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DEC and Essex County launch new Adirondack shuttle route to expand safe, sustainable access to high peaks

  • / Updated:
  • Concetta Durso 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Essex County are launching a new shuttle route to help manage safe, sustainable visitation to backcountry destinations in the Adirondack High Peaks. The new route builds on the existing Route 73 shuttle and will run on select summer and fall weekends from Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson to provide convenient and safe transportation to some of the region’s most scenic locations. 

“DEC continues to support effective strategies to help protect public safety on the way to the High Peaks trailheads, while also addressing use of public lands in a sustainable way that protects our natural resources and supports local economies,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “This new route expansion with Essex County and other partners will be a great asset for campers headed for an overnight trip into the backcountry or to appreciate the unique beauty of fall in the Adirondacks.”

The Frontier Town Gateway shuttle partnership also includes the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST), the towns of Keene and North Hudson, and the Frontier Town Gateway, often referred to as “the A-frame,” to provide a unique shuttle experience and a safe, convenient, no-cost way for visitors to access popular trailheads without having to worry about parking availability. 

August Thru-Hike Shuttle

On August 8 and 15, visitors can board the shuttle at the Frontier Town Gateway to begin their overnight camping trip by thru-hiking one of the most unique wilderness areas without the burden of parking a vehicle at both ends. The shuttle will drop riders off at the Adirondak Loj in North Elba to provide entry into the High Peaks Wilderness. Visitors would then hike and camp overnight for up to three nights and four days as they make their way to the opposite side of the expansive High Peaks Wilderness to the Tahawus Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb. The shuttle will pick up participating riders from Tahawus Upper Works at 2 p.m. daily on the following Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before returning riders to the Frontier Town Gateway.

The shuttle accommodates up to 20 people and pre-registration for the August trips is required. Sign up by visiting here. Make sure to plan accordingly for lengthy trips by visiting online and other resources to ensure proper preparation before going into the Adirondack backcountry.

October Foliage Shuttle

To accommodate visitors seeking fall foliage hikes and views, no-cost shuttles will run Oct. 1 and 2 and again over Columbus Day weekend on Oct. 1 and 2, and again over Indigenous Peoples’/Columbus Day weekend on Oct. 8, 9, and 10. The route will go from the Frontier Town Gateway to the Giant Mountain, Roaring Brook Falls, and Rooster Comb trailheads and the Marcy Field Parking Area. These are the same drop-off locations currently offered by the Route 73 Hiker Shuttle from Marcy Field, but the route provides increased access for visitors to further alleviate unsafe and illegal parking in the Route 73 corridor. The gateway shuttle stop is also conveniently located near the DEC Frontier Town Campground, Equestrian and Day Use Area.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

The October shuttle will operate in a loop from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Seating for the October Frontier Town Gateway shuttle is available on a first-come first-served basis. Dogs are not permitted on either the Fronter Town Gateway nor the Route 73 shuttle and masks are required. 

Town of North Hudson Supervisor Stephanie DeZalia said, “I am so thrilled to see this come to fruition. This has been a wonderful collaboration of many. The Town of North Hudson, The Town of Keene, Essex County, ROOST, New York State DEC, the Adirondak Loj and the Frontier Town Gateway all working together to offer a new experience; a new adventure to our hiking community. Creating a shuttle launching site at the Gateway at Exit 29 will further our efforts in providing safe parking experiences for our visitors and will promote the splendor of the Southernmost part of the High Peaks and its less traveled trail system.”

Town of Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson said, “Shuttles can be an effective tool for visitors to access the beauty of the High Peaks. These two pilot routes offer an opportunity to adventure into remote parts of the Park without the hassle of driving and parking along the busy Route 73 corridor.”  

Mary Jane Lawrence, chief operating officer at ROOST said this multi-day shuttle option will benefit both residents and visitors to the region. “We are excited about the option of a shuttle that supports backcountry wilderness hiking trip. This will make it much easier and less time-consuming at the beginning and end of a journey. We are always supportive of initiatives that contribute to responsible use of the region’s natural resources and this shuttle schedule helps to accomplish that. Through-hikes reduce the stress on many trails in our region because hikers can start at one location and end at another, rather than backtracking on the original trail.”

Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director said “Shuttles are a great way for visitors to reach their trailhead of choice in a way that is safe, sustainable, and enjoyable. ADK looks forward to supporting the continued development and implementation of shuttles for the High Peaks region.”

Muhammad Ahmad, President of Frontier Town Gateway, said, “Frontier Town Gateway is honored to be a part of this great collaboration. The shuttle service will be a great opportunity for many new and seasoned visitors to explore the less-traveled areas. Frontier Town Gateway’s amenities include free parking, fresh and hot food, hiking, camping and other outdoor supplies that will enhance the experience of all the visitors. The shuttle service at Frontier Town Gateway will be another step forward to become a hub and true Gateway to the Adirondacks.”

The route from the Frontier Town Gateway is consistent with the recommendations of the Volpe Shuttle Feasibility Study and supports the continued development of the former Frontier Town lands in North Hudson as a hub to link local and regional outdoor recreation experiences in the Adirondack Park, bolster tourism, and strengthen the North Country’s regional economy.

These new shuttle programs are an expansion of the Route 73 Hiker Shuttle program first piloted by Essex County and DEC in 2021 and currently running on weekends from Marcy Field in Keene with stops at the Rooster Comb, Giant Mountain, and Roaring Brook Falls trailheads. The Route 73 Hiker Shuttle operates Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays through Columbus Day weekend from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. No reservations are needed. Stewards are stationed at Marcy Field to help hikers navigate the shuttle system and educate on responsible recreation, including preparedness, hiking safety, and Leave No Trace™ principles. Learn more about the Route 73 shuttle program and find a route map and shuttle schedule on the DEC website.

The shuttle system is among many actions underway this season to protect public safety and promote sustainable use of state lands. Shuttles were also a recommendation in the High Peaks Advisory Group’s final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack Park to help address critical issues associated with increased public use of High Peaks resources.New York State lands belong to all of us, and we all have a responsibility to protect them. DEC reminds New Yorkers to Love Our New York Lands this summer and fall by recreating sustainably, visiting trails less traveled, always practicing Leave No TraceTM, and giving back through volunteer work and stewardship. For more information, visit here.