Sunday, October 25, 2020

Readers speak out against hiker permits

Recent news releases and commentary have attempted to cast widespread support for a hiker permit, aka “limited entry” system in the High Peaks Wilderness (or at least in the popular Eastern side).

However, while there are many in favor of these ideas, readers are speaking out against them.

Here’s a sampling of comments made on recent commentary pieces on the Almanack:

“There’s nothing quite like “show me your papers” from a uniformed ranger to ruin your hiking experience. Who is going to enforce this? Where will the money come from? How much will it all cost? You can double whatever answer you get for the costs. A permit system will reduce usage for sure, at least by me. It would be impossible for me to reserve a particular day to go on a hike in advance, and I wouldn’t want to do so. It is unsafe to go until you know what the weather conditions will be. This is going to be a great way to chase people away from the Adirondacks, which I guess is the goal.”

“Let’s talk about who permits would hurt the most. Namely private sector employees and young people. Retired people and people with cushy state jobs that have set hours would benefit. But that’s not how anyone in the real world is working these days. Most of us are subject to “just in time scheduling”. This means we find out on Wednesday or Thursday whether we will have Saturday off or Sunday off. How in the heck are we supposed to reserve a permit if we don’t know what day we will be hiking until a few days before. It makes no sense.”

“At a minimum, we need a plan where there is enough access to comfortably accommodate 80-90% of visitors currently found on the BUSIEST days of the year. Fall short of that minimum, and there’s no way to justify pay-to-play access, nor would the revenue generated from the smaller pool of money be enough to result in any appreciable upgrades to the busiest areas of the Park. … Then there’s the issue of income inequality. One of the beautiful things about the Adirondacks is that ANYONE can come and hike here regardless of income. A permit system puts a serious dent in a uniquely democratic offering the Park has maintained for over a century.”

“The issues are a lack of sufficient trail maintenance and rebuilding over recent decades in addition to extra personnel to handle the issues, and educate the newbies on the trails. The state should have been looking ahead when promoting the region. Now the people are here and they want to shut them out. The Smokies, Blue Ridge Parkway trails, Acadia, Monadnock and others handle a high volume of hikers on the trails, but they built up an infrastructure to match. Looks at the trails and well built sections on Cascade that show no signs of overuse, while others that should have been ‘maintained’ are heavily eroded. I would gladly share the summit with a hundred others who are overjoyed at the sight, than with 10 others who were lucky enough to get a permit. Solitude is gone if there is one other person… Share the wonder and help others appreciate and enjoy our natural heritage.”

“…limiting use is never the answer for publicly owned lands. Building infrastructure engineered to withstand use (including adequately sized parking lots) allows the public to self determine whether to go to popular natural features or to pursue more remote locations.”

What are your thoughts? Can the solution to heavy use be found in building more infrastructure, such as parking? Trail hardening? Share ideas in the comments and thanks for reading!

Photo, from the Almanack archive: Informal votes about trying a permit system in the High Peaks at the Keene Central School stakeholder meeting, July 2019. Photo by Dan Plumley

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and runs her own New York State Women owned Business-Enterprise Bootstrap Communications, which includes digital marketing, strategy and design. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and a cat.




65 Responses

  1. Nora says:

    I totally agree with this readers comments and couldn’t have said it better!! I live within the Adirondacks and it nice to know I can go for a hike without having to shell out money or make an appointment , many of us are on limited income and going for a hike is one of the simplest pleasures that we still have left

    I often wonder where exactly are my taxes going to , sure as hell ain’t the parks or our roads

  2. Eric says:

    Good to see the the silent majority getting some page time.

    • Dana says:

      Who says these are majority opinions???

      • Eric says:

        Go on any Adirondack hiking forum or just go back and read the comments from any article in the Almanack about permits. It’s always 10-3 or so against permits. Yet they keep running stories trying to drum up support for them.

  3. Boreas says:

    Obviously, there is no solution that would appease everybody. Locals, non-residents, tourists,hikers, non-hikers, and the natural community all have different priorities. Indeed, what was the purpose of Art. 14? That is the question we need to revisit and foundation we need to build upon. If the foundation is not sound, any framework built on top of it is unstable. Question is, do NYS residents still support Art. 14, or should it be amended or even discarded?

