A new pilot Route 73 shuttle service will be begin Saturday, August 21st, along the busy Route 73 corridor in the Adirondack High Peaks region, according to announcement issued Thursday by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Essex County, and town of Keene.
The shuttle will operate on weekends and holidays through Monday, October 11th, and at no cost to riders.
The new hiker shuttle route will start and end at the Marcy Field parking area and stop to pick up and drop off riders at three popular trailheads along the Route 73 corridor. Stops will include the Rooster Comb trailhead going eastbound and westbound, and the Giant Mountain Ridge Trail and Roaring Brook Falls trailheads on the westbound return.
Stewards will be stationed at all pick-up and drop-off locations to assist with navigating the shuttle system and educate hikers on responsible recreation, including preparedness, hiking safety, and Leave No Trace principles.
The hiker shuttle will operate from 7 am to 7 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays through October 11th, 2021. The final loop for return trips to Marcy Field will depart at approximately 6 pm. There is no cost associated with riding the shuttle and no fee for parking at Marcy Field.
One shuttle, which will accommodate up to 20 riders, is currently scheduled to operate. Boarding is available on a first-come first-served basis. Pets are not allowed on the county-operated shuttle; certified service animals will be permitted.
The shuttle will operate according to State and federal COVID-19 protocols. All riders will be required to wear a mask on the shuttle, including vaccinated individuals. Riders are expected to provide their own masks and may be denied entry if not masked.
The shuttle service is supported through the Environmental Protection Fund with up to $2 million combined from the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 State budgets and was developed in response to persistent public safety concerns regarding parking along the busy Route 73 corridor.
In recent years, pedestrian traffic, illegal parking, and roadside stopping along Route 73 have created a dangerous environment for hikers and motorists alike. A public shuttle from Marcy Field, which has a newly expanded parking area, is hoped to help limit illegal parking along Route 73.
The shuttle will not stop at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) parking area nor is the AMR Parking area (aka St. Hubert’s) accessible from the Roaring Brook/Giant Mountain lot where the shuttle will drop off and pick up riders. Advanced reservations to access parking for Round and Noonmark mountains and the AMR gate are still required as part of the joint DEC-AMR pilot parking reservation system. The shuttle system is not part of the DEC-AMR Hiker Parking Reservation System. Visit AMR’s website to learn more and to book a reservation for those lots.
The pilot Route 73 shuttle complements a long-standing service provided by the town of Keene that provides transportation to and from the Garden Trailhead from the Marcy Field parking area. The town shuttle will continue to run in conjunction with the Route 73 shuttle system.
The town shuttle runs from 7 am to 7 pm on Saturdays and Sundays when the Garden parking lot is full. There is currently a $10 cash-only charge ($13 Canadian) to ride the town shuttle. Once the pilot shuttle program begins on August 21, the town of Keene shuttle will also be free. Masks are required to be worn on the town shuttle, even for fully vaccinated individuals. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are only permitted on the town shuttle, not the new hiker shuttle.
Other State and local efforts underway to reduce illegal parking in the Route 73 corridor include variable electronic message boards and additional signage, the pilot parking reservation system at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, bolstered social media outreach and education, and increased law enforcement presence and parking enforcement.
The pilot shuttle system was among recommendations in the High Peaks Advisory Group’s (HPAG) final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack Park. In 2019, 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.
DEC is reminding visitors to State-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation. Earlier this year, DEC launched the ‘Love Our New York Lands’ campaign in response to the steady increase in the number of visitors to state lands, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the decade prior, as more and more New Yorkers and visitors from other states and countries discovered the natural beauty of New York State.
The campaign bolsters ongoing State- and partner-led efforts to educate the public about how to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without negatively impacting natural resources by promoting Leave No Trace principles, hiker preparedness and safety, sustainable use, and responsible trip planning.
For details and more information, visit the Love Our New York Lands page on DEC’s website.
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