Friday, September 16, 2016

DEC To Turn Away Vehicles From High Peaks Access Road

Adirondack High Peaks March 4 - 2016 by John Warren

State forest rangers will be turning away motor vehicles from the Adirondack Loj Road on weekends this fall due to an excessive number of hikers and vehicles that have been showing up there.

On busy weekends recently hikers have parked on the Adirondack Loj Road after the Adirondack Mountain Club’s parking lot reached its capacity at 200 vehicles. Now motor vehicles will be turned away after the lot is full.

Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth said the road has been lined with as many as 350 motor vehicles recently after the lot has filled. He said the intended capacity for the area is 300 vehicles for that access to the High Peaks.

The Adirondak Loj trailhead saw at least 2,563 hikers from Friday to Monday on Labor Day weekend, according to stats provided by the ADK’s summit steward program.

“From South Meadow Road to our entry station (on Adirondack Loj Road), we had people parked on both sides of the road,” Woodworth said. “We even had people parked on the bridge.”

Other trails also saw an excessive number of hikers that weekend. Cascade Mountain had at least 1,577 hikers, with 665 people hiking Saturday and 640 on Sunday.

But State Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Dave Winchell said there isn’t a plan to turn vehicles away from the Cascade Mountain parking lot or other popular trailheads on state Route 73. Instead, the state and local tourism officials are encouraging hikers to visit areas outside of the High Peaks. DEC released a list of a dozen hikes in the Lake Placid and Keene region Friday, hoping to encourage people to visit those trailheads. He said the DEC will be looking at the trailhead parking issue this winter.

The state Route 73 corridor parking issue is considered a potential dangerous area around some trailheads because vehicles sometimes line both sides of the road, narrowing the driving lane on the highway. In addition, hikers walk between vehicles and cars driving past.

“The parking situation on route 73 is just getting dangerous,” Woodworth said.  “Someone is just going to get run over.”

In recent years, the High Peaks has seen a surge in the number of hikers, as detailed by the Adirondack Almanack in a recent series of articles. The increase has come as a result of increased marketing of the Adirondacks by the state, more awareness of the Adirondacks on social media and the Internet, and an interest in hiking challenges. The surge mirrors trends in other mountainous areas, such as the Catskills and White Mountains in New Hampshire.

While the number of hikers are welcomed by businesses, the large crowds are more than was intended for some of these recreation areas. Large crowds on summits put rare alpine vegetation at risk, change the wilderness experience for users, and is leading to problems associated with fecal matter and toilet paper on or near trails.

Woodworth said is a big fan of DEC’s effort to encourage people to hike in places other than the Eastern High Peaks during busy weekends when the parking lots are full. He said there are plenty of other beautiful places for people to enjoy.

….

Below is a list of hikes outside the High Peaks, as recommended by the DEC.

Rocky Peak: The East Trail in the Giant Mountain Wilderness ascends 6.7 miles and 3,600 feet from the trailhead on Route 9N to the 4,420-foot summit of Rocky Peak Ridge and its 360 degree view. Much of the trail is along an open rocky ridge with constant views of the mountains, forests and waters to the north, east and southeast. There are several renowned points along the way to stop and enjoy the magnificent surrounding scenery including Blueberry Cobbles, at the 1.9 mile mark; Bald Mountain at the 3.9 mile mark; the remote and picturesque Marie Louis Pond at the 6.1 mile mark. The summit provides views of the Sentinel Range, Hurricane Mountain, Lake Champlain and the surrounding valley, the Green Mountains of Vermont, Dix Mountains, the Great Range, eastern High Peaks, and nearby Giant Mountain. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.1499°N, 73.6268°W·        Baxter Mountain: This trail in the Hammond Pond Wild Forest ascends 1.0 mile and 725 feet from the trailhead on the State Route 9N to the 2,400-foot summit with 360 degree views which includes the Sentinel Range, Hurricane Mountain, Giant Mountain, the Dix Mountains, eastern High Peaks, and nearby Giant Mountain. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.2205°N, 73.7492°W

