Editor’s note: This is where we’re updating information, on an ongoing basis, about the Adirondack Mountain Reserve permit system and other news related to High Peaks use.
March 25: More permit questions answered
Our reporter Gwendolyn Craig received some answers to some additional questions that came from this week’s announcement of the return of the AMR permit system.
DEC and AMR are waiting to assess the potential impacts of the opening of Canadian border crossings prior to proposing changes to the program. Last year was a great start, but probably not a true indication of what we’ll see when we get back closer to traditional peak demand, much of which comes from Canada.
AMR and DEC made changes last year throughout the inaugural season to reduce no-shows and we look forward to seeing how this season goes with a full implementation of those changes prior to considering opening up same-day reservations. We will evaluate the effectiveness of these changes in improving no-show rates and simultaneously, will continue to listen to users and the community and consider additional options and adapt as necessary.
While we don’t have scientific data at this point, anecdotally we received feedback from many people directly and on social media that out-of-state hikers and people who live farther away felt they had better access to the peaks through the AMR gate and having a parking spot reserved.
For planning in advance, the hiking public that does not have internet access can always go to a local public library to access the internet. Another option is to send a letter to Adirondack Mountain Reserve, Attention: Hiker Safety, 137 Ausable Road, Keene Valley, NY 12943 and we will grant them access. The letter must be received prior to your arrival. It may be best to send with tracking information.
Part of the reason we implemented the parking reservation system is to alleviate traffic and public safety issues in the Route 73 corridor. To ensure it is inclusive to hikers not traveling by car, the program is open to those who may have traveled by bus or other means. If we allowed for everyone to just drop off hikers, it wouldn’t do much to address traffic in that you’d have people backed up trying to get into and out of Ausable Road. That would defeat the purpose of the parking reservation system in the first place. It includes those being dropped off who may have traveled to the region via bus, etc.
DEC partnered with SUNY ESF to assess visitor experience, recreational interests, and other factors. Data from last year is being finalized and additional information will be collected this year. Results will be shared once the study is completed.
March 22: Year 2 to begin May 1
A reservation system tested last year at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve in Keene will resume May 1 with no changes, state officials announced today.
Those wishing to hike on the AMR’s 27 miles of trails and pathways to popular High Peaks-area destinations May 1 onward will need an online account at hikeamr.org to reserve one of 70 daily spots.
Sept. 30: By the numbers
The Adirondack Mountain Reserve, a gateway to a number of High Peaks and other popular hiking destinations, started its reservation system in May. It will continue through the end of October.
Here’s a look at the numbers so far this first season:
As of Sept. 23, 13,360 reservations had been made, a combination of initial reservations and new reservations made after the 3,188 online cancellations. That number does not necessarily mean that many people walked through the reserve’s gates, as up to eight people can be tied to one reservation and some reservations are “no shows.”
Also since Sept. 23, 17,600 people had signed up for an account on the reservation website, with the Adirondack Mountain Reserve expecting even more, from new users looking to see autumn foliage.
What’s not known: How many people were turned away at the gate, for arriving without a permit.
June 22: Shuttle back on
The state had previously decided to hold off until next year because of parking and safety concerns along Route 73, but now has decided to go forward with one bus instead.
The plan is for hikers to reach trailheads for popular climbs such as Rooster Comb and Giant Mountain by boarding a bus running from Marcy Field to the intersection of state Routes 9 and 73, commonly known as Malfunction Junction.
June 19: Joint statement regarding Keene hiker shuttle
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Shaun Gillilland, and Keene Town Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson have issued the following joint statement:
“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Essex County, and the Town of Keene are working together to implement a shuttle pilot system this summer that will explore how shuttles may help manage sustainable visitation along the Route 73 corridor and in the High Peaks. Using the recently completed Volpe study to help guide our planning efforts, we are closely collaborating to develop an effective, safe, and enjoyable system that benefits High Peaks communities and visitors.”
It’s unclear in the release whether this announcement means the county will bring back plans to start using their buses or whether they are referring to the 15-passenger vans used in the past. We’re following up for more information.
— Melissa Hart
June 11: AMR, DEC announce adjustments to reservation system
In a press release today, the Adirondack Mountain Reserve and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation announced a series of updates “in response to feedback from the hiker community.”
Most notable: AMR installed an electronic, automatic gate on Monday, which allows hikers a way out if they return to their vehicles after the parking lot has closed.
According to the release, other updates include:
- Reducing the reservation system closing time from 24 hours to 12 hours in advance. This means that if there are open spots on a Saturday morning at 7 a.m., users will be able to reserve them as late as 7 p.m. on Friday. Previously that window would close on Friday morning at 7 a.m.;
- Moving the start of the rolling two week opening of future dates from midnight to noon;
- Enabling the reservation to send reservation confirmation/cancellation request emails out automatically 48 hours in advance; and
- Changing the countdown timer on future reservations/dates to “blue” highlighted against the “red” time slots on dates that are not available.
