ABOUT US

  
                                                                                The Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine is dedicated to the preservation of Poke-O-Moonshine                                                                                   Mountain and its fire tower, improving and maintaining its trails, and to interpreting the                                                                                   natural and cultural history of the mountain. Since 1997, the Friends has been a                                                                                                   partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,                                                                                       Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the Town of Chesterfield, several Adirondack                                                                                                 Mountain Club chapters, and hundreds of people who enjoy this special place. The                                                                                             Friends operates under the auspices of the Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH),                                                                                     the non-profit, historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park and is directed                                                                                 by a Board of ten members from local communities.

                                                                                The Friends publishes a twice-yearly newsletter as its principal fundraising vehicle, and to                                                                                 inform its supporters of educational, recreational, and maintenance activities on the                                                                                         mountain. We lead ski and snowshoe trips, wildflower walks, and wildlife tracking hikes.                                                                                   We also conduct school and college groups on hikes focused on the natural history of the                                                                                 mountain and the cultural history of fire towers and of the one on “Poke-O”,  and their       role in the protection of  Adirondack forests and watersheds.

We hire and supervise a Fire Tower Steward for ten weeks each summer as a public educator during the most popular hiking season. This Steward is an Environmental Studies major from a regional university, with preparatory coursework and training in the Adirondack’s human and natural history, and techniques for interpretive interaction with the hiking public. He or she also instructs hikers on low-impact use of the mountain’s environment, and carries out maintenance-stewardship tasks on the trails, summit, and fire tower at Poke-O-Moonshine. 

The fire tower, built in 1917 and decommissioned by New York State in 1988, has been fully restored as an historical and environmental interpretive site. We have placed a college intern as Summit Steward on the mountain since 2002; the Steward’s job consists of local and natural history interpretation, environmental  education, and assistance for the hiking public, as well as environmental restoration. The Steward is our primary contact with the hikers, who number over 7500 annually  on the mountain.

The steep 1.2 mile-long Ranger Trail requires continual work to mitigate erosion and destruction of plants; we install water bars and stepping stones in these areas, and we have begun to restore the summit vegetation through a careful monitoring and  educational process.

The newer, longer, and more gradual 2.3-mile Observers Trail follows the route of the old Fire Observers' access road to the leanto and former cabin site below the summit. This passes through more varied terrain and forest than the Ranger Trail, including several beaver ponds. We hope someday to construct a connector trail between the lower ends of both trails.

On that trail, we have placed eleven numbered interpretive stops keyed to the text in a flier which we created. The text explains the botany, geology, weather, and wildlife of the mountain, as well as the history of the fire tower. Hikers may pick up a flier for their own use at the trailhead kiosk. It is of particular use on the guided interpretive hikes which we lead. on the mountain. We maintain an interpretive library for the reference use of our Tower Steward, and have published two other hand-out materials about the summit plants and changes in the landscape around "Poke-O".

We have completed two related projects: interpretive panels in the fire tower, and protection of additional land on “Poke-O”. We use photographs and text to explain land use in the Adirondack Park, and some of the rich history of the northern Champlain Valley. We have also worked with the Adirondack Nature Conservancy to acquire 200 private acres which abut the mountain’s Forest Preserve lands and whose preservation allows new recreational opportunities there. This exciting initiative was completed in 2008, when the parcel was added to the Forest preserve. This parcel allows access to the 2.3 mile-long and gentler "Observers' Trail. We are working on further local open space initiatives.

The overall project has been exciting and has wide support! Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the regional architectural preservation group, has been our “umbrella” supporter from the beginning; New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has been a major player. The Adirondack Mountain Club, both through its main office, local chapters, and trail crew, has been a generous contributor; the Town of Chesterfield has actively supported the project all along; summer camps and campers have provided sweat equity out on the trail; local businesses and foundations have provided donations; and we have a membership of over two hundred -fifty individuals and volunteers, whom we keep abreast of our progress and needs, in our bi-annual newsletter. We are directed by an active steering committee which meets twice yearly.