Owl’s Head Lookout: The North Trail in the Giant Mountain Wilderness ascends 2.5 miles and 1,110 feet from the trailhead on State Route 9N to a 0.1-mile spur trail that ascends 150 feet to the 2,530 feet lookout point. The lookout provides scenic views of Hurricane Mountain, the Boquet River Valley, Lake Champlain and the surrounding valley, the Green Mountains of Vermont and nearby Giant Mountain. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.2119°N, 73.6788°W

The Crows: This trail in the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness ascends 0.9 mile and 845 feet and 0.9 mile from the Hurricane Road Trailhead to the 2,535-foot summit of Little Crow Mountain. The summit of 2,815-foot summit of Big Crow Mountain is located 0.6 mile and 280 feet further up the trail. There are numerous scenic views from ledges along the way and the summit. Hikers can descend 0.5 mile from Big Crow Mountain to the Crow’s Clearing Trailhead to a vehicle or hike O’Toole Road and Hurricane Mountain Road for a 3.5 mile loop hike back to that trailhead. Trailhead Coordinates: (Hurricane Road: 44.2583°N, 73.7529°W) (Crow’s Clearing: 44.2609°N, 73.7330°W)

Whiteface Mountain:  The Whiteface Landing Trail in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness ascends 6.0 miles and 3,320 feet from the trailhead on State Route 86 to the 4,867-foot summit and its 360 degree views. The first 2.5 miles from the trailhead to the Whiteface Landing on the shores of Lake Placid ascends only 310 feet. The summit provides views of Lake Champlain, Lake Placid, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the High Peaks region, and a large portion of the northeastern Adirondacks. Those seeking a much shorter hike to the summit can drive the recently renovated Whiteface Mountain Veteran’s Memorial Highway (fee required) to a parking area near the summit and hike the 0.15 mile trail ascending 200 feet to the summit. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.3002°N, 73.9302°W

Scarface Mountain: This trail in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest ascends 3.3 miles and 1,400 feet from a trailhead on the Old Ray Brook Road to an open area .35 mile and 80 feet below the summit. The open area provides views of the western High Peaks, the Saranac Lake Chain of Lakes, McKenzie Mountain and more. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.2981°N, 74.0835°W

Copperas & Owen Ponds: This trail in the Sentinel Range Wilderness extends 1.7 miles between two trailheads located on State Route 86. The trail ascends 450 feet for 0.5 mile to shore and clear waters of Copperas Pond and then continues 0.7 miles to the shores of Owen Pond. The trail provides views of the scenic wilderness ponds, their picturesque shorelines and 3,616-foot Stewart Mountain and 3,892-foot Kilburn Mountain. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.3349°N, 73.9003°W

Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain: The Observer’s Trail in the Taylor Pond Wild Forest ascends 1.9 miles and 1,280 feet from the trailhead off State Route 9 to the 2,162-foot summit with 360 degree views and a fire tower. Views from the summit include the Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and much of the northeastern Adirondacks. The trailhead is just 5 miles south of Exit 33 of the Northway (I-87). Trailhead Coordinates: 44.4019°N, 73.5029°W

Catamount Mountain: This trail in the Taylor Pond Wild Forest ascends 1.8 miles and 1,540 feet from the trailhead on Forestdale Road to 3,168 feet bedrock summit. The hike includes one steep and exposed scramble. The view from summit includes Taylor Pond, Silver Lake, Union Falls Pond, the Wilmington Range, the Stephenson Range and Whiteface Mountain. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.4431°N, 73.8799°W

Silver Lake Mountain: This trail in the Taylor Pond Wild Forest ascends 0.9 mile and 900 feet from the trailhead on the Silver Lake Road. The summit offers views of Silver Lake, McKenzie Mountain, Moose Mountain, Taylor Pond, Catamount Mountain, Whiteface Mountain and the Wilmington Range. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.5110°N, 73.8483°W

