Tuesday, March 30, 2021

It’s debatable: A permit to hike?

ausable clubNow that you’ve had a chance to process the news about the Ausable Club and partners moving to a reservation system for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve trailheads. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Are you celebrating this news (like the folks at Adirondack Wild)? Will this impact your hiking plans this summer? Do you feel this change is needed to protect the resources or an arbitrary move?

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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 is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

109 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    The most disappointing part is the hours being limited to 5am to 7pm. During most of the summer there will be no way to get to a summit in time for sunrise. And I don’t even see how one might get a sunset. I know that tourists usually only hike in the middle of the day but most of us that live upstate and have done these mountains several times like going at different times of day. There is a whole subset of hikers who would show up to this lot at 3pm to get spots as the early birds began leaving. Now everyone is being forced into the same 14 hour time frame.

    It’s also supremely disappointing that this appears to be about limiting access and nothing to do with parking or road safety. Why do they need to limit the number of people being simply dropped off or taking an Uber? Why do they need a reservation too? Almost no one uses these trails for overnight camping so the environmental impact is minimal. These trails can handle many multiples of times the numbers of day hikers currently using it. I don’t see the point in limiting access for drop-offs.

    • Boreas says:


      I don’t know how much the usage hours have changed. AMR has always prohibited camping on their property – and so limited the hours. I remember when they used to drive in looking for you if you weren’t out in time. I was yelled at once on the road in twilight for being tardy back in the day. They have always tended to have a “hands on” approach to non-guest hikers. They pretty-much had to with the camps and private trails scattered throughout the property.

      • Eric says:

        Not talking about camping. I’m talking about parking at 2am and heading up Gothics for Sunrise at 5:30am. Or parking at 3:30am and heading to Indian Head. No other feeling like it. I was always quiet and always used the “red mode” on my headlamp so as not to shine light in any windows, never bothered anyone and no one ever bothered me. Was able to avoid the crowds and was able to give someone a parking space when I departed at 9am. It was a win-win for everyone. Now it’s not allowed.

        • Boreas says:

          The way it was “explained” to me by the staff, if you were on their trails between sunup and sunset or something to that effect, you were considered “camping” and thus trespassing. They aren’t my rules. Perhaps some time after they allowed it. I am just speaking from my experience.

          This doesn’t mean that people never used those trails after dark, just that it wasn’t allowed. That is my understanding. They also wouldn’t let you past the gate in the early evening unless your stated destination was pretty close.

          • Eric says:

            Well see there’s your problem. Never talk to the staff or stop at the gate. Honestly I’ve not even seen anyone at the gatehouse in like three years.

    • Mike says:

      The article I read said the parking lot will be accessible between 5AM-7PM. If this is truly the case, one might be able to theoretically make a reservation and park at Roaring Brook or at the pull-off parking further east on 73. This might give those interested in sunrise hikes an option.

      It seems a better starting point for a trial run of a permit system would have been to require reservations for the 70 AMR parking spots, but still allow hikers getting dropped off or parking elsewhere to be able to access the trails. If the resource is still being quantifiably degraded after allowing dropped off hikers access, then moving to limit their access would seem a more scientifically sound way to conduct the trial of the permit system while still trying to allow as much access as possible.

      • Eric says:

        Even if you park at roaring Brook at 4am you still will have to wait until 5am to “check in” at the AMR parking lot. So no way to get a sunrise.

        • toofargone says:

          Read the easement. There’s no mention about hours. In my opinion this restriction can be challenged in court as an arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable restriction on the right to public access granted by the easment to NYS, even if DEC/State agreed this nonsense, since it is completely irrational to limit the number of hikers to a set number of parking spots, and then let everyone with a bus ticket hike to the exclusion of those who walk or are dropped off there. No reasonable relationship to trail overuse; just an arbitrary and discriminatory restriction to shut it down to the public for all intents and purposes. I hope someone sues their pants off – and wins!

          • Eric says:

            I think they’ve amended this particular piece of the rules already. If you can snag a spot at Roaring Brook at 3am you can hike into AMr. They will just check for your permit as you exit. So that is good. Still just wish we could just park there whenever. Now I’m taking a space away from someone who may want to climb Giant’s Nubble and they can’t take my space at AMr that I’d be leaving vacant. So stupid.

          • Edward Conway says:

            Great point. Some member of AMR probably has a stake in the bus lines. The easement gives them the right to limit parking on their property; not to limit access in general. The over-use argument is malarky.

  2. Alex says:

    While supportive of the concept, the devil is in the details. Time should have been started at 4am. Ever hear of start early finish early. Weekdays in September and October? No reason for this.

    The big issue truly is that this is just the beginning for more to come. ADK Wild already said they look forward to evaluating the success of the program. Really, it hasn’t even launched a website yet green groups like them and the Council are already claiming its victory, give me a break. Also you will see more SAR’s with people hiking on bad weather days for sure, but no way to get around this.

    The last thing is this just looks like DEC got pushed into a corner from the AMR over how much an issue last year was and decided to appease them. Still no rangers, no major trail advancements, or stewards, but let’s applaud a restricted parking app at for a country club property and celebrate it in the name of diversity and visitor safety.

    There are pros to it but lets not pretend why this is getting done and that is the most needed thing facing the high peaks.

  3. Vanessa says:

    I will add here that 70 cars in a whole day is gonna be rough for peak summer & fall weekends. Also, it doesn’t seem clear if the policy will be that the lot is closed after 5pm, as in there’s a gate, or folks just stop asking for a permit? It feels like you’re gonna need an actual gate, because otherwise what is to stop 30 cars from parking at 4am. That’s unfortunate and gets us back to the enforcement discussion.

