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Thread: Appalachia Parking Area - The New Lafayette Place?

  1. #1
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Appalachia Parking Area - The New Lafayette Place?

    With all the recent conversation about Franconia Notch it's worth noting that this is not the only trail head starting to get over run with too many cars. SAT, 5:50 AM, heading to the Howker Ridge lot Appalachia was already full with about 25 cars on the road. When I drove by heading home around 3:45PM it was still full, had cars 1/4 mile up and down the road from the lot and actually had about 30 cars across the street right on the pavement in the breakdown lane. Don't recall ever seeing cars on that side before. It was only 2-3 years ago I could get to that lot by 7AM and easily get a parking space (it would be 1/2 to 2/3 full generally). Franconia Notch is getting a lot of the attention but this is really becoming a big issue at many trailheads in the Whites. Even the Howker Ridge lot was full with 2 cars on the street. I don't recall ever seeing more than 3-4 cars in that lot. At this pace hiking anywhere is going to get pretty awkward in another 2-3 years.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    If we allow the Franconia Notch Parkway parking situation to be treated as a theorhetical safety issue, then all other overflow parking that falls in similar situations (busy State Highway with speed limit over 45) should also handled with the same rigor. While I can appreciate that there are limited resources, there should at least be consistent philosophy.

    I actually asked the NHDoT if there were any data to support this (the shuttle) decision. I was told that they don't wait for there to be an accident before taking action. This is where arguments for Public Safety sometimes lead to actions that don't clearly benefit the public (i.e., the TSA). While benefits may exist, the proponents are in an unenviable situation of trying to prove a negative. By that I mean demonstrate that something didn't happen because of an action taken, especially when that action was already very unlikely to occur anyway.

    As for the future of hiking, I'm hoping that this wave of new hikers leads to a wave of new volunteers and trail maintainers. It took me awhile to get involved so I imagine others may be in a similar situation. A lot of trails in the whites are going to have to be redone, either hardened or rerouted, in order to avoid erosion issues.
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    Not going into the source of the volume of hikers but there is a significant difference in the two lots. There is plenty of room to park off the pavement along RT2 with excellent sight lines from either direction. Some folks are clueless and insist on parking on the paved breakdown lane but there is no need. There is no blanket prohibition on parking vehicles along state highway right of ways in non winter season that I aware of as long as the car are parked off the pavement. The fed has control of the parkway and the rules are no parking along the roadway.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    I realize the lots are quite different. I was commenting more on the sheer volume of cars accumulating at trail heads nowadays not so much legal jurisdiction and parking enforcement. Trails continue to get more and more crowded.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Not going into the source of the volume of hikers but there is a significant difference in the two lots. There is plenty of room to park off the pavement along RT2 with excellent sight lines from either direction. Some folks are clueless and insist on parking on the paved breakdown lane but there is no need. There is no blanket prohibition on parking vehicles along state highway right of ways in non winter season that I aware of as long as the car are parked off the pavement. The fed has control of the parkway and the rules are no parking along the roadway.
    I suspect that cars park just as close to traffic on RT2 as they do on RT3 through the Notch (but haven't compared paved shoulder widths). The issue of sightlines is valid, but I don't think that is the problem with RT3. The dividend highway in the Notch probably makes it safer given that cars are only coming one way.

    I am not debating the right to set rules, just the reasoning behind the rules. Doing something just because you have the right probably means you're being a jerk (in general, not you specifically).
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    Senior Member Quietman's Avatar
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    Temple Mountain NH lot had 5 cars today when I arrived. Is this because everyone is focusing on the 4k's instead of closer hikes? The views were limited, but watched a porci groom itself a few feet from the trail. Also, the blue bottle gentian's were quite prolific along the trails.
    Last edited by Quietman; 08-27-2018 at 08:47 PM.

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    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
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    us2 and I93 are far too different. I see no safety issues with Appalachia and there are so many trail options that you can easily beat the crowds.

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    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    SAT, 5:50 AM...Appalachia was already full with about 25 cars on the road....I don't recall ever seeing more than 3-4 cars in that lot. At this pace hiking anywhere is going to get pretty awkward in another 2-3 years.
    I've seen these sorts of conditions for a number of years now (at least a decade or more) at this time of year. It's vacation time and the huts are open. Quite a number of people pull in on a Friday and head up to the hut, so the lot is busy Friday night and, of course, Saturday morning. Wait until mid-week, or, better yet, after the huts close.

    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    As for the future of hiking, I'm hoping that this wave of new hikers leads to a wave of new volunteers and trail maintainers.
    Agreed.

