Hal Moore and Libby Yokum stand on the New Land Trust in Saranac which consists of 287 acres, 10-12 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, a meadow and stage for music and a large stone labyrinth.
SARANAC — It was 1977, and they were students living together in Plattsburgh when they decided to buy some land.
“We were interested in an intentional community and living together and buying land and sort of protecting it over the long term,” said Hal Moore of Saranac. “We didn’t want to think of it as property but a place we could live, and it would be protected and not subject to being bought and sold.”
A lawyer helped them write up a trust agreement, and today the New Land Trust of Saranac consists of 287 acres, 10-12 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, a meadow and stage for music and a large stone labyrinth. A house also rests on the property and board members today are hoping to do agricultural sharing, utilizing a large barn.
On Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. through 4 p.m., they are holding their annual Fall Festival and Pot Luck at the 236 Plumadore Road property. The event will include apple cider making, cooking demonstrations, Yoga, tree identification trail tours, bird watching, music by Adrian Carr, art and more.
More information is available at newlandtrust.org.
“Everything here is open to the public and free,” said Jim King, the newest board member.
In fact, many people spend time on the land, including the region’s Eagle Scouts.
It started as a commune with about eight people in the 1970s.
“There was a barn on the property and we first renovated that into a living space,” Moore said. “And then two different couples built houses, and one was a club house.”
Some of the people involved with the trust lived there off an on until a couple years ago.
In 1994 it was incorporated as a 501 nonprofit.
“It sort of helped to ensure the property was never sold and was always used for educational purposes and recreational purposes,” Moore said.
Other uses at the property have included a sweat lodge, herb walks and a yearly gathering during the summer.
Jake Swamp, founder of the Tree of Peace Society, once planted a Tree of Peace on the property.
Over the past few years the property has taken on a slightly different feel, with the Scouts using it and many people coming to hike, ski and snow shoe, though it has maintained its educational and recreational component, such as a new trail for tree identification.
“For me personally, it has been a great learning experience over 40 years of being involved with the same piece of land,” Moore said. “I have watched the land itself change and have seen how different people have been educated there and affected by it. Being able to grow up there has taught me a lot about the natural environment.”
Moore has seen fields evolve into forests and watched some trees grow and others die.
Moore, a local woodworker by trade, is excited about the festival.
“It is an opportunity for people to get out and exercise,” he said. “Fall is a beautiful time of year to experience stuff and share food and community with other people and make new friends.”
Moore is Libby Yokum’s brother-in-law, and she would visit the area at least once a year for the celebration. Today, she’s a board member and cares deeply about the property.
She has seen changes herself as board members work to make the area even more inviting, adding a wooden bench here, a small map there and ensuring the upkeep of the trails.
“A lot of people didn’t know about this resource,” Yokum said. “But this place has everything.”
She urged the public to attend the Fall Festival, to learn to cook, listen to music, discover secrets about the North Country or to simply “walk the trails.”