Improvements to Indian Carry benefit paddlers

Last month, Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) staff and volunteers spent a day replacing bog bridging and repairing a pedestrian bridge on the Indian Carry, a portage that connects Stony Creek Ponds to Upper Saranac Lake. The improved path helps deter trail widening and makes carrying canoes and kayaks safer.

Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers improve Indian Carry. Photo by Mike Lynch.

The trail was suffering from erosion due to weather and foot traffic, and existing boards were rotting. It wasn’t pleasant for canoeists and kayakers to carry or wheel their boats,” said NFCT regional field coordinator Noah Pollock who organized the work day.

Six volunteers removed a deteriorating bridge and replaced it with 60 feet of boardwalk. Lumber and materials where provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. The Adirondack Land Trust, which was instrumental in conserving this property and constructing the portage trail in the 1980s, provided funding for this project.

While the exact location of the trail has moved over time, a carry has been in use in this area for centuries. Archeological evidence indicates that Native Americans had a temporary settlement at the south end of Upper Saranac Lake. They used a carry to connect the Saranac and Raquette River watersheds via Stony Creek Ponds.

In 1850, pioneer settler Jesse Corey built a hotel on the settlement and hauled canoes and people over the carry. In 1912, new owners closed the trail to public use resulting in the Tupper Lake Herald to report, “Old guides and canoeists are not happy about the closing of the old Indian Carry — the Adirondack guides have long come to regard this as public domain.”

The carry shifted and eventually included a 1.3-mile walk on Route 3. In the 1980s, the Adirondack Land Trust purchased land totaling 36.2 acres in Coreys, N.Y. that allowed the then Coreys Road Carry to be re-routed again but this time to a forested path.

Today, the trail known as Indian Carry, is on land owned by New York State and is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Thru-paddlers traveling from Old Forge, N.Y. to Fort Kent, Maine in one trip tend to use two-wheeled carts when they can, which makes portaging weeks’ worth of gear more convenient.

An NFCT thru-paddler happens to wheel by on the new boardwalk. Photo by Mike Lynch.

“Not only is the Northern Forest Canoe Trail promoting outdoor recreation across a wide geography, the group is also working locally with New York State DEC to provide vital stewardship of public trails on Forest Preserve. We applaud all parties involved and encourage more of this kind of collaborative stewardship across the park,” said Michael Carr, executive director, Adirondack Land Trust.

The new bog bridging at Indian Carry provides a more durable and wheel-able footpath that will help avoid trail widening and erosion especially under muddy conditions. Four of the participating volunteers did so in addition to their annual adopt-a-segment duties. NFCT oversees a group of 20 trail maintainers in New York who commit to do annual maintenance tasks along designated sections of the trail.