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Old 08-25-2017, 03:00 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Sucker Brook Trail

Hey All,

I'm looking for some info about the Sucker Brook Trail, that runs between Lewey Lake campground and the NPT. I've only ever hiked it from the NPT (western) end, several years ago when I stayed at the Colvin Brook lean-to. As I recall, not far past the lean-to the trail gets rough, faint, and hard to follow. I'm guessing it may be better and more frequently maintained on the campground side, at least for a short distance. Does anyone have any familiarity with the eastern end of this trail? I'll be staying at Lewey Lake campground early next week and am looking for hiking opportunities. Thanks.
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Old 08-25-2017, 04:39 PM   #2
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Location: Upstate New York
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The trail has been closed for several years after a hiker, who became ill hiking the NPT died trying to hike out to the camp ground. As far as I know it remains closed.
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Old 08-25-2017, 06:16 PM   #3
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The David Boomhower incident was in 1990. The trail was only recently "closed". The difficult portion is immediately South of the lean-to. The beavers have flooded the alder swamp, it is passable but the route changes due to the beavers. Last time the best route was downstream close to the confluence. With all the rain this year, it is probably worse than most.
"There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us, And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go." -from "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service

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Old 08-29-2017, 01:41 PM   #4
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Yeah, the incident with the hiker who died happened long before the trail was closed. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that the trail was closed simply due to the poor condition it was in, and the lack of justification for devoting any additional maintenance to the trail given how little use it gets (or got). The first mile or so was well traversed (it got a decent amount of traffic from the nearby campground), and the trail was generally not too difficult to follow up to the height of land (I went in with a volunteer trail crew and cleared blowdown using hand tools to this point in 2009). The west side of the height of land, however, down to the lean-to was just generally overgrown and difficult to follow, and gets so little use that the vegetation grows in faster than the DEC could keep it cut back.

To some extent, well-used trails somewhat maintain themselves in that the compaction of soils in the tread of the trail prevents any vegetation from growing up out of the center of the trail. This means that keeping the trail clear involves cutting blowdown, and cutting growth that grows in from the sides of the trail. Trails that get very little use, like the Sucker Brook Trail, don't benefit from this soil compaction, and accordingly you get additional vegetative growth coming up out of the ground right in the middle of the trail. It adds necessary extra effort with regards to keeping the trail clear, and in some cases, this extra effort can be substantial.

Beech bark disease further compounds the issue. A common response to beech trees suffering from the disease is to go into suckering overdrive. Beech is one type of tree that is capable of reproducing vegetatively- the roots can send up new stems that in turn turn into a new beech tree; this process is commonly referred to as "suckering." When a mature beech tree is affected with the disease, it responds by sending up more suckers than normal, resulting in dense thickets of young beech. These thickets can consume a little-used trail in only a few years.

Side note- It seems like every trail named the "Sucker Brook Trail" is doomed to getting little use, much less maintenance. The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness also has a Sucker Brook Trail, and while it's in better shape now than it was 5 years ago, it still gets little use and sections of it are on the verge of becoming overgrown again.
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