Route 73 hiker shuttle returns this weekend

County bus driver Ken White drives the hiker shuttle on state Route 73 in October 2021. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

The state Route 73 hiker shuttle is set to return for a second year this Saturday.

The free shuttle system is expected to operate on weekends and holiday Mondays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 10, according to a press release from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The shuttle system runs from the Marcy Field parking lot and stops at the Rooster Comb, Giant Mountain Ridge Trail and Roaring Brook Falls trailheads before returning to Marcy Field. A route map and shuttle schedule are available on the DEC’s website at https://tinyurl.com/y5zh5ar2. One bus that can hold up to 20 people is set to start operations this Saturday, according to the DEC.

All riders, including people who are vaccinated, are still required to wear a mask while riding public transportation, according to regulations set by the state Department of Health. Pets aren’t allowed on the hiker shuttle, but service animals are. Frontcountry stewards from the town of Keene and the DEC are expected to be stationed at Marcy Field to help hikers navigate the shuttle system and educate people about responsible recreation in the High Peaks.

There are some new additions to the Route 73 shuttle route this year, including runs from Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson to the Adirondak Loj on Aug. 8 and Aug 15. The “overnight shuttle program,” directed at hikers seeking multi-day experiences in the High Peaks, would then pick up riders at the Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb on subsequent Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, according to the DEC’s release, giving hikers time to recreate for up to four days and three nights in the High Peaks.

A second round of shuttles from the Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson is expected to run to the Rooster Comb, Giant Mountain and Roaring Brook Falls trailheads in October to accommodate the influx of leaf-peepers. More details about the North Hudson shuttles are expected to be released soon, according to the DEC.

The DEC has co-partnered with the town of Keene, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and Essex County to operate the Route 73 hiker shuttle. The shuttle is funded with up to $2 million from the state Environmental Protection Fund, according to the DEC’s release.

The creation of the Route 73 hiker shuttle last year was part of a broader effort by the DEC to address parking issues at popular trailheads along state Route 73. The Route 73 shuttle also complements a longtime shuttle provided by the town of Keene that transports hikers from the Garden trailhead to the Marcy Field parking area. The free town shuttle restarted services on July 2, and it runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays when the Garden parking lot is full. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are allowed to ride the town shuttle.


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