Early bird gets the parking spot on 73

The Rooster Comb parking area in Keene Valley wasn’t quite full early Sunday morning. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

KEENE VALLEY — Parking restrictions on state Route 73, aimed at limiting the number of cars and hikers, may be having an effect, even if the message isn’t getting to everyone.

On Sunday morning, parking lots along the 4-mile stretch of Route 73 — from the Rooster Comb parking lot in Keene Valley to the Roaring Brook Falls parking area near St. Huberts — were starting to fill, although some parking spots were still available in each of the numerous areas.

One set of hikers said they came earlier than they wanted because of the roadside parking ban, but it didn’t affect their day much.

“I knew a little bit about it (the parking restriction),” said Brittany Orologio of Pottersville, who was hiking Indian Head with her two sons. “I follow the Adirondack Backpackers online, so there’s a bunch of stuff about being aware that if you don’t park in the appropriate spot, at the end of day you’re going to come back to a ticket.

“We left earlier than we normally would have. Normally we can pull up here at 10:30 (a.m.) and park on the highway, and it wouldn’t be a big deal. We’re going to have to be early.”

Another couple from Montreal also arrived early, although they did not know about the roadside parking restrictions.

“We tried to come early because I read the reviews of other people online who said that it does fill up really fast in the mornings,” Arizone O’Neill said. O’Neill and Elias Harb were planning to hike Gothics but had to park in the Roaring Brook Falls lot. “I think our plan was to then try and look for a different hike.”

“I don’t think we would have parked on the side of the road anyway, just because in Canada you can’t do that anyway,” Harb said.

“It would have really sucked if there wasn’t enough room,” O’Neill continued. “I think there should be more parking spots just because it’s a pretty popular hike. And we did drive all the way from Canada to do this hike, so it would have sucked.”

The pair said they drove more than two hours on Saturday night and camped out so they could get to the trailhead early.

Earlier this month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said it issued 70 parking tickets between the Rooster Comb trailhead and the Chapel Pond area over one weekend.

Revenue from the tickets is divided between the state and town they are issued in, but the state portion goes to the Comptroller’s Office, not the DEC or state Department of Transportation, which arranged the roadside parking ban.