Thursday, April 21, 2022

The hikers are coming … but how many?

Hikers on Cascade Mountain, eastern High Peaks Wilderness

In 2020, the Adirondack trails were overwhelmed with hikers looking for Covid-safe recreation.  People were lined up long before dawn for trails in the High Peaks.  Highways turned into parking lots, and wilderness rangers into meter maids.

Then in 2021, with Covid still a presence in the Northeast, the hiker crisis evaporated.

The crazy busy hiker weekends were gone.  Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson says he towed only one (ONE!) car from the Garden trailhead in 2021.    That place is usually a combat zone.

summit steward data

The Adirondack Mountain Club’s 40-year-old summit steward program, which has the best long- term data on hiker traffic, tells a particularly dramatic story.  The average number of daily hikers atop Mt. Marcy last summer was 72, down from 111 in 2021.  On Algonquin, the average hiker number dropped from a record high of 87 in 2020, to 55 in 2021.  Overall, hiker contacts plunged from roughly 40,000 in 2020 to 28,000 last year, a 30% decline.

Everybody forgot about the Adirondacks?  Not exactly.

Campgrounds managed by the NYS Department of Environment Conservation reported a record-breaking 394,401 nightly reservations in 2021, topping the previous record (set in 2016) by about 40,000 nights.  (These numbers include eight Catskills campgrounds, too.)

That raises the question, “What is going to happen this year?”   The best answer is, “No one knows.”

Because the Canadian border is finally open again, and up to 20% of Adirondack hikers traditionally come from Canada, most people involved in preparing for the hiking season are bracing for a new surge.  Thousands of Canadians are already in love with the Adirondacks and are no doubt eager to get back on the trails.

How prepared are we?  Years of steady build-up forced soul-searching by environmental groups, scrambling by local and state governments, and new management experiments.   

–The new 70-spot free parking reservation system based at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve in Keene Valley had a strong first year in 2021, and is gearing up for its sophomore season.  Already 24,000 hikers are pre-registered on-line for 2022, up from 15,500 who were logged in at the end of last season.  (https://www.hikeamr.org)

Though highly controversial at the start, the state-sanctioned system ultimately won broad support from the hiker community, as hikers found they could guarantee themselves a parking spot in advance and therefore more precisely plan their hiking trips.  Some days the lot was full, some days it was not.  Only about 1,000 people were turned away when they showed up without a reservation.  There was still plenty of confusion in the region; Adirondack Mountain Club staffers reported people showing up nearly 25 miles away at the ADK Loj Hiker Center expecting to need a permit. 

–The Town of Keene’s front country Stewards and shuttle from Marcy Field to the Garden have been essential to better experiences for hikers, and townspeople, too.  The stewards are directing people to less crowded trails, the shuttle takes pressure off town parking. The NYS DEC has adopted a sort of pop-up steward system, with staffers walking the streets of Lake Placid, to educate want-to-be peak baggers.

–Public awareness of limits to growth has increased significantly.  All major environmental organizations have websites that feature a Leave No Trace message, urging hikers to avoid over-crowded areas, and plan for alternatives.  The same is true for the state DEC and the tourism promoters at ROOST, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.  Word is out that things are different than they used to be, and especially that parking is not without limits.

The Town of Keene is preparing for a big year, with its steward program and town shuttle bus.  The AMR parking system is already up and running–effective Easter/Passover/Ramadan weekend—bracing for a possible Canadian invasion.

  Will the state continue the regional shuttle experiment launched by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in hopes of creating an easy transit flow from Lake Placid, through Keene and South along Rt. 73?   What about parking restrictions along Rt. 73.   Some barriers were being installed in the last week.

This is a complicated problem.  Local government wants to welcome visitors and their tourist dollars, but not at the expense of the small towns, nor degradation of the resource.  The state forest preserve managers and environmental groups want to encourage hikers to use the trails, but not overwhelm them.

Finding the right balance is the challenge.

