The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) have reopened access to several High Peaks wilderness areas and facilities. The Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and the Giant Mountain Wilderness have reopened, although the Dix Mountain Wilderness and several area trails remain closed. ADK has reopened the Adirondak Loj and Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake and the Johns Brook Lodge in the Johns Brook Valley.
Roads to those facilities were among several that were washed out when the remnants of Tropical Storm Irene slammed into the eastern slopes of the Adirondacks causing widespread damage and destruction, especially along the Ausable and Bouquet Rivers, into the Keene Valley, and the High Peaks. State Route 73 is now open between Lake Placid and Keene Valley, and may be accessed by taking Route 9N from Elizabethtown. Route 73 remains closed between the Hamlet of Keene Valley and the Route 9 intersection, but is expected to open by next weekend.
Open trails in the High Peaks Wilderness include all trails from the Adirondak Loj trailhead, the Cascade Mountain trailhead, the Garden trailhead, the Rooster Comb trailhead, the Upper Works trailhead and the East River trailhead. Open trails in the Giant Mountain Wilderness include all trails starting from the trailheads on Route 9 and Route 9N. Giant Mountain may also be accessed via the Hopkin Mountain Trail from the Ranney Trailhead.
Access roads to both ADK properties were washed out in the storm, but Adirondak Loj and John Brook Lodge (JBL) remained largely unscathed. Crews from the Town of North Elba Highway Department completed work on the Adirondack Loj Road late Wednesday. The bridge on the road to the Garden Trailhead will be closed to motor vehicles this weekend although pedestrians can cross the bridge. The Town of Keene will be operating a shuttle bus from the Marcy Field parking area to the corner of Market Street and Adirondack Road (approximately 1.25 miles away from the Garden Trailhead) from 12 pm to 7 pm on Friday and from 7 am to 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday. JBL is reopening on a caretaker basis, which means guest must pack in their own food, but will have the use of the lodge kitchen. The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to Johns Brook Lodge is closed due to landslides.
The reopened trails may have washed-out bridges, blowdown, eroded sections and/or flooded areas and water levels in rivers and brooks are currently high so crossings may be impassable. A number of trails have been rerouted to avoid heavily damaged sections and newly eroded drainages can be mistaken for trails so users should be able to navigate with a map and compass. Trails will be wet and muddy this weekend, wear proper footwear and gaitors and remember to walk through, not around, mud and water to avoid further damage to trails.
Almanack contributor Phil Brown is reporting that a reroute below Marcy Dam on the Van Hoevenberg Trail, will lead to an Marcy Brook low-water crossing area below the Marcy Dam Bridge which was washed out during the storm. Water is currently high there and the low water crossing impassable, so hikers should use the Marcy Dam Truck Trail to reach Marcy Dam. Phil has also modified the DEC map above to better show currently closed trails in the Eastern High Peaks.
Although most trails have reopened, trails from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) remain closed due to the closure of a section of Route 73 and the damage to the trailhead parking lots. Other closed trails include:
* The Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Rooster Comb.
* The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Lodge
* The Orebed Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics)
* The Wolfjaw Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Lower and Uper Wolfjaws)
* The Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass.
* The Elk Lake Trail between the Elk Lake Trailhead and Panther Gorge.
Additionally, Tom Wemett, Chair of the ADK’s Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) Chapter is advising avoidance of the NPT due to extreme flooding caused by the continuous rain this week. “I was in the rain doing trail maintenance on Sunday and Monday from Piseco to Jessup River,” Wemett reported Wednesday evening, “the trail was a river on the hike-out on Monday. West Canada Creek is in flood stage for sure and impassable. Other streams which normally can be rock-hopped or at least crossed with minimal difficulty are now flooded and knee or waist high. I highly recommend staying off of the NPTrail until 3 to 4 days of sunshine and no rain allow water to recede and the trail to dry out a bit. Also, there have been reports of major blowdowns that have made some parts of the trail extremely difficult and in some reported cases impassable. Please delay your hike until the weather allows the trail some breathing room and trail stewards to work on clearing the trail.”
Suggestions for visiting other areas of the Adirondack Park can be found here.
The Almanack will post it’s regular weekly Outdoor Conditions Report this afternoon.
All of the Almanack’s reporting on Tropical Storm Irene can be found here.
Illustration: A DEC map showing currently closed trails in the Eastern High Peaks. Phil Brown has modified this map for easier reading here.