    Art. 14 was meant as a strong conservation plan that at the same time allowed for public access. It makes no mention of significant infrastructure to allow unlimited access at the cost of the environment. Seven generations later, is this still what NY residents believe? Should the Forever Wild article be scrapped and replaced with something else? Should the Park simply be abolished? I think these questions need to be answered before tearing down or altering Art. 14 piecemeal.

    • Eric says:

      We’re talking about hiking infrastructure here dude. Some trail hardening, a few thunderboxes, and some newly designed trails. And maybe some new trailheads and parking on Blue Ridge Rd or Rt 73 We aren’t talking about new logging roads and ATV circuits going through the woods. This isn’t an environmental issue at all.

      • Cristine Meixner says:

        I have to disagree Eric. It IS an environmental issue, insofar as delicate alpine vegetation is being trampled and killed. I agree trail hardening, outhouses, new trails and trailheads (outside the High Peaks) and adequate parking are all needed.

      • Pete says:

        The issue very definitely is Article 14 or at least the way it has been interpreted in recent history. The DEC used to be pretty good and making and maintaining trails and related infrastructure. But the current extreme “forever wild” interpretation that has been pushed by environmentalists would say that “trail hardening” is no-no. No construction in the “Wilderness.” Once the SLMP and APA took control, fire towers, interior ranger stations, and other man-made structures were removed because they were “non-conforming.” Fortunately there was such an uproar that some of the fire towers were saved. It takes an act of congress to get permission to remove a troublesome rock or tree from a snowmobile trail, and in a recent lawsuit by the environmental lobby, a judge ruled that virtually every twig was to be considered “timber” and could not be cut, halting ALL trail construction. So no “newly designed trails,” no new trailheads if it involves cutting trees to make parking areas, etc.

        • Barry72 says:

          That ruling was a joke and it should be pretty easy to overturn. The early exploration literature is pretty clear that timber and trees are not the same thing. Verplanck Colvin’s own notes, in several places he’s describing, notes the landscape as “full of trees but no timber”. Trail construction and maintenance is one of the core duties of the DEC. If they are afraid of taking on fringe environmental groups like Adirondack Wild or the Adirondack Council then maybe we need to look at replacing the DEC?

        • Eric says:

          So the environmental lobby on one hand is halting trail and parking construction but then on the other hand is saying there are too many people on a given trail? They can’t have it both ways. Who is funding these people?

          • Matthew says:

            The same people wealthy enough to own a camp on Ausable Club lands. Permits aren’t about preserving the environment. Permits are about convincing the riff-raff hikers that they are the problem and need to be regulated.

  4. James Bullard says:

    I agree that trail maintenance and ranger staffing should be part of the solution but we need to educate hikers before they show up at the trailhead. I find it odd that some are offended at being asked to be responsible users of our trails but aren’t offended by the degradation of them. I totally get the sense of freedom of hitting the trail on a whim, but before going out you need to know LNT principles, trail safety, you need to be prepared for emergencies. It can be dangerous and you can’t always avoid danger by only going on sunny days. Thirty years ago I proposed an annual hiking license, similar to a hunting or fishing license, that had an education component and provided dedicated funding to maintaining the resource in the form of a modest annual fee. You could still go on your own schedule.

    • Eric says:

      An annual license would be a way easier pill to both swallow and to implement. Assuming the fee is relatively modest. Can we try this first before going to a “reserve your spot weeks in advance” system?

      • Zephyr says:

        I’m not completely opposed to an annual license like a hunting license, but I do think it will discourage lots of more casual hikers and those tourists from away. The family of four that wants to hike say Hurricane for a summer jaunt might be put off if they have to shell out for four $20 licenses for their one annual summer hike, as would the family passing through the Adirondacks on vacation who just want to hit a few trails. I know that I long ago stopped fishing because I don’t do it enough to justify the mild hassle and expense of getting the darn license. There are still complications: where to purchase, how, pricing, local political resistance, chasing away newcomers, etc. Some see the inevitable limiting of use as a benefit of pay-for-play, but I would caution them that I have never yet seen a paid entry that didn’t gradually increase prices year after year. A State Park annual permit is now up to $80 for a carload.

        • Balian the Cat says:

          I identify with your concern for the finances of some folks, Zephyr. But hasn’t the same family also likely already shelled out for lodging, food, provisions, gear, etc? And, if the argument is a “public v. private” one, haven’t they paid tolls on the thruway, taxes for gasoline, bought tickets for public transport, etc. USFS land requires a pass in most places and there are modest backcountry permit fees on the majority of public lands. Nobody thinks twice about paying for other forms of entertainment/recreation, but for some reason when it comes to this topic everyone is Thomas Paine?