Bear Den Mountain: This trail in the Whiteface Mountain Intensive Use Area ascends 1.6 miles and 1,160 feet from a trailhead near the parking area for Kid Campus of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area to the 2,400-foot summit of Bear Den Mountain. The trail is part of the Flume Trail Network and is open to the public for day use free of charge. Bikes are allowed on the first 0.4 mile of the trail. The summit provides views of the West Branch Ausable River Valley, the Sentinel Range and the Stephenson Range. Parking at Kids Campus is free. Overnight parking is prohibited. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.3595°N, 73.8576°W

Cobble Lookout: This trail in the Wilmington Wild Forest extends 1.3 miles with little change in elevation from a trailhead on Gillespie Drive (aka Franklin Falls Road) to a large rocky ledge with views of nearby Whiteface Mountain, and across the Ausable River drainage to Jay Mountain, Hurricane Mountain, and many other peaks. Trailhead Coordinates: 44.4040°N, 73.8789°W

Clements Pond: This trail in the Wilmington Wild Forest ascends 1.5 miles and 650 feet from a trailhead on Styles Brook Road to the shores of Clement Pond where hikers can enjoy views of the scenic pond, shoreline and nearby 2,550-foot Clement Mountain. The trailhead is across the road from the parking area. Trailhead Parking Area: 44.3001N°, 73.7672°W

More hikes and links to more information and maps can be found on the Hikes Outside the High Peaks web page (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9163.html.


(Editors note: A reference to the DEC performing tests for fecal coliform near Indian Falls was removed because it couldn’t be verified there ever was testing done.)

 


Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues.

Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.

From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake.

Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at mike@adirondackexplorer.org.




75 Responses

  1. Justin Farrell says:

    Can I ride my bicycle to the trailhead?

  2. Jim S. says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if they could send them to a nice 7 mile hike along a trail that used to be a logging road and came to a beautiful remote pond named for Boreas!

  3. Boreas says:

    Did the Loj ever get the rest of their No Parking signs put up?

    • Taras says:

      I was there on September 3rd and the east side of the last mile had no signs.

      The attendant at the Loj’s entrance booth explained the situation to us. Given that the parking lot was full, she conceded we could legally park along the road’s east side. We found a spot about a dozen cars north of the booth.

      When we returned in the evening, I was surprised to see four cars parked on the *west* side. All were ticketed.

      I’ve heard two versions of why only one side has been posted. One was a budget shortfall and the other is a disagreement between the Club and the town. There may be other versions.

  4. I question whether distributing use is the right way to go. It was certainly my gut reaction at first, but then I started contemplating what it will mean for the places listed above. If several hundred people are turned away from the Loj will that result in a meaningful reduction in the impact to the resource or the experience of other hikers? Probably not. Most importantly, the character of the places people disperse to will likely be changed in a number of ways. All of the problems brought up with the increase in visitation (human waste, rescues, erosion, etc.) will now be spread over a larger area, making it more difficult and costly to manage. Would it be better to invest in infrastructure, staff, and education at the few really busy locations?

    • Boreas says:

      Brendan,

      I don’t think protection of the HPW is their only worry. I think they are also worried about vehicle/pedestrian safety WRT parking on both sides of the road. I also think the Loj property is being overwhelmed on busy days and they are asking for help as they may be liable for incidents/injury occurring on their property. And if the bridge should collapse, or a fire, there is no other way in or out. Imagine trying to get emergency vehicles down a narrowed road with 200 vehicles trying to get out at the same time. I think safety is at least another, if not primary concern – similar to Occupant Limits in public buildings.

      • Agreed. That is why the state should start investing in infrastructure, facilities, and staff. According to the HPW UMP a visitor interpretive center was supposed to be built along Loj Rd near Meadows Ln with a 100 car parking lot. The UMP is long over due for an update, these issues should be analyzed and addressed through that process.

        • Boreas says:

          Brendan,

          Does the state currently own the land where the parking lot is supposed to go? I wonder if they would be better off running shuttles from Mt. Van center. Then turn the road into a tow zone.

          • Yes, the state does own the land. The UMP for the High Peaks is approaching 20 years old, it is long over due for an update. All of these issues and ideas should be explored through that process, with opportunity for public comment.