    Again, I do agree this is necessary to *pilot*. But while I’m hopeful, there’s a lot of potential for it to be administered poorly too. We shall see. Gonna be an interesting summer…

  4. Zephyr says:

    First, everyone knows that the AMR has been trying for years to limit access to the right of way over their property, and they finally have the DEC going along. All the spin in the world won’t change that fact. Here’s an Adk Explorer article on it: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/adirondack-mountain-reserve-easements-address-closing-trails For me it just ruins the hiking experience to have to make reservations even if I could do so, which I can’t. If this spreads to more of the High Peaks you can count me in as one hiker who will go elsewhere, which I guess is the whole purpose of the exercise. I would just like Adirondack towns to know that it also means I and others like me won’t be spending our money up there either, and I certainly won’t be sending a dime in support of any organizations promoting permits.

  5. nathan says:

    mixed feelings on permits, but it may help reduce overuse and people will use other trails more and spread out the burdan. I would really like to see more active towing of cars that park all over the grass edges of roads, creating safety hazards, partially parked on road, unloading kids into active roads like 73, parents not supervising kids as they are unloading packs and gear into roads, there needs to be clear no parking zones, tickets and towing, no unloading in roads.

  6. Joan Grabe says:

    OMG ! This is a pilot program to see if permits and reservations work. If they don’t alleviate the problem they won’t continue it. There are 6 million other acres you can hike on if there are trails. Not the end of the world !

    • Joan, your response made me literally “LOL”

    • Eric says:

      They’re just going to interview people at the lot who were successful in getting a permit on the day they wanted and then declare “everyone is happy it works!” and the man declare victory. The reverse of what they did last summer where they interviewed a bunch of idiots showing up at 8am expecting to get parking and then declared “everyone wants permits”.

      • Alex says:

        This is 100 percent true. See ADK Wild’s article already asking for participation to evaluate the program. The website could crash on the first day and they will call it a success in the name of the popularity of the program. While not 100 percent against this, the way this gets rolled out and promted for more permits is what leaves a bad taste in the mouth

    • There is not 6 million acres of land in the Adirondacks that you can hike on. Last I knew there is 3 million acres of private property still left inside the blue line.

  7. Dallas DeVries says:

    I think a lot of details are still missing. I think universally people were/are interested in a reserved parking system and would have paid money to do so to help plan. If you look at the FB groups there is near universal distaste for the limit on walkins more than anything else

    The release states that the main reason was for the permits was “address public safety at a particularly crowded corner on Route 73” which was in fact largely caused by the AMR slicing the parking in half in 2020 pushing more people onto the busy roads.

    People are also looking at the 5am-7pm restrictions and pointing to how that seems to indicate a different agenda than what has been released. How does that affect those wanting to sunrise/sunset or just do a long day of the lower great range or the combo of 4 on the other side? I know during the summer I have come out of the trailheads between 7 and 8 on more than one occasion. How is camping or overnights affected?

    People also want to ensure there is not abuse of the system. What stops tech savvy people from creating tools to snag all the spots? What stops people from booking a block of days for good weather and only taking one? What happens with no shows?

    Personally I think allowing for walkin permits even if it required people to affirm some LNT rules or let them know that they will not receive future permits if they have been found to have parked illegally would be an option that would have appeased people that feel like this new restriction will drastically affect their ability to hike. Many think the permits will be gone in minutes especially on weekends with no alternatives to find a way in….except maybe buying a bus pass?

    • Brian says:

      I hope someone informed Trailways of this fiasco and got their blessing. People are already snapping up $6 tickets from LP to Keene on summer Saturdays and not a single one of them will be on that bus. Not sure where they’re gonna park but they’ll be hiking at least. This is still a pearling problem more than anything. 70 spaces at two people per car is what 140 people? That’s minuscule for the trail mileage accessed from AMR. We need more parking, not permits. And I can’t even begin to comprehend what the state was thinking not allowing drop-offs. Yes there were TP and poo issues back in 2017 when AllTrails first came out, but it isn’t like that anymore. Trails are cleaner now than they have been in years. No reason to limit drop-offs other than to make the rich people happy.

      • Vanessa says:

        Sorry but I’m gonna have to disagree regarding human waste. It’s brutal out there. Someone online called the Cascade ascent “the trail of tears.” Nevermind just the poo, I saw 2 pairs of dirty underwear in 2019. Why the hec would you leave your undies??? I am not saying permits will solve this specific issue, but for sure it’s still a big issue.

        • Brian says:

          Cascade is a whole different animal and not representative of the other high peaks areas. Cascade is touron central. And now by making it easier for tourists to get parking they are going to make it worse on the AMR trails.

          • Vanessa says:

            I’m a tourist, technically speaking, as a non resident. I understand LNT. It’s definitely not just tourists or just numbers, but lack of education about wilderness ethics.

          • Dallas DeVries says:

            I hiked extensively including the 46 and many others all around NY in the ADK/Catskills from May-October and I did not see trashed trails in the ADK. Yes I occasionally saw garbage here and there (usually looked accidental) and saw TP once. This is just my own experience which may differ from those hiking on peak weekends in the middle of the pandemic. I largely hiked on weekdays or did sunrise hikes on weekends to avoid the crowds/parking.

            I agree that Cascade is not a good representation. Its the busiest trail in the ADK. Similarly Kaaterskill Falls is probably the busiest in the Catskills and doesnt represent most of what you would see at the high peaks there.

            You can always find the exception to the rule but most people hiking Sawteeth, Blake, Colvin, Nippletop, Gothics, Dial, UWJ, LWJ, Armstrong are not the people destroying or trashing the trails.

  8. Phil Fitzpatrick says:

    Recently I was reminded that The Ark was built by amateurs while the Titanic was built by professionals. My nickel’s worth is: It’s worth a try. Let’s not get excited. At the very best it may prove to be a good idea that needs adjustments. That would be a big win.