Photo of Cascade by Dan Plumley

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Peter Slocum lives in Keene and is a trustee of the Essex County Historical Association and a volunteer at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm.      




54 Responses

  1. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “The hikers are coming … but how many?”

    Time will tell, and I’m betting when they do start showing they’ll all be fixed on a handheld device.

  2. Contrarian says:

    I think the lack of reliable data is a real hindrance to proper maintenance of trails and effective management of the hiker inflows. We know what is too much but do we know what is “just enough”?

  3. Tim says:

    “…the system ultimately won broad support”
    FROM WHO??! They only interviewed the people that could actually get a reservation, who had the the kind of job and family situation where they could plan weeks in advance. What about all the thousands of people being excluded? Most hikers I know HATE IT.

    • Duke says:

      Agree! AMR should honor the easement they reluctantly gave in lieu of major tax breaks and stop prentending they are just being good stewards of the land instead of trying to limit public access.

  4. Eric says:

    Gas prices will be a factor. Part of the reason for the crowds in 2020 was $2.09 gasoline.

  5. Zephyr says:

    The hiker prevention system at the AMR has not won broad support among anyone I know. It is a disgrace and hikers know it. Instituted with no study, based on what? Where were the public meetings? It is illegal in my opinion.

  6. AdkScott says:

    The AMR claimed overuse. But no study was done, no baseline data was collected. No detail on trail issues they were citing as overuse. They just wanted to see fewer people….nothing scientific about it.

    Sorry, this was just about protecting the Ausable Club, not the AMR lands. If they were serious about land overuse, they should publish the science that leads to that conclusion.

  7. Todd Eastman says:

    It seems the unintended consequences of instituting parking restrictions have not been adequately addressed.

    The lack of planning is apparent…

    • Boreas says:

      Essentially, the DEC is not equipped to handle this situation. They are understaffed, and more importantly, lack leadership and a plan. They are stuck in a trail quagmire of their own making by not addressing increasing trail usage over the last 50 years. The policies introduced back then obviously did not envision increased usage. This is apparent in the lack of trail re-design and hardening until it became a glaring problem. Similarly, parking was ignored throughout this time. It was sufficient in the 70s-80s, but the overflow even occurred back then on bluebird days and holidays. Unfortunately, this became the norm. Localities were loving the hiker money and did not want to disturb the Golden Goose.

      But that Golden Goose became monstrous. Again DEC, responsible for trail condition, parking, and ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, looked the other way as long as they could and did not come up with a plan. Albany also welcomed the Goose as well, feeding it along the way, contributing to DEC’s leadership and wandering focus. A laissez-faire attitude settled upon the Park and lack of DEC direction and involvement became ingrained in the users of the resource.

      DEC has more power than they are using. But this power is worthless without adequate leadership, manning, and funding. Much, if not most, of the HPW trail network needs to be re-routed and/or hardened for sustainability well into the future. The trails are simply too steep for the type of soils in the area. This upgrading will involve temporary trail closures and hiker sacrifice – including limiting numbers. But local hikers seem to be unwilling to sacrifice at all, being raised during the laissez-faire years. While tourists are confused, I think by and large they are happy just to have a place to hike in the mountains. As long as the Goose is still laying, communities seem happy with the status quo.
      ,
      DEC needs a new commissioner with a plan for the FUTURE of the Park consistent with Environmental Conservation. DEC needs to be SCREAMING at Albany annually for more resources until the situation is resolved. The general public along with local communities all need to be brought into a transparent planning process, supported by experts in the field of trail resources unique to our area and trail/trailhead capacity limits if/where deemed necessary. DEC will never get public buy-in with their current leadership and process because of disparate expectations between all stakeholders. Will DEC rise to the task?? Vote as if the Park depends upon it!

  8. Henrietta Jordan says:

    I wonder if the price of gas will encourage more folks to avoid trips to points west and south and to vacation in the Adirondacks instead. We might be in for another big surge.

