Steven Ovitt and Rick Morse, of the Siamese Ponds Trail Improvement Society, show off the new Thirteenth Lake to North Creek Trail System.
Now that Steven Ovitt is retired from the ranks of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) forest rangers, he is busier than ever with his new business venture — Wilderness Property Management — and with promoting the Thirteenth Lake to North Creek Trail System.
Ovitt, of Wevertown, and another member of the Siamese Ponds Trail Improvement Society — Rick Morse, of The Glen — gave a presentation to the North Creek Business Alliance Feb. 9, showing them a map and explaining the recreational benefits of the trail system that Ovitt developed as a forest ranger for this region.
“This is something North Creek has and should be promoted,” Morse said. “You can start in North Creek at the Ski Bowl, and you can walk fantastic trails in all directions. You can take a beautiful trail up along Roaring Brook by the reservoir to the top of Gore Mountain ... You can go to Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center. You can go to King’s Flow in Indian Lake ... It’s a huge trail system.”
A large map of the trail system was placed at the Johnsburg Town Hall after the Feb. 9 meeting. During the meeting, Morse and Ovitt tried to answer the question, “What does this mean for business owners in North Creek?”
“Why doesn’t North Creek have maps like this to hand out at the train station?” Morse said. “It’s a fantastic thing for people to be able to do here in the summer or during the winter.”
While a forest ranger, Ovitt started developing a plan for the trails in the 1990s.
“We went through the unit management planning process,” Ovitt said. “It took 10 years. I spent 10 years going to meetings and developing it, and then in 2004 we started to build it.”
As planning progressed, the challenge was to make the trail system family-friendly and something that would attract users. They wanted it to be a destination.
“There were a lot of historic trails out there,” Ovitt said. “What was wrong with the system? There were no loops. There were only dead-ends everywhere.”
So they developed a system with a series of loops, including a loop around Thirteenth Lake. Ovitt and volunteers from the Siamese Ponds Trail Improvement Society were able to use 14 miles of old trails to create the existing network.
“The old stuff that was garbage got thrown out, and new stuff got put in,” Ovitt said.
With 16 miles of new trails, there are now 30 miles of multi-season recreational trails in the Thirteenth Lake to North Creek Trail System.
“There is over a week’s worth of backcountry skiing here,” Ovitt said. “There’s a week’s worth of hiking for a family if they’re coming to stay here. You can start right here.”
Anyone interested in accessing the trail system can walk down to the North Creek train station and pick up the Carol A. Thomas Memorial Walking Trail), take it to the Ski Bowl, and walk from there to the top of Gore Mountain and back on a new, scenic trail along Roaring Brook. Or they can go all the way to Garnet Hill, then on to Siamese Ponds and King’s Flow.
“Most people don’t do the big stuff like that,” Ovitt said. “They do portions, two or three miles.
The trails can be used for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Some trails are better than others for certain recreational activities, and mountain biking is limited to small sections on state-owned Wild Forest land. Biking is not allowed on state-owned wilderness land, such as the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area, where a large portion of the trail system is located.
There is currently no written information on the trail system in guidebooks. Maps can be purchased for $2 at the Hudson River Trading Company.