Exploring the North Country
As home to a variety of landscapes and communities, the North Country offers opportunities to its residents and visitors to experience hidden gems scattered throughout the foothills of the Adirondacks and the long-stretching agricultural fields. Many people don’t know that the North Country provides access to a number of different waterfalls, many of which are located right within St. Lawrence County. Although there are a few spots more highly frequented by those looking for their local waterfall fix, there are many that are virtually unknown to the public. One of the more unexplored gems within the North Country is one of the St. Lawrence Land Trust’s larger properties, Hart’s Falls.
Hart’s Falls was originally the site of a saw mill that ran along the Grasse River, owned and operated by Horace S. Hart, and which was foreclosed upon in 1887. Thirty-three acres of the property was donated to the St. Lawrence Land Trust in 2015 by its previous owner, Barbara Kelly, and has now been opened for public access and recreation. Although the area is currently open to the public, there are still steps that must be taken to improve accessibility. The St. Lawrence Land Trust, along with myself and my fellow interns, have begun working diligently to increase public access and ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy this local treasure.
Currently, increasing access means creating new trails and improving those that are already established. One of the many recreational activities that Hart’s Falls offers is canoeing and paddling along the Grasse River, but previously there was no trail that allowed for canoe access directly downstream from the falls. As a team, I and four other members of the St. Lawrence Land Trust have worked to create a canoe access trail that leads directly down to the river. In order to create a new public trail, we have cleared a path through the standing forest so that visitors have as little resistance as possible, while still maintaining the ecological integrity of the land.
In addition to creating new trails, we have improved those that already exist on the property. To increase public access, the trail must be regularly maintained, and a boardwalk must be implemented in areas that gather the most water, ensuring that visitors will not have to trek through the mud. This project has quickly become one that I am particularly passionate about because it allows the public to experience and enjoy the benefits of the work that the St. Lawrence Land Trust does every day. It is becoming increasingly important to ensure that these natural areas are not only properly conserved, but also available to the public, so that visitors can create memories and establish a healthy and appreciative relationship to the land that they depend on.