  9. Eric Fuehrer says:

    And yet Canadians pay no NYS taxes.

  10. T says:

    I still don’t understand why they block off those parking spots between Keene Valley and Chapel Pond.

  11. Adam says:

    All of this talk about overcrowding keeps missing the giant elephant in the room…the lack of parking. When people say overcrowded they aren’t talking about the trails or the summits. I hiked the five peaks of the Dix Range during “hiker-mageddon” weekend in October 2020 and saw maybe a dozen people all day. Everyone hikes at roughly the same pace so you just see the group directly in front of you all day. When people talk about overcrowding they’re talking about the lack of any kind of reasonable parking accommodations. Go to NH and see what a real trailhead parking area looks like. And get the hell out of here with your shuttle bus. If it doesn’t run 24 hrs no one is getting on it. We’re not visiting a museum we’re hiking.

    • Eric says:

      Totally agree. The only people seeing hundreds of people on trail are the summit stewards and John “The Flash” Ehntholt.

  12. Vanessa B says:

    Gonna be a busy season imo – mix of lots of reasons.

    • Boreas says:

      I agree. Higher gas prices may actually increase the inflow of more “local” tourists within a few hours’ drive. And NYS fuel prices can often be considered quite affordable to Canadians.

  13. Dave Mason says:

    It is worth noting the decline of 30% plus in hikers in 2021 vs 2020. That is a big decline. It happened at the same time camping was a records. What does this mean?
    From 1997-2004 there was a sustained decline, then it turned up. Any ideas why this happened?

    My point is that some research and modeling attempting to explain the data might reveal some interesting ideas. Maybe all the parking restrictions worked in 2021? Or the border closing? But that doesn’t explain the 1997-2004 decline. There are dynamics here we do not understand.

    BTW, there was a plan to build more parking in the Rt 73 Chapel Pond area but it died when Protect filed the tree cutting lawsuit about snowmobile trails. It appears that cutting Forest Preserve trees for parking isn’t considered an option now.

    Thanks for this data Peter! Much appreciated.

    • Boreas says:

      “It appears that cutting Forest Preserve trees for parking isn’t considered an option now.”

      Perhaps this was true last year when DEC stopped everything in its tracks to show its displeasure at being stopped from downing tens of thousands of trees for the vehicular trails. Smaller projects, IF PROPER CHANNELS AND PROCEDURES ARE FOLLOWED, should not be ruled out. But this is a big IF!

  14. Michael Adamczyk says:

    The weather last summer in 2021 was terrible. It rained virtually every day – that must have had some contribution to the drop. While the summer of 2020 was the opposite – very dry. Surprised this isn’t mentioned at some level. Seems prudent to have the historical weather data alongside the visitor numbers to see if there’s a correlation. Thanks for the data!

  15. Zephyr says:

    Once again I must state the fact that most trails are in far better condition than they have been in past decades. People keep stating “overuse” as if it is a defined term, yet I know of know study determining the carriage limits of any trails. How is overuse defined? In the case of the AMR it appears to be whatever the Ausable Club wants to set as the limit of daily hikers with no other reasons given. Note that the DEC strictly refers to this experiment as a way to mitigate parking and traffic issues and says nothing about preserving the environment. There seems to be this push by some organizations to regulate and limit use, based on nothing other than they don’t want to see so many people utilizing their land, owned by every taxpayer in the state.

    • Eric says:

      It seems that young people today are being taught that hikers are bad for the environment. Instead of what we were taught which was that the more people recreate in the woods the more people will care about the environment. The real shame of it is that back in the 90s I used to leave every hike with a Hannaford bag full of other people’s trash. These days you can hike all day and you might find one torn end of a snickers wrapper at most. Add in the fact that the High Peaks is more of a day-hiker area and not a backpacking area then the argument for limiting use gets even more remote. Day hikers aren’t damaging the environment. If they are it’s the fault of trail construction not them. This whole thing is about gatekeeping not the environment.

