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Old 08-13-2020, 12:33 PM   #1
LouTheMeXiKaN
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Parking This Weekend

Hello!

I'm from New York City but I've been hiking the 'dacks since I was a kid, spending summers on lake George. I try to hike in the high peaks at least once a year, but this year I've heard that parking might be near impossible. My buddy and I are planning to drive up Saturday morning and spend three days backpacking in the high peaks region, but won't arrive until noon or later and it would be a real bummer to drive up only to find we literally cannot park anywhere remotely close to a trailhead.

Is there any lot where I can expect to find parking to hike the Great Range/Four Corners etc.? My favorite trailhead is The Garden, but it seems astronomically unlikely that the lot will have a spot midday. Any thoughts on the likelihood of parking at Heart Lake, Rooster Comb, or anywhere else?

Thanks and happy trails!
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Old 08-13-2020, 01:05 PM   #2
DSettahr
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In a nutshell: You can expect pretty much no parking at all, whatsoever, at any of the northern trailheads for the High Peaks around mid-day or early afternoon, on any day of the week this year. These trailhead parking areas are filling up by 7 or even 6 am on week days. Saturdays often require arriving even earlier. If you arrive late in the day, spots will begin to open up as day hikers return to the trailhead and depart (but you may also be competing with other hikers lurking like vultures near the trailheads to snag these spots as they open up).

You'd have better luck at the southern trailheads- Upper Works and Elk Lake. These trailheads aren't on busy highways, and overflow parking is permitted along the road (as there's less chance of an idiot hiker darting out into the road without warning, only to be creamed by a car doing 65 mph) at these locations. Do note that the Elk Lake gate is closed so the only parking allowed this year is at Clear Pond- which adds 2 miles (one way) of added hiking distance.

The other consideration to be aware of is that backcountry areas are filling to capacity even on weeknights. Weekends are a level of crazyness unlike anything we've ever seen in the Adirondacks. With a Saturday afternoon start, 100% you're going to end up hiking substantial additional miles, searching in vain for an open spot because all of the lean-tos and tent sites are already occupied. Or you can do the 150 foot thing... which is a real challenge in the High Peaks because the forest is so thick in many spots.

To be frank: A Saturday afternoon start for an overnight trip this year is foolhardy at best. You're pretty much stacking the deck against yourselves in every conceivable way possible. I'd strongly suggest that you move up the start day to Friday if possible (Thursday is even better if you can swing it), or push it back to Sunday afternoon (Monday is even better if you can swing it). And even then... don't expect to get your first (or second or even third) choice of campsite.

Don't forget the bear canister requirement especially for overnight camping in the Eastern High Peaks. Super important this year as there's been elevated nuisance bear behavior in that area. A lot of groups aren't using the bear canisters correctly (lots of beginner backpackers in the High Peaks this year)- remember to store the canister well outside camp, cook well outside camp, and keep the lid on the canister and locked at all times (even while you're cooking).
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Old 08-13-2020, 03:11 PM   #3
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As DSettahr says, parking has been crazy, especially in the 73 corridor. I'm sure you don't want to waste time driving around looking, but if you must come up 73, the trailheads for both the Boquet Forks trail to Grace and the Round Pond trail to Dix have overflow capability along the highway, and there are legal campsites on both trails. Then there's the East trail to Giant via RPR trailhead in New Russia or the North trail to Giant via Owl Head Lookout trailhead in Elizabethtown.
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Old 08-13-2020, 03:59 PM   #4
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How about camping at SharpBridge and head toward Grace and Carson from there?
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Old 08-13-2020, 04:00 PM   #5
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You know, almost 6 million acres comprise the whole of the Adirondacks, and nearly half of that is open to the public. Why people have this determined necessity to populate the High Peaks region constantly is beyond me. There is so much more to do. Trails and off trail challenges abound. Sure you may not have the broad distant vistas the same way in other regions, but good grief, get out there and see what is offered. Get in a canoe and paddle to a remote shore, camp primitive 151 feet into the woods (with LNT of course). Drive to the far reaches of the western Adirondacks, Lewis County, for example. Maintained trails, ponds, lakes, rivers, and summits exist there too. They don't get you a patch for the most or highest climbs. Live with it. Enjoy it.
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Old 08-13-2020, 05:08 PM   #6
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If it were me, I'd enter from the Upper Works (near Newcomb - take exit 26) where you can find someplace to park along the quiet road and head into Flowed Lands and check out the leantos/sites all around there. Prepare to possibly have to sleep 150 feet into the woods for Saturday night and maybe hike Colden if time allows that day. Talk to campers and find out who is leaving on Sunday and when. Grab one of their spots Sunday morning, then hike Algonquin/Iroquois, Skylight/Marcy etc. the next few days as day hikes... These days the most efficient peak season strategy has become one of operating out of a basecamp. It's much more productive and less stressful to work your way into a site and stay put once you get one and then operate out of that camp. Moving your camp up higher to the Feldspar area may prove unwise, even on a weekday night...That's just my preference....
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Old 08-13-2020, 06:26 PM   #7
LouTheMeXiKaN
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Thanks, all. We may give upper works a shot. But I'm beginning to think that opting out of the high peaks might be the best bet.

