Spring conditions are present throughout the lower elevations of the Adirondacks but trails in the highest elevations are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow.
Steep trails with thin soils can become a mix of ice and mud as the ice melts and frost leaves the ground, making the trails slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers.
DEC is encouraging hikers to protect Adirondack trails by doing the following:
Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats;
Wear waterproof hiking boots and clothing that can withstand mud and water;
Walk through – not around – mud and water on trails; and
Walk single file directly down the center of the muddy trail to protect the integrity of the trail.
Walking around the mud and not directly through results in trail creep. Trail creep or trail widening is when the trail slowly erodes away the surrounding vegetation which is used as habitat, food, and survival for wildlife. As the trail continues to erode and widen, roots and boulders appear causing the trail to become slippery and less defined, making the trail more dangerous for recreating.
In addition, DEC is urging hikers to hike on lower elevation trails that are typically drier and less prone to damage. DEC suggests the following alternative trails for hiking, subject to weather conditions, that can withstand higher impact during the muddy trail season:
High Peaks Wilderness:
Giant Mt. Wilderness:
Roaring Brook Falls
Owl Head Lookout
Hurricane Mountain Wilderness:
Hurricane Mountain from Rt 9N
Jay Mountain Wilderness:
McKenzie Mt. Wilderness:
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest:
Taylor Pond Complex:
Silver Lake Mountain
DEC encourages hikers to practice “Leave No Trace” principles. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics in a national nonprofit organization that protects the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly. For more information, visit the Leave No Trace website.
Be sure to 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. Check the Adirondack Almanack Outdoor Conditions Reports each Thursday afternoon. A map of the Adirondack Park can be found here; active alerts are updated by noon Friday here.