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Old 09-28-2017, 05:01 PM   #1
AvalanchePass
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DEC to Temporarily Relocate Trailheads for Cascade, Porter and Pitchoff (West)

DEC to Temporarily Relocate Trailheads for Cascade, Porter and Pitchoff (West) Mountains During Busy Columbus Day Weekend





Excerpts (full press release at link above):

In an effort to ensure public safety with increased traffic anticipated during the Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving Day Holiday Weekend, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will temporarily relocate the trailhead and trailhead parking for Cascade Mountain, Porter Mountain, and the Pitchoff Mountain West to the Olympic Regional Development Authority's Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex, 1.3 miles west of the current trailhead.

Hikers planning to climb the summit of Cascade or Porter mountains can park in parking lots at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex at no cost. Volunteer stewards will direct hikers to a 2.0-mile marked route on the complex's cross-country ski trail system. The ski trails are smooth and gently roll through the forest making for an easy hike. The route links to a newly constructed 0.4-mile connector trail between the ski trail and the Cascade Mountain Trail. The connector trail joins the Cascade Mountain Trail approximately 0.6 mile from the current trailhead. A roundtrip hike to the summit of Cascade Mountain will be 8.6 miles long, an addition of 3.8 miles to the round trip from the current trailhead.

Roby Politi, Supervisor, Town of N. Elba said, "The Cascade Mt. trailhead is presently a parking hazard and nightmare. I'm pleased DEC is taking action to address this public safety need by relocating the trailhead to the Mt. Van Hoevenburg Sports Complex."
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:55 PM   #2
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Well this is very interesting.

Obviously, NY State's attorneys have recognized that now that several of us have spoken in public about the safety risk of the parking for Cascade, they have to act. At this point, a "reasonable man" could no longer say that they did not know about the hazard being created there. That's the ONLY reason for this action being taken now.

It's shocking how poorly communicated this is. To do a decent job of this, NY State should be posting this on all the hiking forums, the aspiring 46er Facebook page, etc. It appears that NY State is relying on individuals to pick this up in a feed, and post it where it should be posted. This is amateur night communication planning. Many people will not see this, and will not factor into their plans, as has already been pointed out over on VFTT.

Now to the most substantive question: I wonder if this is intended as a temporary solution, or a permanent solution. The professional permanent solution, I have already described on the other thread:

http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=24734

If this is a temporary solution, one wonders why the state cannot pony up for a shuttle bus, rather than 2.6 extra miles through non-descript woods. (I have traveled the route; trust me it's boring.) And the last question - how many trees were cut down to make these connector trails?

So at first glance, this seems pretty lame. The one thing it will do (and the one thing that is driving this) is protect the state from liability for a traffic death at the existing trailhead.
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Old 09-28-2017, 06:35 PM   #3
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Agreed that this is an amateurish way of notifying the hiking public. Additionally, the map labels the current hiking trail up to the junction with the new access as "PITCHOFF Mt. Trail Reroute."

Out of sheer curiosity, I will walk this route soon to see just exactly how well-marked and essentially "bomb-proof" the access from the parking are is.

Were there ever to be a shuttle bus, the Van Hoevenberg parking lots would be the obvious place for parking, and an alternate route would be essential to accommodate those that either came early or returned late.
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Old 09-28-2017, 06:53 PM   #4
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I actually thought the shuttle bus was going to be the solution, not this additional trail, but the logistics of how you run a shuttle bus almost 24/7, with people hiking all hours of the day and night is mind-boggling.
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:41 PM   #5
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Well, shuttle bus logistics are very challenging at the Garden for the town of Keene, which has very little money and relies on an ancient bus that is on it last legs. It should zero challenge for NY State. Buy some buses, hire some drivers, and run it every 15 minutes 24/7. Or contract the job out to Trailways, like they did for the Olympics. No problem at all for Albany. If it's not there, it means they don't want to do it.

None of this is about making the parking situation better. As I have pointed out, this is ONLY about protecting the state from liability for a traffic accident at the existing trailhead. The only things that are being done are the things that support that goal. It's really extremely obvious.
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Old 09-28-2017, 07:57 PM   #6
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It's for at least one ecological reason too. The overflowing porta-johns at the Cascade trailhead on 73 will be a non-issue at least over the holiday weekend as hikers are invited to use bathrooms at the Van Hoevenberg sports complex where they park.
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:29 PM   #7
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Cross Country Lodge is only open from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM. Minimal effect on "poop in the woods" problem. The portajohns are overflowing because they were an inadequate, underfunded solution from the start. State provided no money for that program. It's funded by local businesses and tiny volunteer organizations.

