ADIRONDACKS, N.Y. (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is urging hikers to postpone hikes on some Adirondack trails due to muddy conditions.
According to the DEC, the conditions could cause damage to the trails. The department stated that sliding boots destroy trail tread, damage surrounding vegetation, and erode thin soils to cause washouts.
Additionally, the rotten snow and monorails are a safety hazard even with proper equipment according to the DEC, and high elevation and alpine vegetation are extremely fragile in spring months while starting regrowth after the winter.
Specifically, hikers are being asked to avoid trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. The department states that the high elevation trails are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow which means the thin soils become a mix of ice and mud as winter conditions melt and frost leaves the ground.
They warned that the remaining compacted ice and snow on trails is rotten, slippery, and will not reliably support the weight of hikers. They also advised individuals to avoid the trails and their narrow strips of ice and compacted snow at the center of trails, which are referred to as monorails, because they are difficult to hike and the adjacent rotten snow is particularly prone to postholing.
As a result, hikers are advised to avoid high elevation trails for the duration of the muddy trail advisory. Residents should avoid the following high elevation trails until trail conditions have dried and hardened.
- High Peaks Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet specifically Algonquin, Colden, Feldspar, Gothics, Indian Pass, Lake Arnold Cross-Over, Marcy, Marcy Dam – Avalanche – Lake Colden, which is extremely wet, Phelps Trail above Johns Brook Lodge, Range Trail, Skylight, Wright, all “trail-less” peaks, and all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond in the former Dix Mountain Area;
- Giant Mountain Wilderness – all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owl Head Lookout;
- McKenzie Mountain Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet, specifically Whiteface, Esther, Moose, and McKenzie Mountains;
- Sentinel Range Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet, specifically Pitchoff Mountain; and
- Jay Mountain Wilderness – specifically Jay Mountain.
Until conditions improve, hikers are encouraged to responsibly explore low elevation trails or enjoy other forms of recreation. However, hikers may still encounter thick mud, flooding, ice, and deep slushy snow on low elevation trails.
Hikers are advised to walk through the mud, slush, or water, and down the center of the trail to help to reduce erosion and trail widening and minimize damage to trailside vegetation. Waterproof boots, gaiters, and trekking poles are recommended to safely and comfortably traverse these variable trail conditions.
The muddy trail advisory for high elevation trails could last into June as it sometimes takes that long for trails to dry and harden. However, the advisory could be lifted as soon as May for lower elevation trails.
Hikers are advised to check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for weekly updates on trail conditions, seasonal road closures, and general recreation information for the Adirondacks. Residents can also visit the DEC website for a list of hikes found throughout the Adirondacks that are great alternatives to popular high elevation hikes during this time.