GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As the snow melts and rain falls, hiking season is emerging again in the Adirondack Park. April can be a messy time to hit the trails, though, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is urging hikers to stay away from hikes of a certain height. Just because conditions are one way on the trailhead, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way for the whole climb.
On Thursday, the DEC put out guidance advising hikers to avoid trails that climb above 2,500 feet in elevation until those trails have dried up. Currently, high-elevation trails are going through an annual spring period, where melting ice and snow mix with mud, creating rotten, slippery terrain that isn’t safe to climb on. These conditions can create “monorails,” strips of hard-backed ice and snow that run along the center of trails, which make hiking even more precarious.
There is a list of reasons to avoid muddy trails. In addition to the danger to hikers, foot traffic in these conditions can also cause harm to the trails themselves. Sliding boots damage tread on trails, as well as surrounding plant life. A lot of boots stomping around in those conditions can also cause washouts.
Muddy conditions can be found on trails of all heights, not just those that reach above the 2,500-foot line. Hikers on any trails in the Adirondack Park this spring should keep an eye out for thick mud, flooding, ice and deep, slushy snow. Hikers are advised to walk through muddy or otherwise wet conditions in the center of the trail, in order to minimize erosion and widening.
The DEC laid out a specific list of Adirondack trails it is recommended to avoid until the soil has dried and hardened completely. Those trails include:
High Peaks Wilderness
- Indian Pass
- Lake Arnold Cross-Over
- Marcy Dam
- Lake Colden
- Phelps Trail above Johns Brook Lodge
- Range Trail
- All “trail-less” peaks
- All trails north of Elk Lake and Round Pond in the former Dix Mountain Area
Giant Mountain Wilderness
- All trails north of Giant’s Washbowl, “The Cobbles” and Owl Head Lookout
McKenzie Mountain Wilderness
Sentinel Range Wilderness
- Pitchoff Mountain
Jay Mountain Wilderness
- Jay Mountain
The DEC has a long list of other recommendations for enjoying a hike during the muddy season. Waterproof layers, microspikes, snowshoes and other garments are recommended for trail sections where there’s still snow on the ground.
Muddy trail advisories may be lifted as early as May, or could continue into June, depending on the rate in which conditions change. Adirondack Backcountry information websites are updated weekly with new information.