SCHROON LAKE - As bicycling enthusiasts met this week to draft ways to expand and promote their sport in Warren County, town officials hailed their ideas to develop new bicycling trails and routes in the upcounty region.
County Board of Supervisors' immediate past chairman Fred Monroe said Dec. 31 he was very enthusiastic about the county-sponsored biking group's ideas to develop new trails and routes because it could boost tourism, which is vital to the area economy.
"Bicycling is becoming an extremely popular sport, and expanding bike paths would be a tremendous asset to the region," he said.
Monroe's counterpart to the south echoed his opinion.
"Anytime we're enhancing recreational opportunities up north in the county, it's a very worthwhile effort," Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said, noting that Warrensburg, Chester, Stony Creek and Thurman all
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offered ideal routes for challenging, scenic two-wheeled travel. "Bicycling has caught on with the public, and the sport is enjoyed by both residents and tourists."
This county-sponsored bicycling group, the Warren County Safe & Quality Bicycling Citizens Advisory Board, discussed extension of trails, developing brochures, and advocating for safety, as they met Dec. 29.
"One of our goals is to extend an official bike trail through northern Warren County," board leader Lloyd Mott of Queensbury said.
The effort is to include developing both backwoods trails and marked pathways along existing roads. All would be mapped out and made known to tourists and residents.
No longer would the Warren County Bikeway - now extending from Glens Falls to Lake George - stand alone as the main option for a scenic, pleasant ride in the area.
Monroe, Supervisor of the town of Chester, noted that one worthwhile effort would be to interconnect existing woodland bicycle trails while developing new ones. Also, such pathways could link up to Warren County's scenic railroad as well as follow their right-of-way through the wilds. He added that an effort was under way in his town to develop bike trails round Loon Lake and Friends Lake. Also, a trail is envisioned to extend from Chestertown down state Rte. 8 to the Schroon River, following Carl Turner Road and Valley Farm Road to Pottersville and Schroon Lake.
Noting that bicycling was a popular family sport as well as a passion with adult enthusiasts, Monroe also suggested that easements over both state-owned and private land be acquired to develop a comprehensive trail network.
Mott noted that in an effort to boost biking county-wide, the Bicycling advisory board was seeking more members, particularly from northern Warren County. The group objectives, he said, included instituting an ongoing safety and education program for bike and vehicle drivers, and improving the existing bike trails.
Bicycling's tourism potential was recently proven in the county, as Lake George hosted the Le Grand Tour last summer. This six-day bicycling event, based in Queensbury and Lake George, extended to Ticonderoga and Plattsburgh. The August event attracted about 1,800 two-wheel enthusiasts, primarily from Canada.
This year, another event is anticipated: a Centurion series bicycle race to be held June 23 through 26, with hundreds of bicyclists following a route around Lake George, and in the process pedaling through Hague, Horicon, Bolton, Chestertown and Warrensburg as well as the town of Lake George. The race recently was awarded $33,000 in county Occupancy Tax funds.
County officials have said that although these are one-time events, they will expose bicyclists from afar to the county's recreational assets as well as prompting return visits by participants and their family and friends.
In this vein, the county officials have said it would be beneficial if the county develop more bikeways and trails.
The bicycling advisory board has already blazed about a mile and a half of new single-track trails near Gurney Lane exclusively for mountain biking, but far greater plans are now in the works for woods-based trails as well as paved paths and widened, marked bike lanes on road shoulders, Mott said.
Initially, plans are in the works to use existing cross-country trails in Cole's Woods, as well as developing new trails in the wooded Glens Falls city watershed on the side of West Mountain in the vicinity of Butler and Potter roads.
(Adirondack Journal intern Patrick Freebern contributed to this report.)