The state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing to deal with an influx of hikers on Labor Day weekend who may be confused about where they can and cannot hike.
Forest rangers and environmental conservation officers will be stationed at trailheads for the eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness, and Dix Mountain Wilderness, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell. As a result of damage to trails from Tropical Storm Irene, DEC has closed all three areas indefinitely.
Winchell said DEC employees will direct hikers and backpackers to nearby Forest Preserve tracts that remain open.
“We also will be patrolling the closed areas just in case people are trying to sneak in,” he added.
He noted that a state trooper encountered a group yesterday that had intentions of entering closed state land near Chapel Pond.
Those who violate DEC’s order can be fined up to $250 and jailed up to fifteen days. The law in question states: “No person shall enter or remain upon or use any forest access road, truck trail, road, trail, facility or any other area on State lands that are posted or designated by the department as closed to public use.”
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, told the Explorer yesterday that he expects some trails to open in the eastern High Peaks early next week. Asked about this possibility, Winchell replied that DEC is focused on getting through the weekend.
“At this time we are not prepared to open any trails,” Winchell said. “Next week we plan to begin evaluating which trails may be reopened.”
Winchell also said that DEC has reopened all the state campgrounds in the Adirondack Park except the Little Sand Point Campground on Piseco Lake (because of extensive blowdown).
In other news, Winchell said the trails in the western High Peaks appear to be in good shape and all lean-tos are intact. After the breach of the Duck Hole dam, some people feared that the Cold River might have washed away lean-tos along the Northville-Placid Trail.
Winchell said the dam at Marcy Dam Pond, another iconic spot in the High Peaks, remains intact, though the flashboards have been damaged. DEC expects the water in the pond to drop three feet below the top of the dam. The bridge over the dam washed away, creating a gap in the most popular trail to Mount Marcy.