  9. James Bullard says:

    They have been tightening the rules for years. I can remember when hikers were allowed to ride the bus (for a fee) and I can recall a couple of times I was walking out after a very long day when the bus went by me and I dearly wished that I could still get a ride on it.
    I am not surprised though. The state spent a lot of money to promote the area but almost nothing to accommodate the increased traffic. In the end, something had to give.

  10. Vanessa says:

    I want to remind my friends in this forum of the old adage that “we’re all traffic.” What do I mean by that? That we are all able to be guinea pigs on this topic if we want to be. I have a feeling that a few weeks into June, especially since this summer will likely still feature domestic over international travel due to the pandemic, we’re gonna hear A LOT about how this pilot is going. We’ll have plenty of opportunity to voice concerns. Let’s give it the opportunity to play out and then complain when complaints are due 😉

    • Zephyr says:

      Why can’t we complain now? Reservations to access public lands owned by the people of New York in order to please a tiny group of wealthy landowners is what this is–has nothing to do with saving the trails. AMR has been itching to do this for decades and now they have the excuse and the blessing of the DEC. I’ve personally spoken to AMR people in the past who admitted as much. They hate to share “their” Adirondacks with the proletariat. Frankly, not sure if it is legal to block access to a public easement accessing public lands. Who is going to enforce this?

      • Zephyr says:

        Here’s a description of how the easement came to be: “In 1978, the AMR sold over 9,000 of the “reserve” acreage to the State of New York for $744,880 with the proviso that the land was to be kept in its natural condition, but that the parcel sold to the State could be open for public use and enjoyment as part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The deed was made contingent upon the AMR granting a conservation easement and public trail easement whereby the newly acquired State land “benefited” from the use of trails, paths and roadways on the remaining “reserve” property.”

        • Vanessa says:

          It’s a free Internet forum – you can complain anytime! I’m a lefty, remember, and not a fan of country clubs as an institution. “Abolish the AMR!”, etc. For whom it isn’t clear, that’s A JOKE.

          But more seriously: yeah I’m not at all saying the AMR is a saint here. I guess I’m the only person who thinks the biggest beneficiary of this pilot is the state, who is under pressure by some groups to start permitting widely. It’s great to have someone else take your punches for you. Given the propensity of this topic to generate strong feelings, my comment above was meant to assure us all that there will be evidence in the future of the pilot’s success or failure.

          Imo it’s most fun to complain when you have evidence. Once random TD bank executives are getting into fisticuffs and etc when someone tows their illegally parked car, then we’ll have lots of specific examples to point to regarding how this iteration didn’t work out.

    • Mike says:

      Hopefully I’m wrong, but there is no way I see them discontinuing the permit system no matter how well or poorly it goes given how there has been a long term interest in reducing access. I see permits here as less of “trial run” and more the fulfillment of a goal to reduce access. Typically once a goal is fulfilled, one does not give it away.

  11. Boreas says:

    My feeling is this: “This is a test – this is only a test”. Unless you try something, you have no empirical evidence to prove it will or won’t work. Perhaps one part of it will work, and another won’t. Perhaps it will be permanent on AMR property but used nowhere else. Perhaps it will blow up. This is what tests are for. Limit the scope and document results. Seems reasonable to me.

    I suspect more details will come forward from AMR in the next few weeks – hopefully before mud season is over. But everyone take a chill pill! This is only one access point for the HPW. There are many others. If it is a flop, we will soon be back to chaos as usual!

    • Dallas DeVries says:

      Its only once access point but its the main access point to 9 of the high peaks plus several other very notable places such as Indian Head, Noonmark, Round, Rainbow Falls.

      Accessing any of these spots from alternate locations requires substantial additional distance and parking at spots with little to no capacity. Essentially capping the use to around 150 people (probably the most realistic number based on reservation numbers & typical group sizes & no shows) is going to leave a lot of people upset. This is also likely to spike usage during mud season with people rushing to beat the system.

    • JB says:

      Boreas and Vanessa, good comments.

      I’m an analytical thinker, though, so I’m having trouble understanding the pro-permit people: Is there any plan to actually try and get some granular data from the impacts to the surrounding region out of this? If such an ecological or use monitoring program is not already in the works, then this wouldn’t be a very good “pilot system” and should probably not be billed as such. To me, the elephant in the room that no one talks about with permits is the question: “what is enough, and what is too much?” If this is implemented on a larger scale, at a certain point it will basically become tantamount to saying: “don’t visit centralized mountains where we can build infrastructure and enforce the rules to minimize negative ecological impacts and risk to human life, but instead spread out across large expanses of low-lying soggy Pre-Cambrian wilderness where it is the Wild West.” So, then the argument would become to increase the list of places where permits are required even further, until we finally learn why we didn’t institute them in the first place: there are too many in-holdings and roads to keep people out.

      I think that trying to overturn the doctrine that has guided centuries of centralization and infrastructure projects in sustaining the life and health of more people with less disease and per-person ecological impact, which we have to thank for the return of New England’s forests, by the way, in favor of less-cooperative “rural community re-population efforts” or “social-distancing as wilderness management” would lead us back into the Dark Ages in terms of wilderness degradation, except with all of the added negative side-effects of 21st century technology and the increased mobility of a larger population. As you guys say, this “pilot test” could yield some useful data, but how useful will it be when we don’t have good models based on previous systematic data to use as a baseline for comparison with the ecological effects of changing use patterns that will result from such a “pilot” (including spillover, beyond just the AMR). The only information that I can see us really getting out of this is that which pertains to public tolerance for permits in a specific place, but I would disagree with those who would cite the “results” of this “pilot program” as evidence to back up their preconceived position that permit systems should be extended throughout the region. (I don’t really have an ideological problem with this particular implementation of the idea, as it is an inevitable action taken by private land owners who probably regret allowing unfettered access to their property in the first place.)

