DEC finalizes plans for the High Peaks, Vanderwhacker

RAY BROOK — The state Department of Environmental Conservation finalized its plans for the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest and the vastly expanded High Peaks Wilderness Area, including access to the recently purchased Boreas Ponds tract.

The two plans work in conjunction with each other, and after months of public comment and review, the DEC announced that they have been finalized, even though some of the work to enact them has already begun.

The state was able to expand the High Peaks Wilderness to more than a quarter-million acres through land purchases that were classified by the state Adirondack Park Agency earlier this year. The new High Peaks includes the former Dix Mountain Wilderness and part of the Boreas Ponds Tract.

While there is little new in the plans, the DEC said in a press release that it had already begun construction of a new trail from the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex to the summit of its namesake mountain. The DEC contracted with the Adirondack Mountain Club’s professional trail crew for the work.

Other highlights of the Vanderwhacker UMP include recreational access near Boreas Ponds and LaBier Flow; establishing mountain bike trails; and adding a number of parking areas and water access points at Boreas Ponds and Henderson Lake, as well as on the Hudson River.

The High Peaks plan calls for the DEC to establish and construct new trails up 21 currently trail-less peaks; expand backcountry skiing opportunities; and work with rock climbers on a temporary moratorium on placing new fixed equipment until an inventory of climbing resources can be completed.

The state Route 73 corridor will also see significant changes. The trailhead for Cascade Mountain — the most popular High Peak — will be permanently moved to Mount Van Hoevenberg, and numerous parking areas along the road will be closed or relocated.

Justin Levine can be reached at