Hikers walk along Ausable Road on the way to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve trailhead. Photo by Mike Lynch
Access to some Adirondack Park trails were restricted this year, as hinted in the fall of 2020.
The Adirondack Mountain Reserve, a popular gateway to about a dozen High Peaks in Keene, piloted a free online reservation system from May through October. The 7,000 acres privately owned by members of the Ausable Club allows for public access through a foot-traffic easement.
The AMR and state Department of Environmental Conservation said the reservation system was meant for public safety. People often parked along Route 73 in Keene, and officials worried about accidents.
Billed as a test-program to manage parking, drivers and hikers getting dropped off or riding their bikes to the AMR all needed a reservation. The state and AMR made updates to the pilot throughout the year, including the installation of a one-way automatic gate for hikers getting back to their cars late.
Feedback has been mixed. Some users said they’d like to see same-day reservations. Others enjoyed not having to jostle for a parking spot. (The debate has been raging on our community forum, the Adirondack Almanack.) The state and AMR will test the system for at least another two years.
Steel posts were erected near the Roaring Brook Falls trailhead to prevent hikers from parking on the shoulder of Route 73. Photo by Phil Brown
In addition to the reservation system, hikers and climbers had to navigate metal stakes the state Department of Transportation installed at highway pull-offs. The barriers frustrated outdoors enthusiasts caught by surprise when blocked from parking at their traditional stops. Some stakes were vandalized.
The Adirondack Explorer will continue covering the reservations and parking changes to the High Peaks in 2022.
— Gwendolyn Craig