    • Joe Hansen says:

      Good point Brendan,I got a shudder thinking of 100+ people on Catamount and Rocky
      Peak Ridge. The eastern High Peaks unfortunately needs more DEC presence,trail hardening and sanitary facilities. Money for clean up and maintenance needs to be increased. Parking or license fees would be a fair way to raise the revenue.

    • Taras says:

      Brendan,

      The only way this new initiative will effectively “turn people away” is if they also forbid parking along Meadows Lane and, at the very least, another mile or two of Adirondack Loj road.

      For decades, people parked along South Meadows Road (now marked as Meadows Lane) and lined the Loj road north of the bridge. Many did it when the Loj’s parking lot was full but others simply to avoid paying the Loj’s parking fee. The extra 2-3 miles (round-trip) has never served as much of a barrier to entry.

  5. kathy says:

    “Pay per View”.

    • Bruce says:

      Great comment, Kathy.

      According to some pundits, all that is necessary to increase visitors to Boreas Ponds is make it all Wilderness and close Gulf Brook road at Blue Ridge Road.

      • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

        Wow, I got called a pundit! Cool!

        I want the road closed because I’m interested in true Wilderness protection for the Boreas tract, not because it’s “necessary to increase visitors to Boreas Ponds.” I simply point out what High Peaks usage numbers are making painfully obvious: protecting it as Wilderness won’t negatively impact its use. That’s simply becoming an ever-more foolish argument.

        • Paul says:

          I am not sure that it is fair to make comparisons of one new potential wilderness tracts with what the HPW has currently. The characteristics are very different. I think in the case of Boreas there is a good chance that classifying it as Wilderness could easily “negatively impact” its use. Or if you want to say positively since my guess is that it would have fewer users. The hikers in this article parked along the road are interested in the easiest access that they can get to high peaks. Cascade is heavily used because it is so easy to get to a high peak there.

        • Bruce says:

          Pete,

          I’m not arguing that Wilderness is a negative connotation. My argument is with those who believe making Boreas Ponds all Wilderness will increase the usage of the area, on the basis that the HPW does so well because it is classified Wilderness.

          All one has to do is look at little used and potentially more pristine Wilderness areas (because of light usage) in the Park and wonder what kind of visitorship the HPW would get without the allure of the peaks and the services provided by the Loj.

          Wilderness is only one factor, and not necessarily the primary one for most visitors, that’s my argument. Just look at where people go…do the Canadians come down by the busload to wander around in pristine wilderness? They have plenty of wilderness closer to home, it’s the mountain peaks they come for.

          • Paul says:

            Yes, the peaks are the different characteristics I was talking about. Folks in Boreas are going to have great views of the mountains that everybody wants to climb. Those views matched with paddling on the ponds could be a draw. Just don’t have such a crazy long carry.

  6. Keith Gorgas says:

    My days of climbing mountains are over, but I am sympathetic to the need to protect fragile places.

    Here’s my problem with this approach, and it’s two pronged. When the APA came into existence, it pretty much regulated out industry and commercial farming in the Park. Eco tourism was the promised exchange. It’s taken more than a generation, but it’s beginning to actually work as an economic engine. Millions of dollars have been invested in advertising to get people to come to the Adks.

    There now seems to be concerted effort to throw a wet blanket on the number of people who can come and enjoy the activities of the area. Who wants to drive 6 hours only to be turned away? Not me.

    There are loads of unexplored parts of the Park, tremendously underutilized. Before chasing people away, I’d like to see the DEC develop access and information about alternative places to hike, camp, and climb. No money for it, you say? Then I say the State should stop acquiring land and devote funds to being good stewards for the common good of the land it already owns.

    • A fundamental question is whether or not people want to visit these other areas. Or are they looking to hike a High Peak. It is much easier to manage large numbers in a relatively small area than it is when they are spread out. One ranger could be at Cascade for a weekend and educate 1,500 people. If we disperse them we need several to do the same work. I’m don’t know what the answer is but this issue should be thoroughly studied before we start trying to redistribute use. A key point of what you said is the state making the necessary investments. This is particularly important if we are expecting the use of a trail to see a 10-fold increase because people were turned away from somewhere else.