      • Boreas says:

        Eric,

        I understand your thoughts and agree there have been some great improvements seen over the last 20 years – at least WRT litter and unsustainable camping practices. But the CRUX of the matter is that hikers/campers CAN indeed damage resources – especially on improperly routed and hardened trails. There is indeed a point where there are too many hikers for any existing trail – and this depends on the design and routing of the trail. This is the concept of a trail’s carrying capacity.

        DEC designed what they guessed were appropriately-sized parking areas half a century ago based on the usage at that time. With the old parking areas, the trails degraded significantly. Obviously, the carrying capacity was already exceeded. Of course, this was partly due to minimal trail maintenance in a wilderness area. Gradually, minimal, piecemeal re-routes and hardening took place by paid and volunteer trail crews, but it was basically lipstick on a pig. Parking stayed about the same, but the lots started overflowing more often as trail use increased. Obviously capacity (still essentially unstudied) was now REALLY exceeded.

        So this is where we are today. Most of the interior HPW trails are simply inadequate and unsustainable. I believe DEC and many hiker groups see this, but are at a loss for an easy solution. Is increasing parking and/or instituting shuttles the answer for a still inadequate trail system? The HPW is unique in its nature because it is primarily steep slopes combined with thin, unstable soils. Mountain goat trails can never be sustainable here – even with minimal hiking pressure. We know this from the last 75 years worth of experience with erosion.

        So should we be encouraging the same or increased usage before the resource itself (trail system) has been addressed and remediated. I don’t see how maintaining even the status quo should be encouraged. NYS/DEC/taxpayers/communities/user groups ALL need to work together to FIRST, come up with a plan for the future before more habitat is lost by increasing parking lot size. If a plan and path forward – that will necessitate DEDICATED funding – can be agreed upon, then the plan needs to be followed in a logical sequence. Will the plan include hiker limits until the HPW trail system is completely revamped? Should certain trails/trailheads simply be closed until those trails are re-routed? Should the status quo continue?

        None of this should be decided by any one group (DEC, AMR, ADK, etc.), as it will likely fail due to opposition. This is our current morass. Still no plan for the future because we can’t agree on the past or present. Collectively, NYS citizens need to be involved in the direction of the HPW – arguably the jewel in the ADK crown. We all need to look at our commitment to preserving the outdoor resources in the HPW and Park in general, and decide if preservation is even worthwhile today. And I allude to the preservation of the RESOURSE, not the preservation of the status quo. Preservation requires sacrifice, and I am not sure our modern society is up for that.

        • Eric says:

          The current lots weren’t designed for day hiking though. Take round pound for example. The reason there are only nine spaces there is because that’s the limit of people they wanted at the bouquet lean-to. They never thought it would be used for day hiking. Now 99.999% of the people parking there are just day hiking. The carrying capacity for a well designed day hiking trail could number in the thousands per day (see White Mts) and yet we have NINE parking spaces. Rooster comb same problem. Even the now expanded AMR lot is now absolutely nowhere within a galaxy of the actual carrying capacity of the trails for day hiking.

          • Boreas says:

            Eric,

            I see your point on some lesser-used, lower “grade” trails. Indeed, the problem is, we simply don’t have “well-designed” day hiking trails in the HPW other than the one that was recently built. Rerouting/hardening has to come first. Even lower trails that may be in good condition often lead to trails that are not designed for heavy traffic.

            Simply increasing parking before hardening/re-routing the corresponding trail(s) is just going to increase existing trail damage. More parking and shuttles is not the key to fixing our already poorly designed (not that it was really “designed” to begin with!) trail system. The only real fix will require large sums of money to rebuild the trail system that are unlikely to ever be allocated other than piecemeal. There is no magic fix.

