Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area trailhead
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) commissioners March 15 approved a unit management plan (UMP) for the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area, located in the towns of Schroon, North Hudson and Minerva.
Board members unanimously approved the State Lands Committee’s resolution, saying the UMP “conforms with the general guidelines and criteria of the Adirondack State Land Master Plan.” The UMP is a five-year management plan with specific activities designated for each year.
Major changes to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area include establishing new camping areas, limiting group size for daytime and overnight trips, enhancing brook trout fishing opportunities, and working with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program to manage and eradicate invasive plants.
The 38,488-acre Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area (HNWA) is located entirely in Essex County: west of Schroon Lake and the Adirondack Northway, east of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, south of the Blue Ridge Road (County Route 2) in the town of North Hudson, and north of the Hoffman Road (County Route 24).
The acreage spans three townships:
•Town of Schroon: 21,439 acres
•Town of North Hudson: 14,332 acres
•Town of Minerva: 2,886 acres
There are 14.9 miles of trails in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness: the Bailey Pond Trail (.8 miles), Hoffman Notch Trail (7.4 miles), Mount Severance Trail (1 mile) and Big Pond Trail (5.7 miles). There is also a wide array of unmarked trails.
Most trails in the unit are used by a variety of recreationists including those interested in hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, fishing and hunting.
Currently, three trail registers are located in the HNWA. The oldest trail register exists at the base of Mount Severance.
Major proposals in the draft UMP include:
•Reduce the distribution of nonnative and native‐but‐widely‐introduced fish species, and increase the abundance of the depressed native brook trout. This will include reclaiming Marion Pond.
•Restore a native fish community in Marion Pond through reclamation.
•Manage one pond (Marion) as an Adirondack brook trout pond, and one pond (Bailey) as a Coldwater pond.
•Manage two ponds (Big and North) as Warmwater ponds.
•And assess North Pond as a potential reclamation candidate to restore a native fish community there.
•Adopt regulations to limit the maximum number of overnight users to groups of eight. This will be implemented over a two-year period.
•Adopt regulations to limit the size of day use groups to a maximum of 15 persons per party. This will be implemented over a two-year period.
There are no designated primitive campsites located in this unit. There are numerous fire rings: three on North Pond and one each on Bailey Pond, Big Marsh, Tyrrell Marsh, Big Pond, Marion Pond and one in Hoffman Notch located mostly on the larger bodies of water where people have camped.
•Due to the absence of any designated tent sites in the unit, two tent sites will be designated at Big Pond.
•Designate and develop a tent site at Bailey Pond with accessibility in mind. Level / hardened site with accessible fire ring and accessible Privy.
•Construct a lean‐to in the vicinity of Platt Brook along the 4‐mile new trail segment.
•Designate one campsite on North Pond
•Install accessible box privy at all designated tent sites and lean‐to.
The HNWA is served by six public entry points, five of which are considered developed, as a parking area is available at that location. One additional trailhead / parking area is planned for the northwest portion of the unit along the Blue Ridge Rd.
•Replace privy at Lock Muller Trailhead with accessible privy.
•Increase the size of the Big Pond Trailhead parking by one to two vehicle spaces.
•Construct a three- to four-car parking lot in existing driveway along Blue Ridge Road Access point #7 near northwest corner of the unit and construct associated unmarked path approximately 1 mile in length with associated two- to three-log bridge along private land boundary to link up with old road access to Durgin Farm. This would provide a much needed access to the Northwest corner of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.
•Construct a five‐car parking area at the Hoffman Notch Trailhead on the Blue Ridge Road.
•Eliminate any identified populations of invasive plant species that are discovered in the unit. These actions may be carried out by DEC personnel or by members of APIPP or other volunteers under supervision of DEC through an Adopt‐a‐Natural Resource Agreement.
•Re‐establish, to the extent possible, self‐sustaining wildlife populations of species that are extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern in habitats where their existence will be compatible with other elements of the ecosystem and human use of the area.
•Conduct surveys for spruce grouse and evaluate the distribution and quality of potential spruce grouse habitat. Based on results of the surveys and habitat assessment, consider reintroducing this species.
•Improve accessibility of trail to Bailey Pond and the Big Pond Trail from Hoffman Road to first water body. Both of these trails are old road beds and retain that character over most of the trail length described here. Improvement will include trail hardening and improved drainage on muddy stretches of trail and bridging over drainages that would significantly impede wheelchair use.
•Near the summit of Severance Hill, a short loop reroute of approximately 200 feet is proposed to alleviate a section of eroded trail.
•Regardless of the North Country National Scenic Trail, adopt the eastern 4‐mile Platt Brook trail segment from North Pond to Route 9 to be constructed as an addition to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness trail system
•Develop and cut out an unmarked trail and corresponding three- to four-car parking area along the northwest portion of the Unit. This approximately one‐mile trail segment will head south east from the Blue Ridge Rd. and roughly follow the property line of the adjoining private parcel. This trail will link up with the old access road to the Durgin Farm and provide access to the northwest corner of the Hoffman Unit.
Eight bridges currently exist on Hoffman Notch Trails. Many of these bridges are in good to excellent condition. Some crossing locations are missing bridges that had them in the past.
•Reroute a portion of the Hoffman Notch Trail to avoid two large Hoffman Notch Brook crossings. A ¼ mile reroute has been identified which would eliminate the need for two large bridge crossings on Hoffman Notch Brook.
•Construct bridges along Bailey Pond Trail to improve accessibility. While this trail will not be constructed to be universally accessible, drainages that would significantly impede wheelchair access along this trail will be bridged.
•Construct two bridges on unit trails and two smaller bridges on proposed reroute. The two bridges on unit trails will consist of, one on the Hoffman Notch Trail over the Hoffman Notch Brook, and one on the Big Pond Trail.
Accessibility for persons with disabilities
•Increase the accessibility of two portions of trails in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. Bailey Pond Trail and Big Pond trail retain old road characteristics over portions of their length. While it would not be feasible to make these trails universally accessible, portions of these trails will be improved for accessibility allowing improved access for people with less severe disabilities. Bailey Pond Trail will be improved from the trailhead to Bailey Pond and The Big Pond Trail will be improved from the Trailhead to the first large water body.