Lean-tos are an important part of camping in the Adirondacks and many other parts of the Eastern United States. As a shelter, and as a gathering point they have a unique place in the hearts of many campers and backpackers, and should be treated with great respect. Most contain a log (and they’re all meant to) that will allow you to know how often it’s used, and is also helpful in finding lost hikers. Many a night a backpackers have read through the comments in a lean-to log learning what other backpackers have seen and experienced, as well as possible trail conditions ahead of them. Most lean-tos also have an outhouse or box toilet associated with them, giving a backpacker the chance to “do their business” without having to dig a cathole which can be a welcome change.
Just who maintains all these lean-tos? There are numerous individuals across the Adirondacks who have adopted lean-tos and pack minor supplies and TP out to them on a regular basis often associated with the Adirondack Mountain Club. In some cases you will find an amazing assortment of supplies that a volunteer has left at a lean-to for backpackers to use, including matches and lighters, kindling, firewood, paperback novels, occasionally tracts or New Testaments.