  16. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Who woulda ever guessed we’d be dealing with all of which we’re dealing with nowadays! Especially over-usage of the trails in the Adirondacks, or permits needed to hike, etc. This brings us back to which there were some whisperings about on this thread a few years ago but which I haven’t heard a peep about since, and which is tied to many of our woes….over-population, which surely is going to increase probably tenfold in just five years as much as we’re all sexual beings and we cannot control our urges. Then there’s Roe vs Wade which appears to be close to its final chapter soon, meaning more people, more problems. We’re living in good times! Twenty years from now we’ll be looking back at these days & saying, “Those were the good old days.”

    Adam says: “Go to NH and see what a real trailhead parking area looks like.”

    I went through New Hampshire some few years back and drove through the Mount Washington trailhead area. There were cars everywhere, as far as the eye could see, and nowhere to park. A very popular destination spot evidently!

  17. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Dave Mason says: “there was a plan to build more parking in the Rt 73 Chapel Pond area but it died when Protect filed the tree cutting lawsuit about snowmobile trails……….Thanks for this data Peter! ”

    Yes, thank you Peter! Future hikers will very much appreciate your vision.

  18. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Tim says: “They only interviewed the people that could actually get a reservation, who had the the kind of job and family situation where they could plan weeks in advance. What about all the thousands of people being excluded? Most hikers I know HATE IT.”

    I don’t like the idea of reservations either Tim as some of us like to ‘take off’ on a whim and go into the woods. I can see where only people who are special somehow will be allowed on the trails, while others are penalized not of their own doing. Almost like segregation! Not to be dismayed though as there are plenty of places to go in the Adirondacks, other than those high-use trails, to be a part of her magic without having to worry about crowds. So far it’s still this way, but this could change too. I’m not a crowd sorta feller so I don’t have the same qualms as those who insist on hiking high-use trails, though I do sympathize with them. I suppose if we didn’t rely on cars there’d be less of a problem. But then how would we get to the trailheads? We are most certainly in a quandary, and I mean more than just with usage of Adirondack trails.

  19. Travelin says:

    Using the term overuse is ridiculous. Build a parking lot. Every trailhead but the loj lacks parking. We have the largest park in the United States (at least that is what is advertised) Are we saying more people come to the Adirondacks than Yellowstone? Maybe mismanagement is a better term than overused. Have a look at the Whites, Yellowstone, cascades, teton… If we want a museum that’s one thing. But if this land is protected for all to use (published) let’s stop with the gatekeeping and build a lot or two.

  20. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “let’s stop with the gatekeeping and build a lot or two.”

    Which would bring more people! Then what? Build more lots?

    • Travelin says:

      Ummm. Not sure thats how that works. In the case of a stable resource … The mountains drive demand. Demand is not driven by the product. We need to build as many lots as necessary to solve the perceived overcrowding. As others have stated…. The trails don’t seem to be the problem (exclude cascade) it more seems to be a road issue. The idea that suddenly the Adirondacks would be swarmed with visitors because of a parking lot is not correct. Unless of course it comes with a free meal and a massage.

  21. Bob says:

    There should be a robust publicly funded tourist tax supported battery electric shuttle bus system. It should start in downtown Lake Placid and continue to Exit 30 on the Northway. It should stop at all the major trailheads including the ADK Loj, Cascade, Hurricane, The Garden, AMR and Chapel Pond as well as others. There should be free public parking lots at the horseshow grounds, Mt Van Hoevenberg, Marcy Field, and a large new lot somewhere off of Route 9 near Exit 30. There should be multiple lines and express services. The Shuttles should run 24 hours a day at low frequency (once an hour) and at higher frequency during peak periods (every 5 minutes). Don’t tell me there is no money for this. ORDA just got another $100+ million for capital improvements for one year. I am a local worker and this is what I want my taxes going towards. If there is any limit to public access on their land then AMR’s wealthy membership should have their tax easement cancelled and pay all the decades of back taxes they saved plus interest. I suspect they are bribing the politicians and DEC leadership to look the other way while still allowing those elites access whenever they want. There is no reasonable excuse for the lack of a public shuttle to the AMR trailhead.

