DEC works with Keene on Garden parking closure

KEENE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation is coordinating with the town of Keene over this summer’s closure of the Garden parking area, a popular trailhead that provides access to the High Peaks via Johns Brook Valley.

On Monday, the town announced that due to the replacement of a bridge over Johns Brook, the parking area — which is owned and operated by the town — will be closed over the summer. Instead, hikers will have to park at Marcy Field and take a shuttle between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

DEC forest rangers, environmental conservation officers and other staff will have access to the parking lot via an easement agreement, and both DEC and other law enforcement agencies will patrol the area.

“DEC Forest Rangers will also be assisting other law enforcement agencies patrolling the parking lot to ensure the public is not parking there,” DEC spokesman David Winchell wrote in an email. “Violators will be ticketed and towed. Public use of the detour across private land is prohibited — driving, biking, or walking on the road or adjoining property is trespassing.”

Winchell said hikers could still access the Johns Brook Valley via other trails but noted that the hikes would be longer. He added that the department is taking steps to ensure hikers are aware of the change.

“DEC is working with the town to ensure there is an effective plan in place for the closure. DEC is installing signs in and around Keene Valley to ensure the public is aware of the closure and directing visitors to the Marcy Field parking lot,” Winchell wrote. “DEC will provide information on the shuttle and the alternative hikes at Marcy Field. All the signs will be in both English and French.

“DEC will continue its outreach to encourage hikers to visit other less-traveled hiking trails in the area by providing information on kiosks, the Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region web page, Adirondack Outdoor Recreation weekly bulletin, and DEC social media channels.”

The closure also affects overnight customers of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Johns Brook Lodge, which is largely accessed through the Garden, the closest trailhead. The lodge is separate from the nearby DEC interior outpost.

Hikers who want to use the trailhead will have to park at Marcy Field and pay $10 per person (or $13 Canadian) for a ride. The town charges the same fee for parking at the trailhead itself when the parking lot is open.

The shuttle is expected to run every day, but the town said in a statement on its website that a lack of drivers could cause disruptions in service. The statement encouraged anyone with a bus endorsement and commercial driver’s license to contact the town supervisor if interested in part-time work.

“The town recognizes that this is a major disruption during the nicest hiking weather, but the bridge replacement is critical,” the statement read. “The current bridge is in such poor shape that the town can’t run plow trucks over it safely. Please respect the closure and don’t park or walk on private property to gain hiking access.”

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