It’s mud season, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until higher elevation trails have dried and hardened.
Spring conditions arrived early and are present at the lower elevations of the Adirondacks, but backcountry trails at higher elevations are still covered in slowly melting ice. These often steep trails become a mix of ice and mud making them slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers.
DEC asks hikers to help avoid damage to hiking trails and sensitive high elevation vegetation by avoiding trails above 2,500 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, including:
High Peaks Wilderness Area – 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 John Brook Lodge, Range Trail, Skylight, Wright and all “trail-less” peaks.
Dix Mountain Wilderness Area – all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond
Giant Mountain Wilderness Area – all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owls Head.
Hikers are advised to only use trails at lower elevations as they usually dry soon after snowmelt and traverse deeper, less erosive soils. DEC suggests the following alternative trails for hiking, subject to weather conditions:
High Peaks Wilderness:
Giant Mt. Wilderness:
Roaring Brook Falls
Owl’s Head Lookout
Hurricane Mountain Wilderness
Hurricane Mtn from Rt 9N
Jay Mountain Wilderness
McKenzie Mt. Wilderness:
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest:
A full list of recommended mud season hikes can be found on DEC’s website.
Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.
Photo: A muddy Adirondack trail (courtesy the Adirondack Mountain Club).