New York forest rangers say roughly 40 percent of hikers they encountered in the Adirondack High Peaks during President’s Day Weekend were unprepared for the backcountry.

Forest Rangers speak with hikers during the Adirondack outreach effort. (NYDEC Photo)

Forest rangers partnered with members of the Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack 46ers this weekend as part of a new initiative to reduce the number of search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. The rangers and experienced hikers involved in the program approached hikers at trailheads and on popular trails to ensure they were properly dressed, equipped, and prepared for the conditions

Rangers and volunteers were stationed at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead, Adirondak Loj Trailhead, the High Peaks Information Center, and on other trails in the area where they queried hikers about their destination, gear, equipment and clothing. They also provided information and displays to demonstrate the proper gear, equipment, and clothing necessary to help ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience.

Statistics from Cascade Mountain show that more than 100 hikers were encountered each day on Saturday and Sunday. Approximately 40 percent were unprepared because of improper clothing or footwear.

The overall goal of the effort is to decrease the number of unprepared hikers and the number of search and rescue incidents. Forest rangers and other participants will meet to evaluate the pilot initiative and use the information to determine how best to implement the initiative in the coming year.