The crowds ascended the High Peaks as usual on the 2018 hiking season’s last big weekend, but the scenes at different trailheads along Route 73 showed contrasting visions for the area’s future.
Near the trails to Giant Mountain on Columbus Day weekend, hikers parked bumper-to-bumper and then squeezed themselves between the white lines and moving traffic to reach the paths.
At Cascade, easiest of the High Peaks to climb, no one parked and few walked the road. Rangers had placed orange barrels blocking access to all vehicles but a state shuttle that delivered some 1,300 hikers who had parked at Mount Van Hoevenberg. About 300 people hiked a new Van Ho trail instead, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Caroline Hyneman stuck to her Cascade plan after arriving from Ithaca and seeing the trailhead blocked. She waited fifteen minutes for the shuttle, then rode it five minutes to the trailhead. No complaints.
“I get why it’s obviously safer to do it this way with all these other people,” she said after finding her car among about 150 others at the Van Ho lot.
Farther east, around Roaring Brook Falls and the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, rangers issued 27 parking tickets over four days.
Many more people parked legally—if tightly—on the shoulders around Giant. Thomas Kasprzcki and his partner drove from Montreal at dawn and endured a 1 ½-hour border crossing on what was also Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Cramped parking wouldn’t deny him Giant.
“You have to leave early, for sure,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re happy.”
DEC will consider extending shuttles or other alternatives elsewhere, Regional Director Bob Stegemann said. “We want people to have an experience that’s wilderness-like,” he said, “not New York City Fifth Avenue-like.”