Adirondack Backcountry Trails Reopened

Damage to Marcy Dam from Hurricane Irene

The footbridge over the Marcy Dam was washed away in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Just in time for the fall hiking season, New York State officials have opened most of the hiking trails closed last week as a result of Hurricane Irene’s visit to the Adirondacks.

I headed into the backcountry via the Marcy Dam truck trail yesterday afternoon. This popular route into the backcountry is generally considered an easy hike; a walk in the woods on a somewhat rough emergency access road. Things have changed. As you will see in the photo essay below, although hikers will need to clamber over some culverts and washouts, the way remains quite passable, but those who venture out should be prepared for some rough walking.

Here are the latest details as released from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Region 5 Spokesperson, Dave Winchell.

The Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and Giant Mountain Wilderness reopened yesterday, September 8. Due to the amount of damage to certain trails, and the continued closure of a section of NYS Route 73 and other roads, Dix Mountain Wilderness and a number of trails in the reopened areas will remain closed. However, the majority of trails are now open for public recreation.

Open trails in the Giant Mountain Wilderness include all trails starting from the trailheads on Route 9 and Route 9N. Giant Mountain may also be accessed via the Hopkin Mountain Trail from the Ranney trailhead.

Open trails in the High Peaks Wilderness include all trails from the Adirondack Loj trailhead, the Cascade Mountain trailhead, the Garden trailhead, the Rooster Comb trailhead, the Upper Works trailhead, and the East River trailhead.

All trails out of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) remain closed due to the closure of a section of Route 73 and the damage to the trailhead parking lots.

The Elk Laketrailhead remains closed.

TRAIL ADVISORIES:Trails that are not closed still may have bridges washed out and water levels in most rivers and brooks are at spring high water levels. Crossings may be impassable at this time. These trails may also have blow down, eroded sections or flooded areas. Pay close attention as many trails have been rerouted to avoid heavily damaged sections and eroded drainages can be mistaken for trails. The ability to navigate with a map and compass is important.

Both newly developed and previous low water crossings may not be passable due to high water conditions.

The bridge on the road to the Garden Trailhead will be open to motor vehicles less than 6,000 pounds this weekend (9/9-11). Please use caution when crossing.  The Town of Keene will be operating a shuttle bus from the Marcy Field parking area to the corner of Market Street and Adirondack Road (approximately 1.25 miles away from the Garden Trailhead) from 12 pm to 7 pm on Friday and from 7 am to 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The Adirondack Loj Road and the South Meadow road are open to motor vehicle traffic.

ROAD INFORMATION: State Route 73 is open between Lake Placid and Keene Valley. Route 73 may be accessed by taking Route 9N North from Elizabethtown. Many businesses are open in Keene Valley, Keene, and Lake Placid.

CAMPGROUND AVAILABILITY: 17 of the 41 Adirondack DEC Campgrounds have closed for the season as regularly scheduled. Four campgrounds – Lake Harris, Scaroon Manor, Luzerne, and Hearthstone Point – will close on Sunday, September 11. Fall camping is available through Columbus Day Weekend at 20 Adirondack DEC Campgrounds.

Clinton County :Ausable Point

Essex County: Crown Point, Paradox Lake, and Wilmington Notch

Franklin County: Fish Creek, Meacham Lake, and Saranac Lake Islands

Fulton County: Northampton Beach

Hamilton County: Eighth Lake, Indian Lake Islands, Lake Durant, Lewey Lake, Moffit Beach, and Sacandaga

Warren County: Lake George Battleground, Lake George Islands (Glen Island, Long Island, & Narrow Island), and Rogers Rock

Herkimer County: Nicks Lake

Check the DEC High Peaks Trail Information web page for a complete list of closed trails and the conditions for open trails. It will be updated as trails are reopened.

Hurricane Irene damage at start of the Marcy Dam truck trail.

Washouts from Hurricane Irene at the start of the truck trail to Marcy Dam.


Klondike Trail bridge washed downstream by Hurricane Irene.

This bridge used to be upstream.


Washouts on the Marcy Dam truck trail.

Hikers will have to clamber over some minor obstacles on the Marcy Dam truck trail thanks to Hurricane Irene.


Marcy Dam Hurricane Irene damage.

The footbridge is gone, the dam breached. Most of the water in Marcy Dam pond has flowed downstream.

The view from Marcy Dam post Hurricane Irene.

The new view from Marcy Dam.


New slides on Wright Peak created by Hurricane Irene.

New Hurricane Irene slide on Wright Peak at the far right.

1 Comment


    Can’t wait to one day hike the Adirondack back country. Live in drought-plagued Santa Fe, which we LOVE, but seeing such greenery melts our hearts.

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