A Late Season Muddy Trails Advisory
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urged hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. North-facing trails have retained snow and ice late into the season this year. As snow and ice continue to melt at high elevations, steep trails pose a danger to hikers, thin soils are susceptible to erosion, and sensitive alpine vegetation is easily damaged.
Despite recent warm weather, high-elevation backcountry trails are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. These steep trails feature thin soils that become a mix of ice and mud as winter conditions melt and frost leaves the ground. The remaining compacted ice and snow on trails is rotten, slippery, and will not reliably support weight.
These conditions, known as “monorails,” are difficult to hike and adjacent rotten snow is particularly prone to postholing. Hikers can severely damage trail treads as they struggle to gain traction on loose, saturated soils. Hiking off the compacted snow impacts vulnerable trailside soils and easily damages sensitive alpine vegetation. Avoiding high-elevation trails during the Muddy Trail Advisory helps to alleviate impacts to the trail tread and adjacent areas and minimizes trail widening.
DEC encourages hikers to help minimize damage to hiking trails and alpine vegetation by avoiding trails above 2,500 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Giant and High Peaks Wilderness areas, including the former Dix Mountain Area in the northern Adirondacks. Please avoid the following trails until trail conditions improve:
- High Peaks Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, specifically: Algonquin, Colden, Feldspar, Gothics, Indian Pass, Lake Arnold Cross-Over, Marcy, Marcy Dam – Avalanche – Lake Colden, which is extremely wet, Phelps Trail above Johns Brook Lodge, Range Trail, Skylight, Wright, all “trail-less” peaks, and all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond in the former Dix Mountain Area.
- Giant Mountain Wilderness – all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owl Head Lookout.
- McKenzie Mountain Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet where wet, muddy, and snowy conditions still prevail, specifically Whiteface, Esther, Moose and McKenzie Mountains.
- Sentinel Range Wilderness – all trails above 2,500 feet where wet, muddy, snowy conditions still prevail, specifically Pitchoff Mountain.
DEC urges hikers to postpone higher elevation hikes until further notice to protect our Adirondack trail system. Until conditions improve, hikers are encouraged to explore lower elevation trails close to home and enjoy other forms of recreation such as paddling and fishing. If hikers do encounter mud on trails, they should hike through mud instead of around it to help reduce trail widening and minimize damage to trailside vegetation.
Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for weekly updates on backcountry conditions and seasonal recreation information for the Adirondacks.
DEC encourages people to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
Click here for our list of lesser-known hikes: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/lesser-known-hikes-in-the-adirondacks
concerned hiker says
Translation: every year the State discourages hiking during “Mud Season”.
Yes, every year without exception. So basically, you’re not supposed to hike
from April until around Independence day. The reason for this is because the
trail system in the Adirondacks was built a long time ago and they didn’t know
anything back then about proper, sustainable trail design. So, almost all of the
trails in the Adirondacks are severely eroded and in very poor shape. But, instead
of the State being responsible, and initiating a trail project to revamp the trails,
they have for years been blaming hikers for overuse. In other words, “we don’t want you here, go home and stay away from the high peaks, find some easier mountains to climb that aren’t as exciting; or be fat and sedentary and get sick”.
It’s not just the State that proclaims this, but all of the clubs that bow to the State.
Ironically, it’s these same clubs that either volunteer to fix the trails for the state
(a huge freebie that is given to the state, probably in the order of tens of millions
throughout the years), or, a different club that is a non-profit organization. One can be a part of the professional trail crew at this non-profit organization. They will pay you $11.80 per hour to work like a slave and live out in the bush all summer. Or, you can be a summer steward for the same paltry wage, all you have to do is climb a high peak each working day to educate people about fragile alpine vegetation. (yes, I’m being ironic, this is also a very strenuous job). Now, sustainable trail design has been around for many, many years.
A lot of trails in the Western U.S. are built this way. If properly built, they are designed to last 100 years or more. So, instead of the State government doing their due diligence (years ago), by looking into proper trail design and picking away at the trails one by one and getting them in order, they have just been relying on volunteers and grossly underpaid non-profit workers to do the work for them. And then they have the audacity to blame hikers and tourists on the overuse, telling them to get lost, go somewhere else, we don’t want you
here, (NIMBY). This also applies to some (not all) of the affluent who can afford to live in these incredible places. Ironically, some of these people are tourists themselves because they have camps and second homes here, some probably having gotten rich off the backs of the same poor people they seek to drive away from state land which they also pay taxes for. There are some wealthy people, however, that freely let hikers hike on their land. Thank God for them. So, after many years of the State and environmental groups and the like constantly
whining about crowding and overuse, they finally realized it was their fault; the trails are not sustainable, they should have known how to properly design and build (or re-build) the trails so that they don’t have to drive people away, but instead they could welcome them and their tax dollars. And yes, there was litter (oh my god!) litter in the Adirondacks…ok, so deal with it, keep educating people to not litter, fine them if you can catch them and maybe pay a crew to do sweeps every now and then, you don’t have to grossly over-react over everything, just deal with it like a responsible person should, take responsibility and turn things around, DO THE RIGHT THING.