Owl’s Head Mountain has been a popular rock climbing destination since the 1950s. It has an open rock summit with pretty views, and a collection of crack climbs that is especially popular for toproping and beginners.
It is also a popular destination for hiking. As any local can tell you, and the lines of cars at the popular trailheads will attest, hiking popularity has skyrocketed in the last few years and easy-access destinations like Owls Head Mountain are especially popular. This particular hike has been loved to death.
While the cliff and mountaintop are on state land, the parking and [all but the last 0.1 mile of] the trail are not. Overcrowding reached a tipping point Memorial Day weekend 2016; when land owners reported being blocked from their own driveways, trash, vandalism, noise, and use of their yards as outhouses.
Beginning in June 2017, the trail and parking for Owls Head Mountain has been closed from 4:00 PM Friday through 7:00 AM Monday. This closure was supposed to last until the “end of the 2017 hiking season”, and then the trail closed permanently. However since the closure has worked, it remains open during the week while the landowners and town try to come up with a solution. A couple options have been discussed:
- Acquire a parcel along Route 73 for a new parking area and reroute the trail
- Reroute the trail to begin on Molly Nye Road in Keene, a much further and lower starting point.
No timeline has been established for a decision.
Click here for the announcement by the DEC.
Click here for the article by the Adirondack Almanac.
Click here for the article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
Click here for discussion of the closure on the ADK High Peaks forum.