    • Rob says:

      Here, here Bob. This is exactly what should be done. The state and town keep “testing” a shuttle system but they don’t run it 24 hrs and then they wonder why no one wants to ride it. A shuttle bus that stops running is the same as not having a shuttle bus. No one is going to hike with a deadline. And the fact that the non-shuttle we do have doesn’t drop off at AMR is beyond all comprehension. Or the fact that it stops at roostercomb but not the Loj. Newsflash: most people hiking to or from Roostercomb are hiking the GRT. The GRT’s other end is THE LOJ. And then they wonder why no one is using the shuttle. I just shake my head.

    • Scott T says:

      AMR needs to start allowing drop-offs/shuttles or we need to tax them back to the stone age, take over their land, and turn their golf course into a giant parking lot. They can’t have it both ways.

  22. Tom Paine says:

    The double standard in full view. Screaming bloody murder when trees are removed in the park for one user group’s trails and then have no problem cutting down thousands of trees for parking lots for another. The hypocrisy abounds.

    • Eric says:

      Most hikers were not in favor of that judge’s connector trail ruling. Neither was ADK Mt Club. There was litterally one very extremist group screaming about a few trees and that group is currently in favor of permits also.

      • Tom Paine says:

        The former executive director of ADK Mtn Club was in court siding with the extremists.

        • Eric says:

          ADK Mt Club was on the side of the DEC not Protect The Adirondacks. The suit initiated by PTA endangered ADK’s trail building program and trail maintenance. They are a hiking club. PTA is NOT. In fact there was some public bickering going on in this very forum between Peter Bauer and the ADK director because there were on opposite sides of the suit.

  23. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “The mountains drive demand not the parking lots”

    > Yes, but in order to meet that demand, which is evidently on an uptick, there needs to be more parking space. We’re back to square one! I think it is a very good thing that people wish to immerse themselves in the dame nature (and what better place could there be than the Adirondacks to do such) as I truly believe that is where the answer to inner peace lies, which heaven knows….society needs more of; but I think it’s going to take more than the actual experience itself to get to that place, as more and more of the natural world disappears. Every wooded lot or field seems to be game for the chopping block where I live, which is the mentality of us humans…kill, kill, kill. This may seem astray from the topic at hand but every ‘thing’ is relative, viz….. over-crowded parking lots & trails, over-crowded planet. All relative!

    I’m not a religious person but I have been taking up an interest in what it is that the religionists have been trying to get across for so long; and while being open about it (by reading old religious periodicals & journals, old sermons, etc..not the bible) I’ve been coming up with my own thoughts on this matter God, what it all means, how it affects the psyche, etc… Truly I believe this concept of God is highly misunderstood and that a delusion of sorts has overcome a good chunk of the human race. There’s more to this but I’ll digress for now What does this have to do with the Adirondacks? We habitually stray from the things which make us uneasy; we get away to find a semblance of peace wherever it is we get away to. Some of us ‘get away’ by going into the woods. I suppose because there’s less woods to go to where many people live, this could be a reason why more people go to the Adirondacks, because of its wildness, and less of it everywhere else. Only an assumption of course.

    I went to the Bible to see if there was some words relative to my thoughts above and immediately found the following. In Genesis it says of ‘man: ” let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And here we are ruling over every ‘thing’ like the bible suggests we do. And look at the problems we are facing!

    • Travelin says:

      And these are the folks fighting against parking lots. Progress dear friend. A parking lot isnt going to destroy the souls of your children. Noone wants to level the forest. Adirondacks are the most underused.park in the country

  24. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Screaming bloody murder when trees are removed in the park for one user group’s trails and then have no problem cutting down thousands of trees for parking lots for another. ”

    I suppose it all solidifies the notion that we’re all in it for ourselves hey Tom? Whatever works for “I.”

    • Tom Paine says:

      Agreed. This is the direct result of the extremist’s actions. Groups go to their separate corners and distrust grows among them. Exactly what the extremists want.