  5. Zephyr says:

    Any environmental degradation is limited to narrow corridors through the wilderness we call trails, that are at the most 8-10 feet wide. Wander off one of these trails by mistake, as many have done, and you may find yourself appearing in the Ranger reports. The wilderness character of the Adirondacks in general is in far, far better shape than at almost any point in the last 100 years. The problem is overcrowded parking areas, too many people on certain trails on certain days, and some feel that degrades the wilderness experience. Apparently the many people crowding those certain trails don’t mind though. It reminds me of the old joke: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” Frankly, I’m beginning to think that some pushing permits see it as a way to raise revenue for trail maintenance, because they know there will be nothing in the state budget for many years to come. They conveniently ignore the many problems with permits that have been pointed out over and over again. I have yet to see any convincing evidence that there is widespread support for permits. The recent survey described here was a single vague question in a large survey of many different New York State issues–most of which had nothing to do with trails.

  6. ADKresident says:

    Promote the region without a plan [$] to sustain the growth- How typical of the state government to not be prepared to put their money where their mouth is, leaving the responsibility to fix the problem and fund the solutions on the shoulders of others to resolve. Just sayin’. 😉

    Would it not be a good idea to research, gather data and advice from other states that also have busy trails that are currently successfully managing the heavily-footed traffic from outside visitors and adopt some of their ideas and maintenance strategy? I may be wrong, but it doesn’t seem like we in the ADKs need to flounder through this when there are other states who have had to overcome the same obstacles, yet are now operating successfully. What is wrong with reaching out to them for counsel and pick their brains to see what is working for them and where they failed? People with like interests generally like to share info and help others. Wisdom may be had by simply doing a little research on who to call or email and network with others with similarity.

  7. Jack says:

    There are three things, for me, that need to happen:
    1) Sustainable funding – to improve trails and other infrastructure, hire more rangers, educate the public and where necessary, regulate use. It could be initially be a bond act but for the long term we need something else. User fees/licenses, excise tax on outdoor equipment or some other creative form of funding.
    2) Determine visitor capacities – For each unit, and perhaps in some cases, subunits, we need to determine visitor capacities via LAC or other means.
    3) Determine when visitor capacity is exceeded and utilize the option of regulating use in those places necessary when appropriate.

    My guess is that, once comprehensively analyzed, limiting use will occur in a handful of places within the Park at certain times of year. The impact for most of us will be minimal while increasing the quality of the outdoor experience for all.

    • Eric says:

      #2 determine capacity good luck with that. As soon as you figure out how to predict the weather more than three days in advance you let us know. 100 people on a trail on a rainy day or during May/June mud season may have the same impact as 10,000 hikers on a sunny day during a dry spell. Hell a rainy day with 0 hikers probably causes more erosion than a thousand hikers on a dry day.

      • Erok says:

        As they say, don’t let the enemy of perfect be the enemy of good. You could also argue that any limitations put on the High Peaks will simply result in the over-use of other areas, so let’s not do anything. Reservations and permits work very well in other Wilderness areas in North America (eg Canyonlands, Algonquin).

        • Eric says:

          Those other areas are used by people who plan their summer vacation around their visit. They know months in advance when they will be there and with whom. That isn’t how hiking in the Adirondacks works. You’re living in a fantasy world. The Adirondacks were so crowded this year precisely because people couldn’t go places like Canyonlands. The Adirondacks are used by people that live here or in the reasonable day trip area. You plan your trip a few days in advance at most. Who you are going with depends on who shows up at exit 16 at 4am and had a space in their car. If you want to kill that culture that’s your prerogative but you should at least be familiar with the culture you are trying to kill.

          • Zephyr says:

            I suspect there are many different “cultures” that use the Adirondacks in different ways. Due to my job and where I live I usually don’t know if I can go hiking until the day before at the earliest, and often I don’t decide where I’m actually going until the morning of the hike based on the weather, the group’s abilities, the amount of available time, etc. So, signing up in advance for a hike would eliminate me as a regular visitor, which maybe is the whole point–reducing numbers of hikers. Also, if a fee is involved that will just further alienate me and I suspect a number of others, including people who just can’t afford it. Again, that is part of the point–drive people away to reduce the numbers. I suspect local businesses won’t be as happy with this idea.

