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New York State Department of State and Hamilton County Announce Completion of Trail and Lodging Initiative Focused on Outdoor Activities and Hamlet Enjoyment for Visitors

The New York State Department of State (DOS) today announced the completion of several major projects that implement the Adirondack Hamlet-to-Huts (ADKH2H) initiative. The projects focus on improving several routes and trails and creating an online system for Adirondack hikers, paddlers, and bikers to plan and customize their trips to various outdoor destinations—including trails, hamlets and downtowns, among others. DOS provided a $219,000 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) grant and partnered with Hamilton County and ADKH2H, a not-for-profit organization, to implement the projects. 

“The Adirondack North Country offers an abundance of exciting destinations and experiences, with its vast natural resources and historic hamlets and downtowns,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “The Hamlets-to-Huts Implementation projects tie all of these pieces together to maximize the enjoyment and appreciation of this spectacular area for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The ADKH2H initiative represents the perfect combination of outdoor recreation and exercise, hamlet revitalization, sustainable tourism, and economic development. It’s the perfect one-stop planning tool for tourists to get the true Adirondack experience.”

The goal of the ADKH2H Implementation project is to create, manage and promote a world-class system that advances sustainable tourism, conservation, outdoor experiences, hamlet visitation and wellness. Eco-friendly options were prioritized during implementation. 

The implementation project encompasses several, inter-connected components:

  • On-Line Reservation System to Easily Book Trips

An on-line system allows hikers, paddlers and bikers to plan, book and customize their multi-destination, multi-day trips.  The Kunjamuk Circuit, for example, is a 3-night, 2-day bike and paddle trip out of Speculator on Lake Pleasant; a September 2021 pilot trip of this route was a Priority Project that provided the opportunity to utilize capital-light lodging to create and provide a “glamping” (glamorous camping) experience for the Hamlets-to-Huts trekkers at the north end of the Speculator Tree Farm Easement.  Nearly 100 trekkers contributed over $50,000 in the initial phase of these routes.

  • Improvement and Opening of Hamlet-to-Hut Routes

Several trails, routes, and circuits in Hamilton County were improved and opened to the public.  Trails are located primarily in the Old Forge/Blue Mountain Lake corridor, with other routes tested and implemented in the North Creek/Indian Lake corridor, the Speculator Region and the Wanakena-Cranberry Lake area.  The ADKH2H routes start, pass through, and end in various Adirondack communities and is intentionally designed as such to bring additional business to various lodging opportunities, restaurants, local shops, entertainment venues and other commercial enterprises. 

The plan focused on and tailored a message that showcases the key differentiations in this Hamlet-to-Huts system from other trails and lodging trips, especially the customization the experiences for participating enthusiasts.  This one-of-a-kind experience is available to an array of people, whether young or retired.

  • Lodging and Service Affiliate Network

A network of public and private partners working together to facilitate a complete and fulfilling Adirondack experience. This network partnered with existing lodging establishments and services that met a set of the criteria for the project. 

Many of these projects implement the previously completed Adirondack Community-based Trails & Lodging System (ACTLS), which was funded and administered by DOS.  ACTLS conceptualized the network of trails, routes and circuits piloted and promoted in the lodging reservation system and enhanced recreation-based tourism at a community level. The lodging and trail network could be seen as a target need from the Hamilton County and partners efforts from Hamilton County and partner efforts from another grant supported by funding from Title 11 of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The County, in partnership with the Adirondack Partnership, had successfully completed that grant, which centered on advancing priority projects identified in an economic development strategy. More information on the hamlets to huts project and for reserving the trips can be found at https://adkh2h.org/.

Adirondack Hamlets to Huts involved collaboration with numerous stakeholders, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Hamilton County, who together helped with the site preparation for the Speculator Tree Farm Easement glamping site; the Hamilton County Town Supervisors; local municipal tourism offices; and several Lodging Affiliates, including the Forge Motel, The Woods Inn and Great Camp Sagamore; and outfitter affiliates, including Frisky Otter Tour in Inlet.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “From hiking and paddling, to camping, climbing, skiing, and snowmobiling, the Adirondacks provide endless outdoor recreation opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors alike. DEC applauds the great work done by our agency partners at the Department of State, Hamilton County, and the Adirondack Community-based Trails and Lodging System, to implement the Adirondack Hamlet-to-Huts initiative and deliver new outdoor adventures to people of all ages and abilities by improving trails and increasing access to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural resources.”

Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "New York's network of scenic trails and waterways provide endless opportunities for travelers to explore the state's picturesque landscapes. The Hamlet-to-Huts initiative will make it even easier for outdoor enthusiasts to seamlessly plan their excursions through Hamilton County and the surrounding Adirondack region and encourage even more people to find what they love and come be a part of it in New York State."

