How bad has the overcrowding problem gotten on some High Peaks trails and trailheads?

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has decided to relocate trailheads for three popular hikes in the High Peaks region, for Cascade, Porter and Pitchoff West mountains, for Columbus Day weekend.

Columbus Day weekend has become a big weekend for hiking, with the heat of summer generally gone, the cold weather yet to arrive and fall foliage at or near peak.

There are thousands of places where you can go in the Adirondacks for challenging hikes with far smaller crowds than the High Peaks. Check the DEC web pages for Pharoah Lake Wilderness, Siamese Pond wilderness not too far from Glens Falls, or other hiking options at cnyhiking.com.

Below is the DEC news release that explains what temporary changes are being made up north next week.

-- Don Lehman

DEC to Temporarily Relocate Trailheads for Cascade, Porter and Pitchoff (West) Mountains During Busy Columbus Day Weekend

Temporary Trailhead to be Located at ORDA's Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex To Ensure Public Safety, State Route 73 Pull-offs will be Closed and Roadside Parking Prohibited during Holiday Weekend

In an effort to ensure public safety with increased traffic anticipated during the Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving Day Holiday Weekend, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will temporarily relocate the trailhead and trailhead parking for Cascade Mountain, Porter Mountain, and the Pitchoff Mountain West to the Olympic Regional Development Authority's Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex, 1.3 miles west of the current trailhead. Please see the map (PDF) for trail reroutes.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC is committed to ensuring New Yorkers and visitors alike have safe access to our state's world-class natural areas, and during busy holiday weekends we must take steps to ensure public safety. By offering an easily accessible parking area with connections to current trails, this temporary trailhead relocation will help ensure all interested hikers can safely enjoy the opportunities this area has to offer."

Beginning at dusk on Thursday, October 5, through dusk on Monday, October 9, the pull-offs along State Route 73 near the current trailhead will be closed to parking, and roadside parking in the area will be prohibited. New York State Police and the Essex County Sheriff's Department will enforce the parking prohibition during this temporary closure.

Roby Politi, Supervisor, Town of N. Elba said, "The Cascade Mt. trailhead is presently a parking hazard and nightmare. I'm pleased DEC is taking action to address this public safety need by relocating the trailhead to the Mt. Van Hoevenburg Sports Complex."

New York State Police Troop B Commander Major John Tibbitts cautions the public about observing the parking ban: "The New York State Police will be patrolling the area to ensure motorists are obeying the parking restrictions. Those who are not in compliance may be ticketed or their vehicles may be towed."

Hikers planning to climb the summit of Cascade or Porter mountains can park in parking lots at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex at no cost. Volunteer stewards will direct hikers to a 2.0-mile marked route on the complex's cross-country ski trail system. The ski trails are smooth and gently roll through the forest making for an easy hike. The route links to a newly constructed 0.4-mile connector trail between the ski trail and the Cascade Mountain Trail. The connector trail joins the Cascade Mountain Trail approximately 0.6 mile from the current trailhead. A roundtrip hike to the summit of Cascade Mountain will be 8.6 miles long, an addition of 3.8 miles to the round trip from the current trailhead.

Hikers seeking to climb the summit of Pitchoff Mountain will start on the same route across the complex's cross-country ski trail system. After 1.7 miles, the route to Pitchoff Mountain leaves the ski trail and traverses 0.3 mile across a private driveway to State Route 73. Hikers will then walk 0.15 mile and cross State Route 73 to the current trailhead for the Pitchoff Mountain Trail. A roundtrip hike to the summit of Pitchoff Mountain will be 8.4 miles long, an addition of 4.4 miles to the round trip from the current trailhead.

Mike Pratt, President, ORDA said, "ORDA welcomes hikers to the relocated trailhead at Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex and encourages their use of facilities present there."

In addition to a safer place to park, Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex located at 220 Bobsled Lane, Lake Placid, NY, will provide hikers with other amenities not available at the current trailhead, including bathrooms and food and drink. The concession at the Cross Country Lodge is open 11:00 am to 4:30 pm daily. Visitors can also enjoy bobsled ride, mountain biking, or a bus tour of the complex.

Hikers will also be able to hike 3.2 miles round trip through the Sports Complex up Mt. Van Hoevenberg. The trail ascends 840 feet from the parking area to the summit which provides amazing views of the High Peaks Wilderness and its many mountains.

Hikers seeking shorter hikes can check Hikes Outside the High Peaks on the DEC website for hikes that will provide a similar experience and scenic views.

Hikers are encouraged to be prepared for these and all hikes by:

• Wear hiking shoes or boots

• Dress in layers of non-cotton clothing

• Carry a map and compass and know how to use them

• Carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries

• Carry plenty of water and snacks

See the DEC Hiking Safety web page for more information.

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reporter

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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