      The problem is that there is not a whole lot to draw from in handling overuse on Park lands, other than due diligence–in managing the Park, the State should be acting less like schoolchildren who try to find the bare minimum of acceptability and more like the engineers of Apollo program who erred on the side of caution to protect life in an unknown frontier. We cannot faithfully look to other wilderness management efforts for guidance, because most large parks in other countries and states can effectively shut down access to the entire protected area–in the Adirondack Park, I think that we will probably never be able to do that, not even in my great-great grandchildren’s lifetimes. The only tried and true methods that we have for limiting the adverse impacts of overuse are the basic tools that have been used for conservation since its modern inception: create infrastructure that draws people to centralized locations where they are enabled to carry on in a manner which minimizes harm–and then protect some wilderness by limiting parking, motorized access, and accessibility in general, and enforce, enforce, enforce.

      • Vanessa says:

        I agree that lots of opportunities are being missed for data collection so far, for sure. I think Scott VanLaer mentioned that he’s gonna do some science regarding selective trail closures at Paul Smith’s VIC later this year, see how it affects wildlife. I’m gonna keep an eye out for news on that.

    • Phil Fitzpatrick says:

      Yup. I agree.

    • toofargone says:

      A test that should never come to pass. It is THE main access point for the entire lower Great Range, Dial, Nippletop, Colvin and Blake. The Garden cannot handle the overflow. Rooster Comb will get pummeled. And neither are substitutes for the public access granted by the AMP easement. Call it what it is: limiting public access to the chosen few, and we’re not talking about the US Marines. No one should roll over and accept this for a minute. Can’t help but envision that Peanuts scene with Snoopy and No Dogs Allowed. No dogs allowed on AMR property – we get that. But no people allowed basically is a bit of an overreach of the no dogs thing. AMR must be loving it that DEC went along until someone sues them, and I’m sure they’re spoiling for a fight and will have no problem hiring a white shoe legal team with some good friends to join them for certain. Just keep up the good fight and remember Churchill’s words about opposing the Nazis during the dark days of WW-II, “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…” Guess it just boils down to fight like hell against this “test” becuase no public good will result.

      • Steve says:

        Was only a matter of time before the “Nazi” comparison came out. While I think that’s a bit harsh your feelings are valid. I think the state should correct the mistake it made 45 years ago and just buy the property outright. Either jack up their taxes now to the point they don’t want it any more or take it through eminent domain. All the lawsuits and costs for policing this is going to exceed its $2.8M assessed value. Turn the whole place into a
        Visitors center with adequate parking. Like the Loj but owned by the state. There is now way this property should still be in private hands.

  12. Bob Meyer says:

    Melissa, This is what I directed to Mr. Gibson:
    March 30, 2021 at 2:59 pm
    Mr. Gibson, I want to know how this will be equitable for the “visitors” even with camps such as myself vs. full time residents like yourself who are in the Park all the time and have the advantage of being able to pick and choose their hiking days all year.
    Let’s hear your answer.

  13. Vincent Thompson says:

    AMR is no longer a caretaker they are a hoarder an inhibitor a hindrance to the ADK experience the State should not aid and abet these hoarders.

  14. Ben says:

    I’m celebrating the news. As a local this will impact my hiking plans this summer by making me excited to hike out of AMR again. I won’t have to deal with the hassle of parking. I think the move was needed to protect the fragile resources.

    • Tim says:

      Good luck getting a permit. Bots are going to claim them all at 12:00:00:01 am and then you can bid for them on eBay.

    • Robert DiMarco says:

      Finally a sane Human. All of the other comments are what a horrible thing to do to us humans. We cant go where we want when we want!!! No matter what we do to Mother Earth. Shame on all of you. It cant continue to be just about us.

      • toofargone says:

        No Bobbie, it is all about you and your friends who want to Lord over public lands and put up endless signs throughout the wilderness.

        • Robert DiMarco says:

          Nope, my fervent wish is no humans in critical wilderness lands. It isnt about us at all. Its all about the other life on this planet.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        With all due respect, man, do you not get the issue….

        • Ben says:

          And what makes you think you are the authority on this Bob? This is an open internet forum- in which the Melissa Hart asked a few simple questions. Buzz off….

  15. The pilot program is a good start; although I would not want to be the Audible Club gatekeeper on a peak weekend.

    More challenging— let’s see DEC create a similar system for Cascade and Porter. That is a pilot program I would like to see.

  16. Mike Smith says:

    This will only affect people such as yourselves- those that are passionate about going there, or those that are local. Honestly, I’m only a passerby to this website, but I’ll give my opinion. I can frankly say I won’t even try to go to this trailhead if I need a permit to see it. These are public lands- it’s sad that they are being limited to a select few.

    • Boreas says:


      They are only being “limited to a select few” – AT A TIME. How else can you manage numbers? Should restaurants be REQUIRED to be first-come, first served? Doctors? Popular places become victims of their own popularity and often institute limits or controls. AMR never agreed to unlimited usage/access.

      • toofargone says:

        Right Boreas. Flawless logic and spin on the word limited. AT A Time, and thanks for the emphasis for the more obtuse like me. Reminds me of Bill Clinton’s twisted national statement when he said “I never had sex with that woman.” I always wondered how he defined that word, because most people would agree it was rather twisted and different. Of course he was manipulating the public, or lying to accomplish his goals. Same here. This proposal takes away public access to public lands, and is antithetical to the very notion of public use. Get a grip.

    • Steve B. says:

      AMR is private land.