  8. Tom says:

    #2 determine capacity…That is traditionally done as impact from overnight use. Camping has an impact on the woods if done at a high level. The parking capacity at places like the round pond parking lot were determined many decades ago based on how many people should be staying in the area overnight. It was assumed most visitors would be camping out and not driving back and forth to the Capital District or other areas the same day. Day hiking has a minuscule impact, especially in dry weather and especially now that most folks wear low impact trail runners instead of boots and now that most folks are following at least the basics of LNT principles and not throwing trash into open garbage pits that used to be at every lean-to. Today only a tiny fraction of visitors to the High Peaks stay overnight in the back country. So there really no “capacity” other than a distinct lack of adequate parking.

  9. Peter says:

    Another reason to avoid NYS where you are not wanted and the residents are over taxed. The upstate residents have lost their voice on how they are governed.

  10. A resident adk'er says:

    This entire conversation is moot. $16billion deficit (and counting) says so. If the State couldn’t find money and a plan in better times, a plan and resources aren’t going to be happening now…or in the years to come. A myriad of excuses, procrastination, obfuscation in years past…and we should be hopeful now? How so…?

  11. Ed Zahniser says:

    Permit programs have been easing overuse pressures on federal public lands very smoothly ever since the 1970s. They have been and are well received by backcountry users for the simple reason that they have greatly increased the enjoyment of the backcountry and especially the experience of solitude, which overuse had been seriously eroding.

    • Tom says:

      I promise you that no one going to the high peaks on a weekend is looking for solitude. There is an epidemic of loneliness in this country. People are alone all week at work (even before Covid) and alone all night at home. Work and home life has changed since the 1950s or whenever you last went outside. People are looking to be with their friends and meet new people when they go to the woods.

    • Robert DiMarco says:

      Agreed, i worked 7 different national parks and permits were part of almost all hiking plans. The Adirondacks is different yes but as a 25 years and counting resident i avoid most trails, too many other humans on all of them.
      Maybe people like me are an exception but why would you hike Cascade when the highway is packed full of parked cars?

  12. Debra E says:

    30 years ago I felt differently, but people and the times were different. Many people hiking these days, do not respect the land, the wildlife or other people. I think permits would be useful.

    • Eric says:

      Really? New people hiking don’t respect the land? 40 years ago there were open garbage pits next to every lean-to. 20 years ago I used to finish every hike with a gallon sized bag of other people’s trash. Yes, there have been a few masks dropped on trail this year but in normal times I usually only find one or two of the torn end of a snickers wrapper; which if I had missed another hiker would have picked up. Stop trying to make this about protecting the woods it just makes people roll their eyes. If you want permits that’s fine but give us the real reason.

  13. Cristine Meixner says:

    “There’s nothing quite like ‘show me your papers’ from a uniformed ranger to ruin your hiking experience.”… People who fish and hunt and trap and snowmobile are subject to this request. Why would it “ruin” someone’s hike?
    I do agree requiring a hiker to reserve a specific day is unrealistic. Perhaps, for people who are unable to plan ahead, an annually issued permit for a certain number of days per year would be a solution.

    • Pete says:

      “People who snowmobile” pay a $100 per snowmobile registration with $95 going in to a dedicated trail fund. (If snowmobilers join a club that maintains trails then they pay $45 per snowmobile plus club dues of at least $35.) The fund reimburses snowmobile clubs for actual expenses of trail maintenance which is done by volunteers in the clubs. The fund also pays the salaries of all the state employees in the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Snowmobile Unit which oversees the trail system. The fund also pays for some law enforcement on snowmobile trails. People who hike pay nothing for trails largely built and maintained by state employees or by the ADK professional trail crew which the ADK gets paid by the state for.

  14. Bill says:

    I am undecided on this issue and I appreciate the posts. I do agree that most people out there have a true appreciation of the natural beauty of the Adirondacks and a desire to protect it. I don’t see a lack of respect for nature or fellow hikers among younger generations. The activity selects for the best among us. It is often very difficult for me to plan in advance and my hiking choice is often made last minute depending on my work schedule, weather conditions and crowds. I have gotten lucky at trailhead parking areas and I have been turned away. I now always have a “plan B” in mind. A limited permit system could be created for high traffic areas during peak usage times only. This would require designated areas within parking lots or new lots reserved for that purpose. It won’t work if someone with a permit arrives only to find that a weekday backpacker decided to extend their outing into a high use weekend and their reserved parking spot is taken. I would be interested to know if a partial permit system like this has been considered and if not what others thoughts are on trying one.

