Tuesday, June 6, 2017

DEC Creates New High Peaks Trail Crew

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has created a new 5-person trail crew for the High Peaks.

According to DEC spokesman Delamater Benning, this is the DEC’s “first five-person trail crew in more than 20 years, and they are going to focus on high priority High Peak projects.”

Benning said the new trail crew was created after DEC Region 5 staff said there was a need to upgrade some high priority trails in the High Peaks.

The DEC also uses trails crews from the Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack 46ers, Student Conservation Association and other organizations to perform trail work in the Adirondacks, including the High Peaks region.

The announcement of the new trail crew came on Friday, June 2, one day before National Trails Day, which is dedicated to performing stewardship on hiking trails.

The DEC announcement said the High Peaks is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the state and sees an increase in users every year. The increase in hiker traffic and need for more DEC trail crews has been written about previously on the Almanack. The DEC statement said the new trail crew will help maintain and improve these areas, which will improve public safety and enhance outdoor experiences for its users.

“The long-term stewardship of trails in the High Peaks Wilderness is critical to the preservation of wilderness values, the protection of natural resources, and the enjoyment of the recreating public,” said Josh Wilson, Executive Director of the Barkeater Trails Alliance, in a press release about the new crew. “The new DEC Trail Crew will add great value to the work being done by volunteer and professional trail crews from Barkeater Trails Alliance, Adirondack Mountain Club and other organizations in the greater High Peaks region. This is truly great news for all of us who share a common interest in Adirondack trails.”

The trail crew will be assigned the following projects this summer:

  • Avalanche Pass Trail and Bridge/Ladder Replacement
    Trail Hardening (Turnpiking), Drainage Replacement, Replacement of 15 ladders, 10 small bridges and various Bog Bridges along the length of trail from Avalanche Camp to Lake Colden.
  • Lake Colden-Flowed Lands Campsite Relocations
    Permanent relocation of ~9 campsites in the Lake Colden/Flowed Lands area. Sites will be established with earthen tent pads, signage and new privies. Old sites will be fully restored, brushed in and planted.
  • Marcy Dam Campsite Relocations
    Permanent relocation of four campsites in the Marcy Dam. Sites will be established with earthen tent pads, signage and new privies. Old sites will be fully restored, brushed in and planted.

DEC is currently accepting applications from individuals interested in becoming a member of a trail crew. To learn more on how you can get involved, visit DEC’s website.

Photo by Phil Brown: View of the High Peaks from Mount Van Hoevenberg.

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Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at mike@adirondackexplorer.org.

3 Responses

  1. Travis says:

    I am interested

  2. Balian the Cat says:

    The last time I camped at Lake Colden/Flowed lands it looked like Woodstock! I think it will be tough to close inappropriate campsites there, but I applaud the effort.

  3. Lakechamplain says:

    This is very good news and, if it leads to even more trail crews throughout the Adk. Mts. then it could be considered great news. As the article notes, the increased hiker traffic in the high peaks region especially has simply created a burden that this natural environment can no longer bear without permanent damage occurring. Numerous articles in ‘Adicrondac’, ‘Adirondack Explorer’, and ‘High Peeks’ and others have discussed the problem and what, if anything can be done to alleviate it.

    I’ve read all of these articles, experienced high-traffic areas and crowded trails and peaks that have diminished the whole experience of hiking the Adks. and tried to think of possible ‘solutions’ to the problems. I admit that the gut reaction of trying to limit the sheer number of hikers seems both hard to stomach but more pertinently impossible to implement the way the Adirondack Park is set up. In our major national parks limited entrances can be somewhat successful with ideas like permits for hiking/camping. But the wide-open access of the Adirondacks with multiple trails and even bushwhacking make any such attempts in our region doomed to failure.

    Thus, even though more trail crews that could modernize trails to lessen hiker impact and make them far less damaging–can you say switchbacks?–seem to be perhaps not a solution, and maybe like applying a band-aid to a major wound, but the best approach at this time. How many trails can you recall that have been eroded into semi-stream beds awash with rocks and water that once they’ve become like this only become worse? So let’s get more trail crews that can modernize the trails and hopefully minimize the damage.

    I also call on the Adk 46ers(which I am one) to help deal with the problems that they are not the cause of but do contribute to to do something that might be considered radical: do away with the so-called trail-less peaks that are part of the 46, and ask the DEC to build new, modern trails that will minimize damage to these mountains. Actually, they aren’t trail-less peaks; they’ve become herd path peaks for years, and the problem with many of these ‘trails’ is that, like the old ranger trails up to the fire towers they tend to go as straight up as they can and thus help lead to what I call ‘stream bed’ trails that hasten the damage. Abandoning the supposed bushwhacking up these peaks now is not really any different than the trails that have been created or re-routed since the 46ers were created.

    And oh by the way, how about more new trails up other nice peaks outside the high peaks region themselves? If minimizing the hikers coming here is not going to happen, would distributing them throughout more of the mountains help with the problem?

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