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  1. #1
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Default Where the A-T is likely formally closed, NY/CT/MA

    I have some decent maps that show public ownership of land parcels in
    NY/CT/MA, and I'm trying to locate "definitely good" areas where the
    National Park Service - and, indeed the Federal government - does not
    control the land that the A-T passes over. This section suffers a
    heavy impact from the shutdown, because the NPS owns a lot of land.

    We are told that "all National Parks are closed to the public",
    and I'm forced to assume that the closure encompasses the land that
    the NPS has acquired to protect the Trail corridor. Unfortunately,
    that encompasses a good bit of the road accesses, even in areas where
    there are fair distances of the trail on State lands that are
    otherwise open. There are a lot of minor stretches of A-T that are
    essentially unnamed National Parks.

    I similarly am not considering private lands where the Trail passes
    over an easement. The easements are granted to the public on condition
    that the US Government indemnify the landowner; there is no indemnity
    during the shutdown. A prudent landowner is likely to suspend the
    easement at this time. For this reason, I'm not about to assume that a
    hiker has permission, for instance, to enter Greymoor Friary lands
    without specific permission from the superior.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    THE DETAILS:

    The good news: New York has not announced any closures anywhere in its
    state parks. This means that the trail should be accessible anywhere
    between State Route 17 near the Elk Pen and US 9 east of the
    Hudson. That section passes only through the Harriman, Bear Mountain,
    and Hudson Highlands state parks and on public highways, where it
    presumably remains legal to walk. (If an A-T closure made it unlawful
    to walk on a public highway, I'm sure that the good citizens of towns
    such as Hanover would be up in arms!)

    West of Harriman, the situation on the A-T is not good. There are
    short sections of NPS land at close intervals; it's nearly
    impossible to choose a route that would avoid trespassing on
    it. Alternatives would include exiting Harriman Park farther south and
    connecting into the trail system of Sterling Forest State Park, which
    would get a hiker into New Jersey on the east side of Greenwood Lake
    as far as Greenwood Lake Turnpike. (I am not considering New Jersey,
    so I am not going to advise on connections from there.)

    A less attractive but still lawful alternative would be to depart from
    the A-T onto the New York Long Path northward out of Harriman, and
    follow its routing (which is mostly roadwalk and rail-trail) to the
    Shawangunk Ridge Trail, and take the latter south to Port Jervis. This
    route is quite deficient in opportunities to camp, or even to stay in
    a town, and, as I observed, is mostly on pavement.

    East of US 9, it's hard to describe routes that avoid Federal land
    entirely until Fahnestock Park. It's possible to enter Fahnestock Park
    from several non-Federal trailheads on Dennytown Road and it would be
    then possible to hike the A-T solely on State park land until reaching
    Route 301. The Trail north of 301 includes NPS protected corridor
    before reaching the next road crossing.

    Again, it's some miles before the next "known safe" spot. There is a
    short stretch of State Multiple Use Area near Depot Hill Road south of
    Pawling, but Depot Hill Road is its only road crossing, and it does
    not include the Morgan Stewart shelter.

    Connecticut is nearly a total loss. There's the Housatonic Meadows
    State Park and its connection to the Housatonic State Forest, but then
    there's another short section of Federal land leading up to the next
    road crossing at West Cornwall Road, so any hike there would be an
    out-and-back. (It might be possible to secure permission from the
    Natuonal Audubon Society to detour over their land to the west.)

    On the far side of West Cornwall Road, the state forest resumes, but
    about a thousand feet of trail in the vicinity of the Pine Swamp Brook
    shelter is NPS land, as is the shelter itself. There are a few miles
    of state forest north of there, but there is no road access until you
    come to another parcel of Federal land just north of Sharon Mountain.

    Bear Mountain through the Brassie Brook shelter could be accessed
    without leaving AMC property (assuming AMC is continuing to allow
    access). But the East Street trailhead at the state line is
    essentially the only non-closed way to get to this section of trail so
    it doesn't connect with anything else.

    In southern Massachusetts, Mount Race and Mount Everett stand on state
    land. But you'd have to access that bit of train from the Plantain
    Pond trail at the south end and at the north either the Elbow Trail
    from the Berkshire School or the Guilder Pond parking area. North of
    that trail junction, there is NPS land again. The South Taconic Trail
    might be a better choice - it is a pleasant trail and goes all the
    way through to the Catamount ski area in South Egremont.

    An alternative to get through from south to north would be to use the
    South Taconic Trail, which would cover about twenty miles from the AMC
    property to the Catamount Ski Area.

    There is a short section from Old Benedict Pond Road to Beartown
    Mountain Road that appears to be entirely in state forest. This isn't
    very many miles, but includes both Mount Wilcox shelters.

    The trail gets back in state forest north of the Turnpike. A hiker
    would have to go in from Tyne Road, because there is a few hundred
    feet of NPS land right at the access on US 20. From there to West
    Branch Road is all in state forest. A hiker would have to exit the
    forest on West Branch Road or bushwhack about 300 feet to Pittsfield
    Road once the trail starts paralleling it. The trail returns to NPS
    corridor before the Beach Road crossing.

