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Pilot parking reservation system to resume near some Adirondack High Peaks trails

View of Adirondacks from Lake Placid
Pat Bradley/WAMC
View of the Adirondacks from Lake Placid

On May 1st, 2021, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, working with the Adirondack Mountain Reserve/Ausable Club, launched a pilot program requiring reservations for parking at the club’s parking lots, a popular access point for hikers heading to the Adirondack High Peaks. The reservation system resumes on Sunday.

The Adirondack Mountain Reserve/Ausable Club is a 7,000-acre private club near the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness area. An easement allows public access to specific Forest Preserve trailheads. Reservations for parking are required at the Reserve’s parking lots along Route 73.

The pilot first ran between May 1st and October 31st, 2021. Adirondack Mountain Reserve General Manager John Schuler says it was implemented with three goals.

“One it was safety along the Route 73 corridor. Two it was to provide fair and equitable access to parking. And three it was to help preserve the Adirondack Mountain Reserve as private lands as well as public lands for future generations to come. And not only was it to preserve the lands but also to preserve the experience that one has when they hike in nature. And all of those three objectives of the pilot were easily met.”

Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Shaun Gilliland says the first phase was mostly successful although he says there were growing pains.

“People showing up and not knowing anecdotally I heard. There were also some coordination issues with the parking lot and our shuttle, hikers coming up and visitors that didn't really understand if there was a relationship between the AMR parking and the reservations and the hiker shuttle. By the end of the season I think those questions probably got worked out. You know yes I say in the end it was a success but I think there’s going to be more growing pains as we institute a number of these High Peaks congestion measures such as the shuttle, the front country stewards and the reservation system.”

Gilliland says the pilot is vitally important and more information is needed to determine the reservation system’s effectiveness.

“I just don’t think after just one year, partial year last year, that we really have enough data. How many hikers, where they are going, what they were doing, you know, who took advantage of the reservation system and the shuttles. At least on the shuttle side we did learn that we need to get the word out more. We need to plan earlier. It showed where we really needed to go to work. The Town of Keene and the county and the county transportation have been working closely with DEC and DOT on trying to get the second year going and taking a look at areas that we might pilot any other routes as well.”

As the new season launches Schuler says there are no longer what’s called rolling closes in the reservation system.

“We’re trying to make it so that more people have access if people cancel and things such as that and to try to meet that spontaneity factor that there was some concern about.”

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