New York officials are urging hikers to avoid hiking on high elevation trails for the next several weeks.
The Department of Environmental Conservation says hikers should be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are currently melting on high elevation trails and steep trails with thin soils are dangerous for hiking and susceptible to erosion, and sensitive alpine vegetation is easily damaged.
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, making the trails slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers. Sensitive alpine vegetation is also easily damaged by hikers attempting to avoid the mud and ice.
Avoiding these trails during the Muddy Trail Advisory helps to alleviate impacts to the trail tread and adjacent areas. Saturated, thin soils and steep grades combined with hikers trying to get traction lead to increased impacts to the trail corridors during the shoulder seasons. Snow and ice “monorails” are difficult to hike on, resulting in users widening trails.
DEC encourages 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. They ask hikers avoid the following trails until trail conditions improve:
- High Peaks Wilderness – 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, all “trail-less” peaks, and all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond in the former Dix Mountain Wilderness.
- Giant Mountain Wilderness – all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owl Head Lookout.
- McKenzie Mountain Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, specifically Whiteface, Esther, Moose and McKenzie Mountains.
- Sentinel Range Wilderness: all trails above 2,500 feet where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, specifically Pitchoff Mountain.
DEC is urging hikers to postpone hikes in the higher elevations to protect New York’s trail system and help DEC manage the largest wilderness in the Northeast.
Visit DEC’s website for a list of alternative hikes (PDF, 42 KB).
Due to winter weather and conditions lasting into late April and early May, many seasonal access roads in the Adirondacks which are typically open by the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend will remain closed. DEC closes seasonal access roads each spring for mud season. The roads are opened to public motor vehicle use only after they dry and harden, and all necessary maintenance and repairs are completed.
The following seasonal access roads, or portions of them, will remain closed this weekend:
Blue Mountain Wild Forest (Township 19 Conservation Easement Tract)
- O’Neill Flow Road
Five Mile Conservation Easement Tract
- Five Mile Road
Gold Mine Conservation Easement Tract
- Gold Mine Road
Grass River Wild Forest (and nearby conservation easement lands)
- Streeter Lake Road
- Spruce Mountain Road
- Long Pond Main Haul Road
- Gulf Brook Road
High Peaks/Dix Mountain Wilderness
- South Meadow Lane
- Elk Lake Road
- Gulf Brook Road (Boreas Ponds Tract)
Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract
- North Branch Road
- Mud Pond Road
Moose River Plains Complex
- Limekiln Lake – Cedar River Road (aka Moose River Plains Road) between the Cedar River Gate (Indian Lake side) and Lost Pond Road
- Otter Brook Road beyond the bridge over the South Branch Moose River
- Rock Dam Road
Vanderwhacker Wild Forest
- Gulf Brook Road (Boreas Ponds Tract)