  7. Marco says:

    We need an increased Ranger presence throughout the peaks. How to pay for this is the huge, well as huge as the crowds, question.

    Clearly, anyone hiking the peaks in summer needs to be registered. They estimate numbers, OK. But without solid facts it is difficult to move forward on anything. A minimal fee needs to be charged to pay for this. The state can’t/won’t. It will help with SAR calls, minimally.

    Pushing hikers out of the peaks will be difficult. Many who frequent the area are there BECAUSE of the mountains. Frequent hikers will plan another trip to these places, not reduce the number of trips to the Peaks. Traveled hikers will always go to the peaks. It is THEIR destination.

    Note, this problem really only occurs in the EHP. There is little to no overpopulation on most of the rest of ADK trails. I typically hike/paddle about 700-900 miles per year and NEVER go into the EHP. Way too many people for my taste. On other trails, I often spend a day or two alone, on a relatively poorly maintained trail.

    • Scott says:

      I know this is an adk forum but realize rangers are way understaffed across the whole state…the ranger understaffing is a bigger issue than just adks.

  8. Taras says:

    I feel this effort has more to do with preventing illegal car-parking than about limiting hiker-traffic.

    For decades, you couldn’t park along the last mile of Adirondack Loj Road. Both sides were posted with “No Parking” signs.

    When the Loj’s parking lot was full, often during leaf-peeping season, cars would legally park a mile north of the Loj’s entrance, namely just beyond the bridge over the West Branch Ausable River. Cars would line one side of South Meadows Road (posted as “Meadows Lane”) and Adirondack Loj Road (north of South Meadows Road).

    As recently as October 2015, I parked along Meadows Lane because the Loj’s parking lot was full.

    Things changed this year. All the rusty old “No Parking” signs were removed along the final mile and only the west side received new signs. Naturally, people parked along the un-posted east side.

    They could now park for free within a few car-lengths of the Loj’s fee-based lot. They didn’t get parking tickets. The few oblivious people who parked on the posted west side did get ticketed.

    All this announcement does is re-establish the old status quo; you can’t park along the last mile of the road. Walking that final mile wasn’t a barrier to hikers in the past and I don’t imagine it will pose one in the future.

    The principal difference is they’re using rangers to accomplish what signs did in the past. I feel it would be more cost-effective to finish posting the east side with new “No Parking” signs. In addition (or alternately) post “No Parking Beyond This Point” signs at the bridge.

    The attendant, stationed at the Loj’s entrance booth, is more than capable of redirecting hikers to alternate destinations. The on-duty ranger stationed at the Loj can periodically ticket cars illegally parked along the last mile (as has been done for many years).

    Let’s have rangers in the backcountry where they can educate hikers and enforce the regulations. Using them as tour guides and traffic cops is hardly the best use of their many skills.

    BTW, there’s a geographical error in the article.
    “Woodworth said that testing has shown high levels of fecal matter in Indian Pass Brook, which is one [sic] the trail to the summit of Mount Marcy.”

    Indian Pass Brook is not on the trail to Mount Marcy. It lies six miles west of Mount Marcy. Phelps Brook and Marcy Brook are along the way to Mount Marcy (via the Van Hoevenberg Trail).

    • Boreas says:

      Is the Loj road itself private or public property? Can’t other police factions ticket as well?

      • Taras says:

        According to a reliable source, it’s a public road.

        Seeing that DEC rangers are officers of the law and are often stationed at the Loj’s trailhead, it stands to reason they can periodically ticket illegally parked cars. I suppose Lake Placid’s police also have jurisdiction in the area but it’s a bit off the beaten path for them.

  9. Lily says:

    It is time for a paid permit system to be put in place, at least for the High Peaks Wilderness.

    • Taras says:

      Easier said than done.

      A quota-based permit system is only as good as its verification/enforcement. The DEC’s shoestring budget currently has very limited backcountry policing in the High Peaks. To frame it another way, there are more trailheads in the High Peaks than rangers.

