ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) has been awarded a $66,000 Smart Growth grant by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to use towards improving parking and interpretive signage at one of the busiest trailheads in the Adirondacks.
Although it has always been a popular site for hikers, visitor numbers have skyrocketed over the last decade at the Heart Lake/Adirondac Loj trailheads, to over 100,000 annually. ADK said the project will not expand beyond the current car capacity of the parking area.
The Heart Lake Program Center recently underwent multi-year development starting in 2018 that included a renovation of the High Peaks Information Center, the construction of an education yurt facility, and upgrades to the Wilderness Campground. ADK leaders say further infrastructure is needed to provide visitors with an experience that encourages education and stewardship while meeting the needs of increased visitor use.
The next step in this process is expected to involve redesigning the hiker parking lot complex and property signage to improve accessibility and the educational experience. The specifics of these changes are planned to follow a consultation phase.
The property is managed according to the Heart Lake Property Master Plan, an ADK document developed in 1993.
The improvements at Heart Lake compliment other major efforts to manage increased visitorship, including new facilities at Mount Van Hoevenberg and increased trail stewards at some of the most popular trailheads along the Route 73 corridor.
In the Southern High Peaks, the Open Space Institute recently announced improvements at Tahawus and the Upper Works Trailhead which provides access to the High Peaks from Newcomb.
Plans there include expanding the Upper Works Trailhead parking area; renovating the now stabilized MacNaughton Cottage, built in 1845; providing space for guide equipment; adding additional interpretive signage, and continuing preservation efforts at the blast furnace. You can read more about OSI’s effort to increase High Peaks access from Newcomb at Adirondack Explorer.
More information about ADK is available on their website.