AMR parking reservation system returns for fourth year

The Adirondack Mountain Reserve parking lot in St. Huberts is seen Oct. 5, 2019. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

ST. HUBERTS — HikeAMR, the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s reservation-based parking system, will return for a fourth year on May 1, operating through Oct. 31.

A partnership between AMR and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the three-year HikeAMR pilot program was created as a way to address increasing hiker traffic along state Route 73 in the town of Keene.

Though now in its fourth year, the reservation system is still considered a pilot program and is not permanent. DEC spokesperson Lori Severino said that the program will be “re-evaluated at the end of the season based on overall use and program feedback.” This is similar to the program’s status at the beginning of the 2023 hiking season.

More than 15,000 people created a login on HikeAMR during its first season, from May to October 2021. By Labor Day of 2022, that number had more than doubled to more than 34,000 logins. As of Tuesday, more than 52,500 users have now registered with the system.

Reservations were up and cancellations were down last year. The system accepted 16,971 reservations during the 2023 hiking season, up from 10,122 reservations in 2022. It saw 2,625 cancellations in 2023, down from 3,801 in 2022, and the DEC said in a press release on Tuesday that “nearly all the canceled reservations (were) rebooked.”

Reservations for a spot in the 70-car lot on Ausable Road in Keene Valley — also called the St. Huberts Parking Area — can be made up to two weeks in advance on a 24-hour rolling basis. If a reservation is canceled, it immediately becomes available on AMR’s website. New bookings for 2024 begin Wednesday.

“DEC looks forward to continuing to work with the Adirondack Mountain Reserve to offer safe and accessible entry to this busy Adirondack corridor,” DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said in a statement. “This system improves public safety and supports equitable access and guaranteed parking for all outdoor adventurers visiting this area of unparalleled natural beauty.”

The reservation system was updated over the years as more hikers took advantage of it. Hikers now get automated emails reminding them of their reservations 24 hours before their time slot, and in 2022, AMR installed an automatic one-way gate at the parking lot’s entrance.

The DEC implemented a roadside parking ban along state Route 73 in 2019 in an effort to address safety concerns. Facing mounting hiker traffic, though, parking lots and trailhead parking areas in Keene continued to overflow. Town shuttles running from parking lots to trailheads were pushed to their limits, forest rangers began writing an increasing number of parking tickets and some parked cars even had to be towed to restore normal traffic flow to Keene, which connects the Tri-Lakes to Interstate 87.

A committee created by the DEC in 2019 was asked to submit recommendations for how to address hiker traffic in the High Peaks Region. The High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group recommended in its final report that the DEC consider parking passes or permits as an option to limit hiker traffic into wilderness areas. HikeAMR was the pilot for this program. Though the reservation system has grown in popularity over the last few years, it is unclear if any other lots in the High Peaks will start to operate under similar reservation systems. This pilot program has come under scrutiny from hikers for a variety of reasons, a chief criticism being the system’s limitations on the recreational use of state-owned, public land.

AMR is a 7,000-acre, privately-owned reserve, but the DEC has a conservation easement with the property that allows the public to access the trailheads for Noonmark and Round Mountain. Reserving a parking spot at AMR is free, and people can reserve a spot for a single day or for overnight use. People who are camping could reserve a spot for up to three nights. People getting dropped off or picked up in the AMR lot, or arriving by bicycle, would also need to register with the system. AMR won’t allow people to walk in without reservations, except people who have a Greyhound or Trailways bus ticket from within the past 24 hours.


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