Adirondack Park Agency Executive Director Barbara Rice said, “The Adirondack Park Agency is very excited with the successful implementation of the Adirondack Hamlet to Huts Initiative.  The Agency extends its sincere congratulations to Hamilton County and its partners whose expertise and dedication moved this project forward.  We eagerly look forward to the future expansion of the Hamlets to Huts initiative parkwide.”

Town of Indian Lake and Chairman of Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Brian E. Wells said, “The Hamlets-to-Huts project brought a unique idea to explore the Adirondacks,” said. “The 60-plus routes through the Adirondacks using various modes of transportation in a multitude of ways literally offered something for everyone at any age or fitness level. Jack Drury and Joe Dadey brought a modern-day twist to a centuries-old Adirondack tradition, that of being a guide. The times may have changed but the results remain the same, being one with nature and finding our inner peace. Thank you to NYS DOS LWRP.”

Town of Morehouse Supervisor and former Chair of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors William Farber said, “"The Hamlets to Huts project has been the essence of good planning and great partnerships.", said William Farber, former Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair. "The seeds for the work was a blend of leadership and determination of the ACTLS team, coupled with the partnership of DOS, DEC, Hamilton County, and others. It is appropriate that the foundational work for these planning efforts and what we now see being implemented, was the Adirondack Partnership. I want to congratulate and thank Joe, Jack, the DOS team, and the DEC team for all of their work! Great job one and all!!!"

Executive Director of ADKH2H Joe Dadey said, “I am grateful to the NYS DOS, Bill Farber (former County Chairman) and all the Hamilton County Supervisors, the NYS DEC, our lodging, outfitter, and service affiliates, and our donors, members, and trekkers for all the support and collaboration we have received in the implementation phase of our (Adirondack) Park-wide initiative to establish community-based hut-to-hut routes in the Adirondacks. The good times had by trekkers on our operational routes and the economic activity that our hikers, paddlers, and bikers have brought to communities in the Old Forge – Blue Mountain Lake corridor, Speculator, and the Cranberry Lake region is a testament to the vision and the cooperative efforts of many people to help bring a new form of recreation to the Adirondacks that promotes vibrant communities, conservation, and wellness. We have only just begun, and we look forward to expanding our efforts throughout the Park.”

ADKH2H co-founder Jack Drury said, “The ACTLS grant of 2015 laid the foundation and provided the vision [for this project]. This latest effort allowed us to implement the first of what will hopefully be many routes. The sky’s the limit. We feel a sense of urgency to develop more routes through the Park as we look to meet the strong interest in our project.” 

Project Administrator Nancy Berkowitz said, “Living in Hamilton County, I’ve often heard that visitors buy their equipment and supplies before they come, and local shop owners don’t really benefit”, said. “The idea of bringing visitors to hamlets to begin their trip and end their trips really contributes to the economic health of local communities.”

Executive Director of Great Camp Sagamore Emily Martz said, "Hamlets-to-Huts is valuable for bringing visitors to Hamilton County, the most remote county in the park. Joe and his team create an authentically Adirondack adventure where travelers get to experience these historic waterways and trails in ways that most visitors do not. Travelers to Great Camp Sagamore paddle and hike the same route to Camp that visitors would have taken at the turn of the 20th century. Joe and his team provide superb service to their clients, and we value their partnership."

Tourism Director for the Town of Inlet Information Office Adele Burnett said, “I definitely see the Hamlets to Huts Initiative as a great benefit to the Town of Inlet businesses and community.  I bumped into a group who were staying at Marina Motel during one of the trips and they kept saying what a great experience it was. I am sure H2H will introduce many to the awesomeness of the wilderness in the Inlet and surrounding areas, which can only benefit the economy and more. Thank you for continuing with this!”

Funding for this initiative was provided through Title 11 of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, which was increased by Governor Hochul this year from $300 million to $400 million.  For more information on the LWRP, see https://dos.ny.gov/local-waterfront-revitalization-program; learn more about the Adirondack Hamlets to Huts initiative at https://adkh2h.org/.

The Department of State’s LWRP, funded under Title 11 of the EPF, provides matching grants on a competitive basis to eligible villages, towns, cities and counties located along New York’s coasts or designated inland waterways for planning, design and construction projects to revitalize communities and waterfronts. The DOS Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure works in partnership with waterfront communities across the State through the LWRP focusing on protecting natural and cultural resources, expanding public access opportunities and strengthening the local economy. This program helps communities breathe new life into their underused waterfront assets in ways that ensure successful and sustainable revitalization. To learn more about the LWRP, visit https://dos.ny.gov/local-waterfront-revitalization-program; learn more about the Adirondack Hamlets to Huts initiative at https://adkh2h.org/.