  17. Phil says:

    Free and open, it’s part of the allure of open spaces. I don’t think any intense outdoors person will take this seriously…they can find another area that’s unregulated and free. It seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the craziness of 2020, which will not last much longer, and will take care of itself. Please people, unshackle NY!

  18. Bert says:

    Hopefully within the reservation system there will be a way to make sure the hikers on the trail represent people of all colors , ethnicities , political affiliation, social/economic backgrounds, and sexual preferences .

    • JohnL says:

      Sarcasm, right Bert? I like it. If not, don’t forget dog owners/non-dog owners, people with webbed fingers/web-challenged, body style (fat/skinny)….etc etc. Fairness people…….fairness!

  19. Jeffrey Farrell says:

    I think a reservation system to hike in the ads is stupid
    If u are worried about certain plants, then just make a real trial and people will stay on it
    A reservation won’t guarantee that people won’t go off the path, nothing will
    City people don’t have the same respect that upstarts do 4 certain things and that won’t change because they will go back to the city

  20. Bubba says:

    Reservations or permits to gain access to public lands that my tax dollars and tourist dollars go to support?
    I’ll simply access the trails from another vantage point; even if that means creating my own trailhead right from the side of the road.

    • James Bullard says:

      There seems to be a misunderstanding that these lands are public property. They are not. They are property of the AMR/ Ausable Club. If you look at a map of the area you will see that the area where you park and the trails into the Ausable Lakes as well as the shores of both lakes are private property. At one time they even owned the mountains on both sides. When the mountains were sold to the state AMR agreed to allow access across their property for hikers but it has never been unlimited access. Dogs have always been prohibited as well as camping on AMR property. When people disrespect or damage the property they have been given access to they should not be surprised if the owners impose further restrictions. This is not unlike what happened to the Owls Head Peak trail which crosses private land to reach a summit which is public. A few years ago the abuse of the owner’s rights (so many cars that they were blocking owners driveways) resulted in closure of the trail. After intervention by the state it got reopened on weekdays, 7am Monday thru 5pm Fridays, but closed on all weekends and holidays. I suppose the AMR could have done the same. I can only imagine the howl that would create but it is within their rights.

      • Ryan says:

        The AMR is different because there is a contractual easement (both parties exchanged something of value) and not a voluntary easement with the State that allows for foot traffic through their property to access state lands. The AMR can’t just unilaterally close it or limit numbers. They wanted to limit numbers last year too but the state told them they couldn’t.

      • Mike says:

        While I agree with your premise that “When people disrespect or damage the property they have been given access to they should not be surprised if the owners impose further restrictions”, it seems to me the State shoulders some blame for letting it get to this point. The State encouraged the masses to come with no plan (education, enforcement, etc.) to manage them. The State certainly should have been operating with a more vested interest and purpose to make sure the resource wasn’t degraded and access didn’t become limited. There is certainly no excuse for the actions of a relative few that negatively impacted the resource, but I think the State could and should have done more to not let the situation devolve to this point.

        • Boreas says:


          The state is definitely the laggard here. I commend the AMR for putting up with the increase in foot traffic since the sale/easement. At least they are adhering to their commitment to protect the lands and backcountry experience. DEC is supposed to be a steward in the FP, but pressure from local governments and businesses always clamoring for MORE visitors and tourist dollars have been given precedence over preservation for decades. They knew it was unsustainable. But no coherent, long-term planning has taken place. Their chickens have come home to roost.

          • Mike says:


            I’d also propose that AMR has a responsibility to provide quantifiable data about how the resource is being degraded. Perhaps they have, but I haven’t seen it in print yet. If AMR is going to take the position they need to limit access to a public easement (that they willingly entered into an agreement to provide) in the name of protecting the resource, they need to provide concrete data about how the resource is being impacted. I certainly do believe the resource is being negatively impacted. However, it doesn’t take a Scientist (although I am one) to realize we need a baseline of data about how the resource is being impacted so we can evaluate the successfulness (or not) of the mitigation strategies. Both DEC and AMR need to collaborate and get their acts together or the public will lose any remaining confidence they might still have in either.

      • toofargone says:

        Hey Jimmy, we’ll see the AMR and DEC in court with the public easment in hand. AMR granted public access over these lands, so AMR lost the right to exclusive use of the land insofar as granted. This is an arbitrary, capricious, irrational and unlawful restriction for two reasons since there is no need to restrict public access to protect your lands, and the permit system itself is flawed. The danger I’ve seen in caused by AMR covid refugees flying down lake road in numbers that I’ve never seen before, like watch out and get out of my way, and not a horde of hikers on the trails! Truth be told Jimmy, AMR would prefer to keep everyone off its property, like No Dogs Allowed, but it’s too late to second guess AMR’s prior moment of weakness when it granted public rights to the land. Like the other Jimmy said (Morrison), we’re on our way and we can’t turn back, because it’s too late.

  21. Pruzy says:

    They should be ashamed
    It will be so hard coordinating and taking weather into account
    I hope they will reconsider but they are too$$$
    Snobs with $$$

  22. Zephyr says:

    Here’s part of the wording of the easement purchased by New York State in 1978. I believe the State pays around 71% of the property taxes on the Reserve property in exchange for the easement. “(b) Trails. For the purpose of this section, foot travel by the general public is permitted on the following trails which are located on the property of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, subject to the terms of the foot trail easement and the prohibitions hereinafter set forth:” The prohibitions are about dogs, camping, etc.

  23. Zephyr says:

    There’s a link to the full text of the easement in this Explorer article: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/1978-AMR-Easement.pdf

    Seems to me some enterprising lawyer would have pretty significant grounds for a lawsuit if someone wants to challenge these new restrictions.

