Some of the most famous peaks in the Northeast might be victims of their own popularity, as increasing numbers of mountain visitors are straining these mountaintop environments and possibly detracting from their wilderness setting.
Wilderness conservationists and alpine researchers from throughout the Northeast gathered in Millinocket, Maine earlier this month for the Northeast Alpine Stewardship Gathering, where experts discussed some of the biggest issues facing the region’s mountains.
Among the biggest issues discussed at the gathering, according to an article on BangorDailyNews.com, were concerns that increasing numbers of visitors are crowding trails, campsites and the Northeast’s most popular peaks.
Officials from Baxter State Park said roughly half of the park’s 70,000 annual visitors look to summit Katahdin, causing crowding on the summit and putting pressure on that one area of the park. Representatives with the Adirondack Mountain Club said they’ve seen their region’s number of visitors increase dramatically in recent years. And a representative from Monadnock State Park said roughly 8,000 visitors hiked Mount Monadnock on Columbus Day Weekend alone.
The increased visitation is creating challenges for stewards who are attempting to preserve the “spirit of wildness” in these places. Among the problems discussed were the improper disposal of human waste, a lack of visitor preparedness, and the trampling of fragile and rare alpine plants.