On Tuesday, July 5, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Essex County, town of Keene, and Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) announced the Route 73 shuttle system launched in 2021 will return on Saturday, July 9. The shuttle system helps manage safe, sustainable visitation along the busy Route 73 corridor in the Adirondack High Peaks region. The free shuttle system will operate on weekends and holidays through Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. New this year, additional runs on select weekends in August and October will be piloted from Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson.
“The Route 73 hiker shuttle provides a valuable resource to visitors of the High Peaks region, allowing safe access to preferred trails while helping to mitigate public safety and environmental concerns related to crowded roadside parking,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “This shuttle system is another excellent example of visitor use management actions that benefit visitors, local communities, and our natural resources. I appreciate our partners in the town of Keene, Essex County, and ROOST who worked with us to develop and implement the service again this year.”
“Essex County is excited to commence year two of the DEC-Essex County-Town of Keene hiker shuttle partnership,” said Shaun Gillilland, Chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. “This is a pioneering collaboration to deliver the magnificence of our State’s beauty and natural resources to all New Yorkers in a way that is safe, fun, and minimizes the impacts to our environment. Great things continue to happen in Essex County.”
“The busy hiking season has started and access to the High Peaks is critical to protect,” said Joe Pete Wilson, Supervisor of the town of Keene. “The Route 73 Shuttle is an effective means to provide safe parking and a tool for educating hikers, and at the town of Keene we are happy to see this partnership between the state and county resume operations for the hiking season. Ride the shuttle and reduce the parking crunch.”
“We are excited to promote the shuttle to community members and the traveler,” said Mary Jane Lawrence, ROOST Chief Operating Officer. “Not only will it help with parking, it will also reduce the carbon footprint of the additional cars driving to and from trail heads. We greatly appreciate the collaboration with the town of Keene, Essex County and the DEC.”
The shuttle system was launched in 2021 in response to persistent public safety concerns regarding parking along the busy Route 73 corridor. A public shuttle from Marcy Field, which has safe and ample parking, increases the ability of more visitors to reach their desired hike while limiting illegal and unsafe parking along Route 73. The shuttle service is funded with up to $2 million from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).
The primary shuttle route will start and end at the Marcy Field parking area, making stops to pick up and drop off riders at three popular trailheads along Route 73. The shuttle will stop at the Rooster Comb trailhead going eastbound, turn around at the intersection with Route 9, and drop off at the Giant Mountain Ridge Trail, Roaring Brook Falls, and Rooster Comb trailheads on the westbound return to Marcy Field. Town of Keene and DEC stewards will be stationed at Marcy Field to help hikers navigate the shuttle system and educate visitors about responsible recreation, including preparedness, hiking safety, and Leave No Trace™ principles. A route map and shuttle schedule are available on the DEC website.
Check out this story by Adirondack Explorer reporter Mike Lynch about the hiker shuttles operating in the High Peaks.
The shuttle will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays through Oct. 10, 2022. The final loop providing return trips to Marcy Field will begin at approximately 6 p.m. There is no cost associated with riding the shuttle and no fee for parking at Marcy Field. One bus, which will accommodate up to 20 riders, is currently scheduled to operate. Boarding is available on a first-come first-served basis. Per New York State Department of Health direction, riders on public transportation are required to wear a mask, including vaccinated individuals. Riders are expected to provide their own masks. Pets are not allowed on the shuttle; certified service animals will be permitted.
This year, DEC and its partners will pilot two additional shuttles from the Frontier Town Gateway, often referred to as the ‘A-frame,’ in North Hudson. An overnight shuttle program for visitors seeking multi-day experiences in the High Peaks will be piloted in August. Visitors can board the shuttle on Monday, Aug. 8, and Monday, Aug. 15, at the Frontier Town Gateway to be dropped off at the Adirondak Loj in North Elba. The shuttle will then pick up riders at the Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb on subsequent Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, allowing visitors to hike and camp for up to four days and three nights in the High Peaks Wilderness. To help accommodate visitors seeking fall foliage hikes and views during the first two weekends in October, additional runs will be offered from Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson to the Rooster Comb, Giant Mountain, and Roaring Brook Falls trailheads and Marcy Field. More details on both offerings will be available soon.
The Route 73 Hiker Shuttle system complements a long-standing service provided by the town of Keene that offers transportation to and from the town-owned Garden Trailhead from the Marcy Field parking area. The town shuttle will continue to run in conjunction with the Route 73 shuttle system which started on Saturday, July 2. The town shuttle runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays when the Garden parking lot is full. Also supported by the EPF, the town of Keene shuttle is free of charge. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are permitted on the town shuttle.
The shuttle system was among the recommendations in the High Peaks Advisory Group’s (HPAG) final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack Park. Comprised of stakeholders with expertise in local government, recreation, natural resource protection, business, and tourism. In 2019, HPAG was tasked with providing DEC with recommendations on how to address critical issues associated with increased public use of High Peaks resources in order to protect these areas in the short and long term, as well as for future generations. Visit the DEC website to read the report.
Earlier this season, DEC announced numerous initiatives planned for the 2022 outdoor recreation season to protect public safety and promote sustainable recreation in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. For more information, go to DEC’s website.
New Yorkers are encouraged to Love Our New York Lands at all natural spaces. Love Our New York Lands this summer and fall by recreating sustainably, visiting trails less traveled, always practicing Leave No TraceTM, and giving back through volunteer work and stewardship.
Photo at top: The town of Keene shuttle at Marcy Field in 2019. Photo by Adirondack Explorer reporter Mike Lynch.
What a waste. If you want people to actually ride it, it needs to run at least 5am to Midnight at minimum. No one wants to hike all day with a deadline in their head to be able to get back to their car. There are many standard routes in the area that take people 14+ hours.
It’s only weekends and holidays anyway. They certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Staffing may currently be an issue if trying to run two shifts of drivers – especially until they know what the demand will be on early/late hours.
Yeah but they aren’t going to discover what the demand is until they give a product that people want to use. They’ll run this all summer and be like “huh, no one wants to use a shuttle”. Well duh. Never mind the fact that they only stop at state lots and not the Loj or AMR. We will never know if hikers want to use or not if we give limited options and limited hours.
Who’s going to use this? Maybe out of town visitors who just want to go up Roostercomb or Giant Nubble? The regular hiking crowd isn’t going to use this. And to accomplish this they are taking away parking spaces to have a dedicated shuttle drop-off at places like the Roostercomb parking lot where we already don’t have enough parking for things like the GRT.