The state Department of Environmental Conservation expects to reopen some trails in the eastern High Peaks Wilderness before this weekend. In fact, some trails may be reopened today, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell.
“We’re working on what trails can be reopened and hope to make an announcement later today,” Winchell told me this morning.
Winchell said some trails will be open right away and others may open within a week, but others will remain closed for longer. Hurricane Irene caused extensive damage to trails in the High Peaks region, prompting DEC to close not only the eastern High Peaks Wilderness but also the Giant Mountain and Dix Mountain Wilderness Areas.
“We’re going to open as many trails as possible as we move forward,” Winchell said.
He added that four popular trailheads along Route 73 will remain closed until the highway reopens. These are the trailheads for the Roaring Brook and Ridge trails in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, the Round Pond trail in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, and trails reached from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The last group includes the trails to Noonmark, Nippletop, Sawteeth, and the southeast slopes of the Great Range.
Winchell said the rock-climbing cliffs along Route 73, including Chapel Pond Slab and the Beer Walls, also will remain closed until the highway reopens.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week that the road will be reopened by September 15. Most of the damage to the highway occured in a half-mile stretch near the Ausable Club in St. Huberts.
Adirondak Loj Road is expected to reopen this week. The Adirondack Mountain Club plans to reopen the Loj (located at the end of the road) tomorrow. ADK also hopes to reopen John Brooks Lodge tomorrow. Since it is located in the wilderness interior, DEC will have to reopen the access trail so hikers can reach the lodge.