  15. Moriah says:

    Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how anonymous comments on a forum gets turned into an article for more anonymous people to shout ‘I told you so’/ No permits or limits ever and it’s too controversial and would never work.

    The anti permit folks are relentlessly pathetic in their claims that just throwing trail work and parking lots at it will make everything go away. Guess what? The DEC doesn’t care to invest anything significant into trail work. We need a little bit of everything to salvage the high peaks and permits on busy summer weekend should be part of the solution.

    Plus there was just polling in the news that said like 80 percent of people supported limits in the high peaks. The other 20% lurk in these comment sections providing little scientific or reasonable explanation for not wanting permits besides the fact that it would mean they couldnt hike wherever they wanted whenever they wanted…. petty sad if you ask me. This is just holding us back from real progress

    • Eric says:

      That poll you quite was an absolute joke. The question was statewide and was phrased as an either or: limit access or let the park get damaged. As if there were no other options. You’re just making your argument weaker by quoting it.

      • Moriah says:

        Yes it should be statewide, as all New Yorkers own the Forest Preserve. Go back and look, it says limit use vs bigger parking lots. That’s it. It says nothing about the park getting damaged. That was your interpretation. Of course in reality there are other options such as a middle ground, but take it for what it is: people support limits. You are in the minority if you think the High Peaks should have unlimited access with no cap.

        • Eric says:

          They surveyed people who have never even set foot in the park and then phrased it in a way to lead them to think it was being destroyed. I’m surprised it wasn’t higher than 80%.

          • Moriah says:

            How do you know people who have never set foot in the park? They surveyed from all over the state? They said absolutely nothing about it being damaged or destroyed. Once again thats your interpretation because you don’t like the outcomes of the poll.

            • Eric says:

              You’re missing my point. The point is they phrased the question as if it was a fact that unlimited use is leading to destruction and then gave that question to people who had no way to verify for themselves if that was, in fact, true or not.

    • Zephyr says:

      “We need a little bit of everything to salvage the high peaks and permits on busy summer weekend should be part of the solution.” The High Peaks and its trails are in far, far better shape than they were 100 years ago or 10 years ago. Some of us can remember when many High Peaks trails were mud wallows requiring knee high rubber boots, every tree was stripped bare as far as you could reach at popular camping areas like Marcy Dam, and the remains of the summit shelter on Marcy were an actively used latrine. There were open trash pits at every leanto. Many of those of us against permits are asking what is the problem that is trying to be solved by permits? Is it lack of parking? Is it too many people, and if so how many is too many? The crowds don’t seem to think there are too many people. We have pointed out the many new problems that permits will generate. Throwing around the word “permits” as if it is a panacea for problems imagined and real is what is pathetic.

      • Moriah says:

        There is a thing called a carrying capacity….
        This should determine the max use of an area at one time. Permits can provide education before hand and help with the most busiest times and spots per year. Its not about putting up gates 365 days a year.

        ‘the crowds don’t seem to think there are too many people’. please tell me where you got that conclusion from. a crowd can happen and people can think there are too many people at the same time, that doesn’t mean they wont stop coming…

        • Tom says:

          Carrying capacity can be applied to overnight camping, which has real direct impacts. But it doesn’t really apply for day hiking. Only a very small percentage of visitors to the high peaks are staying overnight.

          • Zephyr says:

            I doubt most High Peaks Trails are anywhere near max “carrying capacity” even when all available parking is full, since there is such limited parking at many trailheads already. I have frequently been amazed at how I manage to squeeze into one of the last parking spots thinking the trail will be crowded then see almost nobody for the rest of the day. Hundreds of people spread out pretty thinly over the course of a few miles. Today’s hikers are the most educated and well equipped they have ever been, except for the lack of paper maps, guidebooks, a compass and the ability to use them. However, I doubt permits will do much to change that. Maybe charging a lot for 911 calls is one of the answers.