    There's NPS land all the way to Dalton (I presume the roadwalks in
    Dalton are safe!) and then comes the Chalet State Wildlife Management
    Area. But it would appear that the State has ceded a corridor
    surrounding the AT to the NPS all the way through the wildlife
    management area up to Cheshire. I don't know there who is the formal
    landowner. Someone with the Massachusetts state government could
    probably advise. In any case, there are posted hiking trails
    paralleling the A-T that could be accessed with very short roadwalk
    detours.

    The Mount Greylock state reservation should be fair game, so a hiker
    could rejoin the A-T at Outlook Avenue (Not at North Street, that's
    still federal!) From there to the Vermont line, the good news
    resumes. The A-T is all on the Mount Greylock State Reservation, on
    public roads, and in the Clarksburg State Forest up to the Vermont
    line.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    IN SUMMARY:

    NY: There are a fair number of miles through Harriman-Bear
    Mountain-Hudson Highlands that are not shut down. There's also the
    section through Fahnestock. Most of the rest of the trail requires
    crossing NPS lands to get to the trailheads, even if much of the
    treadway is State or private.

    CT: Nearly a total loss, except for a short section in the Housatonic
    State Forest that might be negotiable.

    MA: Mount Race and Mount Everett are state land, but would have to
    be approached from side trails. Mount Wilcox is open, as is
    October Mountain. Chalet Wildlife Management Area has a NPS corridor
    protecting the A-T whose status is uncertain. In any case, there are
    other north-south trails crossing this area requiring only a small
    amount of roadwalk to get to Cheshire. From Outlook Avenue in Cheshire
    to the Vermont line and beyond looks to be open.
    Last edited by Another Kevin; 10-06-2013 at 14:23.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  2. #2
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    A very interesting question, I am hiking from Cheshire to North Adams on the 18th. I assume all state own lands are open, but the NPs corridor question is a great point. AMC berkshire AT committee could probably answer the question.One thing for sure, rarely do you see an NPS ranger on the AT in Massachusetts. Who would enforce the shutdown?

  3. #3
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    AK - I don't follow what you are saying here. The rangers are only stopping people from parking and section hiking the national parks. They are on a small crew of people,most have gone home.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

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    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckBrown View Post
    A very interesting question, I am hiking from Cheshire to North Adams on the 18th. I assume all state own lands are open, but the NPs corridor question is a great point. AMC berkshire AT committee could probably answer the question.One thing for sure, rarely do you see an NPS ranger on the AT in Massachusetts. Who would enforce the shutdown?
    I'm not speculating on enforcement: just stating where the corridor belongs to NPS and where it doesn't, and hence which miles in this section are among the 700 that are announced to be closed. People can make their own decisions about how scrupulously they will avoid those miles.

    I was actually fairly surprised to see the NPS corridors in Mt. Washington State Forest and Chalet State Wildlife Management Area. The NPS has not ordinarily purchased land that was already protected at state level. That's why the question doesn't arise to nearly the same extent with Harriman/Bear Mountain, Fahnestock, or Mt Greylock. In fact, Cheshire to North Adams should be perfectly fine; the maps show all of that section as being in the Mount Greylock State Reservation, which does not have a Federally-owned corridor. Someone who is scrupulous about avoiding all NPS land will start from Outlook Avenue (the easily-bypassed stretch from Railroad Street to Outlook Avenue is NPS property). There's also a very short easement coming down to the Pattison Road parking. My maps don't show who owns it. In any case, the landlord is not the NPS.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    AK - I don't follow what you are saying here. The rangers are only stopping people from parking and section hiking the national parks. They are on a small crew of people,most have gone home.
    As I said, I'm not commenting on the likelihood of enforcement. I'm just reporting on where the National Park Service owns the land the trail is on.

    When I saw that the government reported that 700 miles of the Trail were closed in the national parks, I started trying to work out how they could have arrived at that number. Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah (and Harpers Ferry and a couple of smaller bits) simply aren't that big, so they had to have been including the various holdings that the NPS has acquired to protect the trail.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    In my gut, I just feel there is just something wrong with this action. I wonder if others feel the same.
    Simple is good.

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Well I am not going to pet the sweaty things......
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

  8. #8

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    Is it possible that the 700 miles included the PCT and CDT and someone didn't realise that? Because there is only about 200 miles of the AT which cross National Park land.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    I would suggest hanging a protest sign off your pack and hike on. Seems the NPS isn't interested in infringing on 1st Amendment rights... yet.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/...es_759067.html
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

  10. #10
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbo View Post
    In my gut, I just feel there is just something wrong with this action. I wonder if others feel the same.
    Aye! 'Tis public land owned in common by each and every citizen of the U.S.A. Granted, there are reasons to safeguard buildings, etc. from vandals like the motorized criminals who destroyed Max Patch. However, I doubt seriously if those folks would have walked very far to commit their crime.

    Pedestrians way back in the woods pose little or no threat to the NPS's valuable property. How many unsupervised pedestrians are on the combined trails protected by the NPS on a normal October day? How many acts of vandalism occur on one of these normal days?
    "Much ado about nothing," if you ask me. Alas, nobody asked me.

