On October 1, 2021 The Town of Long Lake Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department will officially dedicate and open 2km of newly built Mountain Bike / Shared Use Trails at the Mt. Sabattis Recreation area in Long Lake.
The Mt. Sabattis Recreation Area is centrally located in the community of Long Lake and is home to an outdoor ice skating rink, tennis and basketball courts, a sledding hill, pavilion, the S80 Powerline Snowmobile Trail, skate board ramps, a spur linkage to the Northville-Placid trail, and an amazing expansive view overlooking the Town of Long Lake. The viewshed includes spectacular views of Grampus Mountain, Mud Pond Mountain and Rock Pond Mountain, as well as Long Lake, the Long Lake Bridge and the historic Freund estate.
In 2018 the Long Lake Parks and Recreation department developed a variety of ideas and strategies to develop recreational opportunities at Mt. Sabattis. The Town of Long Lake invited Adirondack trail builder Steve Ovitt of Wilderness Property Management to meet with Town Supervisor Clark Seaman and his successor Supervisor Clay Arsenault. Steve had been spending time in Long Lake constructing the Northville-Placid Spur trail to link the center of Long Lake to the popular through hiking route. Steve assessed Mt. Sabattis’s viability for shared use trails that could open the mountain for more recreation with an emphasis on mountain biking and x-c skiing. Steve suggested a build out of over 5km of Mountain Bike, single-track shared trails.
One of the goals in the adopted 2021 Comprehensive Plan was to improve and expand accessibility of trails and link them directly to the community. The proximity of Mt. Sabattis to the business district of Long Lake fit that model and checked off a goal in the Comprehensive Plan. In 2020, the Long Lake Town Board authorized the build out of phase 1 of the trails for 2km of trails. Requests for proposal were made and Wilderness Property Management came on board winning the contract to do the work.
What appealed to Ovitt in the initial proposal, was the proximity to the community. The mountain is centrally located in the business district making it convenient for users to enjoy a quick trek into the serenity of the woods, but close enough to civilization to provide a variety of open businesses for people to explore, eat dine and enjoy the small-town amenities Long Lake provides. Short hikes and fun mountain bike rides are attractive because they appeal to a wider range of users and allow visitors to “bundle” activities like dining and shopping which in turn bolster the local economy.
Steve and his crew, Frank Morehouse and Zach Rabeler from Wilderness Property Management arrived on Mt. Sabattis at the end of August 2021 and started the machine build out, finished off by hand with completion in less than a month. The first test ride happened on the official last day of summer of 2021. Exhilarated test riders exclaimed, “It was better than anyone imagined.”
Phase one of the trail build was developed to offer 2km of trails featuring a novice and intermediate trail. The fully developed plan will include expert mountain biking, hill climb and a skills building area with a mini-version of pump track potentially staged in the center of the mountain. The entire project while initially coined a Mountain Bike Trail project is also intentionally designed to be shared with hikers, walkers, trail-runners and x-c skiers.
Access includes ample parking for the trail head to start mid-mountain at the Mt. Sabattis Pavilion, convenient for its large restrooms, and changing area. Future plans include building an outdoor shower, and to install a repair rack so bikers can tune their bikes as needed. This will expand the amenities to make Sabattis a mini-hub and great stop on anyone’s outdoor exploration of the Adirondacks.
The 2km trail loops newly built features a navigable traverse through wooded terrain and along a meadow overlooking Long Lake with stunning viewsheds. Not only can it provide a fun and rugged mountain bike experience, but it also provides a gentle approach to access the top of Mt. Sabattis. Recreational visitors, walkers and hikers can take advantage of a view on smoothly built trails, developed to be sustainable for years to come, with natural built features to minimize water damage and erosion.
So what are the new trails going to be like for a mountain bike user?
This is phase one – so riders coming to our area will enjoy the short loops, they are family friendly and great way to build up skills and get some exercise. We know riders will enjoy the trails, and they will want more.
