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We’re in the homestretch and need your support to get us over the finish line. We’ve raised four-fifths of the funds needed to rebuild the Ranger Trail and build an ongoing trail fund. We’ve funded two years of magnificent trail work and are ready to complete the project. We can only accomplish this with your help. Use the Paypal tab  to donate.  Thank you!  For more  details, read on.

In 2011, the Department of Environmental Conservation prepared a Unit Management Plan for the Taylor Pond Wild Forest, of which Poke-O-Moonshine is a part. One of its proposals considers closing the original Ranger Trail from the campground. The DEC's rationale is that the steep and very eroded sections of the trail may be "unsustainable", or un-maintainable. This closing would occur, if at the end of the current Unit Management Plan - a minimum of five years - trail conditions have not been significantly improved.

The DEC does not have funds to cover the project. After a year of review and thorough discussion of the issue, we  decided to raise the funds for the professional renovation of the trail. We have worked on the trail since the 1998 Ice Storm, and continue every year to put more time, sweat, and funds into the effort. Beause  some of the trail was in very rough shape,  we obtained a  detailed repair and re-route plan from the Adirondack Mountain Club Trail Program and Tahawus Trails, and thiswas approved in 2016  by the DEC. We have already rebuilt three significantly eroded sections of the Ranger Trail, yet there are several more sections requiring professional work. We estimate the cost for the project of  $250,000 and have set a goal of raising that by 2017, the centennial of the fire tower. We have received an impressive $197,000 in donations and pledges thus far, and have begun to fund the trail work in annual increments. We estimate two more years of work on the Ranger Trail, to complete the project.

The mountain’s name apparently stems from two Algonquin words meaning “rough” and “smooth”, and the Ranger Trail is full of bumpy granite and flat sandstone as it skirts the cliffs and boulders that have broken from them. Why commit to this huge undertaking, when there is already the Observer’s Trail, which also requires maintenance? There are many good reasons. The Ranger Trail is the historic route between the cliffs and up the mountain, followed as early as 1843 by Alex Brown, an Abolitionist leader from Albany (See the summer 2013 Issue of this newsletter). This direct route offers a quick path to the summit; climbers and hikers use it for challenging fast trek. Part way up the route is a panoramic lookout along the climbing cliffs and over the highways and the trailhead. Spring wildflowers along the ravine above the lookout attest to the rick soil drainage; blue cohosh, red trillium, trailing arbutus, hepatica, dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, among others, grow on the trail. Poke-O, as one of the “Champlain Hills” noted by ecologist Jerry Jenkins, shows immense plant diversity especially along this eastern drainage. Also, on few Adirondack trails is the mix of igneous and sedimentary rocks so visible to hikers. The mountain’s name apparently stems from two Algonquin words meaning “rough” and “smooth”, and the Ranger Trail is full of bumpy granite and flat sandstone as it skirts the cliffs and boulders that have broken from them. In short, the Ranger trail is a fascinating botanical, geological, and historical pathway to the summit, and our interpretative flier defines these sights for Poke-O’s hikers.

This route will always be followed by climbers and hikers regardless of any future “open” or “closed” status. Let’s make it a safe and sustainable path, a model of trail design on steeper terrain! It will become an even more enjoyable route combining interpretation of its fascinating details with an interesting and well laid-out- trail past huge boulders, through the cliffs, among the wildflowers, and over rough and smooth kinds of rocks.

The fire tower will be 100 years old in 2017. What better time to complete this project, to honor the Observers and Rangers who loved Poke-O-Moonshine and its tower, seats for protecting the Adirondack landscape and educating the public? We are working hard to carry on this tradition, and the Ranger Trail is the gateway to our entire mission. Please join us in saving the Ranger Trail.

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