      In addition to more policing, you need a system to sell and track permits that have expiration periods. The DEC has nothing in place that operates in this manner. They’d probably have to farm it out to a subcontractor just like their campground reservation system (ReserveAmerica). Without adequate verification and enforcement, the only party guaranteed a modest revenue stream is the subcontractor collecting processing fees for each permit.

      An *inexpensive* way of controlling hiker-traffic is to limit parking.

      All major trailheads offer official limited parking as well unofficial “overflow” parking along the access road. Eliminate the overflow parking.

      Forbid overflow parking along the road’s shoulders and you dramatically reduce the number of visitors (and the risk of accidents along busy routes like highway 73). Those who choose to ignore “No Parking” signs risk receiving a ticket.

      In addition, charge for parking (offer weekly and annual parking passes) to help defray costs (trail maintenance, rescues, etc).

      • Todd Eastman says:

        Taras, you spin a twisted concept of public lands management…

        … go here, can’t go there, sorry no parking, drive to Newcomb and maybe you’ll get lucky, perhaps a reservation secured some months in advance would work, and what of the whimsey of fun…

        … this is not about fun but a regulated landscape with rules and quotas…

        … Muir, Schaffer, Thoreau, and even Teddy R would gag at the regulatory playground you describe…

        • Taras says:

          Todd,

          “This is not about fun but a regulated landscape with rules and quotas”

          I think if you read the DEC’s Part 190 “Use of State Lands” you’ll discover my suggestion, to institute parking fees, is merely a drop in the ocean of existing regulations. If you want unregulated public lands, you’re a bit late to the party.

          https://govt.westlaw.com/nycrr/Browse/Home/NewYork/NewYorkCodesRulesandRegulations?guid=Ia9bf8a40b5a011dda0a4e17826ebc834&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&bhcp=1

          • Todd Eastman says:

            Nothing in 190 is anywhere near as restrictive as your notions regarding the High Peaks.

            There are better ways to allow access and improve the habitat than to start excluding the taxpayers that do the heavy lifting.

            User fees never come close to paying for the expected needs. The private firms are leaches of the public trust.

            • Taras says:

              Todd,

              “Nothing in 190 is anywhere near as restrictive as your notions regarding the High Peaks.”

              They are quite restrictive and go so far as to limit the number of people permitted in a group, where you can/cannot camp, how long you can camp in one place, how you must store your food, when you must wear snowshoes, etc.

              Two major trailheads already charge parking fees: Adirondack Loj and the Garden.

              My “notion” is simply to extend parking fees to the other trailheads; it’s an expansion of the status quo.

              • Todd Eastman says:

                The parking fees are because the lots are located on private land or a specific management including shuttle service agreement with the state to limit illegal parking along a town road.

                • Taras says:

                  Todd,

                  Thank you. I’m aware of that and it serves as an example the state can copy for use at other trailheads to limit parking and prevent cars from clogging public roads (potential safety hazard) as well as cost-effectively controlling over-crowding on popular trails.

        • terry says:

          Well said.
          Also keep in mind that in the National Park System now Outfitters(scalpers) by those slot in the beginning of the year and sell them for a profit. From what I understand it is very difficult to get a camping spot in Yellowstone or Grand Teton without going through the secondary market.

      • Paul says:

        This parking lot is probably a pretty nice cash cow for ADK?

    • Mike says:

      Right, other protected landscapes work on ‘developing’ the small area where people will want to go and leave 95% untouched and not accessible.

  10. Todd Eastman says:

    Poor planning by the DEC has resulted in this foolish move. People want to hike and explore the woods, the heavy hand of regulation is an insult.

    The High Peaks have always been crowded, this is not new and big weekends have frequently brought busses of Quebecers down. Hiking in the High Peaks is during the early-fall is a long standing tradition with our friends from the Nord.

    Hard to encourage a healthy outdoor lifestyle when armed rangers act as the gate keepers!

    • Taras says:

      As one of your friends from the North (who has never been bussed to the High Peaks), I have explored the High Peaks on many occasions and don’t regard its regulations as being heavy-handed (let alone an “insult”).

