New York State Issues Muddy Trail Advisory for Adirondack High Peaks

Snow covered Mt. Marcy, Adirondack Mountains, NYS, May 11, 2017

Winter conditions await hikers on New York’s highest peak, Mt. Marcy, shown here covered in snow but surrounded by spring’s early green, this morning.

As a new season of outdoor hiking and recreation on public lands in the Adirondack Mountains kicks off, New York State officials issued a warning to hikers. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urged hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until trails at high elevation have dried and hardened.

Spring conditions are present throughout the state and the lower elevations of the Adirondacks. However, backcountry trails in the highest elevations are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. Steep trails with thin soils can become a mix of ice and mud as the ice melts and frost leaves the ground. This makes the trails slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers; a hazard for hikers and bad for the trail.

The state asked hikers to help avoid damage to hiking trails and sensitive high elevation vegetation by avoiding trails above 2,500 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness areas in the northern Adirondacks. Please avoid the following trails until trail conditions improve:

  • High Peaks Wilderness Area - all trails above 2,500 feet; where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, 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, and all “trail-less” peaks.
  • Dix Mountain Wilderness Area - all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond
  • Giant Mountain Wilderness Area - all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owls Head.

Hikers are advised to only use trails at lower elevations as these trails usually dry soon after snowmelt and traverse deeper, less erosive soils. DEC suggests the following alternative trails for hiking, subject to weather conditions:

  • High Peaks Wilderness:
    • Ampersand Mountain
    • Mt. VanHoevenberg
    • Mt. Jo
  • Giant Mt. Wilderness:
    • Giant’s Washbowl
    • Roaring Brook Falls
    • Owl Head Lookout
  • Hurricane Mountain Wilderness:
    • The Crows
    • Hurricane Mountain from Rt. 9
  • Jay Mountain Wilderness:
    • Jay Mountain
  • McKenzie Mt. Wilderness:
    • Baker Mountain
    • Haystack Mountain
    • McKenzie Mountain
  • Saranac Lakes Wild Forest:
    • Panther Mountain
    • Scarface Mountain
    • Floodwood Mountain

Find out more about backcountry trail conditions in the Adirondack Mountains on NYS DEC’s website.

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