I hiked the Van Hoevenberg Trail to Mount Marcy today (Saturday) and found it fine shape, despite a few changes wrought by Hurricane Irene.
It was just two days after the state Department of Environmental Conservation reopened the eastern High Peaks, and many hikers were out enjoying the sunshine.
Starting at Adirondak Loj, the Van Hoevenberg Trail is the shortest and most popular route to the state’s highest summit. It ascends 3,166 feet over 7.4 miles.
As we reported earlier, the floods caused by Irene washed away at the bridge at Marcy Dam, located 2.3 miles from the Loj. Consequently, hikers must rock-hop across Marcy Brook below the dam.
About 1.8 miles from the Loj, DEC has put up a board with an arrow indicating a short path to the brook. You cross on boulders to an island, then rock-hop again to the opposite shore. The boulders are numerous and big, so as rock hops go, this isn’t too bad, but DEC warns that the brook might be impassable in high water.
Once on the opposite shore, you turn right onto a narrow footpath that soon leads to the Marcy Dam Truck Trail. Marcy Dam is less than a quarter-mile up the truck trail.
The pond at Marcy Dam has lost quite a bit more water since I visited the day after Irene. The shores and the middle of the pond are now mudflats.
Just beyond Marcy Dam, DEC has rerouted the trail for about a quarter-mile to avoid a stretch of the old trail that was eroded during Irene. The old trail is now a rock-filled gully. The rerouted trail ends near the high-water bridge over Phelps Brook. Although the bridge still stands, DEC has closed it.
Over the next five miles to the summit, I saw nothing out of the ordinary. Above Indian Falls, there were a few trees across the trail that were easily stepped over and a few that appeared to have been recently cut through. That was it.
From Indian Falls you can get a good view of a long narrow slide on Algonquin Peak that was created by Irene’s torrential rains. At Marcy Dam you can see the new slide on Wright Peak.
When I got to Marcy’s summit, the only person there was Seth Jones, the summit steward. Before I left, several other parties arrived, and on the descent to the Loj, I encountered several more on their way up. It was fairly busy, given all the uncertainty about trail conditions in the aftermath of the storm.
I talked with others who had hiked to Table Top Mountain, Wright Peak, and Avalanche Lake, and all told me the same thing: the trails were not bad at all.