KEENE, N.Y. (WTEN) – As of last Sunday, hikers and trailblazers will be able to sign up and reserve spots in a parking system in the Adirondack Park designed to help guarantee safe and reliable places to park when it’s time to start scaling mountains this year.

The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Mountain Reserve announced the opening of the Pilot Reservation System’s second year this week.

Starting on May 1 and running until Oct. 31, hikers visiting the 7,000-acre Adirondack Mountain Reserve in the town of Keene will need to make reservations through the program in order to access the parking lot and region trailheads. Reservations can be made online, and come at no charge. The purpose of the system isn’t profit, but rather to keep roadsides and other places clear of potentially hazardous amounts of traffic congestion.

“DEC and the Adirondack Mountain Reserve are gearing up to launch the second year of our parking reservation partnership using the valuable input shared by hikers, local leaders, and other stakeholders committed to making the Adirondacks safer and more accessible,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Tens of thousands of hikers and visitors successfully used the system last year and we will continue to work with AMR and others to build upon the progress we’ve made to encourage the safe, sustainable use of our trails to benefit both the recreating public and our natural resources.”

Reservations opened on Sunday, April 17 through the Reserve website. Reservations can be made no more than two weeks ahead of time, in order to avoid spots being claimed through the whole spring and summer all at once. Reservations can be obtained for a single day or overnight. 70 reservations in total will be made available in a given day.

In its first year, the reservation system resulted in registrations from 14,200 New York State residents, 6,600 residents of other states, and 138 from other countries. The DEC says that 2021’s run with the program resulted in visitors coming more evenly throughout the weeks, rather than as high a spike on weekends or holidays.

“We are very pleased with the results of the first year of the reservation system which was able to meet and exceed the three primary goals of the pilot: (1) to improve the safety for all those who travel the Route 73 corridor, (2) to provide fair and equitable access to parking for all levels of the hiking community and (3) to preserve and protect both public and private lands for future generations,” explained John Schuler, General Manager of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. “The mission of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, as stated in our Conservation Easement, is to preserve and protect the forests, lakes, mountain streams, and wildlife on our lands, and we believe that our partnership with the DEC on the pilot parking reservation system is supporting our efforts to continue to carry out our mission. We are confident the second year will be even more successful.”

Other parts of the Adirondack Park have hiking trails with parking lots that generally operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Hiking is allowed in the Reserve through an easement with the DEC.