ADIRONDACKS -- The state is permanently prohibiting parking on Route 73 around the Roaring Brook Falls trail head in Keene, state officials said Monday.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation announced the ban will take effect on Friday, after DOT installs new "no parking" signs in the area.
On busy weekends, there are typically dozens of vehicles parked on the road after parking lots for hikers fill up, even though the road shoulder is narrow on both sides. DEC said that means car doors are opened into the driving lanes, and hikers are often walking in the travel lanes. A curve at the bottom of a long grade from Chapel Pond also limits sight distances.
The new ban is part of a larger effort to manage parking at the most visited trail heads in the High Peaks region, which have grown in popularity in recent years.
"This is part of the DEC’s ongoing and strategic efforts to manage use in the state Route 73 corridor in a safe and sustainable manner," DEC spokesman David Wichell said in an email.
He said the public has generally been complying with the new parking rules at Cascade Mountain, Giant Mountain and other trail heads, and few if any tickets have been written for unsafe parking on the road.
Under the new rules, parking will be prohibited on the shoulder of the northbound lane from the entrance to the Roaring Brook trail head parking lot north to the bridge over Putnam Brook -- a distance of about 700 feet. On the southbound shoulder, it will be banned where guardrails are present south of the bridge, a length of about 300 feet. Parking on a state highway is illegal where guardrails prevent vehicles from pulling entirely onto the shoulder.
DEC is encouraging prospective hikers who encounter full parking lots to go elsewhere. "There is no alternate parking for the Roaring Brook and Adirondack Mountain Reserve trailheads. If the parking areas are full, DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area," Wichell said.
DEC has established a web page, Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks, that lists a dozen other nearby hikes that also provide scenic views, but are less-used. It includes links to descriptions in both English and French, since many hikers visit the Adirondacks from Quebec.
The Roaring Brook area provides access to Roaring Brook Falls, Giant Nubble, and Giant Washbowl, and also is used by people hiking in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve when that club's parking lot is full.
Route 73 is the primary route between Northway Exit 30 and the High Peaks-Lake Placid-Saranac Lake region, and is used by nearly 5,000 vehicles per day on average, according to the DOT figures.