilmington network to Jay. The land remains closed to public recreation in the meantime.
“In recent years, the success of mountain bike development in Wilmington and surrounding communities can be attributed to the incredible dedication of BETA’s members and volunteers, and partnerships with NYSDEC, municipalities, private landowners, and organizations like the Adirondack Land Trust,” said BETA executive director Josh Wilson. “We look forward to working with the Land Trust to plan for future public use of the property via a diverse, sustainable and interconnected network of trails for human-powered recreation.”
“The Town of Jay looks forward to working with partners to expand our recreational offerings,” added Jay town supervisor Archie Depo.
Lake Placid Land Conservancy last year acquired land that enabled construction of a new 1.5-mile mountain bike trail connecting Wilmington’s community center to Hardy Road.
The Adirondack Land Trust worked with the estate of the late Martin Schwalbaum to honor his wish to conserve Four Peaks, which he had managed as a low-impact cabin resort. The purchase price was $509,000; the Adirondack Land Trust expects to incur $700,000 in cumulative costs before anticipated transfer to New York State as Forest Preserve.
Founded in 1984, the Adirondack Land Trust works to protect farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas and other lands contributing to the quality of life of our communities as well as the wildness and rural character of the Adirondacks. The land trust has protected 23,637 acres to date.