Description - The Adirondacks Park was established by the New York State Legislature in 1892. Originally conceived simply as an area in which additions to the Forest Preserve would be concentrated, the Park has evolved into an unprecedented blending of public and private lands where people live in a landscape whose historic character and natural environment are protected.
Of the 6 million acres encircled by the Park's boundary, or "blue line," nearly 3.5 million acres are privately owned. The Park's many towns and villages are home to 130,000 people. The lumber and paper industries, tourism, construction and mining are major sources of employment for the Park residents.
The wonderful wildlife habitat of the Adirondacks offers a teaming fifty-four species of mammals and 200 species of birds. White-tailed deer, black bear, bobcat, ruffed grouse, fisher, pine marten, beaver, coyote and the recent migrant, the moose, along with migrating and nesting songbirds, mergansers, great blue heron, the common loon and the barred owl are commonly counted. The water habitats of this vast region include cold trout streams, glacial ponds, deep sparkling lakes, quiescent marshes, acid bogs and evergreen swamps. Upland communities include both evergreen and hardwood forest of various ages and alpine zones on the highest mountaintops.
- The diverse system of State lands in the Adirondack Mountain region of New York is known collectively as the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Along with similar lands in the Catskills, the Adirondack Forest Preserve was created in 1885 by an act of the New York State Legislature.
It was the culmination of a preservation movement that grew out of concern about widespread tree cutting to support the lumber, paper, leather tanning, and iron mining industries in the Adirondacks that began in earnest in the 1850's. Preservation advocates like Verplanck Colvin, Charles Sprague Sargent, and Franklin B. Hough championed the protection of the Adirondack region as a vast public park.
At the same time, influential New York City merchants feared that continued logging would lead to reduced flows in the Hudson River and Erie Canal, the major upstate transportation corridors of the day. Together they achieved one of the earliest acts of public land preservation in the nation.
After the establishment of the Forest Preserve, attempts to weaken the law that established it led the State to give it even stronger protection in 1894, when these now famous words were added to the New York State Constitution:
"The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed."
Originally consisting of scattered parcels covering about 681,000 acres, the Adirondack Forest Preserve has grown over the past century to more than 2.6 million acres, making it the largest complex of wild public lands in the eastern United States.
Today the Forest Preserve is still important for protecting the headwaters of many of New York's major rivers. As an undisturbed natural landscape, it is a haven for a host of distinctive plants, fish and wildlife, some of which live nowhere else in the state. A wild natural environment is also the quality that attracts increasing numbers of visitors to the Forest Preserve. Whether you see it in the background on a drive to an Adirondack inn or experience it directly by leaving the road to hike or canoe, hunt, fish or camp, you can find recreation in a land of forests, mountains and lakes in the Forest Preserve.
Recreation - The protected Adirondack land ranges from remote backcountry to well-traveled mountain trails. It provides a tremendous resource both for preservation and recreation. Throughout the park, the state Department of Environmental Conservation maintains more than 2,000 miles of marked trails available for people of all interests and abilities. A family can take a short hike to a picnic spot near a waterfall or climb a mountain with a fire tower. Solitude can be easily found backpacking along the Northville-Lake Placid Trail or canoeing in the lake country of the central Adirondacks. Equestrians can discover elevated views of Lake George, and many rugged trails in wild forest areas are open to mountain bikes. In winter, opportunities include a snowmobile ride to Wilcox Lake, a weekend of downhill skiing at Whiteface Mountain or a day of ski-touring in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. Big game hunting includes white-tailed deer and black bear. Forty-two campgrounds are visited by nearly three quarters of a million people each year from the bustling Fish Creek Campground to the seclusion of the Indian Lake Islands, accessible only by boat. Areas like the Moose River Plains and Aldrich Pond Wild Forests are available for a variety of motorized and non-motorized recreation, including snowmobiles. Two historic areas, John Brown's Farm and Crown Point may be toured. The intensive recreational use is centered around Gore Mountain and Whiteface Mountain Ski Areas including the scenic highways ascending Whiteface and Prospect Mountains. Numerous picnic groves are also found throughout the region. Fishing and bird watching round out the list of experiences available on the Forest Preserve lands.
Access for people with disabilities includes campgrounds, educational centers and many other facilities which offer camping, picnicking, fishing and nature viewing. In addition, people with disabilities can obtain special hunting licenses and permits for access to the Forest Preserve. DEC regional office has details.
Climate - The Adirondacks has a varied climate with average January temperatures from below 14 degrees reaching to 18 Fahrenheit (below -10 to -8 degrees Celsius). Summer temperatures average around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). There are fewer than 100 days of frost-free growing season in the Adirondacks. Precipitation in the region ranges from 36 to more than 44 inches of rain and snowmelt. The southwestern slopes of the Adirondacks, Tug Hill in particular, receives more than 44 inches.
The Adirondack Forest Preserve, consisting of 2.6 million acres is located throughout northern New York with boundaries on the eastern edge that include Lake Champlain, The Saratoga / Capital Travel Region lies to the south and the Central Travel Region touches the southwest corner of the Adirondacks. Looping from the western area up to the north and over to Lake Champlain is the Thousand Islands Travel Region.
From the South: Take Interstate 87 North to Exits 20 through 39 (or US 9) which lead to various Adirondack communities, state and local highways that provide access to Forest Preserve lands and recreational facilities.
From the East: A variety of routes are available to visitors from the east. From Massachusetts and points south access Interstate 90 and then Interstate 87 or US 9 heading north. From Vermont and New Hampshire, several ferries cross Lake Champlain. You may also cross Lake Champlain at the picturesque Crown Point Bridge connecting Vermont Highway 17 with Essex County Route 8. US 4 connects with NY Route 22, providing access to the southeastern portion of the Park.
From the West: Take the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) to Exits 31 through 24 to access various Adirondack communities, state and local highways that provide access to Forest Preserve lands and recreational facilities.
From the North: A number of bridges crossing the St. Lawrence River provide access to highways that connect to NY SR 3, 30 and 812, which provide access to the northwestern portion of the Park as well as connections to the remainder of the region.
Mid May through Labor Day.