State to offer hiking shuttle for Columbus Day weekend

Hikers at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Columbus Day weekend last fall. Photo by Mike Lynch

Cascade and Pitchoff Mountain Trailheads Closed to Parking Oct. 4 – 8


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) today announced plans for managing use associated with the popular Cascade Mountain Trail this Columbus Day holiday weekend. These actions are part of DEC’s multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.

“DEC wants to ensure the safety of hikers and drivers this Columbus Day weekend,” said DEC Regional Director Bob Stegemann. “This plan provides for hiking opportunities while protecting the public and the sensitive alpine vegetation on the summit of Cascade Mountain. We appreciate the collaborative efforts of our partners for bringing this to fruition, including ORDA, the State Department of Transportation, State Police, 46ers Trailhead Stewards, and the Summit Stewards.”

“This program was extremely successful last year,” said ORDA President/CEO Mike Pratt. “As many as 600 hundred people came through the complex and we expect more this year. We’re excited to bring people to the Complex and provide access to the trails on Cascade, Pitchoff, and Mt. Van Hoevenberg Mountains. Visitors can enjoy the incredible views from the mountains and the many amenities we have here.”

The trailhead parking lots and the shoulders of State Route 73 in the vicinity of the Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain Trailhead will be closed to public parking beginning in the late afternoon on Thursday, October 4, through Columbus Day. Hikers will be directed to the Cross Country Parking Lot at ORDA’s Olympic Sports Complex beginning Friday morning and throughout the holiday weekend. From the parking lot visitors can take the Cascade Mountain Trailhead, hike the trail up Mt. Van Hoevenberg, or enjoy the amenities at the Olympic Sports Complex.

The hike to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg from the Cross Country Parking Lot is a four-mile round trip, including a 920-foot climb to the 2,940-foot elevation summit of the mountain. The view of the Adirondack High Peaks from the summit is comparable to or exceeds the view from the summit of Cascade Mountain.

Shuttles to the Cascade trailhead will be leaving from the parking lot on the half-hour, beginning at 7 a.m. each day to transport hikers to the trailhead. Shuttles will transport hikers from the trailhead back to the parking lot until 7 p.m. The last shuttle to carry hikers to the Cascade Mountain Trailhead will leave the parking lot at 3 p.m. After this time, the shuttles will only be transporting hikers from the trailhead back to the parking lot, ensuring hikers have enough time to reach the summit of Cascade Mountain and return to the trailhead before 7 p.m.

The combination of the capacity and schedule of the shuttles will ensure that approximately no more than 400 people will visit the Cascade Mountain Trail each day, providing a higher quality experience for hikers and protecting sensitive alpine vegetation on the summit.

Hikers and other visitors may also enjoy the Olympic Sports Complex, including mountain biking, paintball biathlon, and a tour of its famed sliding tracks. Snacks, beverages, and last-minute hiking supplies will also be available to hikers before they head out to the trails up Cascade Mountain, Pitchoff Mountain, or Van Hoevenberg Mountain. Hikers should also be aware that only the shuttles will be allowed to drop off and pick up people at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead. Other vehicles are not allowed to enter the trailhead area. While overnight parking is prohibited at the Olympic Sports Complex, the entrance gate will remain open until the last vehicle exits the complex.

Volunteer Trailhead Stewards from the 46ers, operating under a DEC Volunteer Stewardship Agreement, will be at the Cross Country Parking Lot to provide information about the recreational opportunities available, ensure hikers are properly prepared, and educate hikers on trail etiquette and Leave No Trace principles for sustainable recreation. High Peaks Summit Stewards will be present on the summit of Cascade Mountain to provide information on the sensitive and rare alpine vegetation and how hikers can protect it. The High Peaks Summit Steward program, which is supported by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, is a partnership between DEC, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and The Nature Conservancy.

DEC also is informing hikers that parking at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead will fill early each day during the holiday weekend. A variable messaging board at the beginning of the Adirondak Loj Road will inform hikers when parking is no longer available and recommend alternate places to hike.

About Adirondack Explorer

The Adirondack Explorer is a nonprofit magazine covering the Adirondack Park's environment, recreation and communities.

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