If you’re thinking of climbing Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj this weekend, you should plan for a longer-than-usual journey, thanks to the loss of a log bridge over Phelps Brook.
The bridge that hikers use to cross the brook in high water was washed downstream about a week ago, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Winchell said DEC is advising hikers to take a detour that will add roughly a mile to the round trip to Marcy, making it about sixteen miles.
Ordinarily, hikers starting at the Loj take the Van Hoevenberg Trail, marked by blue disks, to Marcy Dam and then on to the summit—a 7.4-mile trip (one way). DEC now recommends that you should turn right onto the yellow-disked Avalanche Pass Trail just after passing Marcy Dam and follow it 0.9 miles to Avalanche Camps, where there is another trail junction. Turn left onto the Lake Arnold Trail, marked by blue disks, and follow it a mile to a junction. Turn left onto the Indian Falls Crossover Trail, marked by yellow disks, and follow it 0.8 miles, where it ends at the Van Hoevenberg Trail. Turn right to continue your trek up Marcy.
Tony Goodwin, editor of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook, suggests another option. At Marcy Dam, turn left onto the Marcy Dam Truck Trail and follow it about a third of a mile to a bridge over Phelps Brook. Cross the bridge and turn right to bushwhack along the brook for about three quarters of a mile to the Van Hoevenberg Trail. Be sure the brook is on your right when you begin the bushwhack.
Hikers usually need to use the high-water bridge only in early spring. At other times, it’s possible to cross Phelps Brook on boulders upstream from the bridge.
Winchell said DEC hopes to replace the bridge later in the year. Nate Jeffrey, the Lake Colden caretaker, tied it to a tree to prevent it from floating farther downstream. “It’s not in a lot of pieces; it’s pretty much intact,” Winchell said.
DEC will post updates on the Van Hoevenberg Trail on its website.
Keep in mind that there is still lots of snow at higher elevations. Skis or snowshoes are required.