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One Hundred Years of ADK

One Hundred Years of ADK

Since 1922, ADK has been teaching people how to explore and protect New York’s public lands and waters. Here is a look at some of ADK’s landmark moments and achievements over the last century.


1922: The Adirondack Mountain Club is incorporated on April 17. ADK promptly rough-cuts and marks the Long Trail, now known as the Northville-Placid Trail; it is declared complete in 1924 after further work in the summers of 1923 and ’24.

1925: Johns Brook Lodge opens to guests.

 A lodge
Johns Brook Lodge

1928: ADK develops its first conservation policy under the leadership of President Pirie MacDonald.

1929: The club forms its first Education Committee, “To arouse public interest so that people will appreciate their ownership of the Adirondack Park and to teach them how to properly use and protect the forest.”

1930s: Johns Brook Lodge offers “School in the Woods,” a program established by naturalist Orra Phelps.

1932: Frederick Kelsey forms the Adirondak Loj Corporation and leases the Loj from the Lake Placid Club for ADK use.

A snowy lodge
The Adirondak Loj in winter

1932: ADK successfully opposes the Porter-Brereton Amendment, which would have nullified constitutional protection of wild forest lands.

1934: ADK produces Guide to the Adirondack Trails, Northeastern Section, its first guidebook and the inspiration for today’s Forest Preserve Series. Orra Phelps chairs the club’s new Guide Book Committee.

1935: ADK holds its first annual Trails Conference in Albany, New York, hosting over 100 organizations.

1936: ADK sponsors the Statewide Ski Conference, an annual event for many years, involving up to 60 ski clubs.

1937: ADK organizes the celebration of the centennial of the first ascent of Mount Marcy in 1837 by the Emmons Expedition. Prominent is a radio broadcast from the summit.

1937: ADK establishes its first ski school at the Adirondak Loj.

1939: ADK fields a ski team to compete in state meets.

1945: The end of World War II prompts a resurgence of ADK membership. ADK sponsors the Conservation Forum in Albany.

1947: ADK’s first rock climbing school is established by Jim Goodwin.

1952: The first extended outing takes place.

1953: The Advanced Winter Badge is created by ADK’s Paul Van Dyke, a Warrensburg science teacher, to encourage the development of trained winter leaders.

1954: ADK conducts its first Winter School.

Two skiers with mountains in the background
Two skiers enjoy the High Peaks region

1955: ADK, under the leadership of Paul Schaefer, Conservation Committee chair, is successful in convincing the state’s voters to defeat a constitutional amendment to alter Article XIV so as to allow construction of the Higley and Panther Mt. Dams in the Moose River Plains.

1956: P. Fay Loope becomes the first full-time executive secretary of ADK.

1958: ADK purchases Adirondak Loj from the Lake Placid Club.

1959: ADK fails to stop the bill that permits the building of I-87, the Adirondack Northway, but succeeds in its campaign to keep the new highway out of the Pharaoh Lakes wilderness.

1960: The Natural History Committee forms; it becomes a huge educational component of ADK’s Heart Lake offerings. The offshoot Thursday Naturalist Club also comes into being. 

1962: ADK offers the first Summer Natural History Program at Heart Lake.

1964: Arthur Newkirk funds the nature museum and the Kelsey Nature Trail is laid out, both at Heart Lake.

1965: ADK begins conducting its climbing school an annual basis

1967: ADK successfully opposes a proposal to create a national park in Adirondacks, which would have removed “forever wild” protection from about one-third of the Adirondack Park.

1968: ADK constructs the Buhlman Memorial Amphitheater on the shores of Heart Lake, and creates the Natural History Endowment.

1970: Grant Cole becomes ADK’s first full-time executive director.

1972: The Campers and Hikers Building (now the High Peaks Information Center/HPIC) is constructed, as well as a 200-vehicle parking area for trail access at Heart Lake.

The inside of a building
The interior of the original HPIC

1973: ADK purchases the Quaker Meeting House in Glens Falls, NY, as its first permanent headquarters since the 1920s.

1979: ADK fields its first professional trail crew.

1981: Ann Speth becomes ADK’s first education coordinator.

1985: ADK completes the Forest Preserve Series of Trail Guides. The idea for the series, several volumes covering the entire Adirondack and Catskill Parks, was first conceived in 1934.

1985: ADK introduces its Adopt a Lean-to Program.

1986: ADK’s launches its volunteer trails program.

1987: Betty Peckham becomes the first woman to be elected ADK president.

1988: ADK joins the Acid Rain Coalition, which helps pass Clean Air Act amendments.

1989: The Summit Stewardship Program begins in response to alarming declines of alpine habitat in the Adirondack High Peaks. This joint project of ADK, the Nature Conservancy, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation aims to educate visitors about alpine habitats and impacts.

Hikers on a summit
A summit steward speaking to hikers

1996: Jo Benton is hired as ADK’s first female executive director.

1998: The first school trip to Heart Lake, by Elizabethtown fourth-graders, paves the way for school-related programs to develop.

1999: ADK staff and volunteers construct an interpretive tree trail at Heart Lake.

2000: ADK hosts a Leave No Trace symposium and Education Focus Groups.

2002: The Education Intern Program is established with the support of the Lillian M. Slater Charitable Trust; the Mt. Jo interpretive trail opens.

2003: ADK establishes the first school partnerships for its Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake with local school districts.

Students follow an ADK educator on Heart Lake

2004: Neil Woodworth is appointed executive director.

2005: ADK leads in educating the public about bear canister requirements in the Eastern High Peaks. 

2006: ADK forms an educational partnership with the Altai Republic, a province of Siberia.

2006: ADK files a “friend of the court” brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a successful suit aimed at enforcing federal clean air (including acid rain) regulations.

2008: ADK becomes one of 11 national providers of the Leave No Trace Master Educator course and holds its first ididaride! 50-mile bike tour.

2010: ADK’s advocacy staff, along with Niagara Frontier and Genesee Valley Chapter volunteers, combine efforts to assure that the Allegany State Park Master plan is written with strong environmental protections.

2012: ADK revamps its guidebook series, reducing the number of regions to four, plus the Northville-Placid Trail and the Catskills, and commits to coordinating with the National Geographic map series.

2012: The ADK Board of Directors passes a resolution in support of regulating high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in New York State.

2013: ADK expands its school outreach programming to North Country high schools.

2017: ADK’s Trailhead Stewardship Program begins, providing boots-on-the-ground education to visitors in parking lots before they begin their adventures.  

A volunteer trailhead steward greeting hikers

2019: Neil Woodworth retires as executive director; Michael Barrett is hired to fill the position. Education Director Seth Jones represents ADK on the High Peaks Advisory Group (HPAG).

2019: ADK co-hosts the 11th Northeastern Alpine Stewardship Gathering (NEASG) with The Waterman Fund; that Fund presents Summit Steward Coordinator Kayla White with the Emerging Alpine Steward Award. ADK also co-hosts a Leave No Trace Hotspot event in the Eastern High Peaks.

2020: ADK’s Marie L. Haberl School Outreach Program: Three Seasons at Heart Lake receives Leave No Trace Youth Accreditation through the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

2021: ADK hosts a Forest Preserve Summit at Heart Lake. Cathy Pedler, Director of Advocacy, represents ADK in the Catskill Advisory Group, making ADK the only organization to serve in both major visitor use planning groups in the Forest Preserve.

2022: ADK celebrates its centennial anniversary and offers a wide variety of ways to get involved, including trail work events, a new publication called Peaks and Ponds, fundraisers, and more.

Compass Divider

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