  24. Smit says:

    I think DEC and AMR are not going to be pleased with the outcome. Because they are making one huge mistake: not understanding the distinction between tourists and hikers. This new system will make it easier for tourists to get parking at AMR. The old free-for-all system at least had the benefit of ensuring it was the local (within 2 hours) hiking community snagging all the spots and forcing the tourists to go trash Cascade. Now you’re going to have more people from the city and further afield parking at AMR. They will see the numbers drop but trash and poo on the trail is going to increase. Or maybe that is what they want, so they can try to wriggle out of the easement contract altogether.

  25. Zephyr says:

    Here’s the link to the Explorer article and there’s a link that article to a NY Times article about the sale of the land for around $745,000. Essentially, part of the deal was that the state would continue to pay property taxes on the land to the town. Seems like the state, and therefore the taxpayers, are paying an awful lot of money for an easement that is now being severely restricted. https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/adirondack-mountain-reserve-easements-address-closing-trails

  26. JK for AD says:

    I have 150 acres of Essex County timberland bordering the state on three sides with a right-of-way down the middle that suffers a lot of erosion from snowmobile traffic in winter and 4WDs all other seasons. I spend my own cash to maintain that old road because the town highway official is too lazy to deal with it. Nevertheless I am skeptical about imposing any permit system for access to trails or the park. I firmly believe that access to the Adirondack Park should be available to all anytime. We can deal with crowding and related problems without being selfish and making it difficult to enjoy this unique area.

  27. M. F says:

    Let me start by saying I am glad this post is here so people can get their thoughts on this out there. I understand the thinking behind reservations. I plan my hiking trips months in advance as I have to take time off work. I try to get to trail heads on a weekday for multiday hiking and have on multiple occasions gotten there at 5-6 am to have to park a half mile from the trail head, nothing like adding on another mile to a 15 mile hike with a full pack. I agree with it but there are definitely things that need to be adjusted. I also feel this will be spreading to other main parking areas. There is no reason why people can’t be dropped off or a shuttle because as 1 person said 70 cars is not a lot of people for 1 day I do feel the trails can handle more than that. Also if we print off our parking pass we should be able to arrive a any time and simply place our pass on the dashboard. If you don’t have a pass on the dash you get towed it’s that easy. I understand why those who live at the AMR don’t want hundreds of people passing by while there children are taking tennis lessons, how would you feel if hundreds walked down your driveway? Maybe another option is to reroute the entrance to another area? I haven’t looked at the map on that, I assume that is the most direct way in, I’m just saying. I also feel for locals and those who are paying members of the ADK Mountain Club or paying 46ers/aspiring should have early access to reservations. I feel the reservations should be able to be made more than 2 weeks prior. I agree but I do hope I can get a reservation for my trips. As this all gets worked out let’s all be thankful we are healthy and capable enough to hike, stay positve!

  28. Rob says:

    I just saw the AMR tax records posted on a hiker forum. $22k in annual property taxes for 5000 acres of prime Adirondack real estate. I have friends in NJ paying that for a single family home on an acre. For that kind of tax break we should be able to pave over their entire golf course and turn it into a giant parking lot.

    • Dave says:

      Yeah the entire property is assessed at only $2.8M for both the resort property and the wilderness property combined. For what the state is going to spend enforcing this nonsense and defending legal challenges, they should just buy the entire property outright through eminent domain. That would solve both our parking problem and our AMR problem in one go.

  29. Janice Bennett says:

    For those who care about preserving our natural resources, this is essential.
    Many people have little or no appreciation of the fragility of the ecosystem in the Adirondacks.
    Education and respect for the environment will endure that this beautiful park will be cared for and appreciated for future generations.

    • Eric says:

      How does making access easier for tourists over hikers help the ecosystem? The hard core hikers filling up the lots at 4am aren’t the ones damaging the environment. That’s why pretty much everywhere except Cascade is still pristine. It’s the idiots who show up at 8am expecting to get parking and don’t know LNT doing the damage. This just makes it easier for them to access the lands around AMR now.

  30. Jesse Gigandet says:

    There’s no surprise that this pilot program begins at the AMR – they’ve always clearly not been happy with hikers utilizing their access to those high peaks (as demonstrated with the armed guard at the road entrance.) I understand the need to try to control the amount of people on the trails and the amount of parked cars on the road – but I think there should be some more consideration of other options or compromise to this option.

    Not the least of which would be to expand the parking lot before initiating this program to help minimize the impact it has on the hikers – and the local economy. Fewer hikers per day will surely impact all of the local businesses in Keene Valley and beyond. If there is an average of 2 people per car, that’s only 140 hikers allowed into one of the most pristine hiking areas in the Adirondacks. That’s if everyone shows up – I can guarantee that there will be some who reserved and didn’t show up – leaving empty parking spots for someone who could have enjoyed the day there. With access to 9 High peaks, Plus Indian Head (one of my favorite views in the entire ADK), Pyramid, Noonmark, Round Pond, Gill Brook Trail, Rainbow falls, Ausable Lake – are just some of the highlights that are now vastly limited by this ruling. AND not to mention the overburdening of other hikes/parking lots because so many hikers had to find an alternative at the last minute.

    The reservations requirement extends to people who are dropped off or ride bikes as well – so it’s clearly not just a parking issue.

    Make no mistake – this ruling is ONLY to benefit the AMR, and a result of the political pressure they put on officials to make it happen.