This will cut down on various problems only because it will sharply reduce the number of visitors to the area in the future. The result of this change will be pissed off visitors, who will go to NH or VT on their next trip, and losses to hard working local business people who rely on those visitors.
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Old 09-28-2017, 11:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD View Post
It's shocking how poorly communicated this is. To do a decent job of this, NY State should be posting this on all the hiking forums, the aspiring 46er Facebook page, etc. It appears that NY State is relying on individuals to pick this up in a feed, and post it where it should be posted. This is amateur night communication planning. Many people will not see this, and will not factor into their plans, as has already been pointed out over on VFTT.
This caught my attention: "The New York State Police will be patrolling the area to ensure motorists are obeying the parking restrictions. Those who are not in compliance may be ticketed or their vehicles may be towed."

It doesn't appear that there will be any physical barrier preventing people from parking. Vast majority of hikers will be unaware of the closure. Presumably they will park, see some kind of signage, and then drive to Van Hoevenberg. So most cars will be still pulling in to and then out of the Cascade parking. Still dangerous but I suppose safer than cars creeping along 73 looking for a spot and pedestrians crossing the road.

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Now to the most substantive question: I wonder if this is intended as a temporary solution, or a permanent solution.
Doesn't make any sense to cut a 0.4 mile trail as a solution for one weekend does it? Perhaps this will be the summer solution. But you don't want hikers on the cross country trails so maybe access reverts to 73 in the winter?

Aren't the trails used by mountain bikers this time of year? All the Cascade traffic will interfere with that?
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:38 AM   #9
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Many people don't read signs. It will be interesting to see if any cars are actually ticketed or towed, and what the outcome of that is in terms of publicity.

Hiker traffic will probably not be a problem on the XC trails. The trails are wide and road-like, and there are not that many bikers. Also, FAR fewer people are going to hike these peaks than would hike them from the existing trailhead. Sure, Cascade and Pitchoff are nice; but their biggest draw has always been that they are short trips.

No, this doesn't make sense as a temporary solution, even though the state says it is temporary. But put yourself in the place of a land manager. You have been directed by the legal department: "The public has begun talking about the traffic hazard at this trailhead. We don't care what you have to do, just by God make that problem go away before we get sued, or it's going to be on your head." In that light, any solution makes sense.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:06 AM   #10
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I'm not saying you're incorrect, but I'm not as cynical.

I'm on the executive for a local community organization. Other members are always talking about liability concerns and how we can protect ourselves. My position has always been that we should genuinely try our best to keep people safe. Integrity means you prioritize safety over liability exposure. I guess they may both be means to the same end.

I believe this temporary solution actually makes them more vulnerable from a liability standpoint. If something occurs the w/e after Columbus Day the temporary solution strikingly demonstrates that they were aware of the issue. So a "smarter" move might be to do nothing over Columbus Day to limit long term liability.

It's quite possible that they are simply concerned about safety over the Columbus Day w/e and are trying to mitigate the danger.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:25 AM   #11
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Maybe this is an elegant new way of controlling overuse. Just move the parking area 2 miles away.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:42 AM   #12
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Maybe this is an elegant new way of controlling overuse. Just move the parking area 2 miles away.
There's no question that's the effect it will have over the Columbus Day w/e ...

If I had made plans to introduce neophytes to the High Peaks via Cascade on Columbus Day I think I might drop them off at the trailhead, drive to Van Hoevenberg, and meet them at the junction.

Not saying it would be the best choice of mountains or weekends for such an introduction, but if that was my plan ...
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Old 09-29-2017, 11:32 AM   #13
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I'm going to guess that if the State Police will be monitoring the "red zone", they're probably not going to permit "drop-offs" (or pickups). That activity runs contrary to what this experiment is attempting to accomplish and that's to keep the area free of pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles entering/exiting traffic.


BTW, in June, Pete Nelson proposed relocating the Cascade Trail to the Van Hoevenberg Ski Center.

http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/20...nal-asset.html

It appears the idea has gained some traction. The only quibble I had at the time was the statement that the reroute would only add a mere mile or so to the approach. In reality, the DEC has indicated the reroute is 2 miles long (one-way) and adds 3.8 miles to the round trip to Cascade (8.4 miles vs 4.0 miles). The modification really changes the "tone" of this traditionally short hike.