      “armed rangers”

      As visitors to your country, first we pass armed border-control officers then drive by armed state troopers along I-87. What’s the big deal about another armed officer of the law at the trailhead? In fact, I’d like to see more of them but in the backcountry, enforcing the DEC’s regulations, and not in the frontcountry, enforcing the town’s parking regulations.

    • Boreas says:

      Todd,

      I don’t think you should make DEC the main culprit here. They have to work within a budget that is developed by politicians in Albany. Their hands are tied from the start by their annual budget.

      • Todd Eastman says:

        The DEC is in charge of developing annual budgets in conjunction with the legislature that can be passed and get their tasks accomplished. This is not happening.

        Yes, the DEC must play politics…

        • Boreas says:

          Yes – everyone must. Ultimately, DEC gets what passes through budget, not necessarily what they ask for. Remember the year campgrounds were shut down & staffing was cut back for a while? They certainly didn’t ask for that.

  11. Bob Rainville says:

    I”m confused. I thought you guys said hikers. Hikers Do Not destroy resources…that mode of travel does not cause erosion or destruction of resources.
    You should look into clandestine mountain bikers or ATVers…I’ll bet they are the real culprits.
    Or…maybe foot trails need to be “built to withstand the extra abuse of…hiking”. No, no, no…that’s not possible. We just need more infrastructure. That’s it. More infrastructure in….wilderness. We need more infrastructure in wilderness.
    Oh, and I’m looking forward to larger parking lots to accommodate all the eco-friendly beasts left at the trailhead.
    Does anyone else see the real insanity in this conversation? Anyone?

    • Bruce says:

      Bob,

      You’re right.

      I’m guessing the vast majority of Adirondack Wilderness is relatively lightly used, yet the key areas (EHP) which are grossly overused are touted as an example of Wilderness being the primary reason folks visit the Adirondacks. It seems to me that crowds of people “enjoying a specific area of Wilderness to death” is not an example we want to base our assumptions on.

      I wonder how many busloads of Canadians would come if the land were still classified Wilderness, but without the peaks and their associated trails?

  12. Keith Gorgas says:

    Reading all the comments, one thing is clear to me: we need an ideological shift at the top of DEC from “Preservationist” back to “Conservationism” . The money would follow the shift.

  13. terry says:

    Let them come and and hike.
    the Adirondacks are all about tourism. Tell Neil Woodworth to increase the size of the parking lot by 350 cars if thats the overflow.
    If 73 is a traffic hazard in the Cascade perking area reduce the speed limit, but not the people enjoying the trails. make the speed limit 15 MPH in the area.
    As someone who lives downstate but has a vacation/post work house in the Adirondacks I can tell you my local neighbors (all natives) couldn’t care less about how many people hike a trail as long as everyone has work.
    The recent ticketing of a hiking group from Canada was a disgrace, a simple warning to hike in smaller groups would of been fine.
    Turning away hikers and fining groups visiting is not the way to help the local economy.

    • Sir Loin says:

      I am now dumber for having read this…

    • Taras says:

      As a Canadian, I feel Jimmy Sevigny’s organized hiking trip to the High Peaks deserved the citations it received. It’s hardly the first group to run afoul of the law and probably won’t be the last. Rest assured it did little to discourage law-abiding Canadian hikers from visiting the High Peaks.

      The Adirondack Park has room for many visitors. It’s not about turning people away from the Park but redirecting them to explore its many other natural attractions. It also helps spread the economic benefits to other communities instead of having them pool in one place. Sometimes it requires giving people a nudge to explore new places.

      I’ve hiked the peaks in the vicinity of Saranac Lake and farther afield (Silver Lake, Catamount, Debar, Azure, etc) and they all have something interesting to offer.

  14. Mike says:

    Maybe the high peaks should be managed as a park instead of a wilderness

  15. Hope says:

    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/10/unplugging-the-selfie-generation-national-parks/

    Apparently Millennials and other urban types prefer company when in the Wilderness.

    • Taras says:

      Thanks for sharing that! I really enjoyed the article. The item about demographics is quite applicable to the Adirondacks as well.

      “Flashing nature” seems silly to me but harmless. Every new generation is entitled to a signature behavior that will cause their future offspring to roll their eyes. 🙂

  16. Steve S says:

    The last thing our rangers should be doing is managing hiker parking. We need them at trailheads and out on the trails, providing education and enforcement. But, given the increased number of search and rescue operations…and the requirement that the rangers stay close to their trucks to receive those rescue calls, I suppose there is at least some degree of logic in having them be useful in some way while waiting for the emergency calls that inevitably will come their way.

  17. Richard McCoy says:

    I’ve been camping & hiking the High Peaks and the ADKS for 35 years. It’s sad that it’s come to this. I can recall 25 -30 years ago when my vehicle was the only one parked at a trailhead and I saw no other human during my hike up & down the peaks. Sadly, I don’t find that tranquility & peace anymore. However, I’ve found the off season is still somewhat less popular, for now.

    • terry says:

      Go to Moose pond canoe to the far side and walk into the trees.
      You can be all alone and its really pretty.
      All those people that are ruining your experience are the ones that are taking back a memory that they will have and hold onto, hopefully sharing it with someone else who will experience the same and want to protect it.
      When I hike a trail that is crowded I feel better about the future.
      Do not even get me started about how Whiteface and any other windy summit near a town should be sporting a wind turbine.
      The first time I saw turbines working gave me the same goosebumps as the first time I drove into LP and saw the ski jumps

  18. Paul says:

    If people are so anxious for the solitude that a Wilderness designation will afford some of these new tracts then why are so many people flocking to where there isn’t any solitude. I think the answer is that those of us that seek solitude are maybe in the minority.

  19. Paul says:

    Seems to me from a public safety perspective the people on the road near Cascade, and I would add the parking along route 3 for Ampersand and the Middle Saranac beach, are much more dangerous than parking along this road. I don’t get it? Why ticket people here and not there?

  20. Jesse says:

    There truly are so many gorgeous places to hike in the Adirondacks – the list seems endless, I hope those who are turned away aren’t discouraged… there plenty more within a short drive from there!

    • Paul says:

      They are going to be totally discouraged since they came to climb those particular high peaks and they can’t find them anywhere else in the Adirondacks.

  21. terry says:

    No one should be turned away. We are talking about dirt and rocks being walked on.
    Dirt and rocks have been walked on since evolution invented legs.
    I was on Cascades peak recently and although there were 100 people on the summit no one was outside of the Rock walkways. (only 4 people on Porter)
    most people who hike for 4-12 hours to reach a peak are going to play by the rules.
    at the sign in station have info that says if you liked this trail try (fill in the blank)
    None of us were any different than the people I saw that day other than we had been there years earlier

  22. Mike says:

    I think the ‘over-crowding’ thing is being taken too far. It happens in a few popular places on holiday weekends with perfect weather. This is nothing new. We should manage those events. We should add outhouses, temporary signs, parking and staff for those places on those days and beef up maintenance of those trails.

    Our whole 6 million acres is not being overrun. Most of the region has lots of space for solitude seekers even on busy days. On those busy days solitude seekers should seek out new places for their goals.

    The other response would be to treat the High Peaks as a popular Park, with a capital P, and less like a fantasy wilderness. Like it or not, it really isn’t a wilderness anymore. SNR is a cell phone call away. Posting your mountaintop experience on Facebook is just what you do. Day hikes far outnumber campers. It needs a management scheme suited to how it is actually being used. Expecting people who want to climb a 46er to be happy visiting remote ponds isn’t going to work. Never has.

  23. Paul says:

    ” On those busy days solitude seekers should seek out new places for their goals.”

    That is what they will have to do if they have no place to park. Again they are not solitude seekers they are peak baggers. They are not interested in the new places.

    • terry says:

      I think they are interested in new places, at least ones that are new to them. That is why they are bagging peaks.
      But I agree they are no solitude seekers.

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