Most trails in the eastern High Peaks are now open, but state officials warn that hikers may encounter blowdown and erosion and find that footbridges are missing.
“Hikers must pay close attention as there are reroutes and also a lot of new eroded drainages that people may assume are the trail,” said David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Numerous trails have been rerouted,” Winchell added. “All are short minor reroutes.”
One of the reroutes is below Marcy Dam on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, the most popular trail to Mount Marcy. The floods caused by Hurricane Irene washed out the bridge at the dam. For now, hikers will to rock-hop to cross the brook below the dam.
Winchell warned that the brook may be impassable in high water, “which we are currently experiencing.” When water is high, hikers should take the Marcy Dam Truck Trail, which follows the opposite side of the brook. From there, hikers can continue to Mount Marcy, Avalanche Pass, and other backcountry destinations.
DEC has made no decisions on whether to replace the bridge and repair the dam, Winchell added. Irene damaged the dam’s flashboards, causing water levels to drop and exposing mudflats in the pond behind the dam.
Hikers will also find that the plank walkways along Avalanche Lake have been damaged, but Winchell said they remain usable.
DEC closed the eastern High Peaks, the Giant Mountain Wilderness, and the Dix Mountain Wilderness the day after Irene dumped about ten inches of rain in the region, eroding trails, washing away footbridges, triggering landslides, and damaging roads.
DEC has focused on opening trails in the eastern High Peaks, in part because the partial closure of Route 73 means that most trailheads for the Giant and Dix Wilderness Areas are inaccessible.
John Million, deputy director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, commended DEC for its efforts. “ADK is very pleased that DEC has worked hard to open some of the trails,” he said.
ADK reopened today both Adirondak Loj, the most popular trailhead for the High Peaks, and Johns Brook Lodge, which is located in the interior of the Wilderness Area. A short section of the road to the Loj will have only one lane open, owing to storm damage. A one-lane bridge on the way to the Garden, the parking area for the trail to Johns Brook Lodge, also was damaged in the storm. DEC is now saying the road will be closed this weekend. A shuttle bus will bring hikers from Marcy Field to Keene Valley, where they must hike 1.25 miles to the Garden.
The map below was provided by DEC, but we modified it to clearly show which trails have been reopened and which remain closed. The trails marked by red dots are closed. Those marked by black dots were closed but have been reopened. All other trails (marked by black dashes) were never closed. The green dots indicate the boundary between the eastern High Peaks and western High Peaks. The latter was not closed after the storm.
Two of the trails in the eastern High Peaks that remain closed are the Orebed Brook Trail from Johns Brook Lodge to the col between Gothics and Saddleback and the Southside Trail along Johns Brook. Parts of both trails have been buried by landslides.
The rains set off numerous large slides in the High Peaks that some hikers will be eager to climb. Winchell said DEC has not closed any of the slides, but he warned that some may be unstable.
Winchell was not sure why the Cold Brook Pass Trail remains closed, but he said it may be a combination of blowdown or landslides. This little-used trail runs from the Indian Pass Trail to Lake Colden. The Deer Brook Trail to Snow Mountain remains closed because of blowdown.
The trails leading from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve to the southeast slopes of the Great Range also remain closed. Because of the partial closure of Route 73, all AMR trailheads are inaccessible.
Route 73 is closed between Route 9 and Keene Valley. As a result, the Ridge Trail and Roaring Brook Trail up Giant Mountain and the Round Pond Trail up Dix Mountain are still closed.
“We haven’t assessed many of the trails in the Dix and Giant Wildernesses because of the road closure,” Winchell said. “We plan to get in there over the next several days and will know if the trails can be reopened when the road opens.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed this week that Route 73 would reopen by September 15.
Meantime, hikers can use the trails in the Giant Mountain Wilderness that begin on Route 9 or Route 9N.
The Elk Lake trailheads are also closed.
Click the link below to read a PDF of DEC’s bulletin on the trails, which I received late this morning (after my initial post). Although the bulletin says the Wolf Jaw Trail is closed from Johns Brook valley to the Range Trail, this is not reflected on the map. I checked with DEC and was told the trail is open.