Monday, September 17, 2018

Parking Along Rte 73 Near Roaring Brook Falls Prohibited

Parking Along Rte 73 Near Roaring Brook FallsThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the State is prohibiting parking on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 near the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead starting Friday, Sept. 21. According to an announcement by DEC: “The parking prohibition supports DEC’s multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.”

Parking will be prohibited on the shoulder of the northbound lane from the entrance to the Roaring Brook Trailhead Parking area north to the bridge over Putnam Brook. Parking will be prohibited on the shoulder of the southbound lane between the guiderails south of Putnam Brook Bridge.

On busy weekend dozens of vehicles typically park in these sections. There is limited sight distance because of the curve in the road and shoulders are narrow. Due to the narrowness of the shoulder, occupants of vehicles open their doors into the lane of traffic and hikers have to walk in the highway to reach the trailhead.

The New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) will install “No Parking” signs along these sections of the road by Friday, Sept. 21.

The Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead is located in the town of Keene, Essex County. The trailhead provides access to Roaring Brook Falls, Giant Nubble, Giant Washbowl, and connects to the Ridge Trail for access to the summit of Giant Mountain.

DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area. The DEC web page, Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby hikes that provide a hiking experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, but with fewer people. The web page includes links to trail maps for each of the hikes, in English and French.

Related Stories

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices.

Send news updates and story ideas to Alamanck Editor Melissa Hart at

41 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Is it legal to park on any shoulder of any highway in NYS?

    • Boreas says:

      My understanding is yes, ‘except where prohibited’. But you need to be well on the shoulder and not block or inhibit traffic, driveways, or safety infrastructure like fire hydrants. In some areas, seasonal regulations may prohibit the number of hours you can park (snow removal) .

  2. terry V says:

    Bad decision by DEC. This just tells tourists they are not welcome in the park. I can not remember anyone being hit by a car along this stretch(or the Cascade parking area).
    If it is really about safety drop the speed limit to 15 MPH.
    I feel that anyone who wants to limit access to the park is either rich or retired.
    Those cars that are being excluded are real dollars to the local community.

    • Boreas says:

      terry V,

      It is a bad situation all around. Unfortunately, when the roads and infrastructure around the Park were built many decades ago, it was prior to the “outdoor movement” where hiking and camping took off in the 60’s. Terrain permitting, postage stamp parking lots and pull-offs were built that were sufficient for several more decades. But the roads were still narrow because of terrain. Roadside parking in these constricted areas should never have been permitted for safety reasons.

      Over the last 20 years, usage has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, NYS and local communities are currently relying on unsafe roadside parking at many popular locations. They are starting to do something about it as is the responsible thing to do. IMO, local communities wishing to capitalize on the tourists that want to visit these areas need to be part of the solution. Increasing the size of safe parking lots and pull-offs is going to be very problematic and likely prohibitively expensive. Seasonal shuttles running the length of these popular areas, although inconvenient, are the only short-term solution until a long-term solution can be found.

    • Paul says:

      15 MPH – slower than a school zone, on a major highway? Interesting proposition.

  3. Pablo says:

    Terry V is exactly right. Who makes these decisions? People in Albany? This is the opposite of sustainable tourism. Time for a quick Article 78 suit against the DEC and DOT to undo this.

  4. Balian the Cat says:

    I know I shouldn’t be, but I am surprised by the comments pushing-back on this decision. That area has been a danger, eyesore, and near disaster for years. The cars on 73 in St. Huberts resemble a giant cruise ship in a quaint little village harbor. The “attraction” – if we absolutely must demean everything by commodifying it – is the natural resource/beauty of the area. Degrading it in the name of “economy” is short sited at best and unethical to many. There are already parking areas there – designed, one assumes, based upon some reasonably assessed carrying capacity work – that the traffic spills all over the road indicates that the capacity is exceeded and the resource will suffer. What happens when the overuse exceeds the tipping point and the area cannot return to the state everyone is traveling to see? The shuttle serving the Garden lot is a good model. Lets not cut off our nose in the quest to sell one more pie at the Noonmark!

  5. Tery says:

    LARGE parking lots, where access is available/permitted are the answer- along with LOWERING the speed limit through the area being discussed.
    I’ve driven through that area many times, and DEC is correct about the dangers.
    The public needs to cooperate and help with the solution.
    SAFETY shouldn’t be compromised at all.

  6. Zephyr says:

    This is a logical, effective tactic to combat one overcrowding issue. Kudos to the DEC! Frankly, I have always been amazed by how everyone has looked the other way with dangerous parking along the shoulder at several different trailheads. I have more than once had to swerve to avoid hitting oblivious people suddenly opening car doors or backing out onto the roadway wearing a full pack. This type of commonsense and effective tactic is what will work. Skip the complicated expensive, and useless licensing/permit ideas. Focus on the parking!

