Outdoors: Adirondack Rail Trail preview a tantalizing vision of things to come – Times Union

While not an official part of the Adirondack Rail Trail, the Bloomingdale Bog Trail will be a nice add-on.
Gillian Scott and Wren check out a free library just off the ART.
The ART passes numerous small ponds like one near the St. Regis Canoe Area.
Bikes and boats meet as the ART skirts the St. Regis Canoe Area.
Maya fell off the bike, flipped in the air a few times and then landed on her face in a pile of jagged rocks. It was Maya’s second rock facial of the trip.
Maya is a plush, purple stuffed unicorn who, when the riding surface allowed, rode in the handlebar bag of our 11-year-old who we call Wren. When the rough riding surface didn’t allow, Maya got some air.
For five days, my wife, Gillian, Wren and I rode the not-yet-ready Adirondack Rail Trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. Work on the ART is ongoing and the Department of Environmental Conservation strongly discourages people from using the trail before it’s complete.
So, am I a hypocrite for riding the trail? Yes, but accidentally. I swear on a stack of DEC Unit Management Plans I didn’t know of DEC’s discouragement until day four of our trip and by then it was too late. In my defense, the ART is shown on DEC maps and a guy can’t help but get excited about a trail like this.
When completed, the ART will run from Tupper Lake, skirting the St. Regis Canoe Area, along the shores of Lake Clear to Saranac Lake and then to downtown Lake Placid. When completed, the ART will be a masterpiece.
The ART we found was a rough work in progress. Miles of chunky gravel made for tough riding and some unrideable sections. Work crews were also doing surface repair on several miles of trail. In five days of riding, we met only one other mountain biker and his single comment was: “This wasn’t at much fun as I thought it would be.”
Because the ART passes through Saranac Lake, we added a bonus leg to our journey. We parked near Vermontville and rode south on the beautiful Bloomingdale Bog Trail before joining the ART in Saranac Lake and then heading west.
We established a base camp at a lean-to at Sunday Pond Bed and Breakfast at roughly the halfway point of the ART. From there, we spent a day biking Floodwood Road to St. Regis Outfitters, where we paddled in a rented canoe (and gave our cycling legs and other cycling parts a break.)
Another day, we rode the ART to Tupper Lake for lunch. The section from Saranac Inn west was both the roughest section of trail and the most beautiful. 
The ART is a converted rail line and its development was not without contention — rail advocates wanted the tracks preserved while some trail advocates wanted a rail trail extending farther than Tupper Lake. 
The compromise was the 34 miles of rail trail that make up the ART, while 90 miles of rail from Old Forge to Tupper Lake will be refurbished for a scenic railway. I wish the scenic railway well, but we would have relished the chance to keep riding past Tupper Lake.
Despite Maya the unicorn’s rough experiences, we also saw what the ART will someday be. We rode by lakes where a half-dozen loons gathered as if waiting for us. A kaleidoscope of late-summer monarch butterflies, drawn either by Gillian’s goldenrod-colored cycling jacket or some innate knowledge of how much she loves them, fluttered around her and Wren as they rode.
We returned each night to a campfire and s’more paradise at Sunday Pond. Gillian and Wren would read while I silently conversed with the fire until the day’s fresh air and exercise guided us to a deep sleep. Smiles came easier and our brains became clearer as we let go of the residue of everyday life we’d brought with us. I thought of the rail lines, built in the 1800s to take people from the crowded, polluted cities to the woods for revitalization. Our trip was by bike instead of train, but it got us there all the same.
After three nights, we left Sunday Pond and rode the ART east toward Lake Placid where restaurant meals and indoor plumbing awaited us. The last miles were some of the toughest and Wren pushed her bike through rough gravel sections before celebrating the finish with us at the train station in Lake Placid.
Of course, someone had to ride back to Vermontville for the car, and that someone was me. I ate lunch by a pond beneath Scarface Mountain as a heron searched for its own lunch. For years, I couldn’t imagine the Adirondacks getting any better, but when the ART is ready, they will.
• Don’t go just yet. The Department of Transportation is in charge of the ART until trail work is complete and the ART is handed over to the Department of Environment Conservation. Until then, the trail is considered closed.
• When the ART is completed, the rough surfaces we found will be replaced by crushed stone. The DEC will release more information when the trail is ready. Await that day eagerly.
Herb Terns is a Digital Ads Manager at the Times Union. He’s also a writer, adventurer and hypothermia connoisseur. For some reason, the Times Union has allowed him to write about the outdoors since 2009. You can reach him at [email protected] or Twitter or Instagram at HJTerns.