The Town of Lake George has been awarded a $200,000 grant from New York State to help fund the construction of hiking and biking trails on the McPhillips Preserve on French Mountain, Governor Kathy Hochul announced December 29.
“The trail system will be a huge recreational and economic asset,” said Dan Bausch, Lake George’s Director of Planning and Zoning. “The trails will also enhance the quality of life for current residents as well as those we anticipate moving to Lake George as a result of the new development planned or underway throughout the town.”
According to Barusch, the Town’s Master Plan for the McPhillips Preserve – approved by the Lake George Town Board and funded by a 2020 $75,000 Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth – set the stage for the new state grant.
The Master Plan also provides for a parking area, a trail head, an outdoor classroom and other amenities, said Barusch.
The Town of Lake George purchased the property from the Lake George Land Conservancy in January, 2019 for $67,000.
After purchasing a 315-acre tract from the McPhillips family on October 18, 2018 for $525,000, the Conservancy held the property until the Towns of Lake George and Queensbury were able to purchase their portions, subject to conservation easements.
According to Barusch, the Town of Queensbury retains ownership of a portion of the McPhillips Preserve, a portion that includes a summit of French Mountain, where the hiking trail terminates.
Barusch said the hiking and biking trails will be segregated, permitting the hiking trails to be used for passive recreation and some mountain biking trails to be used for competitive racing.
At some point, biking trails could be linked to the Warren County Bikeway, said Barusch.
“That’s a long-term project but the two systems are close enough to one another for a connection to be made,” said Barusch.
According to Mike Horn, the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director, the Conservancy has retained its easements across the property and is responsible for “ensuring that any trail work is aligned with conservation values.”
But, he added, the property was always intended to be used, at least in part, for recreation.
“We’re ecstatic to see that the original vision is being implemented and we strongly supported the Town of Lake George’s application for a grant to build hiking and biking trails,” said Horn. “We will be actively involved in their planning and maintenance, ensuring that the ecological integrity of the property is protected.”
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $400,000, but town taxpayers will be responsible for only $20,000 of that amount, said Barusch.
Construction is not expected to begin before autumn, 2023, Barusch said.