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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Is it possible that the 700 miles included the PCT and CDT and someone didn't realise that? Because there is only about 200 miles of the AT which cross National Park land.
    That would be a pretty boneheaded mistake by the ATC, if I understand you correctly http://www.appalachiantrail.org/who-...and-volunteers

    Excerpt:

    "The Appalachian Trail is now officially closed across the approximately 700 miles managed by the National Park Service. Because of the shutdown, all National Park Service Volunteers In Parks (VIP) and USDA Forest Service - Volunteer In Forests (VIF) volunteer programs will be terminated. Therefore, for the duration of the shutdown, the ATC will not be able to engage with volunteers in activities on the Trail, Trail facilities, or Trail lands. We also are required to close our visitor center in Boiling Springs, PA"




    I think it's a good question that the OP is asking/attempting to answer. Sounds like the only way to answer it is to ask the ATC for clarifiation. I haven't seen a post by laurie, maybe she's been furloughed and she doesn't post on her own time

  12. #12

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    The trail in Vermont crosses National Forest lands and every hiker we have hosted since the shutdown reports no problems whatsoever.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

    Green Mountain House Hostel
    Manchester Center, VT

    http://www.greenmountainhouse.net

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    The trail in Vermont crosses National Forest lands and every hiker we have hosted since the shutdown reports no problems whatsoever.
    That's really great news Jeff. Hikers don't seem to be having problems hiking thru VA at all but that's not to say they can honestly say they haven't hiked thru officially closed sections of the trail in VA. Bitter/sweet....

    We have a HUGE water problem in Central VA!!! Trying to help out with that one....

    I wish AK would write up a break down for VA... good job, AK

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    The trail in Vermont crosses National Forest lands and every hiker we have hosted since the shutdown reports no problems whatsoever.
    Well, that's because the shut down does not affect National Forest lands.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    The trail in Vermont crosses National Forest lands and every hiker we have hosted since the shutdown reports no problems whatsoever.
    I'd heard this from other sources. Good to get confirmation.

  16. #16

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    National Forest lands (Most of VT, and NH): "Open unless gated" (the AT is not gated).

    National Park Service lands (parts of Mass, VT between Killington and Norwich, parts of CT, most of Maine): While not officially "open" the the trail is on land managed by a variety of entities, from states to NPS (and even some town-owned land) without any indication of ownership, so is essentially open for travel. Emergency services are provided by local towns, so business as usual there.

    There are no rangers directly monitoring NPS AT lands in New England (there never were). Please go out and hike, enjoy the woods, see the colors. Just don't expect to find Goose Pond Cabin open or canoe available (although there are numerous tentsites). In Mass, all overnight sites EXCEPT the Cabin and Shaker Campsite are on State land.

    Volunteer-run FACILITIES (Like Upper Goose Pond Cabin in Mass) are closed, because volunteers (like me) are not permitted to work on the AT until the Park Service is back in business. For insurance and liability purposes volunteers are considered Federal "employees' while performing their designated duties. If things go on long enough, hikers may find a noticeable decrease in the level of care the trail receives--more blowdowns, encroaching brush, etc.

    Insert pointed comment on disfunctional politics here___________________________

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    Saw in a journal that a couple of PCT hikers were stopped in N Cascade NP and told they couldn't continue. Ironic since they had to use extra manpower to keep people from hiking in the wilderness. This whole thing is insane.

  18. #18
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
    National Park Service lands (parts of Mass, VT between Killington and Norwich, parts of CT, most of Maine): While not officially "open" the the trail is on land managed by a variety of entities, from states to NPS (and even some town-owned land) without any indication of ownership, so is essentially open for travel. Emergency services are provided by local towns, so business as usual there.

    There are no rangers directly monitoring NPS AT lands in New England (there never were). Please go out and hike, enjoy the woods, see the colors. Just don't expect to find Goose Pond Cabin open or canoe available (although there are numerous tentsites). In Mass, all overnight sites EXCEPT the Cabin and Shaker Campsite are on State land.
    Thanks for the word - I know you are a Mass-ATC volunteer!

    I used the phrase, 'formally closed,' precisely because I knew that as a practical matter Uncle Sam has no way to exclude the public from a lot of the corridor. But without considering the NPS AT lands guarding the corridor, I couldn't make the Federal closure extend to anything near the 700 miles that NPS reported!

    Also, I know that some of the local towns have at best an ambivalent relationship with hikers. I could easily see the local gendarmerie in some burg or other deciding that enforcing the Federal shutdown would be a great way to hassle the hiker trash. I'm glad to hear that it isn't happening so far! (And I know that you work hard to keep the relations cordial, and I thank you for it.)
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  19. #19

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    I just returned from a section hike from Hoyt Rd. at the ny/ct border to Jug End Rd. in ma, and nothing at all was closed. I'm sure the "essential" government workers have more essential work to do than to keep a few hikers out of the woods.

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    I have a question. If one hikes a closed section of the AT on a thru-hike have they truly thru-hiked?

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