Press Releases

Adirondack Council Lauds Online Reservations in High Peaks  

NYS & AMR Recognize Crisis, Act to Protect Wilderness, Public Safety, Communities 

Monday, March 29, 2021

ST. HUBERTS, N.Y. -- The Adirondack Council today praised an agreement between the state and the Adirondack Mountain Reserve/Ausable Club to provide fair and equal access to a busy corner of the popular High Peaks Wilderness Area via an online reservation system.

“This is a big leap forward for fair access to the High Peaks for everyone,” said Adirondack Council Communications Director John F. Sheehan. “Until now, people with homes inside the park and people with access to cars had a huge advantage over the rest of the state when it came to finding a parking space or campsite in the High Peaks. A system like this really levels the playing field.  It doesn’t cost anything, but it gives everyone an equal shot to get their own spot, even on a holiday weekend.  All you have to do is reserve a parking spot and go.” 

“This is an important step for diversity and inclusion on the Forest Preserve,” said Sheehan. “No matter where you live or how rich or poor you are, everyone with access to a smartphone, computer, or public library will have access to the most popular locations in the Adirondacks too. You don’t need to be an insider or have friends who can save a place for you. You don’t even need a car.” 

The agreement between the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) is a three-year pilot program.  AMR is a private reserve protected from clearcutting and development since 1887 as a result of a private conservation acquisition and owners who have provided public access to a section of the central High Peaks Wilderness Area since before the Adirondack Park was established via a series of trails that lead into the High Peaks from St. Hubert’s, just south of Keene Valley on Route 73.   

“We are also encouraged by the inclusion of additional money in all of the current budget proposals for additional care and preservation of the ‘forever wild’ Forest Preserve,” said Sheehan said. “We need many tools to correct the problems of overuse in the High Peaks Wilderness Area and other popular locations. We will need more rangers, more sustainable trails, improved parking, sanitary facilities and public education.  And in the most over-loved places, we will need reservation systems like the one AMR and DEC are taking for a test drive.” 

The reservation system will be operated by AMR and will facilitate safe public access to trailheads through the AMR gate and for Noonmark and Round mountains. It will improve visitors' trip planning and preparation by ensuring they have guaranteed parking upon arrival.  

The pilot includes expanded Leave-No-Trace education, AMR funded trailhead stewards to help Forest Rangers, and new trailhead infrastructure. The hiker pass, reservation system allows for growth in total use, but limits overuse on the busiest days when visitor safety is compromised, the wilderness resource capacity exceeded and the resource was most often damaged. 

The pilot reservation system was one of several recommendations of the State’s High Peaks Advisory Group final report, put together and supported by many stakeholders including Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack Council experts.  

State and local officials issued public statements in support of the agreement today.   

According to the DEC: 

“The pilot reservation system complements state and local efforts already underway to reduce dangerous and illegal parking in the vicinity of the AMR property, including variable electronic message boards and additional signage, bolstered social media outreach and education, and increased law enforcement presence and parking enforcement. In recent years pedestrian traffic, illegal parking, and roadside stopping along Route 73 have created a dangerous environment for hikers and motorists alike.” 

Beginning May 1, and through Oct. 31, 2021 

DEC and AMR will require reservations for the 70 available parking spots at the AMR parking lot for daily access to trails on AMR property, as well as the Round Mountain and Noonmark Mountain trailheads accessed through AMR lands.  

Walk-in users without a reservation will not be permitted. Those arriving to Keene Valley via Greyhound or Trailways bus lines may access with a valid bus ticket from within 24 hours of arrival. Those arriving by bus must check-in at the AMR hiker parking lot. The AMR parking lot is only accessible between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, with the exception of overnight parking. 

Advance reservations are required and can be made two weeks in advance.  

Visitors can make reservations for day or overnight use, including overnight parking.  

It is not necessary to have a vehicle to make a reservation to hike. Those being dropped off and those arriving by bicycle must check-in at the AMR hiker parking Lot and produce a valid reservation. All bicycles must be left at the hiker parking lot where a bike rack will be provided and portable restrooms will be available at the parking lot for visitor use.  

Visitors can begin registering at the new Hiker Reservation web portal, hikeamr.org, which will go live on April 15, with reservations beginning May 1. 

In an effort to keep the area safe, clean, and enjoyable for all users, parking is limited at other popular trailheads along the Route 73 corridor. Visitors should come prepared with back-up plans in case trailhead parking lots are full: 

Parking: Roadside parking on Route 73 in the vicinity of AMR is dangerous and illegal. Visitors should park only in designated lots and adhere to posted parking restrictions. Illegally parked vehicles will be ticketed and potentially towed at the owner's expense; and    

Leave No Trace: Hikers should follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace™, and carry out what they carry in, including all gear, garbage, and food scraps. In addition, hikers should use designated toilets when available and always dispose of waste properly. 

Other restrictions for recreation on the AMR Conservation Easement continue to apply. These include: 

  • Bicycles are not allowed past the parking area; 
  • Hikers must stay on marked hiking trails; 
  • Dogs are not allowed on the property; 
  • Hunting, trapping, and fishing are prohibited; 
  • The public is not allowed to enter on the shores, swim, or boat on any and all lakes, streams, or rivers, or cross the frozen lakes in winter; 
  • Entering buildings is prohibited; and 
  • Visit the Adirondack Mountain Reserve Conservation Easement Tract page on DEC's website for a full list of rules and regulations. 

The reservation system also complements recommendations included in the High Peaks Advisory Group's final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Council was represented on the panel.  

“We are very excited to see this program getting underway,” Sheehan said. “We hope it will be a rousing success, embraced by all who really want to preserve Adirondack Wilderness for current and future generations, and something the DEC will want to learn from and spread to select other popular Forest Preserve locations soon.” 

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, and vibrant communities.   

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

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