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Old 08-18-2011, 04:50 PM   #1
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Spruce Mountain is apparently not open to the public without permission...

I was browsing through the Saratoga PLAN website (the not for profit that manages some of the land on Spruce Mountain, and I found this tidbit:

E. Kinowski stated that he met w. J. Kemper to learn the issues surrounding the Fire Tower which is on county land. The county must complete the requirements of the APA permit which includes removal of the old county emergency radio structures and equipment. J. Stokes reminded the group that there is currently NO LEGAL access to the Spruce Mt Fire Tower. When PLAN holds an event – they seek one time permission from both the county and Lyme Timber. E. Kinowski asked the group to be patient.
Source (Minutes from a meeting this spring)

So it seems that the Fire Tower Guidebook is incorrect in it's assurances that the mountain is open to the public without the need to get permission. I'll freely admit myself that I've hiked it without permission, as I'm sure many other forum members here have. I certainly did get a sense of foreboding, like I wasn't supposed to be there, but pushed on based on the (apparently incorrect) information that was in the guidebook. You would think that they would update the website for the fire tower challenge to reflect this.

So it seems that, at least according to PLAN, the only way to get legal access to this mountain is to get permission from both Saratoga County and Lyme Timber in advance.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:45 PM   #2
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Quite confusing

It's hard to get reliable details off of their website. In one spot, they're saying that they've purchased land to guarantee that the public can hike to the top. ( On the homepage, they're saying that they've secured access from a "patchwork of private landowners" for a hike they're planning in February.

The homepage confirms your findings, though: the summit (and possibly other points along the trail) are on private land, and there's no easement for hikers at this time.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:30 PM   #3
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I recently hiked Spruce Mountain while working on the Fire Tower Challenge. I didn't know about the conflict until just now as I stumbled on this post. There were no signs indicating that we shouldn't be there as long as it wasn't hunting season.
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Old 07-15-2012, 11:36 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by mphiker View Post
I recently hiked Spruce Mountain while working on the Fire Tower Challenge. I didn't know about the conflict until just now as I stumbled on this post. There were no signs indicating that we shouldn't be there as long as it wasn't hunting season.
Me too. I wasn't aware I was supposed to get permission last September. I just parked at the parking lot at the end of the road and hiked up. Bushwhacked in several spots. Raspberry bushes taller than me! Rather than getting re-scratched and re-sucked dry by mosquitoes, I walked the entire way back down the access road, which appeared to be an access road for a logging company. Nowhere did I see any "NO TRESPASSING" except for private property owners where it was obvious people lived in this house or that house off the access road.

Chris, 10 short of his Fire Tower Challenge
Rochester, NY
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:12 PM   #5
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When I first hiked to the tower in 2007 the snowplow turnaround (Trailhead) was marked with a crazy homemade redneck sign warning hikers not to hike during hunting season. As I went up the ATV trail their was some old trail markers along the way that petered out in a clearcut near the summit. Wandered through the logging mess to the summit, climbed the tower, but it was clouded in.

When I returned in 2008, the hunting sign was gone, there was Saratoga PLAN markers along the route, the clearcut was all ferns and the trail was easily found on the other side, but unfortunately the bottom flights of stairs were out of the tower, so no views! There was a fire ring/trash at the summit from presumably ATVer's or Snowmobilers. I know from locals that the whole area receives a lot of illegal 4-wheel drive, ATV and snowmobile use as well. I also learned that the towers (3) nearest the firetower are used by a few agencies for emergency/fire/police etc. The huge tower nearby is National Grid? I think.

There is some recent info on THIS PAGE from the Glen Falls/Saratoga ADK
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:55 AM   #6
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A number of years ago I attended a couple of presentations Saratoga PLAN and the ADK made on the Spruce Mtn fire tower. One of the useful things I came away with was this map of the area -

It shows some of the issues involved. As you can see, the trail crosses several different parcels - first state land, then lumber company land, then enters the Saratoga PLAN property, then a short stretch on lumber company land again, and finally the area around the tower, owned by Saratoga County but (I guess?) eventually by PLAN or the state.

You can see that the initial stretch on private land could probably be re-routed onto state land, but there's no way to connect from the PLAN parcel to the county parcel without crossing the lumber company's land. I assume that what they're working on now is some sort of permanent easement or agreement.

That said, I've been poking around the area for the better part of 25 years, and it seems that a) as mentioned, there aren't any no trespassing signs on the trail, b) I've never heard of anybody being cited for trespass (and lots of people hike there), and c) I've never seen or heard of any pressure to not hike it other than during hunting season, which seems reasonable to me and almost implies that it's okay the rest of the year. (As in, a sign saying "no parking Tuesdays" implies to me I can park there the rest of the week.) Anyway, infer from all that what you will.
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