    • Zephyr says:

      Exactly! Just to summarise. In 1978 the Ausable Club sold 7,000 acres to New York State and got about $745,000 to bail them out of a financial bind. The State also agreed to continue to pay the town property taxes in order to keep the locals happy. In exchange, the State received an easement on the property in order to allow the public free access to a beautiful portion of the Adirondacks. However, the Ausable Club managed to get more restrictive wording in the easement than found in most such easements, and they have continuously tightened the rules and pushed to have the trail further and further restricted so that the well-connected and wealthy members of the club could continue to enjoy the benefits of the beautiful land that was now owned and paid for by the taxpayers of New York. Now the club has finally convinced the DEC to go along with the next stage in restrictions in order to dramatically cut down on the number of hikers allowed. This is supported by several Adirondack organizations that have close ties to the Ausable Club, including members and financial supporters. My best guess is 70 cars with an average of 2 people will mean maybe 140 hikers on a big day can enjoy this route. The club members no longer have to deal with the riffraff. The other 19 or 20 million residents of New York State get to pay the taxes on the 7000 acres but aren’t allowed to use the most convenient trail to get to the public lands they own. I conclude with three questions. Where is the survey data and professional study indicating there is a safety or environmental issue at this particular trailhead that is different than at many other trailheads along the Rt. 73 corridor? What data is being collected during this pilot period and how? Why choose this trailhead for a “pilot program” when many reports are that the situation is much worse at Cascade or at the Adirondack Mountain Club parking lot?

  31. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Vanessa says: “Nevermind just the poo, I saw 2 pairs of dirty underwear in 2019.”

    I am reminded, once again, of the one year I was way back in the Moose River Recreation Area camping above the Moose River, up from the north bank. I walked down to that wonderful jewel and found two loaded diapers within, just offshore. I was only able to retrieve one. Some people shouldn’t be allowed in such areas! They should stay home so as not to spread their venom.

    • JonB says:

      MRP is notorious for that problem. But even just having any out-of-the-way driveway, people will just drive up and do their business or dump their trash…To be fair, they probably view anything within the Park as public land and, thus, their’s to trash freely.

  32. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Mike says: “Hopefully I’m wrong, but there is no way I see them discontinuing the permit system no matter how well or poorly it goes …”

    Like when there’s an increase in food prices because gasoline goes up in price (think the GW Bush years.) The gas prices eventually go back down, but the prices in food and all else….stay up, they do not come back down. Design!

  33. M.P Heller says:

    . If we look at what NYS has paid for timber tract acquisitions in recent years and what the tax assessment for AMR is, its clear there is a disparity in the valuations. Part of this comes from the easement agreement. AMR enjoys a tax break because of the agreement to allow the public access.

    I think its important to remember that when this agreement was originally reached it was for access by all members of the public sphere. The population of NY in 1978 when the agreement was reached was slightly more than 17.5 million people. (About 10 percent less than it is today.) This means that not including visitors from out of state or abroad, that the possibility of 17.5 million tax paying “partners”, or any portion of them, could show up at any given time and access “their” property.

    I think this was all fine and good with the AMR because they got what they wanted and held the belief that although they invited 17.5 million partners (today closer to 19.5 million) on to club lands, very few of them would actually show up and take advantage of the new “arrangement” with the State. Until they did.

    So now that lots of folks are taking advantage of the agreement come the obvious straw man arguments put forth by the AMR in order to preserve their personal “peace and quiet”. Claims of resource degradation with absolutely zero empirically gathered evidence to support them or that shows where AMR lands are impacted by public access in a way that is meaningfully different from other public access locations to the HPW. Restrictions on hours of travel despite the fact that no such restrictions exist on any other access to the HPW. Special parking rules that do not comport with the capacity of the lot nor the management practices of other parking facilities that serve similar purposes.

    The AMR and Trustees of the AuSable Club have likely opened up a whole new can of worms for themselves. These new policies will undoubtedly come under legal scrutiny in the court system soon. I can see no path for AMR to prevail. More likely, not only these restrictions but others placed on the lands in question such as the prohibition on dogs and camping will be unwound in any court finding. It’s important litigation too, as it goes to establish the rights of the public with regards to Conservation Easements in common law and answers questions regarding what is reasonably expected when tax payer funded purchases such as these are made

    • Charlie Stehlin says:

      This is interesting M.P. …that the public was allowed access in accordance to the tax breaks given the AMR. If they really are breaking their oath does this mean that the State can raise their taxes for doing so? The agreement! Was it a handshake deal, or is it in a clause. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Hi all, just wanted to share this follow up FAQ on the Explorer’s website: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/amr-permits-your-questions-answered

  35. Boreas says:

    I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding the easement. For those interested in the actual 1978 document language, it can be downloaded here:


    AMR not only has the right, it has the obligation to preserve the “special” lands covered under the easement. DEC has similar obligations as well. There was also mention of adding a 20 car parking area – how quaint.

    As usual, it will likely need to be sorted out in court.

    • toofargone says:

      Amici curiae time!

    • toofargone says:

      PS, they don’t have the right – only a misguided desire to extend their No Dogs Allowed mentality.

    • M.P Heller says:


      The trouble with the current “sky is falling” claims by AMR is that the conditions there are not substantially different from the conditions in the rest of the HPW. This is nothing more than special interest flexing it’s muscles in an NIMBY effort. It really is that simple.

      I find it rather distasteful that AMR would even attempt a stunt like this. It erodes the public trust in the conservation easement process and is a big slap in the face of NYS taxpayers. They should be ashamed and embarrassed.

      The fact they claim they owe an “obligation” to the land is merely a straw man for getting people from the public off the Lake Road. If they don’t want to honor their end of the easement and are going to manufacture excuses to exclude the public either partially or entirely, their tax bill should be adjusted accordingly to reflect this. Pay the normal tax rate for 5000 private acres if you want private property. Otherwise keep enjoying the benefits of a conservation easement and stop with the divisive and reductive NIBMYism.

  36. Evan says:

    Freaking boomers are determined to ruin everything for us before they all just die. Why are they going after hiking now with this BS system? They’ve already ruined the housing market, the environment, job market. The one thing we had left was hiking.

    • M.P Heller says:

      They are not going to die. They are going to become cyborgs and run Congress for another 80 years with the goal of bringing Eisenhower/Kennedy era policy to the 22nd century.