  16. Lee Nellis says:

    As a former National Park Service Ranger and outdoor recreation planner, who has also owned a hospitality business, I think the thing evident from these comments is that people do not understand the diverse or practical nature of permitting systems. There are many types of permit systems, most of which do not limit use. Some, in some high use areas (If you want to float the Grand Canyon), are indeed hard to navigate, at least at certain times, but for the most part there are always alternatives for which a permit is available. Further, at least in the national parks, it is easy to get the information you need to identify the places where permits are available. That’s what those uniformed Rangers provide. The other thing they provide is information that helps limit resource abuse and the number of search and rescue missions.

    There is also an obvious misunderstanding of the impact of permit systems on the number of visitors. By the logic expressed in most of these comments, visitation to the national parks and monuments should be falling. Instead they are overrun. If you’re guided by facts instead of unsupported assumptions, the question ought to be whether requiring permits will result in more use.

    Finally, the notion that one can build infrastructure sufficient to absorb the impacts is just not borne out by the experience of those who have tried to do that. The Adirondacks do need more infrastructure, and that needs to be financed in part by user fees, but all you have to to is watch the number of toilets in Yellowstone. The more toilets, the longer the lines. Hmm?

    Anything you do to improve the experience (including permits) will attract more visitors and a) you will never have enough money to keep up, while eventually b) building infrastructure (large parking lots, sewage treatment facilities, etc,) where it most needs to be will conflict with preservation of the resource and adversely impact the visitor experience.

    Managing a resource like the High Peaks is incredibly challenging and the range of opinions out there is not surprising. But its not hard to find examples of how things might be changed for the better.

  17. Brian Sullivan says:

    If, on any given day, a particular trailhead is too crowded, go hike somewhere else. If hiking to or around a lake is not your thing, and you really must “summit” something, there are hundreds of peaks in the Adirondackscome to choose from. Why ruin the backcountry experience (both for you and your fellow hikers) by crowding onto the same dozen or so high peaks? I stopped hiking in warm weather (especially on weekends) years ago and have never had a problem with crowding.

    As for imposing a permit system on individuals or small groups of day hikers in the Adirondacks, I’m appalled at the idea. If ever there was a time and place where you have a constitutional right to be left alone (I’m sure it’s in the Constitution somewhere) it’s in the wilderness.

  18. Diana says:

    Instead of permits, why not consider yearly closures to allow vegitation to recover (similar to campsite closures to allow spots to recover from wear and tear), selecting trails that need it the most and redirecting to other trails. Then, staff can be distributed across available areas. As for crowded days, perhaps use a hall pass system, allowing hikers to pick from available trails or wait for a slot to open up.

    • Eric says:

      That is probably needed. Thinking May/June mud season. “Hiking season” in the Adirondacks used to be 4th of July through Columbus Day. A few years ago it seems a ton of people started hiking in June. This past May it was wall to wall cars even in a pandemic. It’s unfortunate to have to close it as I’m sure there are a few folks who can only hike during that time. But at least for me that would be a much easier pill to swallow than permits.

    • Renee says:

      Sounds reasonable. Plenty enough time for notifications, to plan and have available brochures to steer everyone to lesser used areas within a reasonable distance, Rotation, options. Resources and manpower better utilized, may not be necessary for permits, extra fees, may still offer options for spontaneity. Everyone who goes on vacation would need to visit an online “Before you go” informational site. Many do that before planning a trip anywhere anyway. Perhaps an online quick informational and safety course, take the quiz print your certificate and put it on your person like hunters have to. Just something to put responsibility on the individual and involve them in a process rather than throwing money at something seemingly so complex. Would certainly give time to work out logistics and research impact in the study areas both closed and alternate use areas. Shouldn’t be too much to ask for those who love the environment and the Adirondacks.

  19. Dan says:

    Although I feel something needs to be done, DEC just does not have the personnel or the funding to administrate; unless the fees/permits were astronomical to support it.

    Just like sportsmen and snowmobilers, who pay for their privileges, there is also training involved. If a permit system ever is realized, perhaps some mandatory map and compass training could be required.

