The Adirondack Mountain Club plans to reopen Adirondak Loj on Thursday and expects that some trails in the eastern High Peaks Wilderneness will be available for hiking by then.
Meantime, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation said on Tuesday that the department is evaluating which trails may be reopened. “It will most likely be tomorrow before we have completed that task and can provide a list of open trails,” David Winchell told me.
Adirondak Loj and the trails in the eastern High Peaks were closed after Hurricane Irene. Raging floodwaters collapsed a section of the road leading to the Loj, which is the main trailhead for hikes in the High Peaks.
Larry Straight, the town of North Elba highway superintendent, said the collapsed section of Adirondak Loj Road, at a bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable, has been repaired to allow one-way traffic. However, the road was still closed as of Tuesday.
Anthony Lavigne, the Essex County superintendent of public works, said the road eventually will again be open to two lanes of traffic, but he couldn’t say if the work will be done this year or next. The bridge over the river is scheduled to be replaced, he said, and it might be make more sense to finish repairs on the road and install the new bridge at the same time. Meantime, the one lane of traffic will be controlled by stop signs.
John Million, ADK’s deputy director, said the club also hopes to open Johns Brook Lodge in the interior of the High Peaks. Since the lodge can be reached only by foot, it cannot operate unless that state opens the access trail. Another potential glitch is that the trail to JBL begins at the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley, and a bridge on the road to the Garden also was damaged in the storm. The town has been allowing local residents to use the bridge, but Bruce Reed, the town highway superintendent, said last week that he wants to shore up the bridge before allowing the general public to use it. I couldn’t reach him for an update on Tuesday.
“We hope all ADK North Country facilities can open Thursday–that’s our current plan,” Million said. “We’re hoping to get folks in so they can enjoy the fall weather. But it’s all dependent on road access and the availability of the backcountry.”
Million said ADK lost of tens of thousands of dollars as a result of the closures. ADK can accommodate 38 people at the Loj. The club’s campground near the Loj has 50 sites. Johns Brook Lodge sleeps 28, and nearby cabins can accommodate an additional 18.
Thirty-one guests were stranded at Adirondak Loj for several days after Irene hit.