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Cascade detour

DEC closes Cascade parking for busy holiday weekend

October 5, 2017
By PETER CROWLEY - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The state is temporarily rerouting hikers in a big way this weekend, via a nearby state-owned sports facility and private land.

To avoid overcrowding of cars and people at the trailhead for Cascade, Porter and Pitchoff mountains on state Route 73, state agencies are teaming up to move the trailhead to nearby Mount Van Hoevenberg, home of the state-owned sports venues for cross-country skiing, biathlon, bobsled, luge and skeleton. Hikers will park in the lots there at the end of Bob Run Road and follow a cross-country ski trail 2 miles to meet the Cascade-Porter trailhead six-tenths of a mile from the Route 73 trailhead.

That will add 3.8 miles to a round-trip hike of Cascade (from 4.8 to 8.6 miles) and 4.4 miles to a round-trip hike of Pitchoff (from 4 to 8.4 miles).

Article Photos

The summit of Cascade Mountain is seen here on Tuesday, Oct. 3 from a parking lot on state Route 73.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

Hikers could still use those mountains' regular trails if they get rides to the trailhead, but parking there will be prohibited from dusk Thursday, Oct. 5 through Monday, Oct. 9. State police, forest rangers and the Essex County sheriff's office plan to patrol the area to uphold the parking ban.

"Those who are not in compliance may be ticketed or their vehicles may be towed," Maj. John Tibbitts, commander of the state police Troop B, said in a DEC press release.

In addition to more and safer parking, the Olympic Sports Complex at Mount Van Hoevenberg will provide hikers with bathrooms and food and drink at the nordic ski lodge.


Private land

In between the state-owned Mount Van Hoevenberg facility and the High Peaks Wilderness, wherein lie Cascade and its normal trail, the nordic ski trail hikers will follow passes through private land, owned by the Corwin family and David Steckler. Landowner Tony Corwin said he has a four-day agreement with the state for hikers to use the trail this holiday weekend only. Spokespeople for the state Department of Environmental Conservation echoed this.

They also confirmed that permission was sought and obtained after the DEC announced the trail reroute Sept. 28.

On his Facebook page that evening, Tony Corwin posted that he was angry about the state rerouting hikers across his land without asking him first.

"No one from the DEC or ORDA (the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Mount Van Hoevenberg) has asked permission to use the trails that cross our property."

He added, in response to a friend's question, "DEC has called me three times tonight. As of now they do not have the two land owners permission." To another person, he wrote, "They (DEC) thought i(t) was state land."

The status of this nordic ski trail through private land has been in question for some time. In August 2016, DEC officials made a presentation to the state Adirondack Park Agency about a plan to reroute such ski trails off private land, including Steckler's. The trail hikers will use this weekend still crosses Steckler's land.


Problem trailhead

This reroute is an experiment as the DEC tries to figure out how to adapt to a crush of hikers at the state's busiest mountains.

Cascade is perhaps the Adirondack Park's most popular hiking destination. At 4,098 and 4,059 feet above sea level, respectively, climbing to the summits of Cascade and Porter mountains are both required for hikers aspiring to become Adirondack 46ers, climbing the 46 tallest peaks in the Adirondack Park, with all but four above 4,000 feet. With a 4.8-mile round-trip from the Route 73 trailhead, Cascade is the shortest hike to the summit of an Adirondack 46er peak and therefore an attractive day hike for families and people eager to check off a mountain on their 46er list.

With the popularity of Cascade comes traffic headaches on the main highway between the Adirondack Northway and Lake Placid. Parking capacity at its trailhead has long been inadequate. Even on non-holiday weekends, hundreds of hikers' cars line both sides of the two-lane highway for long distances.

"The Cascade Mountain trailhead is presently a parking hazard and nightmare," Roby Politi, supervisor of the town of North Elba, said in DEC's press release. "I'm pleased DEC is taking action to address this public safety need by relocating the trailhead to the Mount Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex."

Years ago, the town of Keene started a shuttle bus service with a separate parking lot to deal with overcrowding at the Garden trailhead, where hikers access many of New York's tallest mountains. Asked if a shuttle bus could be an option at the Cascade trailhead, DEC spokeswoman Erin Hanczyk wrote, "DEC will continue to evaluate additional options to employ in the future to effectively enhance public safety during times of anticipated increased traffic in these areas. DEC will be working with stakeholders/the public on long term changes needed for health and safety as well as the integrity of the lands."

(Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn contributed to this report.)



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