By BEN WESTCOTT
Columbus Day weekend visitors to the Adirondacks will encounter a reduced speed limit meant to improve safety near trailheads in the High Peaks.
The holiday, which coincides with Canadian Thanksgiving and fall foliage season, traditionally sees a lot of traffic. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation, in coordination with the Department of Transportation, will for the third consecutive year reduce speed limits from 55 mph to 45 mph on select stretches of highway.
“We are proud to be a partner in this effort to help New Yorkers take advantage of the state’s wonderful hiking opportunities and have an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend,” Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said in a news release.
The reduced speed limits will be enforced on Route 73 on stretches of road near Roaring Brook Falls, Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain trailheads, and on Route 3 near the Ampersand Mountain trailhead. Electronic messaging boards will be used to inform motorists of the lower speed limits and to remind them to be aware of hikers walking along and across state highways.
As an added precaution, DEC forest rangers and environmental conservation officers will increase their on-duty personnel to enforce speed limits, parking infractions and other traffic laws. Additional rangers will be positioned at trailheads and other locations during the holiday weekend.
DEC also hopes to help hikers find parking arrangements. In the expectation of parking lots at the Adirondack Loj trailhead becoming full early in the day, the department will place a messaging board at the start of that road to inform motorists when the lot is no longer available.
The DEC will also encourage hikers to use alternative trails to divert foot traffic from High Peaks trails that have historically been the most popular during this holiday. According to a press release, these alternative trails feature “great scenic views, but with fewer people.” The alternative hikes include trails on Little Crow and Big Crow mountains, Bear Den Mountain and Rocky Peak Ridge, among several others.
The department will place information kiosks near Exit 30 of the Northway, at the Marcy Field Parking Lot, and at the temporary trailhead parking lot at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex. The latter two kiosks have both English and French versions.
The trail to the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg will be open for the holiday weekend despite ongoing construction work at the Olympic site. The trail, which was created last year, has been rerouted to avoid the construction.