  7. Boreas says:

    This has nothing to do with overcrowding or resource damage. Just safety.

    • adkDreamer says:

      Zephyr is correct. A reduction in parking (shoulder parking here) to support the safety issue at hand has a secondary effect of reducing the number of people accessing the attraction at any one point in time, just as increasing parking access has the opposite effect.

      • Boreas says:

        Obviously, but is that isn’t the intention of the parking ban along the highway. Otherwise, they would simply close the parking lot if reducing hiker volume were the goal.

        • adkDreamer says:

          Boreas, you’re the only one arguing intent. Closing the parking lot(s) would place all the cars on the shoulders. Nevertheless, the intended result of the parking restrictions produces secondary effect(s). Parking restrictions don’t operate in a vacuum. Best to consider potential side effects, like this other one: With the new parking restrictions, could those new locations pose a similar safety issue, just relocated further away from the entrance? Oh and the owner of the private driveway on the northbound side may see cars parking in or crowding his entrance – I wonder how that owner sees it.

          • Boreas says:

            “Boreas, you’re the only one arguing intent.”

            Quite true – I AGREE with you and Zephyr. But what I don’t know WRT these St. Hubert trail heads is what the long term plan DEC is considering. While the short term plan here on its face should certainly result in less trail/feature pressure, to my knowledge DEC hasn’t really stated what the long-term goal is other than addressing the long-standing safety issue. Will they eventually increase legal parking, keep it the same, or consider closing/moving the current small DEC lot to St. Huberts/Keene Valley and using a shuttle like The Valley? Are they considering making the small DEC lot short-term parking only? Until I know the long-term plan, I can only acknowledge the DEC for addressing the immediate safety issue at face value.

            I am also interested to see how effective this particular restriction may be when many of the people may only park on the roadside just to take a picture or to take a quick run up the Falls trail. How frequently will the area be patrolled and by whom? As you mentioned elsewhere, will this be yet another DEC responsibility, or will it be NYS trooper/local responsibility?

  8. Todd Eastman says:

    A real planning process needs to be utilized to balance the conflicting demands of NYDOT, the DEC, APA, and local communities.

    Without real planning, short sighted fixes will continue with an accretion of bad policy.

    Roaring Brook Falls is an amazing sight that should be incorporated into the scenic design of Rt. 73, not regulated into a drive-by-zone.

    • Boreas says:


      With a small parking area at the base of the Falls and a much larger area across the road (Indian Head Trailhead) on Ausable Club property, RBF is hardly being regulated into a drive-by zone. Perhaps NYS and local government could work with Ausable Club to enlarge the lot on their private land, or perhaps even purchase it from AC.

      This (or St. Huberts) would be a good area for an “education” area since it is the only parking for the Falls, some Giant access, and the entire Ausable Lakes trail system accessed from the Lake Road on Ausable Club property. But I seriously doubt the AC would be too keen about any additional hiking pressure on their property.

      But hey, why not restrict parking here to people with possible hiking/outdoor licenses and offer shuttles from St. Huberts or Keene Valley for those without? One of the many potential perks for licensees.

      But as terry V mentions above, a speed limit may be in order as well. The combination of rubber-neckers and pedestrians on a narrow highway corridor is a recipe for serious accidents.

      • adkDreamer says:

        Again, as discussed in “Tony Goodwin: Peaks Don’t Need Permits”, using licenses is simply an unsupportable argument, a money grab, and another barrier to access that cannot possible prevent anyone from doing what they choose to do, in this case: park a vehicle. Furthermore, who is going to be the ‘hall monitor’ and check cars for some supposed license? The last thing a DEC Ranger is inclined to do is to baby sit a parking lot.

        • Boreas says:

          This isn’t rocket science – the communities and the state benefit from tourism. You want tourism, there are costs associated with controlling it and making it safe. It is no different than parking in town to attract shoppers and patrons.

          Authority would be given to the same people who do it now, depending on the location. It would be the responsibility of anyone given the authority to do so – including local and state police. If it is on private land, give them the authority to hand out tickets. We don’t need DEC to be giving out parking tickets or authorizing towing.

          • adkDreamer says:

            Really? So in your world private landowners give out tickets? In your world, local police and state police check for hiking/outdoor licenses?

            • Boreas says:

              The operative words are “depending on the location”. Believe it or not, many communities around the world have “parking officers” that only check parking. They have a lower salary than Rangers and regular police, may only be seasonal employees (or even volunteers) and do nothing more than drive around and check parking in their jurisdiction.

