Sunday, September 23, 2018

Access To Cascade, Pitchoff Limited During Columbus Day Weekend

Cascade Parking closures mapThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) have announced plans for managing use associated with the popular Cascade Mountain Trail this Columbus Day holiday weekend.

The trailhead parking lots and the shoulders of State Route 73 in the vicinity of the Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain Trailhead will be closed to public parking beginning in the late afternoon on Thursday, October 4, through Columbus Day. Hikers will be directed to the Cross Country Parking Lot at ORDA’s Olympic Sports Complex beginning Friday morning and throughout the holiday weekend. Only designated shuttles from the Sports Complex will be allowed to enter the Cascade Mountain Trailhead area.

From the Olympic Sports Complex parking lot visitors can take the Cascade Mountain Trailhead Shuttle, hike Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and utilize the Olympic Sports Complex amenities. Overnight parking is prohibited at the Olympic Sports Complex, but DEC says the entrance gate will remain open until the last vehicle exits the complex.

The Olympic Sports Complex, features mountain biking, paintball biathlon, and a tour of the sliding sports tracks. Snacks, beverages, and last-minute hiking supplies will also be available at the Olympic Sports Complex to hikers before they head out to the trails up Cascade Mountain, Pitchoff Mountain, or Van Hoevenberg Mountain.

The hike to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg from the Cross Country Parking Lot is a four-mile round trip, including a 920-foot climb to the 2,940-foot elevation summit of the mountain. The view of the Adirondack High Peaks from the summit is comparable to, and some say may exceed the view from the summit of Cascade Mountain.

Shuttles to the Cascade trailhead are scheduled to leave from the parking lot on the half-hour – beginning at 7 am each day – to transport hikers to the trailhead. Shuttles will transport hikers from the trailhead back to the parking lot until 7 pm. The last shuttle to carry hikers to the Cascade trailhead is scheduled to leave the parking lot at 3 pm. After this time, the shuttles will only be transporting hikers from the trailhead back to the parking lot, ensuring hikers have enough time to reach the summit of Cascade Mountain and return to the trailhead before 7 pm.

“The combination of the capacity and schedule of the shuttles will ensure that approximately no more than 400 people will visit the Cascade Mountain Trail each day, providing a higher quality experience for hikers and protecting sensitive alpine vegetation on the summit,” an announcement from DEC said.

Volunteer Trailhead Stewards from the 46ers, operating under a DEC Volunteer Stewardship Agreement, will be at the Cross Country Parking Lot to provide information about the recreational opportunities available, ensure hikers are properly prepared, and educate hikers on trail etiquette and Leave No Trace principles for sustainable recreation.

High Peaks Summit Stewards will be present on the summit of Cascade Mountain to provide information on the sensitive and rare alpine vegetation and how hikers can protect it. The High Peaks Summit Steward program, which is supported by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, is a partnership between DEC, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and The Nature Conservancy.

DEC also is informing hikers that parking at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead will fill early each day during the holiday weekend. A variable messaging board at the beginning of the Adirondak Loj Road will inform hikers when parking is no longer available and recommend alternate places to hike.

Map courtesy Adirondack Atlas.

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4 Responses

  1. John Billias says:

    It’s about time. Bravo!

    • Taras says:

      Well, you’re ready to party at the drop of a hat! 🙂 You know this is just for *one* weekend, right? Then it’s back to the status quo.

      It’s a variation of something the DEC tried in the past. Last time they closed the Cascade trailhead and rerouted hikers from the Ski Complex to Cascade via existing ski trails. This time they’ll be shuttling hikers by bus to the Cascade trailhead. Sounds more expensive but it allegedly gives them control over the number of visitors.

      The long-term solution is a new trail to Cascade and Porter with the Sports Complex serving as the trail-head. The DEC has scheduled it for completion in October 2019.

  2. Boreas says:

    “The hike to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg from the Cross Country Parking Lot is a four-mile round trip, including a 920-foot climb to the 2,940-foot elevation summit of the mountain. The view of the Adirondack High Peaks from the summit is comparable to, and some say may exceed the view from the summit of Cascade Mountain.”

    Perhaps Mt. Van Hoevenberg will now be the sacrificial lamb for newbie HP area hikers replacing Cascade. Nothing wrong with Whiteface either if there is a pressing need to climb a real “high peak”. Just build a trail from the ski center parking lot. The recent push to have local outfitters, restaurants, and other sources of contact to recommend alternative hikes to tourists is a step in the right direction – especially if those destinations can actually support the parking and foot traffic.

    MVH is a good, solid hike (also accessible from the Loj) that ISN’T one of the 46 high peaks. Both trailheads will be important for outfitting and educating tenderfoot hikers. Turn it into a classroom. Leave the flip-flops and cotton in the car. Purchase the proper safety gear. Ensure proper group size. Harden the trails, summit and latrines for hard use. Provide signage or volunteers along the way at appropriate locations showing how to properly negotiate a muddy trail, ford a stream, or avoid summit vegetation. These trailheads could then be converted to education centers for backcountry winter activities as well. Due to MVH’s lower elevation, it may also offer a better place to hike into mud season where less-hardened trails and higher trails should definitely be avoided.

    It will be interesting to see what works and what doesn’t.

  3. Todd Eastman says:

    Let my people hike!

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