  20. D. Wright says:

    Certainly there are many good reads here, but also some bad apples.
    I will not proclaim to be a big time hiker, but I get my time in hunting the deep woods. I was taught by my uncle, over the many years of camping the Cedar River Flow during early bear season, that this place should be cherished, respected and feared. There are must haves for hiking this wilderness and far too many are simply uneducated. Always have a compass, topo and strike on anything matches. I have since graduated to a few other gadgets but one can always fall back on the essential 3.
    As a hunter I had to take a class. In fact a few classes. Yes a permit is required, but I feel that is part to track hunter numbers and also help pay for the DEC officer salaries and such. Which I’m okay with.
    Perhaps that is the answer, the middle ground. Require a class. Offer in person and limited on line to certified companies or folks. Charge a small fee like my hunting classes and put it towards the infrastructure and such. And if you want to hike, show your class completion card upon entry and be on your way. Perhaps even have a side step and if you have experience you can take a test and “test out” of the class. This way we attempt to address the lack of preparedness for the newcomers, but also assure the DEC staff that people are doing the right thing about being educated. It will also allow the state to keep better tabs on the amount of people at least interested in hiking.
    At the end of the day education is paramount. I didnt learn to hunt and respect these woods by simply applying and paying for my hunting and fishing permit. I took my classes and learned from those around me. And trust me, I’ve seen se overly crowded places on opening day of big game rifle season. They are managed nd limited by the DEC. Regardless I steer clear of them. Theres always another peak or woods to see.

  21. Laurie E SMITH says:

    Well.i knew that again..elite wins. You know that the people who will be on the trails are the insiders, experienced and complainers..I have listened to everyone who are experienced ADK hikers talk about the disgusting newbies who trash pillage and mess up ‘their’ trails..Sorry..ticks me off.. I was a NYS Guide, taught hiking classes at a local college..even created some if the for credit courses, began a Fitness and Recreation club…for students..People who are newbies ..hey..the elite forget..they need guidance and instruction on the proper rules of the wild..ummm just like they were once..Honestly..think about..why not offer free classes on Leave No Trace, hiking protocol, Wilderness First Aid..???? The state could offer? Why even the local clubs could offer? Ha..not happening.I’ ve been called loose scree for suggesting..Another thing.(s).why didn’t the powers to be ask the 46ers..to hold any patches and stop making the highest mountains a prize to win??? The trails most traveled!

    Newbies will try their hardest to be accepted..the club’s promote heavy activity on trails by offerring their blessings. Ugh..such a contradiction. Let’s promote smaller mountains, if you gotta give a patch..( and the existing clubs make a ton crap of money btw) give an option of this year our patch is for the lower 54??? Or…no patch at all..?? but how about hand out information on Leave No Trace at busy trailheads, give free education at local colleges , free maps, lower 54? Do an online testing on Leave No trace? Pass you get to hike, fail..? Maybe read up take again..Website giving maps, free education, sign up for an Adirondack Park Club..free?

    All the money that the state or counties are going to spend on new rangers to enforce could go to the free services like above..

    Start a 3 phase plan..??

    Taking something away from ‘some’ people to keep others content..ummmm not going to go so well..huge hassle..doesnt help the area tourist industry..You have the rebels ..ugh..they will say ha to the whole situation..Predicted a mess.

    To the end..i guess I ranted..but please this is not a good idea..Rally up..its a fiasco.the clubs have the power here, they need to stop with encouraging the heavily accessed trails…Talk about separation and division.here we go..Seems to be going around in this world today..

    • Zephyr says:

      The largest hiking organization, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), is against permits officially, and they do provide lots of educational opportunities, both free and paid. I think ADK has around 35,000 members. At least officially, those folks are opposed to permits. https://www.adk.org/adk-stance-on-permit-systems/

      Both ADK and the 46ers are heavily involved in the Summit Steward program and trail maintenance work. The main trailhead to Marcy starts at the ADK parking lot, and therefore there is already a parking limit in place–once the lot fills up there is only illegal parking on the road, which is not controlled by ADK. The AMR also limits parking and plans on limiting numbers further I believe. In any case, yes the clubs do promote responsible recreational use, but they also do a lot to make sure it is done responsibly.

  22. Pete says:

    Look at the top of Algonquin and see how education is the answer. People now see the vegetation as precious and protect it. The trails are eroded by water, not hiking boots. Fix the trails and let the people who love the park keep coming.

  23. Zephyr says:

    One thing not reflected here much is that local politics will play a big part in what ever happens, and anything that reduces tourism or makes it difficult or impossible to show up and go hiking would have active political opposition. One person’s crowded trail means another person’s salary. I’m not a big spender, but I have spent $thousands over the years along Rt. 73 for gas, groceries, lodging, restaurants, maps, gear, etc. Multiply that by the crowds and you can see why local folks would be very concerned with limiting visitors.