— Melissa Hart, Explorer digital editor
June 7: Testing out the system
Writing in our sister site, the Adirondack Almanack, Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, tried out the system and documents his experience.
May 17: Shuttles shelved for now
Essex County has pulled the plug on hiker shuttles that were planned to start this summer.
At Essex County’s weekly Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, Supervisor Shaun Gillilland said the state is “kiboshing the shuttles” because, while the four buses are at the ready, a plan for safely picking up and dropping off hikers and turning around on a busy State Route 73 is not.
Along with heavy seasonal traffic, major road work is planned on the highway this summer, which further complicates things.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation provided a written statement confirming that it will work with the local governments to create a shuttle system with restroom and parking in 2022 to “play a critical role in helping to manage sustainable visitation in the High Peaks.”
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May 11: Keene residents question DEC
Less than a week after some of the parking stakes, aka delineators, on State Route 73 were damaged and repaired, Keene residents and officials had a chance to address the parking issues with NYS DEC Deputy Commissioner Katie Petronis, Adirondack Mountain Reserve General Manager John Schuler, and other leaders at a meeting last night. – Melissa Hart
May 8: Parking stakes damaged, then repaired
Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson confirm yesterday that someone had damaged the metal stakes at one of the parking pull-offs on Route 73, and have now been repaired by NYS Department of Transportation. Tim Rowland looked into the situation and has the story here. – Melissa Hart
May 6: Permit users weigh in on the reservation system
Multimedia reporter Mike Lynch paid a visit to AMR on Sunday and spoke with some of the people who were there to hike that day.
May 5: Keene residents meet to discuss upcoming summer
From the story by Tim Rowland: “In the calm before the summer storm of hikers, residents of the Town of Keene gathered at the community pavilion on a chilly Tuesday evening wishing for silver bullets but settling for silver linings as they discussed ways to battle the madding crowds to at least a draw.”
May 2: Light first day for AMR hiker reservation system
Our editor, Brandon Loomis, scoped out the first day of Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s permit system and had this to report:
“Hikers who tested the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s hiking reservation system on its first day arrived to a mostly empty parking lot and a brilliantly sunny day on the trails.
State and club officials said all 70 permits slotted for Saturday had been reserved online, but a late-season snowstorm on Friday may have altered some hikers’ High Peaks plans. The lot, near the southeast end of Ausable Road in St. Huberts, held fewer than 20 vehicles by mid-afternoon.”
— Melissa Hart
April 29: Roadwork planned for Route 73
After last week’s news about parking closures, we’ve caught wind that NYS Department of Transportation is planning to replace guardrails on a 15-mile stretch of Route 73 this summer.
— Melissa Hart
April 21: Route 73 parking closures
We received confirmation that the steps to block access to two pull-outs on Route 73 were taken as part of the state’s efforts to crack down on illegal parking and to reduce the number of people walking along the road to reach trails in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve and Giant Mountain Wilderness. — Melissa Hart
April 20: Route 73 parking
We’re pursuing a story right now about the pull-outs/parking areas along Route 73 being closed off between the Beer Walls parking and Roaring Brook Falls trailhead. It’s not certain if this is related to the AMR permit system, but stay tuned for more information. — Melissa Hart
April 19: Increase in party size, overnight reservations, other updates
- The maximum party size included in a single vehicle reservation has increased from six to eight people total. However, vehicles that carry up to 15 people can park in the lot, as long as there are multiple reservations for that vehicle.
- There’s the ability for overnight users to reserve a parking spot for up to three nights.
- DEC and AMR are still working out the logistics for people who come back after the lot closes at 7 p.m., writing that “accommodation for vehicle access may be made for overdue hikers or other emergencies.”
- For the start of this pilot system, reservations will be available from May 1 to May 22.
- On May 7 and thereafter, reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance of the date of reservation, up to 24 hours before. Day of reservations are not available.
— Melissa Hart
April 15: FAQs update
The AMR has an updated FAQ list on its website. One question of mine was answered: if you arrive to the AMR via another route, like the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail, you will not need a reservation. Go to https://www.hikeamr.org/ for more info and to make a profile for registering. — Gwendolyn Craig
March 31: Your questions answered
The initial announcement raised many questions, some of which have now been answered by both DEC and AMR. Explorer reporter Gwendolyn Craig wrote an overview. READ MORE
March 29: AMR permits announced
Parking in AMR’s 70-spot lot near Keene Valley will require a reservation May 1 through Oct. 31. Hikers, whether parking a vehicle, getting dropped off or arriving on a bicycle, will need to make one of the reservations, according to a joint news release from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the AMR.
Sept. 4, 2020: Permits are coming
Ausable Club President Roland Morris told Adirondack Explorer that after years of collecting visitor data, the club would test out hiking limits in 2021.
“It’s forever wild and we need to protect the hiker experience; we need to protect the resource,” Morris said. “These are important for the current hiking public and for generations to come, and we’ve reached a point where at least in the AMR’s case we are seriously degrading the resource.” READ THE FULL STORY
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