October, 2010 - My husband Kevin and I have had the North Hudson Trail System on our to-do list for a while - and even showed up at the trailhead last spring with our mountain bikes only to find that the trails were still covered with unbikeable icy snow. This perfect fall day, however, we had only colorful leaves with which to contend.
North Hudson Trail systemThe trailhead is near the old entrance to what used to be the Frontier Town theme park off I87 exit 29, and has an informational sign and maps of a series of loops on both sides of Route 9. The 7.7 miles of trails are marked with Red, Yellow and Blue markers and intersect frequently. We took a map, and headed off on the first red-to-the-right.
In less than a quarter of a mile, we were off-trail. Well, to clarify, we were on a trail, but the old falling down log church and ghost town in our sights indicated to us that perhaps we'd taken a wrong turn. We had inadvertently ridden onto the old Frontier Town property, and it was kinda neat to recall how it must have looked when in operation. (Both Kevin and I had been there as kids, but as very LITTLE kids).
As we stopped to take a couple of pictures, a truck came slowly driving in - and stopped next to me and opened his window. Now - I work for the visitors bureau, and am fairly adept at answering questions about the Adirondacks, and used to fielding media inquiries at any time and every day of the week. However, the driver caught me off guard. Apparently where he lives, all of the tourism experts wear bike shorts, a helmet and ridiculous protective eyewear at work. "When was this park open?" he asked. Of course, I immediately fell into character and said that it wasn't as long ago as the condition of these buildings would imply. I told him that I'd been there as a kid, but that it had been closed - I thought - since the 1980's - but that he should check online to verify. He thanked me and started off down the "road' back to civilization. We headed back onto the trails, determined to ride by color successfully. The trails are multi-use, meaning that we could theoretically come upon a horse, walker or other biker at any time, but we had the place to ourselves. We took the red-to-the-right to its conclusion, which turned into a steep singletrack on pine needles - (I made a mental note that red means "more difficult").The trail system takes up two sides of Route 9, and includes a triangle they called the "beginners trail". We took that to get to Route 9 itself, crossed the road and started off on a yellow trail. I was immediately struck by the landscape: it was like we had inadvertently stumbled on another old theme park. The ground was akin to a pillow, but somehow we maintained traction. I made Kevin ride back toward me so I could take his picture riding on the mossy singletrack.
We decided to take the outermost loops and head back, finding one more steep section of technical riding that included some downed trees for extra points. Most of the trails we tested were far from technical, though, and it was a wonderful ride, along the Schroon River at points, and through primarily evergreen forest. The majority of the trails were rolling, easy terrain; most wide enough for us to ride side-by-side. We concluded that these will be spectacular trails for skiing, and promptly added the trails back onto our to-do list for winter.
-Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.
Addendum: When I returned home and gained access to the world wide highway of e-information, I looked it up myself. Frontier Town was in operation from 1952 to 1998 (the original theme park effectively closed in 1985). It was developed by Arthur L. Bensen, who had a vision of a theme park where visitors could see American history come to life before their eyes. (The point here, I think, is that the information I provided that guy was right.) There's a site compiled by a fan with pictures and postcards HERE.