Starting Friday, the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation will prohibit parking on the shoulders of both lanes of Route 73 near the Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead in the Adirondacks.
Route 73 is the main road between the Adirondack Northway and Lake Placid for travelers from the south and the gateway to the Adirondack High Peaks. The route includes a number of trailheads and one of the most popular leads to Roaring Brook Falls, a 325-foot cascade that’s a short hike from the road. Often the small parking lot is overrun, and people wind up parking on the shoulders of the adjacent two-lane highway. Town of Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson says the DEC crackdown on shoulder parking is a direct response to safety concerns. “That area where it’s congested there’s a steep hill coming down into a busy parking area. You know this is still the highway that brings our food and fuel and school buses everything in and out of our town. So this is a response to the safety concerns that lots of people are recognizing.”
Wilson adds that the DEC’s action is also a first step toward better management of the Route 73 corridor. “This is the first step in that bigger more comprehensive plan of how do we welcome visitors here so that they can have a good experience. You know how do we do that comprehensively and then really develop a template that’ll work in other crowded areas? This is just a step in that bigger plan of how do we keep the visitors coming but give them a better experience.”
Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth agrees the change is necessary to address public safety concerns. “This is a real serious effort by DEC to change the way that the Route 73 corridor has been managed for many decades. And I applaud DEC because if they were going to try to protect the public and also protect the mountain resource they needed to take these steps. And it’s the same as taking the step to close the dangerous parking places in the vicinity of Cascade Mountain.”
There is an effort to redirect visitors away from the High Peaks because of overuse. The Adirondack Council in May released a survey of parking in the High Peaks region. In the Route 73 corridor between Route 9 and the hamlet of Keene Valley, it showed nearly 400 more cars were parked than there were available spaces. Council Spokesman John Sheehan says prohibiting parking helps safety and prevents overuse of the backcountry. “If parking is restricted you’d limit the total number of people who can get into the backcountry from that access point. There aren’t an awful lot of other options. So people would almost by necessity have to choose a less crowded location to go to and as long as there’s information to make sure that people know how to get to that less crowded place we’re unlikely to lose any tourism business for the local economy.”
The state DOT will install no parking signs on Friday. The DEC has posted information on alternative hikes in the area.