ALBANY -- With the Memorial Day holiday weekend ahead, trailhead parking lots throughout the Adirondack High Peaks are expected to be jammed.
Options for resolving the growing trailhead congestion problem will be discussed at a public meeting that starts at 10 a.m. Wednesday at state Department of Environmental Conservation headquarters in Albany. The state is developing a new management plan for the High Peaks, including regulating parking along state Route 73.
Hikers aren't as numerous as black flies -- which have already started their annual swarming at lower altitudes, according to the DEC -- but there's nevertheless a lot of concern about their numbers. DEC expects to issue a Memorial Day advisory later this week.
"We're just kind of warning people of busy parking areas, and that there will be people crossing the roads, but there are no special restrictions planned," said DEC regional spokeswoman Erin Hanczyk.
Restrictions may be on their way, however, under the management plans to be discussed at Wednesday's meeting.
Parking for the often-congested Cascade Mountain trailhead would be permanently shifted to the Mount VanHoevenberg ski center under one proposal, while parking would be expanded near Giant Mountain and Chapel Pond.
The proposed High Peaks management plan would incorporate the Boreas Ponds and other newly acquired state properties into a single expanded High Peaks Wilderness -- the first update to the High Peaks management plan since 1999.
In early May, the Adirondack Council released a parking survey to document overflowing parking lots, especially along Route 73. It found trailheads sometimes have two or three times the number of vehicles for which their parking lots were designed, prompting DEC to consider restrictions.
Proposals for the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest just to the south of the High Peaks Wilderness include developing new trails and primitive roadside campsites in the southern part of the 20,000-acre Boreas Ponds tract -- though the ponds themselves would be part of the expanded High Peaks Wilderness Area.
There will be another public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Newcomb Central School gym, with no other public meetings planned. The public comment deadline is June 27, and written comments on either the High Peaks or VanderWhacker plans may be emailed to [email protected]
State officials haven't said when they will act on the plans, though groups like the Adirondack Council say the process is being fast-tracked.