Changes coming to the High Peaks and Chapel Pond

The DEC has proposed many changes to the High Peaks and Chapel Pond area.  While only a small portion of the proposal involves climbing, there are a lot of changes to the area which climbers may be interested in.

The ACC will be writing a letter to the DEC to address some of the changes that we are most concerned about (i.e the parking through Chapel Pond) If you are interested in making a public comment to the DEC/APA, there will be two public meetings on Wednesday, May 23rd
10 a.m. at DEC Headquarters, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY
6 p.m. at Newcomb Central School, 5535 State Route 28N, Newcomb, NY

Alternatively, if you can’t make the meeting but want to write a letter, you can snail mail your comments to:

-Robert Ripp, Forester, NYSDEC, 232 Golf Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885.
-Kathy Regan, Deputy Director for Planning, NYS Adirondack Park Agency P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977.
(We recommend sending your letter to both the APA and DEC!)

An email can also be sent to the DEC at:  [email protected].

The last day for comment is June 27th before the close of business.  The DEC and APA give oral statements and written letters the same consideration.

The complete draft can be found here:

Here are some important breakdowns:

Naming & Regulation changes:
Previously we’ve all known the HP to be divided into the Eastern and Western HP Wilderness, with the Dix Wilderness to the southeast.  This naming is all getting scrapped.  With the addition of the new Boreas Wilderness, there is now a contiguous stretch of land from the previous Western to the Dix Wilderness.  The previous Eastern HP will be renamed as “Central HP” and all surrounding wilderness (previously Western, Boreas, and Dix) will become “Outer HP”.

Throughout BOTH HP region, bear canisters will be required during summer months and group size maximums are 8 for overnight and 15 for day use.

In the “Outer HP” Dogs will be required on leashes above 4000′, at campsites and trailheads.

In the “Central HP” campfires are still prohibited, dogs must be on a leash at all times, camping must be at a designated site, but these same regulations do not apply in the “Outer HP”.

Parking Changes and Additions:

  • Ragged Mountain will see an 8 car lot on Gulf Brook Rd (essentially where the small current lot is now) at the start of the hiking/approach trail.  The hope is that this number is enough to accommodate hiker and climber needs.  There will also be a 12 car + 4 trailered vehicle lot just before the gate on Gulf Brook Rd.  This is good news for climbers planning to access Ragged Mountain crag!

Chapel Pond is slated to see a plethora of changes:

  • Round Pond Trailhead parking size will be increased to 25 cars
  • 2 new, 20 to 25 car lots are proposed near Jewel’s & Gems/King Wall.  This will become the new parking area for the Giant Ridge Trail, which will be rerouted away from the Chapel Pond strip.
  • A day use boat launch area will be created at the Chapel Pond Outlet/Campsite area.  They plan to have 4 parking spots for “boaters”. This will likely decrease the current available space for camping by one or two sites
  • The only parking areas will be Spanky’s lot, Round Pond lot, 2 Ridge Trail lots, Central CP pull-out, CP Outlet campground, and the Beer Walls lots.  All other roadside parking (i.e. over the white line) will be closed. They will also close the two long ‘strips’ of parking on either side of RT 73 from the Chapel Pond beach to just before the CP Slab.  A new trail is slated to be built to connect the new Ridge Trail parking to Chapel Pond beach.
  • The Cascade hiking trail will be rerouted from Mount Van Hoevenberg.  We are unsure if this will effect the parking for Western Pitchoff trailhead as the Amendment that we commented on in Februrary is still in limbo.
  • Ampersand will also have its trail rerouted to a new larger ‘off road’ lot.

There are dozens of new tent sites being proposed across the HP.  There are six new car camping sites proposed along Gulf Brook Road (Ragged Mtn).  The “day use area” at the Chapel Pond outlet will prohibit camping but we were told after that whatever camping is surrounding the day use area after construction will remain.

Non Climbing Changes:
Mountain Biking:

Fourteen miles of new mountain bike trails will be added to the west of Gulf Brook Rd in the Boreas Ponds Wild Forest.

A new trail will be cut from the bottom of the Wright Peak Ski Trail parallel the Wright/Algonquin trial and end at the Whale’s Tail Ski Trail.  This trail will be for ski use only.

Climbers and Black Bears Interacting Together

In the past in the Adirondacks the only time that as a climber you had to worry about black bear encounters was during the camping portion of an overnight trip. That all changed summer 2016 with very high black bear activity throughout the Chapel Pond area. Black bears in this area started to target climbers packs that where left unattended while the owners of the packs were climbing. These encounters were all thought to have been the work of one sow and her two cubs. Reportedly these three black bears are all gone from the area, by either being hit by cars or shot, legally, by a hunter. However already in summer 2018 there been reports of black bear encounters in the Chapel Pond area. Below are some tips on how to avoid black bear encounters and what to do if you do encounter a black bear, not just in the Chapel Pond area, but park wide.

Before you go and while you are at a cliff:

-Limit the amount food and gear that you bring with you to the cliff so you can keep it all within arms reach.

-Don’t leave food thinking that it will either biodegrade or that animals will eat it. This is the same as littering and encourages black bear encounters.

If you encounter a black bear:

-Make loud noise! Yelling and clapping your hands work great.

-If after making loud noises you are still approached and have bear spray, use it. Follow the directions for your bear spray carefully! If you don’t have bear spray, slowly back away bringing your belongings with you.

-Do not leave or throw food to a black bear in an attempt to get them to leave you alone. This only encourages the black bears bad behavior.


If you have a black bear encounter PLEASE call the DEC @ 518 897 1220 and report what happened, where the encounter was, and if you noticed any colored tags on the black bears ears. This information helps the DEC to track patterns of problem bears and hopefully prevent black bear problems in the future.