ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As spring gets underway in the Adirondacks, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is warning visitors of mud season. As snow starts to melt on the trails, mud and monorails can make for difficult hiking conditions.
Monorails are thin strips of hardpacked snow and ice in the center of trails. They are surrounded by little or no snow on the sides. The DEC said to walk directly through the mud on trails instead of around it to help stop trail widening and damage to vegetation.
Some vehicle access roads and gates have temporarily closed due to mud. According to the DEC, vehicles damage roads during mud season. The roads will reopen once maintenance has been completed and the roads are dry enough to handle vehicles.
In the Lake George Wild Forest, Jabe Pond Road, Lily Pond Road, and Dacy Clearing Road in Shelving Rock are all closed to vehicle traffic due to mud. The DEC has also closed access roads and gates in Lewis, Jefferson, and Northern Herkimer Counties.
Snowmobile trails have been closed in some areas due to the lack of snow. Some seasonal access roads are still open for snowmobile use only. Where access roads are open, the DEC recommends the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles.
There are several places to go mountain biking in both the Adirondacks and the Catskills. Since trails are susceptible to erosion and trail widening, the DEC asks riders to try to avoid muddy, wet, or icy trails. When encountering patches of mud or ice, ride through the center of the trail to avoid damaging trailside plants.
There is still snow in some places, especially in the High Peaks Wilderness. The DEC said to be prepared for snow, ice, and mud by wearing or bringing along warm, waterproof layers, extra layers, snowshoes, microspikes, crampons, and gaiters. Gaiters are garments worn over the ankle and lower leg to protect against snow and mud.
Snowshoes or skis are required to be worn in snow over eight inches. The DEC reminds hikers that conditions change with elevation gain, and cold, wet weather poses a risk of hypothermia. There is also currently an avalanche risk in the Adirondacks.
Streams, ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water can also pose risks while hiking in the spring. The DEC said melting snow and rain can make stream crossings tricky. Hikers should avoid stream crossings in the event of high, fast-moving water. Hikers should also not walk on water that is iced over. With the temperature beginning to rise, ice is likely to break.
10 Hiking Essentials
The DEC suggests you carry these with you on any hike you go on:
- Navigation: map, compass, GPS system, extra batteries
- Clothing: Waterproof/windproof jacket, hat, thermal undergarments, wool socks
- Light: Headlamp, flashlight, lanterns, extra batteries
- First-aid supplies: Use a pre-made kit or build your own
- Emergency kit: Whistle, signal mirror, duct tape, pocket knife, bright-colored cloth
- Fire: Matches in a waterproof container, lighter, fire starters
- Food: High protein and high-calorie items, pack extra food
- Water: Pack at least two liters per person, water filtration or purifying system, carry more than you think you’ll need
- Sun and insect protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellent, bug net
- Emergency shelter: Tent, space blanket, tarp
If you ever get lost are injured, stay calm and don’t panic. In case of emergency, the DEC said to make sure these phone numbers are saved in your phone:
- DEC Emergency Dispatch: (518) 408-5850
- In the Adirondacks: (518) 891-0235
- New York State Forest Ranger dispatch phone number: 833-NYS-RANGERS
If you can’t access these numbers, you can always call 911.