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Old 05-16-2022, 10:49 AM   #1
Neil
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Kempshall Mtn. Road

I'm looking into hiking Kempshall Mtn. and was wondering what was the status of Kempshall Mtn. Road off of 28N east of Long Lake. Private? Closed until it dries out?
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Old 05-16-2022, 11:59 AM   #2
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That is part of the Township 20 easement. Unfortunately for you, this easement is not fully open to the public for recreational access anywhere and everywhere like some are. I believe that the public is permitted to access the road as far as where it crosses Fishing Brook approximately one quarter mile from 28N for hand launch boat access to the brook, but that's it.

The DEC webpage for the Blue Mountain Wild Forest complex has additional info on this easement if you're interested in trying to delve into further into the details (easements have become increasingly complicated with regards to what the public can and can't do and it's certainly possible that I've overlooked something in consulting that page).

My understanding is that the old trail up Kempshall from the vicinity of Kelly Point on Long Lake has been somewhat informally maintained since the fire tower was removed and the trail "officially" abandoned by the state decades ago, and is not terribly difficult to still follow. This is a peak that has also been on my "to do list" for years now, and I always figured this was the route I'd take when I finally got around to doing it. I've also heard that Blueberry Mountain has some halfway decent views from open rock ledges on the summit and my intent was that I'd swing over that way on the descent. If I was feeling particularly energetic I was also planning to hit up the summit of Landing Hill further to the south.

Paddling is probably the fastest and easiest way to access the trail at the base of Kempshall (faster still if you have access to a motor boat). (For my purposes I figured I'd head in on foot via the NPT, as this would more easily facilitate including Landing Hill.)

Long Lake also has some phenomenal lean-to and tenting sites if you wanted to make an overnight out of it (though they can be popular given that motor boats can access most of them, I'd recommend doing this early or late in the season if you decide to make it into a camping trip).

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Old 05-16-2022, 01:01 PM   #3
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I'll never forget hiking with my childhood buddy up Kempshall from a LL paddling access point, probably 40+ years ago. It was this time of year and the black flies did not diappoint. I disstinctly remember slapping my thigh with my palm and my hand was black with fly bodies, and red with blood. Made it to the fire tower via bushwhack. At least the fishing was good, caught a couple of northerns.
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Old 05-16-2022, 01:08 PM   #4
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I think I'll go with my wife and we'll paddle to Kelly Point. Maybe overnight. A good way to avoid crowds might be to go at the height of black fly season. Might not be good for the marriage! :-)
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Old 05-16-2022, 03:16 PM   #5
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In addition to the 2 lean-tos there, there is a decent designated tent site at Kelly Point- it's the big clearing beneath the pine trees just north of the lean-tos.

During the day at least, there's typically a solid breeze coming off the lake from the southwest so the bugs aren't too bad along the shoreline. It's a different story when you walk more than 100 feet or so inland from the shore, however.

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Old 05-16-2022, 03:44 PM   #6
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FYI

https://kempshallmtclub.com/
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Old 05-18-2022, 11:29 AM   #7
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I just looked at the most recent USGS Kempshall Mountain quad, 1999, and the fire tower is still shown. When was it removed?
And, according to the kempshallmtnclub.com link (above), the entirety of the road is on their property, so I suspect it is off limits to the general public.
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Old 05-18-2022, 12:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTVhike View Post
I just looked at the most recent USGS Kempshall Mountain quad, 1999, and the fire tower is still shown. When was it removed?
And, according to the kempshallmtnclub.com link (above), the entirety of the road is on their property, so I suspect it is off limits to the general public.
According to the Podskoch books (which are excellent volumes on the history of the Fire Towers if you've never read them), it was closed in 1971, and dismantled and removed in 1977. Apparently the fire tower that stands on the property at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake was assembled using pieces of this tower and of the West Mountain tower (the one in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness near Raquette Lake).

This is outside the realm of my expertise but my basic understanding is that a lot of the topo maps produced by USGS in the 90's were made by directly drawing on the negatives used to produce quads in earlier decades. This process made it relatively easy to add new infrastructure that didn't exist when those earlier quads were produced, but it was much more difficult to remove infrastructure from those earlier quads that no longer existed. I would imagine that the absence of a fire tower was deemed so inconsequential as to not be worth the effort (if even the USGS was aware that the fire tower no longer existed to begin with).

Also, a point of clarification- the Kempshall Mountain Club does not own the land but rather leases it. The owners are a timber and land investment firm- the property is part of the Upper Hudson Woodlands, ATP holdings. The existing hunting club leases are probably a large part of the reason why much of the land was not opened to public access when the state acquired an easement on this property.
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Old 05-18-2022, 05:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post


Also, a point of clarification- the Kempshall Mountain Club does not own the land but rather leases it. The owners are a timber and land investment firm- the property is part of the Upper Hudson Woodlands, ATP holdings. The existing hunting club leases are probably a large part of the reason why much of the land was not opened to public access when the state acquired an easement on this property.
A little history. 25 years ago or so, Finch raised the prices on the hunting club leases dramatically. The club I belong to went from a 100 members to 30 with a waiting list of 60 gone... In order to stay alive the club and Finch increased the number of "rustic off grid hunting camps " that could be built. It has been a struggle to keep the traditional clubs alive. These clubs PAY a premium to use the land for traditional recreational uses. Finch, manages the land for the new owners who are based in Scandinavia. They still "buy" pulp logs to keep their mill in Glens Falls operating.The clubs are great stewards of the land.Finch seems to be logging more and more than in the past.
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Old 05-22-2022, 03:43 PM   #10
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The major field survey work for the Kempshall Mtn metric map was done in 1976, based on photographs taken in the spring of 1976. As DSettahr notes, the back cover of the 1999 references that the map was "photoinspected using imagery taken in 1999; no major culture or drainage changes observed." Thus very unlikely to have removed a fire tower from the map.

The 1976 date of photography and field work also applies to the following other metric maps: Tupper Lake, Upper Saranac Lake, Saranac Lake, Ampersand Lake, Santanoni Peak, Mt. Marcy, Keene Valley, Elizabethtown, Witherbee, Saint Regis, Bloomingdale, Wilmington, Ausable Forks, Lewis, and Lake Placid.

Also, I recommend a side trip to Blueberry - a short, easy bushwhack to the south of the trail to Kempshall.
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Old 05-22-2022, 05:15 PM   #11
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Staying close to home given the severe T-storm watch, I looked and see that CalTopos base map still shows a fire tower on Kempshall as well as the pre-1998 Rooster Comb trails and Caribou Lean-to at the north end of Lake Colden. I have also occasionally encountered confused hikers with a GPS unit "fresh out of the box" that still has the 1976 maps installed.
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Old 05-23-2022, 11:03 AM   #12
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One thing I like about GAIA on my iPhone as a GPS navigation tool is that the maps are pretty much up to date, thanks to OpenStreetMap!
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