DEC and AMR Pilot Reservation System Ensures Access to Popular Trails, Improves Public Safety
Keene Valley NY - The Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR), in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), announced today a series of updates in response to feedback from the hiker community accessing the AMR parking lot as part of the new parking reservation pilot to support safer access to trailheads. Among other improvements, AMR installed an electronic gate on Monday, June 7, to allow hikers returning after the parking lot has closed to exit using the automatic gate.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Strengthening public safety and improving the visitor experience are not mutually exclusive, rather inextricably linked. These improvements to the pilot reservation system are the result of an inclusive, data-driven approach to developing effective and sustainable solutions to addressing issues associated with increased visitation to the High Peaks and reflect DEC's commitment to a constructive and collaborative process."
"Since we started the parking reservation system, we have continuously sought ways to improve the experience for the hiking community," said John Schuler, General Manager of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. "One of the main points that kept coming up was hikers concerned about getting back to the parking lot before it closed for the night. We tried to accommodate those hikers by having our staff stay late, but our long-term solution was putting in an automatic gate, so now you can come back anytime and still exit the parking lot."
DEC and AMR launched the parking reservation pilot in May to provide reliable access to popular trailheads and address public safety at a particularly crowded corner on Route 73 in the town of Keene in the Adirondack High Peaks region. The reservation system, operated by AMR, facilitates safer public access to trailheads through the AMR gate and for Noonmark and Round mountains and improves visitors' trip planning and preparation by ensuring guaranteed parking upon arrival.
In addition to the automatic gate, AMR made other updates to the system at HikeAMR.org including:
- Reducing the reservation system closing time from 24 hours to 12 hours in advance. This means that if there are open spots on a Saturday morning at 7 a.m., users will be able to reserve them as late as 7 p.m. on Friday. Previously that window would close on Friday morning at 7 a.m.;
- Moving the start of the rolling two week opening of future dates from midnight to noon, allowing hikers to get some rest;
- Enabling the reservation to send reservation confirmation/cancellation request emails out automatically 48 hours in advance; and
- Changing the countdown timer on future reservations/dates to "blue" highlighted against the "red" time slots on dates that are not available.
"We made all of these updates to ensure our visitors have the best, safest experience possible," said Schuler. "The changes we've made, particularly to the confirmation/cancellation email and the 12-hour closing time are all part of the effort to reduce no-show reservations. Additionally, the time slots are meant to be approximate arrival times, but once a reservation is confirmed, the spot is yours so if you have a 5 a.m. reservation, you can show up at 10 a.m. if you want."
Key data points from the first five weeks of the pilot reservation system include:
- Over 7,000 people have signed up on the HikeAMR.org website;
- More than 3,000 reservations made;
- 644 pre-arrival cancelations;
- 414 reservation updates (when a user changes an existing reservation); and
- More than 1,500 emails received and responded to by AMR staff since May 1.
In addition to the parking reservation pilot, as part of DEC's comprehensive efforts to improve public safety in the area, 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:
- 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
- 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. Visit DEC's Love Our NY Lands webpage to learn more.
The pilot reservation system supports DEC's comprehensive and ongoing efforts to sustainably manage increased visitation to the High Peaks region and will provide important information to guide future land management decisions. The reservation system complements recommendations included in the High Peaks Advisory Group's (HPAG) final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack Park. Comprised of stakeholders with expertise in local government, recreation, natural resource protection, business, and tourism, in 2019 the HPAG was tasked with providing DEC with recommendations on how to address critical issues associated with increased public use of High Peaks resources in order to protect these areas in the short and long term, as well as for future generations.
AMR is home to several popular hikes, but there are many alternative hiking opportunities in the region. Visit DEC's website for more information.
AMR and DEC will continue to update the HikeAMR.org website throughout the summer with new information.