      (I might be joking.)

  37. Eric says:

    Someone needs to tell Google to re-label the AMR hiker parking lot so that all the out of towners know where it is and what this system applies to. Google currently has it labeled “Indian Head Parking” instead of AMR parking or what us old timers called St Huberts parking. People from NJ are going to be reserving spots at AMR in order to go to Marcy Dam and wasting reservations for the rest of us when they find out the Loj is still permit free. You’re also gonna have tourists showing up to the Garden or the Loj at 9am thinking they have a reserved space only to find out they don’t.

  38. Ed says:

    Eventually you’ll have to make a reservation , to make a reservation.

    • Zephyr says:

      But, to make the reservations to make the reservations you will first have to read three pages of instructions and the Adirondack Explorer article on how to interpret the instructions.

    • ROBERT DIMARCO says:

      So sad to continually see the entitlement of us Humans.
      Is all this Mother Nature just for us to use as we please? I don’t see it that way. I want the Earth to survive but with the current attitudes of most of the commenters on this thread, I don’t see much hope

  39. Rocco P. says:

    Zero logic on this one. The problem is parking on the main highway. Anyone who shows up without a reservation and is turned away from the AMR parking is still going to park on the street and just go up Giant instead. So you’re relieving pressure on the MULTIPLE trails that you can access via AMR, but increasing the pressure on the far FEWER trails up the Giant… What they need to do is enforce the parking rule on the road with all day towing and put the fines to get your car back into a stewardship fund for the woods and to pay for the added enforcement. Parking stays first come first served and when the lot is full, people who try to park on the road get towed. Anyone EVER seen them towing cars there? Never. Maybe a reservation for overnighters only so they don’t hold the spaces for too long, but why all the hoop jumping for day hikers when it’s totally unnecessary since first come first serve is the same result and is not addressing the real issue.

    • Eric says:

      I agree with almost everything you say. Zero logic by AMR/DEC, forcing people into other more crowded trails, first-come is more fair, etc. But you can’t tow someone’s car in a place with no cell service or public transportation. You’ll have people getting back from a 10-14 hour hike only to find their car missing. Ok now what? Do they have to walk up Rt 73 to Keene? Would many of them even know which direction they need to walk? Isn’t the DOT trying to keep people off the road? Need to Ticket but don’t tow.

      • M.P Heller says:

        Tow some cars. Make a the signage very clear that will be the outcome. A few people will certainly have a long walk to find (and pay for) their car. Word will travel fast that they are serious and that the walk and fee to retrieve your vehicle is extremely unpleasant. Behaviors will change.

        Plenty of people will pay a 100 or 200 dollar fine and call it the entry price. They will then repeat the behavior because the consequences are acceptable to them. When a ski lift ticket and a beer and burger at Whiteface is 100 bux, a 100 dollar parking fine is simply the same to many folks.

    • M.P Heller says:

      Let’s not lose sight of the fact this has nothing to do with conservation or preservation and everything to do with wealthy special interest trying to hoodwink the public.

      • Zephyr says:

        And calling this a “pilot program” is just a farce! Choose the most unique trailhead in the Adirondacks with a parking and access situation that is totally different from all the others, set up a ludicrously idiotic permit system, then extrapolate the results to the rest of the Adirondacks. That’s sure to teach us something, but I don’t think it is anything we want to learn.

  40. Carla says:

    I plan my hikes by the weather. So how far in advance would all of these permits have to be in by? I love the AMR so much I don’t mind paying. Hopefully this discourages the undesirables

  41. Edward Conway says:

    Great point. Some member of AMR probably has a stake in the bus lines. The easement gives them the right to limit parking on their property; not to limit access in general. The over-use argument is malarky.

  42. Dan Scoppa says:

    This is just the beginning. The real answer for overcrowding and making it fair for the people that live and pay taxes here is to put up gates and control entry like most parks do.

  43. hikeer says:

    The whole thing sucks. Sucks bad. I agree with all the suck that everybody’s already stated. It also appears to be illegal, because, on the cover page of the deed (or first page, Liber 660 page 220), the sale is from the ADIRONDACK MOUNTAIN RESERVE (Grantor) to the PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK (Grantee). Did no one notice it says the PEOPLE… not just a couple of employees of the DEC? It also says that the easement is in perpetuity (forever) unless in times of flood, or fire, etc. Any attempts at restricting access to the legally defined easement must have a thoroughly defined reason (of which there is not) and also that BOTH parties must agree on restricted access. (Which has not occurred). If this had occurred, people would have known about the issue and there would have been a referendum, so that the PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK (Grantee) would have had a chance to vote on, and agree or disagree with the restriction. So the whole thing may be invalid (it appears to be). And if this is true, some serious misconduct has taken place at the top ranks of the DEC and maybe other positions. Many people are thinking the same thing, and one well respected attorney in Plattsburgh wrote a scathing letter to the editor of the Press Republican, indicating that it may appear that serious misconduct has taken place.

    • Eric says:

      The DEC is still tying themselves into knots trying to say “this is not a permit system” when it’s 100% clearly a permit system. It’s not even one of the more liberal permit systems but one of the most restrictive. Even Baxter State Park, the poster child for onerous over-regulation, allows same-day first-come parking and walk-ins. The DEC clearly knows it’s illegal and their own attorneys probably told them so. Yet they did it anyway.

  44. Harold says:

    This nothing more than an exercise in control and if it works and all the sheep follow, it will bring more control. It will give over to a select crowd of people being able to hike or park and to more restrictions in the name of conservation, which are not necessary. I drove in last year and the signs all said full parking lot, but in fact it looked to be about 60-70% full. It is about control, when you realize this you will be much better off and you will see things more clearly.

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