  25. Boreas says:

    To get back to the subject, does anyone recall when the parking area at the Loj was expanded substantially? Where and how does that expansion fit into the graph posted here? Same with AMR/DEC parking.

    I would also like to see a superimposed line showing average routine Ranger patrolling hours over the years on the same trails! Before cell phones, once Pete Fish retired, I often felt less safe on his trails. If I fell in a spruce hole, it would have been a simple matter of staying alive until Pete tramped by.

    • Diane says:

      From over here in New Hampshire we all laugh at what you call parking in the Adirondacks. One of our smaller lots (Lincoln Woods) is kept “deliberately small in order to protect the especially sensitive nature of the area” by the Forest Service. IT HOLDS 160 CARS. You guys are over there wringing your hands over a 70 space parking lot wondering if it’s too big.

      • Boreas says:

        A major difference in the HPW is that many of our ROADS are situated poorly – often in “canyons”. With a river on one side and a steep mountain on the other, where does one site a 160 car lot? Many of the lots along these older “stagecoach” roads are about as big as they can be, and they serve a poorly routed trail that leads straight up a mountain. It does no good to increase the size of parking on a trail that cannot support the traffic. It is illogical to look at only one aspect of the problem in isolation from the other problems. The “big picture” is what needs to be evaluated and a modern, sustainable plan formed based on logic and science.

    • Zephyr says:

      I’m pretty sure there are less than 300 parking spots at the Loj. I have personally parked there when the lot was full then wondered where all the people are, not seeing hardly anyone for many miles. Happens all the time in the Adirondacks. Went to a lesser trail the other day and there were maybe 20 cars in the lot, but saw maybe 6 people while hiking for a couple of hours. Same thing on major summits. Once on the top of Giant in July we arrived and there was maybe 20 people, who all disappeared by the time we finished our lunch. Spent a good half hour after that by ourselves on the summit of Giant on a perfect day, yet when we got back down there were cars lined up and down the road. That shot everyone loves to use of lines of people headed up Cascade is really pretty unusual in the Daks.

      • Boreas says:

        Much of what you see is explained by the fact that Loj parking is for a hub serving many trails and activities that originate on their property. Shopping, information, Loj camping, Marcy Dam camping, interior camping, Loj visitors, birding, picnickers, etc. are also served by the lot. Perhaps only half of the lot serves HPW trunk trails at any given time. It would be interesting to know the actual usage data for various times of the year.

        • Zephyr says:

          Don’t know what the current situation is, but in the past the trail registers you sign into at most trails were very haphazardly collected (if at all) and I think even stored at the Adirondack Mountain Club. Not sure the DEC did anything with most of them. This makes any trail usage numbers from a decade or two ago completely suspect. They were not based on scientific numbers or actual trailhead counting. Probably the Van Hoevenberg trailhead at the Loj parking lot had some reasonable counting going on, but even there the numbers I have seen were suspiciously rounded off. Bottom line is that all Adirondack hiking numbers are mostly guesses.

  26. Travelin says:

    Applause

  27. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Travelin says: “And these are the folks fighting against parking lots. Progress dear friend. A parking lot isnt going to destroy the souls of your children.”

    >Progress too often turns into regress Travelin. There’s nothing with a mindset which errs on the side of caution! Especially regards things which we cannot replace!

    • Boreas says:

      I agree Charlie. It boils down to which “resources” to exploit, and which to preserve. Article 14 leans toward preservation, but perhaps it is time to face a statewide referendum. Art. 14 seems to be in the sights of DEC, APA, and Albany politicians. I think we need a strong statement from the taxpayers regarding which philosophy should be followed now and in the future. I hate to see Forever Wild dying a death of a thousand cuts

  28. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with a mindset which errs on the side of caution! ”

    I sit corrected! Yes, we pick and choose our flavors Boreas. Taxpayers! I don’t think we should wholly rely on them as too many of that lot are not up to the same standards as, say…tree-huggers, are.

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