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Hiker alerts

Agencies build website to alert hikers of latest High Peaks conditions

October 6, 2016
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer (aolivero@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - In the wake of a late summer hiking period that may have been the busiest in the history of the Adirondack Park, state agencies have collaborated to launch a website focused on alerting hikers about important information such as, "The Adirondak Loj parking lot is full. How about a different hike?"

The site, www.adkalert.com, is a joint effort between the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, state Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). The groups worked together since the busy Labor Day weekend when ideal weather resulted in visitors over-filling parking lots and trailheads for the eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area. At least 1,500 people hiked Cascade Mountain that weekend, according to Summit Steward counts.

"We wanted to make sure there was some way to communicate quickly (with hikers)," said Kim Rielly, director of communications for ROOST. "How do we notify people in a swift manner? We came up the idea of collectively developing a protocol where we will put that information on this aggregation site. It's not intended to be a completely comprehensive resource. It's sort of a simple version of what we hope it can be long term."

Article Photos

Hikers pay their parking fee at the Adirondack Mountain Club's parking lot booth at the Adirondak Loj Wednesday, Oct. 5 in Lake Placid.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Rielly said ROOST, the DEC and ADK worked with the goal of having the site launched before the Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, Oct. 8-10. With a late bloom of Adirondack foliage, she said the agencies anticipate it may be the busiest weekend of hiking of the year. It has been in the past.

"That was sort of the rush, to come up with a solution," Rielly said.

A version of the website is live now. The site prominently features an Adirondak Loj parking lot status feature. Immediately underneath that, the website links to a DEC release recommending hikes outside of the High Peaks. The list includes 13 mountains, including only two of the 46 highest: Rocky Peak Ridge and Whiteface Mountain. And for both of those, the DEC recommends longer, less-populated routes: the 6.7-mile east trail from New Russia for Rocky Peak Ridge and the Whiteface Landing trail from Lake Placid for Whiteface Mountain.

Rocky Peak Ridge, the most easterly 46er, wasn't very busy Friday, Sept. 30. Only 10 hikers summitted the 4,420-foot mountain from the east trail during the morning and afternoon. This included two who finished their 46 with the hike and a group of five ultra-runners who continued on to nearby Giant Mountain.

The DEC list includes 11 non-46er peaks, highlighting hiking regions such as the Taylor Pond Wild Forest north of Whiteface Mountain, which includes Catamount and Silver Lake mountains. Other recommended hikes include Baxter Mountain and Owl's Head Lookout off Route 9N in Keene, Copperas and Owen ponds in the Sentinel Range Wilderness, and Scarface Mountain in Ray Brook.

Scarface Mountain is one of six summits that are a part of the Saranac Lake 6er challenge, six peaks below 4,000 feet in the Saranac Lake area. Nearly 1,700 people have completed the challenge since its inception in 2013.

"We are interested in providing information on other areas as well," Rielly said. "The Champlain Area Trails are great family options, the Saranac 6er, the Tupper Lake Triad - there are thousands of miles of wonderful trails through the Adirondacks.

"It's sort of our challenge to prioritize that in our promotion," she continued. "And we hope that the adkalert.com aggregate site serves as a resource for regional businesses so that they can inform their guests and customers about current conditions and access materials to distribute as well, such as suggested alternate hikes and hiking etiquette."

The site also features a DEC notice about how, through this weekend, DEC forest rangers will turn around cars on Adirondack Loj Road at South Meadow Lane, 3.8 miles from Route 73. It is a 0.9-mile drive from the South Meadow Road to the Adirondak Loj parking lot booth.

The initiative prevents cars from getting within about a mile from the state's most popular trailhead when the lot is full. Up to 200 or more vehicles have been parked on the Adirondack Loj Road - between South Meadow Road and the parking lot booth - during busy hiking days throughout the summer. And some people have been seen camping in their cars.

Adkalert.com currently lives on ROOST's LakePlacid.com platform, though Rielly said the aggregation site will likely get "a more permanent location in the future," which would include a look a bit different.

The site also features a link to the Leave No Trace principles, an option to read the DEC's list of 13 recommended hikes in French and links to ROOST's recent outdoors blog posts.

Looking ahead, Rielly said ROOST, the DEC and ADK are considering the ideal ways to make the website's notification services best for all platforms, including on mobile phones, though the site can be opened currently in a mobile phone browser.

 
 

 

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