Anyone who takes Exit 30 off the Northway and heads west, traveling through the High Peaks region, has noticed, especially on summer weekends, that the crowding along the sides of the roads has gotten extreme. Hikers park on the shoulders near trailheads and sometimes a line of dozens of cars runs alongside the road. The problem is, the shoulders are narrow along Route 73 as it twists through the mountains, and the driving is already tricky, with cliffs close to one side of the road and woods or lakes on the other.
This weekend could be especially bad, because of the Columbus Day holiday, so the state Department of Environmental Conservation has closed the roadside trailhead to Cascade Mountain, one of the easiest and most popular High Peaks hikes, for Friday through Monday.
Pull-offs along Route 73 will be closed for the long weekend and roadside parking will be banned. A temporary trailhead is being set up at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg sports complex, which is where the Olympic bobsled and luge tracks are located, east of Lake Placid on Route 73. The complex has lots of parking. Hikers seeking to climb Cascade, Porter or Pitchoff (West) mountains can park at the complex and start the climbs there.
The sports complex has bathroom facilities and a food and drink concession, which the roadside trailhead lacks. The new trailhead will make the hikes longer, however. The round-trip to the summit of Cascade and back, for instance, will be 8.6 miles, while the round-trip from the roadside trailhead is 4.8 miles.
DEC also took the opportunity to warn hikers to 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 and plenty of water and snacks whenever going into the woods.