Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thomas Mtn: 09/06/2010

For Sale: Cabin, approx 15 x 18, must be removed by purchaser from remote mountaintop.

Sound interesting? I thought so too. I’ll get to the cabin in a moment, but first the hike. The Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve is a 1,850 acre parcel near Bolton Landing, recently (2003) acquired by the Lake George Land Conservancy to protect the watersheds of Edgecomb Pond (Bolton Landing’s drinking water source) and Lake George. A seven mile trail network on the preserve allows hikers to enjoy magnificent views of Lake George and the southern Adirondacks from the open summits of both peaks. Although the elevations of Cat and Thomas Mountains are relatively low (both top out at just over 2000 feet in elevation), there is an impressive amount of vertical relief due to the low elevation of the lake itself (350’ above sea level).

(click to enlarge)

Our hike on Monday, Labor Day, was a short out-and-back trek with the kids to the summit of Thomas Mountain, following the route indicated on the map above as the "Orange Trail."  The trail, a former logging road / jeep road, is rocky and eroded in places but provides a relatively easy ascent to the summit of Thomas, gaining around 700 vertical feet over 1.5 miles.

Sign of approaching autumn

Goldenrod along the trail

The vista at the summit extends nearly 180 degrees, from the southern basin of Lake George and the peaks on its eastern shoreline, to Crane and Gore Mountains in the west. Besides the great views, there are loads of blueberry bushes (no berries for us: it’s long past blueberry season).  A 6.5 mile loop can be hiked by continuing from the summit of Thomas Mountain over Cat Mountain and back to the trailhead.

Southern basin of Lake George from the summit of Thomas Mtn.

I’ve mentioned before that when we consider hikes to do with our young kids, we look for more than “just” a summit with a view. In this case, the added interest for our kids (and us too) came in the form of the wonderful cabin perched just back from the edge of the summit cliffs. The cabin is in excellent condition and is open for visitors to use (overnight use is not allowed). We all ate lunch in the loft of the cabin, and then explored around the summit ledges before retracing our steps back tothe trailhead via the jeep road.

Approaching the cabin

The cabin is perched on the summit cliffs with a commanding view

The rustic interior is in beautiful shape. The loft was a fun lunch spot for our kids.

Now, back to the Cabin For Sale. The Thomas Mountain cabin was built around 20 years ago, while the parcel was in private hands, by a developer who used it to demonstrate the scenic potential of the site to prospective buyers. When the LGLC acquired the parcel in 2003, the cabin was already in place. It’s future, however, is uncertain. Although the cabin is a great structure in a beautiful spot, it is a maintenance and liability burden. Furthermore, possible transfer of the Cat and Thomas Preserve from the Lake George Land Conservancy to the State of New York is more easily accomplished without the cabin, which would be considered a non-conforming structure by the state. As of 2008, the LGLC was accepting bids for purchase of the cabin. The purchaser would then be required to remove the cabin from the mountaintop, a logistically challenging proposition given the inaccessibility of the site. Personally, I’d like to see a solution worked out that would allow the cabin to remain. In the meantime, the cabin remains a great destination for a short hike close to home, whether you’re a kid or an adult.

More information on the Lake George Land Conservancy can be found at: LGLC.org

Dark skies to the west with interesting cloud formations

* * * Edited July 2012: An alternate trail to the summit of Thomas has recently been marked. For a report on hiking the new blue trail, click here.


  1. 10 Archived Comments:November 2, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    Jamesdeluxe said...
    Great TR. Any clue how much it would actually cost to dismantle and move the cabin? Maybe Harv can get an estimate from Mike Hill Contracting.
    September 8, 2010 6:53 AM

    Harvey44 said...
    THAT is my kind of building. Where is the cabin being "advertised?" It's a beautiful building in a beautiful spot, but practically it could probably be rebuilt cheaper on another spot vs moved. In the past the NY has figure out ways to save other buildings, like Santanoni. I realize this isn't the same situation.

    IMO it's a good thing that the real estate project didn't end up happening on that spot. Great report Jeff.
    September 8, 2010 7:46 AM

    K man said...
    I've been wondering for a few years how someone would move that cabin. If it was accessible it would have been gone a while ago. it's also a nice ski or snow shoe for newby's.
    September 8, 2010 10:17 AM

    Snowballs said...
    I used to work in Bolton. We'ld hang at Edgecomb after work. The locals said you'ld could drive your jeep up to Cat, but I never tried it. That Cabin is nice and would make a great addition to HR HQ! Maybe a HR group project? If they allowed quads on the property to remove it and a small trailer behind a quad (or a log skidder) could ascend the trail it wouldn't be so bad. The developer hauled the wood in somehow. Projects like this, sometimes people and business chip in free just to get r done,have some fun and gain some publicity. Or maybe the State could take one end out and classify it as a lean to. People could then camp in it. My bid for the cabin....one dollar.
    September 8, 2010 10:33 AM

    Anonymous said...
    Harv do you know if this land is protected from hunting, and therefore ideal for Fall hiking?
    September 8, 2010 11:30 AM

    Anonymous said...
    There is no hunting allows on LGLC land and trails.
    September 8, 2010 11:54 AM

    Anonymous said...
    I beleive it's more a question of helping to find a solution for the cabin to remain, rather than a question of how to tear down the structure.
    September 8, 2010 2:54 PM

    Joann said...
    For goodness sake, they should just leave the cabin and work out some way to relieve the "maintenance and liability burden." Geesh!
    September 10, 2010 9:42 AM

    Jeff said...
    I contacted the LGLC earlier this week for an update on the current status of the cabin, and received the following reply:

    Jeff: Are you still seeking a purchaser who would then remove the cabin?
    LGLC: Yes

    Jeff: Are there plans to raze the cabin?
    LGLC: No

    Jeff: Is there a solution that could allow the cabin to remain?
    LGLC: We have been told that DEC will want the cabin gone or they will tear it down, or require that we tear it down prior to purchase.

    Jeff: What is the status of a possible sale of the parcel to NYS DEC?
    LGLC: The state is interested but because of the current budget cuts all land acquisitions by the state are on hold until an undetermined date.

    LGLC: You might also mention in your blog that the cabin is available for overnight guests - anyone interested needs to contact us to reserve the cabin. Thank you for spreading the word about our preserves and land conservation work!
    September 10, 2010 9:42 PM

    Snowballs said...
    Cool Work Jeff.
    September 11, 2010 9:36 PM

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