Any suggestions as to a challenging hike with picturesque campsite enroute and maybe a swimming hole?
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Old 08-13-2020, 07:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
The other consideration to be aware of is that backcountry areas are filling to capacity even on weeknights. Weekends are a level of crazyness unlike anything we've ever seen in the Adirondacks. With a Saturday afternoon start, 100% you're going to end up hiking substantial additional miles, searching in vain for an open spot because all of the lean-tos and tent sites are already occupied. Or you can do the 150 foot thing... which is a real challenge in the High Peaks because the forest is so thick in many spots.
Do you think we'll struggle to find a tent site/leanto space at sites somewhat more remote like Henderson lake, Preston Pond, Duck Hole?
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Old 08-13-2020, 10:17 PM   #9
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Do you think we'll struggle to find a tent site/leanto space at sites somewhat more remote like Henderson lake, Preston Pond, Duck Hole?
It's really hard to say. This year is upending all normal expectations regarding usage patterns- pretty much everywhere save serious bushwhacking is seeing substantial increases in use.

Duck Hole tends to get relatively low use compared to the rest of the High Peaks but there's also only 2 tent sites in addition to the 2 lean-tos, so it would only take 4 groups total to essentially put the area at capacity for overnight groups. For NPT thru-hikers, it's also a somewhat popular spot for the final night of a NOBO thru-hike.

Honestly... if your goal is a trip free of the stresses of trying to compete with others for lean-tos and campsites, postponing your trip may be the safest bet. Or as others have stated, car camping instead and opting for just day hikes.

As a gauge for just how crazy it's been this year: Summit Stewards are routinely seeing numbers of hikers on the summits that are easily double and even triple what would've been considered to be a "busy" day 10 years ago.
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Old 08-13-2020, 10:36 PM   #10
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Maybe something over towards the Seward range
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Old 08-14-2020, 12:42 AM   #11
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Maybe something over towards the Seward range
Ward Brook has been so crazy busy this year that there was entire article specifically about that area published in a local newspaper. I was able to wander over that way a few weeks ago to check it out for myself, I couldn't believe how many tents I saw near the Ward Brook and Blueberry Lean-tos. The Seward Range is very much not escaping the substantial increase in use that all of the Adirondacks is experiencing this year.

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Old 08-14-2020, 08:24 AM   #12
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I would try an area other than the high peaks.

The whole of the Adirondacks is more popular this year, yes (see the other thread about it being very busy at Pharaoh). But the High Peaks are the epicenter.

There are plenty of areas that are more quiet, with plenty of trails and tent sites. West Canada Lakes, Hammond Pond, etc.

I was near North Hudson a couple nice days this week. No one but me in the parking lots and on the trails.
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Old 08-14-2020, 06:58 PM   #13
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Saw all of 5 people yesterday Pillsbury, and 3 were transiting on Old Military Rd to or from Cedar Lakes area. Had summit to ourselves, as well as the nicely refurbished fire tower.

The southern end of the Little Great Range....would make for a great trail if the dots could be connected to Snowy/Squaw/Wakely.
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Old 08-14-2020, 11:00 PM   #14
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The southern end of the Little Great Range....would make for a great trail if the dots could be connected to Snowy/Squaw/Wakely.
Indeed a fun off-trail route, and imo really no need for a marked trail. Keep it wild.
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Old 08-15-2020, 07:52 AM   #15
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Indeed a fun off-trail route, and imo really no need for a marked trail. Keep it wild.
I understand your sentiment, but making a trail might lead a few people away from HP and avoid the growing train wreck that that area is, and bring activity to an area whose residents could use some hiker traffic.
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Old 08-16-2020, 03:14 PM   #16
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511ny posts when the lots are full. Saturday was something like 6:50 am, Sunday was 7:05. I'm sure a lovely time was had by all. And yes, there are many places that offer solitude and great adventures.
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Old 08-16-2020, 03:51 PM   #17
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making a trail might lead a few people away from HP and avoid the growing train wreck that that area is, and bring activity to an area whose residents could use some hiker traffic.
"making" a trail, where there was not one before, either by hanging and leaving flagging (yuk), or by hacking brush, is illegal and unethical. Learn land navigation and you will have no need.
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:43 PM   #18
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Went for a hike Saturday afternoon around the Copperas Pond trio. Not too crowded, but upset at the percentage of people who didn't have masks. The PA for Hurricane had 28 cars and the Cascade PA was almost full - a few vacant spots at about 1:30.
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:55 PM   #19
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Saw all of 5 people yesterday Pillsbury, and 3 were transiting on Old Military Rd to or from Cedar Lakes area. Had summit to ourselves, as well as the nicely refurbished fire tower.

The southern end of the Little Great Range....would make for a great trail if the dots could be connected to Snowy/Squaw/Wakely.
Sooooo, you’re saying the fire tower is refurbished? And open?
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Old 08-17-2020, 11:43 AM   #20
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We hiked at Amy's Park Sunday, including one of the small ridges. No on on the trail but us. When we got back there were a few others around the wetland. Parking lot to Thomas & Cat was full.
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