              I believe currently, the Loj, Elk Lake Lodge, Ausable Club and others must call officers when there are violators. When roadside parking is banned, it puts that much more pressure on private landowners who have been good enough to provide some parking. If it becomes unmanageable, even those lots will close. As I have mentioned before, Tourism requires investment to ultimately be successful. NYS and local communities cannot simply keep promoting tourism without the human and physical infrastructure to keep the tourists safe and happy.

              As far as hiking/outdoor licenses you mention, I think you are getting hung up on the term “license”. My view of it would be more of a “pass”, if that is easier to swallow. In other words, it would ultimately be something people would readily seek out as it could be tied in with parking privileges and other perks around the area. It could even give you a discount on hunting/fishing/trapping licenses, or vice-versa. If it presented as an expensive, mandatory, onerous chore with no real benefits, it probably would fail. If marketed as a voluntary, inexpensive benefit with tangible perks, it could easily be a success. The key is to get as many people as possible on board, provide them a basic education, and amend the program down the road as needed. It all depends on the approach NYS (or even local governments) would take – voluntary or mandatory. It would simply be another management tool – not the solution.

              • adkDreamer says:

                @Boreas. The discussion which I and Zephyr presented is about the secondary effects of the parking ban. The majority of what you present as an argument is nothing but dicta, is off topic and simply tortures the discussion. I take offense that you state I am hung up on the term license. Your statement cannot be further from the truth as I stated in the reference post (“Tony Goodwin: Peaks Don’t Need Permits” that license, passes, permits etc. are all one in the same – barriers to access. This is no longer a discussion of topic, but more of your presentation of your endless rabbit holes, innuendo, and your obvious agenda, none of which I care to entertain in this forum.

                • Boreas says:

                  Anyone who believe licenses, passes, and permits are all the same has a feeble grasp of the issue, and contributes to the obfuscation of the topic. They may all be the same to you, but not to the people taking the issue seriously. But if you want to continue attacking me instead of simple ideas, feel free.

                  • adkDreamer says:

                    Pretty obvious Boreas – your the one on the attack. Obvious also that you appear to be holding on to permits/passes/licenses etc. as the solution to everything – holding onto it tight like a teddy bear. Perhaps you should review the comments in Tony Goodwin: Peaks Don’t Need Permits” and do the tally: Over 70% of the respondents sided with the author as I have. Others have said the same in this thread – parking/hiking permits/passes/licenses are unpopular in this forum.

                    • Boreas says:


                      If you actually follow this thread from the beginning, my first response was to Zephyr’s statement “Skip the complicated expensive, and useless licensing/permit ideas.”. And my response(s) was to focus on the official intent of the ban – I didn’t mention licenses.

                      Then you jumped in on a spit-balling discussion I was having with Todd Eastman throwing in the comment “…using licenses is simply an unsupportable argument, a money grab, and another barrier to access that cannot possible prevent anyone from doing what they choose to do, in this case: park a vehicle.”. I AGREE with you and Zephyr that focusing on parking is a HUGE part of the solution, but again, it should only be one part of a comprehensive plan. Parking restrictions alone does nothing to address backcountry education.

                      Now I ask you, who is on the attack? Obviously, we disagree, but don’t disparage people who are at least trying to improve the quality of the HPW experience with untried ideas and discussion. Dismissing them out of hand as an “unsupportable argument” isn’t being very open minded or helpful.

                      “Obvious also that you appear to be holding on to permits/passes/licenses etc. as the solution to everything – holding onto it tight like a teddy bear.” Do I think licensing is a good idea? Yes – but only one of many good ideas. Is it possible in any form? Until it is tried, how will we know? “…solution to everything”? Readers will notice I have stated dozens of times that licensing would never solve all problems up here, but rather it could be one of many possible tools to help begin the process of helping to preserve the resource and improve the experience.

                      “…parking/hiking permits/passes/licenses are unpopular in this forum.” Sure, any new restrictions are initially unpopular, but that doesn’t mean they are unwarranted. Public opinion currently doesn’t seem to hold much sway in APA/DEC/NYS decisions. Adirondackers historically have been used to virtually unrestricted access. But Adirondackers are not the only users – and usage becomes more of a problem daily. The Park is becoming more of an international destination. Tourists used to the NPS regulations and regulations in other nations do not find sensible regulations unusual or oppressive.

                      Both of us are lucky enough to be able to express our opposing opinions on this forum – otherwise, our thoughts would likely never be known. I feel it is a good thing. But these are just opinions on one issue. We both have our hearts in the right place and likely agree on more topics than disagree. Peace. Have a nice weekend!

      • Paul says:

        I am sure the Ausable Club members want as few of the general public as possible on their land. They probably only let folks pass through there because it its required in the deed.

