Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has partnered with Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Company, to fund the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) volunteer host program.
Located at one of the most popular trailheads in the Adirondack High Peaks, the HPIC is a major thoroughfare for hikers to get on the trail and begin their trek. In 2017, from the beginning of July through the end of August, there were 27, 251 registered hikers at the Heart Lake Property trailheads located at the HPIC and Adirondack Loj. ADK reports that each year around 35% of these visitors are new to the area.
The HPIC has a 200 car visitor parking area that fills regularly between 7 and 8 am most weekdays in July and August, and earlier on weekends through Columbus Day Weekend. When these parking areas fill, cars park along portions of Adirondack Loj Road, sometimes extending miles down the road.
The HPIC volunteers help educate these visitors on responsible recreation practices, Leave No Trace Principles, and rules and regulations specific to the area. But of the 27,251 registered hikers in 2017 at the Heart Lake Property, it is speculated that only a small percentage of them entered the HPIC before starting into the backcountry for their hikes.
Several preventable problems include: high use in sensitive environments (especially the fragile alpine zone), improper disposal of human waste, improper food storage, illegal campfires and unprepared hikers (notably, failure to carry a map and compass and the knowledge to use them, poor footwear choices leading to injury, and lack of flashlights and extra batteries).
HPIC volunteers are stationed in the hiker parking areas where they perform a variety of functions, including helping to park vehicles, sharing information about responsible recreation and stewardship (including educating visitors on Leave No Trace Principles and regulations), and suggesting alternative hikes.
In 2018, the HPIC volunteer program expanded from 4 weeks to 9 weeks. Stats for 2018 are:
Total # of Visitors reached – 9,436
Total # of Volunteers – 8
Total # of Volunteer Days – 72
Average # of Visitors reached per day – 131
Total # of Volunteer Hours – 440
Average # of Visitors reached per hour – 21.5
Average amount of time spent with each Visitor – Less than 3 minutes
Most Visitors reached in 1 day – 450
Fewest Visitors reached in 1 day – 37
More information about becoming a volunteer is available on ADK’s website.
Photo of High Peaks Information Center volunteer host provided.