Phase one of this built out includes two loops with one side scenic trail. “Let it Loose,” the novice trail boasts 0.82km or .5 miles. It starts at the Mt. Sabattis Pavilion parking lot and with two access points. Taking the lower access starts out along a gentle sloping wooded trail, looping riders alongside the Pavilion roadway and then drops down to an existing road crossing and then swooping down along the left side through the woods gently curving around and exiting the woods to the first view of Long Lake. Riders traverse across a meadow and tuck back into the woods zigging and zagging around trees, looming above a step dramatic ravine. The trail cuts by an impressive pine tree that will give riders a pause and then continues along, ups and downs and eventually crossing back across the field, back into the woods, across the gravel road and looping back over into the Pavilion start point.
“Black and Blue” is the intermediate more difficult loop at 1.2km / .74 miles in length. This loop starts off to the at the Mt. Sabattis Pavilion parking lot and climbs behind the open area featuring a bluebird house. Riders than swoop down and can choose to navigate the lower section or hop right onto the climbing trail through the woods. Once you climb several winding S curves and cross the gravel roadway, riders are delivered to the meadow and ready to rip along 6 S curves winding back and forth and traversing the open area of Sabattis.
Once riders reach the bottom they can peel off to “Waiting on a Friend” the shorter, scenic spur trail. This is an easy in and out trail that takes riders on a side trip to a scenic wooded trail ending at a pond. Riders pop back out and continue through the field for one final S turn and linking back in the edge of the woods with one final cross to the last leg which returns you back to the woods and zigging and zagging back down to the Pavilion parking lot. Switch gears and do the loop one more time in the opposite direction and find your favorite flow line.
The trail is designed in such a way that riders traveling either way will hit rolling berms, S curves and rollers. In Ovitt’s own words, “In the central section of the Sabattis open area, riders will start to climb the from the bottom of one S turn and will be halfway up the first one before they even start to climb again. Riders can put a little more power into the curve and you’re almost to the top of it and then you are climbing the second one and then you get the break. It’s like four different trails with surprises around every bend.”
On building the trail, Ovitt remarks “Half of it is about the experience and part of it is getting as much trail into a small area as much as we can. There is enough room to put up a climbing and downline for the expert– for the next proposed phase of the build out.”
Riding skills can be improved with practice. Ovitt explains the wooded section on “Black and Blue” the more difficult loop, “Riders will have to look and push down on the handlebars for the steeper stuff. Pushing down will keep you from getting air and it rolls you. The whole idea is to look ahead on these turns and the bike will just come around. The second skill to work on is to get your butt off the seat and look down the trail and the bike just moves. These trails will offer a chance to see progression, skill building and big step up from the novice trail.”
The origin of the names. Where did the trail names come from?
Trail names emerged as an homage to the Rolling Stones. Storied rock and roll legend Mick Jagger visited Long Lake multiple times back in the 80’s and the trails were being constructed just as the news of drummer Charlie Watts death made front page news.
The official opening of the Phase 1 completion of the Mt Sabattis Mountain Bike and Shared Use Trails will take place on Friday October 1st from 3-5pm at the Mt Sabattis Pavilion, 6 Pavilion Way, Long Lake, NY. Join the Long Lake Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department for the ribbon cutting to officially open 2K of newly constructed shared-use trails to the Mt. Sabattis Recreation Area.
The afternoon will feature a dedication ceremony and tours. Everyone is welcome to attend and encouraged to bring running shoes, hiking boots, bikes and helmets.
This is an outdoor event and will happen rain or shine.
Mick Jagger with Tom Helms in Long Lake, NY in the 1980’s at Helms Seaplane Base
An informational video on Mountain Bike Trail Etiquette. Good practices. Helpful hints. Don’t build jumps on the trail. Don’t build “cheater” trails to link to the other trails – much of the trails are managed and built out to prevent erosion and long term damage from water run-off. Soils and rocks and grades are always considered when building out a trail, so please be mindful that adding elements to a professionally built trail will impact the long-term use of that trail and potentially damage it in the long-run. Check out the video for more tidbits.