What changes the most if the family-friendly trip to the Balanced Rocks on Pitchoff. You'll have to ascend a short stretch of Cascade then descend to the 73, cross it, then begin the actual ascent to the Balanced Rocks. Crossing the 73 might become more exciting because, with no parked cars lining the road, drivers may have less incentive to reduce speed.

You could reserve the existing 4 parking areas exclusively for Pitchoff-bound hikers (and disallow parking on the shoulder) ... but a sign alone won't keep Cascade-bound hikers out of the parking areas. You'd have to brush-in the first few hundred yards of the Cascade Trail to discourage usage. However, that's a permanent solution and unsuitable for the temporary arrangement scheduled for Columbus Day weekend.

Should be interesting to see how all this plays out next weekend. I don't plan to be there!
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Old 09-29-2017, 12:36 PM   #14
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I'm going to guess that if the State Police will be monitoring the "red zone", they're probably not going to permit "drop-offs" (or pickups).
Perhaps.

But "Those who are not in compliance may be ticketed or their vehicles may be towed" implies that the monitoring will be periodic rather than constant. If cars are actively prohibited from parking then tickets and towing won't be necessary ...
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:03 PM   #15
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There are four parking areas to monitor.
http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=17/44.21930/-73.88707

If they do allow for drop-offs/pickups, it'll work against the strategy to eliminate foot traffic and slow-moving vehicles entering/exiting the 4 parking areas.

Anyway, it remains to be seen what will actually take place.
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:59 AM   #16
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I read the press release little more carefully.

Beginning at dusk on Thursday, October 5, through dusk on Monday, October 9, the pull-offs along State Route 73 near the current trailhead will be closed to parking, and roadside parking in the area will be prohibited.

I'm now reading this to mean that there will be a physical barrier to parking at the 4 pull-offs on your map and that ticketing/towing refers to roadside parking. If this is correct it will make potential dropoff/pickup more difficult and dangerous.
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Old 09-30-2017, 01:04 PM   #17
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I do not understand the need for dropoff/pickup. If the purpose is to go hiking, why complicate the matters to shorten the route. I get that some people think the woods are boring and only the top of the mountain view has any value to be seen, but that still leaves me wondering why they want to hike in the first place. There are plenty of pull off the road views. If the goal is to "hiked up the mointain" then getting a ride halfway there also doesnt make sense to me. I suppose my confusion is why I am not a peak bagger and enjoy the quiet woods with "no view".
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Old 09-30-2017, 03:34 PM   #18
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I do not understand the need for dropoff/pickup.
In general or specifically for Cascade's temporary reroute?

In this specific case, some people may be unable to complete a hiking route that will become nearly twice as long. So one can envision Mom dropping off Dad and the kids by the roadside, head off to park at the ski center, and meet them later where the two trails meet.

In general, it's done to skip some, less than interesting, portion of the hiking route. Typically it's a section of highway or county road.

I've hiked the extra 6 miles (3 in, 3 out) of Coreys Road when closed to cars in winter. That's 6 miles of road-walking on top of the 16 miles for a tour of the Seward Range. It's not a particularly interesting 6 miles and, when the road is open in other seasons, I take the opportunity to drive it.

Similarly, when the Elk Lake Parking Area is full, overflow parking is 1.8 miles south of it at Clear Pond. I've dropped people off at Elk Lake, parked at Clear Pond, then hiked/jogged back to Elk Lake. I've also walked the road in both directions. It's a pleasant walk but hardly the highlight of a trip to the Dix Range.

I've walked a few miles of highway, now and then, to create a loop-trip but I can't claim it was the best part of the day ... having high-speed traffic zoom past me. As a hiker, that's not the experience I seek.

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If the purpose is to go hiking, why complicate the matters to shorten the route.
Probably because it's a portion they wish to avoid. Kind of like how some paddlers try to avoid routes with portages.

Quote:
... that still leaves me wondering why they want to hike in the first place. There are plenty of pull off the road views.
Probably because a "road view" isn't equivalent to a "summit view". No more than paddling in Cascade Lakes is the same as paddling in a remote pond.

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I suppose my confusion is why I am not a peak bagger and enjoy the quiet woods with "no view".
Fortunately for us all, the Adirondack Park offers something for everyone.
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Old 09-30-2017, 04:33 PM   #19
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This makes me happy. That parking area was always a nightmare to either park in or drive by.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:27 PM   #20
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As far as we know, the "nightmare" will continue outside of Columbus Day w/e.

Very interested to learn what they do long term. This weekend may be a "proof of concept" for the permanent plan they are considering.
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