New Boardwalk on Lake Marie-Louise
BY Christine Bourjade
“Marie-Louise Pond will be managed to preserve its aquatic habitat”
A statement in the 2004 Unit Management Plan of Giant Mountain Wilderness Area was fulfilled last week. Better known as Lake Marie-Louise, the less-than-acre pond sits at 3,950 feet, halfway between Rocky Peak Ridge and Rocky Peak summits.
It’s believed a local hotel owner cut the first trail from New Russia in 1880. Then called Lost Pond, it was renamed in the honor of Thomas P. Wick’s daughter in 1905 when he hired two Keene Valley guides to build a trail to it from Giant summit. Thomas Wick is also credited with laying out the Beaver Meadow Trail to Gothics in the 1870’s. Marie-Louise suffered from what was then called a “tubercular hip” that made walking difficult, but each year for many years she managed to get to this remote and unique spot.
Following the 1913 forest fire, which devastated the area, the trail from the East Trail became a rarely used herd path. Today’s increasingly popular trail was constructed by the state in 1968.
In recent years the very shallow “lake” has become a favorite overnight stay in the High Peaks because of its remoteness and spectacular scenery and it also sees much more day-hiker traffic. The damage along the fragile shoreline and particularly the proportionally wide outlet had become an issue.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) decided to address the impact and contracted Adirondack Trail Improvement Society’s (ATIS) professional trail crew to construct three beef-up bog bridges (for a total length of fifty-six feet) and install a privy to fully and definitively protect the resource all the while allowing recreational access to Lake Marie-Louise.
April of this year several bundles of materials were delivered in the middle of my New Russia neighbor’s property. For a few weeks many locals wondered why Tom Oehlbeck had bundles of lumber delivered in the very middle of his 20-acre hayfield.
In early August, past the Bicknell’s Thrush’s breeding season, it took the ATIS crew two days to complete the work as well as install a privy in the vicinity. Another privy was placed near the intersection of Giant Ridge Trail and Roaring Brook Trail. Five of them worked one day and seven the next. Thanks to this summer’s exceptionally dry weather construction was relatively easy. The large boulder to the right clearly indicates the usual water level!
Along Rocky Peak Ridge, Lake Marie-Louise visitors can now enjoy the spectacular close and distant views, take pictures, picnic, pump water or simply rest without setting foot on the fragile, spongy shoreline.