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Communities brace for snowmobiling boon

NEWCOMB - Now that the papers are signed for the $30 million state easement on 89,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn land in the central Adirondacks, Hamilton and Essex County tourism officials are hoping the new snowmobile trail that cuts through the easement, from Newcomb to Indian Lake, will boost winter business.

The 14-mile trail, known to snowmobilers as Trail 538, is now open along logging roads on lands owned by ATP Timberland Invest, which recently signed the landmark deal with New York state. The Newcomb Snowmobile Club is grooming the northern half of the trail, and the Indian Lake Snowarriors club is grooming the southern half.

Snowmobiling has long been a popular sport in the Essex County town of Newcomb, and it's been a source of income for some small businesses, like the Newcomb House Bar & Grill and Aunt Polly's Bed & Breakfast. But Newcomb has traditionally been seen as a "dead end" by the snowmobiling community, a destination, yes, but on the way to nowhere. Two main factors added to this perception: No gas pump in town and no through-trails for snowmobiles.

This winter, that's all changed, and Newcomb is poised to become a haven for snowmobiling.

The Northwoods Diner and General Store in Newcomb recently opened a gas pump - the first one in town in almost a decade - and the new snowmobile trail from Newcomb to the Hamilton County town of Indian Lake is now open. This is being seen as a perfect recipe for economic opportunity in Newcomb, now that sledders can drive from the town of Long Lake to Newcomb to Indian Lake and destinations south. It creates a long-distance loop for snowmobiles traveling from Inlet and Old Forge, known widely as the "Snowmobile Capital of the East."

The new trail has only been open less than a month, and early snow wasn't optimal for a smooth-riding base. Yet there has been some interest in Trail 538.

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