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    I have been hiking less used trails this season on occasion and I just don't see a big usage increase. I am attributing the high volume of traffic on certain popular trails to the 4K list and social media activity concentrating the use to the "best trails". I think the same effect is all over the tourist industry. If folks are going to spend their limited recreational time on an experience, they want the "best" experience and they search for that "best" experience through social media. The folks who tend to be the most over the top enthusiastic with their online reviews seem to be the newby hikers whose experience base is low so they tend to reinforce usage to a few key trails that are the "best way" to tag a 4K.

    Some ancient history is the Appalachia parking lot was created to funnel multiple trail heads into one common parking lot. If you look at historical trail maps prior to the new alignment of RT2 when Durand road was bypassed, the trails mostly originated from the Ravine lodge. The new alignment would have cut across multiple trails spread along the new road. I believe the decision was made to create one central trailhead with parking and then reroute the trails to one common point. Anyone familiar with the trails in that area probably know the various shortcuts to RT2 which are mostly kept open and frequently used for trail maintainer or S&R use.

    I did drive up the parkway Sunday afternoon and there were no cars at all parked along the highway at Lafayette place. I would expect that an education campaign must have occurred with what I suspect were face to face interactions between potential parkers and authorities in order for this to have occurred but this is pure speculation on my part. A few folks with uniforms and maybe some blue lights will give most folks "religion" pretty quick if they are thinking of parking in place they are not supposed to.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 08-27-2018 at 07:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quietman View Post
    Is this because everyone is focusing on the 4k's instead of closer hikes?

    100% yes. I haven't had a parking issue anywhere that wasn't a traditional 4K route. Even Diana's Baths had plenty of parking last time I was by there. People are lazy and uncreative with their routes, which is fine by me.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    A few folks with uniforms and maybe some blue lights will give most folks "religion" pretty quick if they are thinking of parking in place they are not supposed to.
    I drove by Dianna's Baths on Sunday afternoon and there was a uniformed parking person managing the overflow and chaos. She stopped folks from entering the new lot, queued up those who wanted to wait for a spot until someone left, and prevented all comers from parking on the West Side road.

    Very efficient and orderly!

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I did drive up the parkway Sunday afternoon and there were no cars at all parked along the highway at Lafayette place. I would expect that an education campaign must have occurred with what I suspect were face to face interactions between potential parkers and authorities in order for this to have occurred but this is pure speculation on my part. A few folks with uniforms and maybe some blue lights will give most folks "religion" pretty quick if they are thinking of parking in place they are not supposed to.
    There were a ton of cars on the road at Lafayette SAT around 4:30PM, pretty close to a pre-enforcement weekend. As best as I could see none of the cars had tickets on the windshields. Didn't see any cops. I have noticed no cars on several Sundays now that I have been through lately. Not sure what is driving that discrepancy between the days. Didn't appear to be weather.

    I too have been using the lesser used trails now for several years on most hikes and even they are starting to show use and wear, bypasses through the woods of obstacles, etc. Not at all like the main routes to summits but certainly starting to be noticeable. As someone who has only been seriously hiking since the Spring of 2012 I find it increasingly alarming to see such an increase in wear, braiding of popular routes and trash in just the short time frame I've been out on the trails. I hope this is a cyclical thing and not a trend as most long time hikers here point out.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barkingcat View Post
    I've seen these sorts of conditions for a number of years now (at least a decade or more) at this time of year. It's vacation time and the huts are open. Quite a number of people pull in on a Friday and head up to the hut, so the lot is busy Friday night and, of course, Saturday morning. Wait until mid-week, or, better yet, after the huts close.
    I've only been seriously hiking since 2012 so my experience is limited but I never had trouble parking at Appalachia until recently, say the past 1-2 years. The only time I have generally had issues was foliage season. I can only begin to imagine what that will look like this year considering the volume of traffic right now. I wish I was able to hike mid-week. I have a friend who normally hikes WED or THU and her pictures always have a noticeable lack of people. She doesn't seem to think it is as crazy up there as I do being a SAT/SUN hiker.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; NY 46: 6/46

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    In my opinion the increase in hiker traffic was not an issue until about 2010, even then not to bad. Every year after that it has gotten worse and probably will continue to do so. Its been 5 years since I've done FR and unless its winter, will not climb it again. I have zero interest in being with that many hikers. I'm having bad knee problems anyway, will try small peaks I always poo pooed. Next year, I might just buy a boat, take up fishing and retire from hiking anyway.

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    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I've only been seriously hiking since 2012 so my experience is limited but I never had trouble parking at Appalachia until recently, say the past 1-2 years.
    On big weekends the lot has filled up for the past 20-30 years. Parking along Rt 2 is a well established tradition. Not sure what days you've been parking there, but this isn't new.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

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