        Also, this idea of a slower speed limit on this one section of road because of a trail to a waterfall is probably not even something that the DOT could do legally? It’s not like a school. Maybe?

        Enforcement of a traffic law is not the responsibility of the DEC.

        • Boreas says:


          I agree. I think DEC or local government(s) would need to petition the DOT for a speed limit as long as it is a state highway.

          • Paul says:

            It’s a main thoroughfare supplying the most populated part of the park. It’s not just a question for hiker access. Local governments would not want to see this become some bottle neck.

            The largest visited site on FP land isn’t the HPW as some here claim. It’s Whiteface Mt. Ski area.

  9. Jo e H. says:

    As an older hiker, who has dealt with ev erything from giant trucks over loaded with gritty titanium crust and dust racing down the old roads in Tahawus,, to kicking along behind a long string of newbies on the narrow trails of the lesser used routes (if there are any such places left in this day anymore) l have learned to let them rush by. we all move at our own pace. I have been enjoying these mountains for many years, as others have, and with more to come. While l am not a fan of the new “race to the summit” , bag a peak ‘ get a patch programs aka Saranac Sixers, if it gets folks, especially kids in the Woods, it’s fine by me, even if It requires me to park the car a quarter mile away. It is kind contrary to complain about the distance to a trail head when the purpose of an outing is to get some exercise, but not too much? No need to get your petticoats in a bind, Nancies

  10. Zephyr says:

    Isn’t it commonsense that limiting the number of cars that can park legally will also limit the number of people on the adjacent trails? Most people drive to the trailhead in personal cars, and most trails have no public transport access. One of the many advantages of limiting parking is that it self-adjusts during the off season or on weekdays when there are less cars looking for parking spaces without the need for year-round enforcement as you would have with licenses/permits. The state police regularly drive 73 and I believe would have the ability to enforce parking laws there since it is a state highway.

    • adkDreamer says:

      Yes, I agree it may limit the number of people. I also agree that parking licenses/permits is a horrible idea. However I would like to note that the DEC proposal described above does not limit parking per se, it just relocates the shoulder parking elsewhere and hopefully to a safer location (away from the Roaring Brook parking lot entrance).

    • Boreas says:


      It is absolutely common sense! I don’t feel it should ever have been allowed near where there was an existing parking area. It leads to safety issues AND overuse – especially in this particular corridor. I also agree with the DEC that they need to study the “holding capacity” of each and every trail system and determine the size of the parking lot accordingly. I believe the new UMP states this is a future DEC responsibility. We’ll see what happens.

      I won’t speak for permits (not a fan), but the goal of licenses/passes should be education and backcountry safety – NOT restricting hiker numbers which as you say, can easily be done with parking restriction and enforcement. But as adkDreamer mentions, in this case, will it simply mean a longer hike along the roadside to get to the trailhead? Are we genuinely restricting hiker numbers with this particular ban, or simply addressing the safety issue in a high-speed, low visibility, congested area? This remains to be seen.

      Limiting parking in a comprehensive and well thought out plan is certainly a large part of any long-term solution to address overuse. But how do we keep tourists happy in busy seasons if they find most lots in the popular HPW area full every time they visit? I see pushback by villages as a future problem. Should be a bumpy ride.

  11. adkDreamer says:

    @Boreas. Please, stop with the rabbit holes. Just prove to all these good folks how a parking license (permit/pass) makes parking any safer. Show the readers and commenters here how a parking license (permit/pass) compels anyone to be educated and/or become better stewards of the Adirondacks. If your view is that the “tool” of licensing is so overwhelmingly convincing, you should be able to prove your point in less than 2 sentences.

    • Boreas says:

      Early in this thread, you and Zephyr opened the license rabbit hole in this discussion by attacking it as a side note. I just defended the idea. Where did I say a license would make parking any safer??? I have already stated dozens of time over the last year or two how licensing can be used as a tool for education and safety, as basic backcountry education would simply be a requirement to obtaining one. I am not the only one to believe this.

      I am not going to convince you as your mind is made up. But in an open forum, every time you criticize an idea, you can’t be surprised if someone counters your criticism.

      • adkDreamer says:

        Ummm, you said it in response to Todd: “restrict parking here to people with possible hiking/outdoor licenses” – this article is about a safety issue with vehicles parked on the shoulder. You brought it up.

        You say you have “…stated dozens of times … how licensing…”, but making a statement or claim is one thing, proving it is another. No proof has been offered that to show that a license compels anyone to be required to know or do anything on a continual basis.

        And finally you say your “not going to convince me because my mind is made up” ? Actually, my mind is wide open, however I have yet to see any proof.

        We are all waiting for the proof.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox