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.)