Purchase brings tall falls to public
Indian Lake’s OK Slip cloaked for 150 years
INDIAN LAKE David Schryver runs a website devoted to the waterfalls of northern New York. He hikes to waterfalls. He takes photographs of waterfalls. He even has co-authored a book on the state's waterfalls.
But he’s never seen one of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls featured on his website: OK Slip Falls in Indian Lake.
This soon will change.
The state recently acquired the 2,800-acre parcel of land that contains the 250-foot-high waterfall, and is in the process of determining how best to provide public access to the land.
“When it’s open, I plan on taking a trip down there,” said Schryver, who lives in the Jefferson County town of Brownville.
Schryver won’t be alone.
John Sheehan, the spokesman for the Adirondack Council, has never seen OK Slip Falls either.
“I’m very excited,” Sheehan said. “It’s a spectacular cascade, and we think it will draw visitors from all over.”
The waterfall, located on former lands of the paper company Finch Pruyn & Co., has been off limits to the public for 150 years.
According to Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the DEC will identify the most appropriate route for a foot trail to OK Slip. She said that the new trail will be developed “in a manner that is respectful” of the privately-owned piece of property still located on the land, and that “ensures the safety of the public visiting this spectacular parcel.”
Trail to open in the fall
Severino said the public will be allowed to visit the OK Slip property once the trail is complete, which is expected to be this fall.
OK Slip Falls is located on a tract in the Adirondack Forest Preserve that contains 2.1 miles of the Hudson River, the Hudson River Gorge, the tall cliffs known as the Blue Ledges and three ponds: Carter, Blue Ledge and Pug Hole. The stretch of river that runs through the property is a popular whitewater rafting route that draws more than 25,000 people each year, according to the state.
The state acquired the land from The Nature Conservancy, and is holding a series of public hearings to discuss whether to classify the land as wilderness, wild rorest or something else. The final hearings are both on Tuesday — at 1 p.m. at the DEC headquarters on Broadway in Albany, and at 7 p.m. at the Warren County Board of Supervisors in Lake George.
Environmental groups expressed excitement about the acquisition of OK Slip. They would like to see the land the waterfall is on be classified as wilderness, a more restrictive classification than wild forest.
“The wildlife [on the parcel] is sensitive and biologically rich,” Sheehan said.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said it’s unlikely that the trail to OK Slip will take visitors directly to the falls. He said the rocks around OK Slip are slippery, and that the path will probably lead to a good vantage point for seeing the waterfall from a distance.
‘wilderness’ level eyed
The DEC has recommended classifying the OK Slip parcel as wilderness, along with the nearby Hudson River Gorge Primitive Area, and providing waterway access in the town of Newcomb along Route 28, perhaps at the town beach parking and access site. “Although low water conditions in some short stretches will require getting out and pulling rafts and canoes, the river provides a premier opportunity for day rafting, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and also overnight river trips,” the agency’s proposal notes.
Don Sage, president of the Essex County League of Fish and Game Clubs, said he is opposed to all of the proposals the APA is considering.
“None of the proposals open up the land for hunting and fishing,” he said. “There’s not enough access for fishermen. We want to see these forest lands stay active, so that they’ll keep the economy going.”
Sheehan said OK Slip is the second-tallest waterfall in the Adirondacks: T Lake Falls, near Piseco Lake in Hamilton County, is actually taller.
The OK Slip purchase was part of a much larger land acquisition. All told, the state acquired 9,300 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands in April.
Schryver, manager of www.nnywaterfalls.com, said hikers are “really charged up” about the acquisition of OK Slip Falls.
Waterfalls are “really intriguing to a lot of people,” said Schryver, who is also a co-author of “Waterfalls of New York State,” published last year. “On one hand, they’re calming and soothing, but on the other hand they can show some power.”