The Modern Adirondack 46er
A lot has changed since the Forty-Sixers first wrote their bylaws in 1949.  Today, the Adirondack Park welcomes thousands of hikers each year and boasts over 1,500 miles of maintained trails, with an equal number of unmaintained herd paths (Adirondack Atlas).  The size of the Forty-Sixers has grown too, from its humble beginnings in a Troy, New York church to an influential group with over 8,000 members (

In addition to keeping the official registry of Forty-Sixers, the club has expanded its scope to include more stewardship opportunities in the Adirondack Park.  Although hiking gives people an opportunity to be closer to nature, it is not an impact-free activity (Impacts of Hiking).  Trail building is a disruptive process to the adjacent vegetation and often involves the removal of small trees, bushes, and other plants.  Hiking has further environmental impacts, in that it prohibits the growth of vegetation on and around the trail, can cause erosion, and brings humans (and their trash and waste!) into a generally human-free ecosystem, which can contaminate waterways and further disrupt wildlife (Impacts of Hiking).

In response to the increased use of the High Peaks region, in part because of the desire to hike all 46 high peaks, the Forty-Sixers expanded their stewardship opportunities and their hiker education program.  The Forty-Sixers funded the distribution of Leave No Trace (an environmentally focused group working with outdoor enthusiasts) pamphlets to its members and other hikers.  The group also created a series of pamphlets written in English and French (as many High Peaks users are French-Canadian) similar to the Leave No Trace pamphlets that also included specific information about the High Peaks (Heaven 128).  Moreover, the club promotes and encourages all of its members to take wilderness first aid courses, offering partial reimbursement for tuition fees, further demonstrating its commitment to hiker education and safety in the High Peaks (Heaven 128).

Though the group and its audience have grown tremendously in the last sixty years, its purpose has not changed.  The Forty-Sixers continue to inspire new generations of hikers to get outside and enjoy the Adirondacks, while advocating for education, stewardship, and sustainability.  Whether it is your first hike, or your 12th round of the 46, the Forty-Sixers community is there to support and nurture a communal love for the environment and the High Peaks.



Work Cited

Jenkins, Jerry and Keal, Andy. The Adirondack Atlas; A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park. New York: Syracuse University Press and The Adirondack Museum, 1997. Print.

The Adirondack Forty-Sixers. ADK 46ers. N.p. n.d. Web. 22 Jan 2015.

The Adirondack Forty-Sixers. Heaven Up-h’isted-ness!: The History of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and the
High Peaks of the Adirondacks
. Adirondack Forty-Sixers, Inc. 2011. Print.

Torn, Anne. “Comparing the impacts of hiking, skiing and horse riding on trail and vegetation in different types of forest.” Journal of Environmental Management. Volume 90, Issue 3: 1426-1434. 2009.