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Public lean-tos for August 2020?

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  • Public lean-tos for August 2020?

    What is the status of the public lean-tos in the high peaks? My understanding is that during normal times, these were open, without reservation, on a first come first serve basis. Is this still the case?

    To me it looks like that this area is not listed here:

    But the statement at the top of this DEC site is confusing to me:
    Does this apply to those lean-tos in the high peaks?

    If they are open, does anyone have a prediction of how full these will be in late August? I'm planning to stay here weekend nights as well as Monday and Tuesday nights. I was planning on trying to stay at any of the lean-tos between Heart Lake and Mt Marcy (Marcy Dam, Avalanche, Kagel).

  • #2
    Hello and welcome to the forum! The links that you posted generally refer to front country campgrounds or campsites that require a permit. The backcountry lean-tos are still available on a first come, first serve basis, though the DEC had said in April that they were limiting lean-to use to the same members of a single household. Not sure if this still applies, so you might want to check with the DEC. See:

    Availability will depend on location and timing. Marcy Dam and Lake Colden sites fill up fast on weekends and sometimes have problems with bears because people don't take proper precautions with their bear canisters. You might have better luck with Kagel or Avalanche, but it's impossible to say for sure. I'd recommend arriving as early as possible on Friday. By Monday many people will have left.

    Good luck and enjoy!
    We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige


    • #3
      You are limited to 3 nights, unless you have a permit. You might be able to reserve a leanto at Heart Lake. These are owned by the ADK and are reserved (fee). Stay one night, then move on early to one of the others.

      ADK 46r #8003; 6W
      2nd round: 16
      SL6r #596
      Catskill 3500 21/39; 11W


      • #4
        As debmonster stated, the public lean-tos are first come, first serve. On weekends the demand for a lean-to in a popular area is very high. Regardless of any Covid restrictions, most lean-to's have a capacity of about 6. Be prepared to look for an available (and legal) tent site and bring a tarp or tent. Be aware that often all the legal tent sites may also be occupied, especially if you are showing up on a Saturday in the Marcy Dam area. The lean-to demand remains high all days of the week until after Labor Day. Weekend demand doesn't diminish until after Columbus Day. Note that the 3 lean-tos you mentioned are all quite popular due to the easy access. MTVhike's recommendation of the ADK Loj lean-to's is a great suggestion. They can be reserved ahead of time and they have access to several major trailheads.


        • #5
          Its always a gamble on weekends to be sure. Especially during the summer months. Some kind of tent, tarp, or hammock setup is practically a must for times when lean-to capacity gets maxed out, which is often in July and August. Even so, legal tent sites also get maxed out to capacity on busy weekends. You will have much better luck finding a good place to stay on a Sunday afternoon that any other time on the weekend. Many people depart around noon on Sunday so they can pack out and drive home while its still light. Its a good time to snag something for a few days.

          Don't forget your bear cannister.
          Adopt a natural resource. Give back.


          • #6
            I think the only covid related policy change for the lean-tos is that in normal times, people are supposed to share lean-tos up to 8 people. If you arrive at a lean to and there is a group of 4 people staying there, you have the right to stay there as well. That has changed, now it's basically a family or single group. So if you arrive at an occupied lean-to with a few people, you're out of luck.

            I would definitely bring a tent. There are a couple of nice tent sites in the avalanche camp area.