  24. Nathan mcdevitt says:

    Baxter state park has been doing parking permits to preserve the beauty of the park. Not many people go on a hike up 4000 foot mountains on a random day. They should be planned. The fee for reserved parking is only 5$. Time to get over complaining about parking reservations!!!

    • Tim says:

      The situation at Baxter is an absolute nightmare and the antithesis of what we should be aiming for and is a hugely different situation than the high peaks. First, almost no one lives within two hours is the place. There are no “lifestyle hikers” who hike every week at Baxter like there are in the high peaks. Baxter is something you take vacation from work for. I’ve planned ahead and reserved a spot at Baxter twice in the last few years and neither time did I get to summit. Not only are you issued a permit for a specific day, but on your permit day a ranger will decide if hiking is allowed that day or not based on weather conditions. Both times I was not allowed to hike because of the possibility of rain. Six hour drive each way and three vacation days planned months in advance and I still didn’t get to climb it. That’s your vision for the Adirondacks?

    • Paul says:

      As Tim said, Baxter should NEVER be considered for a permit model in the ADK. Their permit system is terrible. I’ve been more fortunate than Tim when it comes to weather conditions on my visits, but I’ve still struggled with trip planning every time I’ve visited. They basically make certain thru-hikes *impossible* for anyone outside of residents of Maine. If I remember right, this is because Maine residents have the ability to make parking reservations far in advance of others, and outside residents can only get parking when it’s tied to the use of one of the campgrounds… so even if you want to camp in the backcountry, you’ll never be able to reserve the right series of campgrounds on the right consecutive days to allow you to complete a longer thru-hike / get the parking permits. I’ve called them to try to navigate this system and they’ve been no help- because I’m not from Maine.

      Thanks, but no thanks. I wouldn’t be for that kind of permit system even if my NYS resident status would give me this same kind of special treatment.

  25. Tina says:

    Hikers have been leaving trash human waste and toilet paper on the trails! There disrespectful , people had to be hired just to pick up all the garbage these hikers leave. Why don’t they use the toilets why do they go on the trails leaving toilet paper . Sorry the Adirondacks deserve better if hikers don’t like permits maybe they should have respected Mountain more. Same thing in Lake George several hikers parked there cars trucks in no parking areas with signs clearly stating don’t park here. Rude disrespectful people no we don’t want them here. Go back were they came from.

    • Eric says:

      Do you actually know this or are just parroting the environmental lobby’s lines? I’ve been hiking in the high peaks for over twenty years and they are way cleaner now than they were 20 years ago. Granted I haven’t been up cascade yet this year so maybe that’s worse but that is not representative of the entire HPs area.

    • Tim says:

      I think you are confusing tourists with hikers. Hikers don’t trash trails. Tourists do.

    • Good Camp Owner says:

      Tina how do you know all this sitting in your living room? How dare you tell anyone to go back from where they came from. At the core of this Summer’s protests and ones to this very day is that you have NO privilege and NO right to guide or direct anyone.

    • ADKresident says:

      I do not know whether it’s hikers or tourists but I have recently encountered baggies of crap on 2 separate occasions while hiking. One baggie was actually hanging from a branch in Cascade area and the other just left on the ground on Jack Rabbit Trail. It was undeniably rude, disrespectful and gross. I took pictures out of disgust to show others what is happening. For all the years I’ve been hiking, I’ve never encountered this for myself until recently.

  26. Guy Clark says:

    I for one would welcome a permit system during the busy weekends. I live 6 hours away from the high peaks area and once I commit to a weekend there is not much of anything that would normally stop me from hiking. Knowing that I can pull in to a parking area at 6:00 instead if 4:00 or 5:00 and having a guaranteed place to park us huge. As a forty sixer many times we had to add a couple of additional miles and hours to a hike when we pulled in at 6:00 and the lit was full. The permit system doesn’t need to be every weekend nor year round but just the busiest ones.

  27. John Marona says:

    The State needs to either quit promoting tourism in the Adirondacks, or take Responsibility for the tourism they have so effectively created. Can’t have it both ways.
    More rangers, more hardened trails, and my favorite, one way trails on the 3-4 most common peaks, one trail up , another down. Each section of trail has 50% less foot traffic, and since most people hike at near the same rate, you won’t be passing folks all day long. Doesn’t reduce crowds on the summit, (even one other hiker effects your experience) or reduce parking issues, but makes the overall experience better and reduces environmental degradation..

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