Project Status

Rails have been removed between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.  Surfacing of the trail and the addition of signage and amenities will begin once permitting is complete.  Permits are required from the Adirondack Park Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers due to the corridor's passage through wetlands, permits that were not required previously due to an exemption for active railroads.  The current estimate is that it will take several years to obtain the necessary approvals and complete the trail's construction.  In the interim the rough trail is open for hiking and mountain bike (prefraably fat tire) use.

History:

In 2010 an informal group of local Adirondack residents, later incorporated as Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA), organoized a public discussion at the Crown Plaza hotel in Lake Placid  on the possibility of converting the mostly abandoned rail corridor between Thendara (Old Forge) and Lake Placid to recreational uses.  Encouraged by the public's enthusiam, ARTA underwrote a study by Camoin Associates of the three choices: do nothing, convert to recreational uses. or restore rail service.  Theyh concluded that doing nothing was the worst choioce and that either of the other choices would be better.  Based on this 2011 study ARTA commissioned a far more detailed study by the Rails top Trails Conservancy (RTC) that concluded in 2012 with a strong recommendation flor conversion to recreational uses based on estimates of over 200,000 new annual visitors to the trail who would spend pover $20 million on local goods and services.

ARTA then sought petitions to the state from citizens, businesses, and communities along the corridor, garnering over 13,000 citizen petitions, over 400 business petitions, and resolutions from all of the affected municipalities in favor of conversion to recreation. The state responded with its own studies by the Departments of Envionmental Conservation and Transportation and the Adirondack Park Agency.  THis resulted in a proposed revision to the 1996 Unoit Management Plan (UMP) that listed full or p[artioal conversioon to recreation as one of six choices for the future corroidor.

On February 12th, 2016 the APA voted almost unanimously to support the proposed rail-trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and the possible extension of rail service north from Big Moose to Tupper Lake.  The next step, was the May 17, 2016 formal announcement of the Governor's approval of the plan.  In September 2016 the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) invited members of the affected communities along the 34-mile section of the trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to join a "Stakeholders Group" that is advising DEC on trail surface, access points, safety, trail maintenance, and related topics.  Meetings have been held every 2-3 weeks and will continue until a more permanent public/private steering committee or organization is chartered with trail coordination.  A preliminary report from engineers was developed in April, 2017.

After the UMP revisioon was approved the Adirondack Scenic Railroad announced that it would file suit to block the construction of the rail-trail.  The suit was heard by Judge Robert Main.  In September 2017 he ruled for the plaintiffs, on three bases: the historic remediation had been approved by the Department of Parks after the UMP was issued, the title to three properties along the corridor had been cleared after the UMP was issued, and (most important) the definition of "travel corridor" in the State Land Use Master Plan did not, he opined, permit recreational uses. 

The first two were procedural and easily remedied but the third which the State has challenged, interpretation of the Master Plan, required a revision to that master plan and a re-start on the unit management process.   On March 8, 2018 the Adirondack Park Agency proposed changes to the State Land Master Plan that would accommodate rail trails. Hearings were held in April 2018 and a public comment period was provided until May 7, 2018. On December 13, 2018 the APA voted to change the Travel Corridors classification definition to permit recreational activity sanctioned under an approved Unit Management Plan (UMP). This change received Governor Cuomo's signature, allowing DEC and DOT to restate the UMP process for the Remsen-Lake Placid travel corridor. 

In November, 2019, the DEC and DOT issued a Draft Amendment to the 1996 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan and Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, with hearings to follow. The commentary received was similar to that received in the nearly-identical 2016 Unit Management Plan that was voided in a court action (see below), the agencies submitted a final Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan (UMP) to the Adirondack Park Agency in 2020 that the Governor approved, so construction of the trail began with removal of the tracks and ties starting in October, 2020.