Friday, May 25, 2018

Peaks To Avoid This Weekend; Some Access Roads Closed

Adirondack Mud SeasonThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has urged hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are currently melting on high elevation trails and steep trails with thin soils are dangerous for hiking and susceptible to erosion, and sensitive alpine vegetation is easily damaged.

DEC encourages 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 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 Wilderness.

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, snow conditions still prevail, specifically Whiteface, Esther, Moose and McKenzie Mountains.

Sentinel Range Wilderness: all trails above 2,500 feet where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, specifically Pitchoff Mountain.

Visit DEC’s list of alternative hikes [pdf] and their webpage for Hikes Outside the High Peaks.

Many Seasonal Access Roads Remain Closed

Due to winter weather and conditions lasting into late April and early May, many seasonal access roads in the Adirondacks which are typically open by the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend will remain closed. DEC closes seasonal access roads each spring for mud season. The roads are opened to public motor vehicle use only after they dry and harden, and all necessary maintenance and repairs are completed.

The following seasonal access roads, or portions of them, will remain closed this weekend:

Blue Mountain Wild Forest (Township 19 Conservation Easement Tract)
O’Neill Flow Road
Five Mile Conservation Easement Tract
Five Mile Road
Gold Mine Conservation Easement Tract
Gold Mine Road
Grass River Wild Forest (and nearby conservation easement lands)
Streeter Lake Road
Spruce Mountain Road
Long Pond Main Haul Road
Gulf Brook Road
High Peaks/Dix Mountain Wilderness
South Meadow Lane
Elk Lake Road
Gulf Brook Road (Boreas Ponds Tract)
Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract
North Branch Road
Mud Pond Road
Moose River Plains Complex
Limekiln Lake – Cedar River Road (aka Moose River Plains Road) between the Cedar River Gate (Indian Lake side) and Lost Pond Road
Otter Brook Road beyond the bridge over the South Branch Moose River
Rock Dam Road
Vanderwhacker Wild Forest
Gulf Brook Road (Boreas Ponds Tract)


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3 Responses

  1. Larry Roth says:

    Given the number of people coming to use the trails in the High Peaks and elsewhere, and the problems created by a growing human presence, perhaps it is time to re-think management of the region. Here’s some ideas to consider.

    1) More boots on the ground – more rangers, more information sites at parking lots, more DEC people available to monitor trails and educate users.

    2) Take that new “Adirondack Gateway” (The former Frontier Town) and make it a trail check in center. Groups coming to the region via the Northway can stop there to get the latest updates on trail conditions, speak with DEC staff about alternatives. (It can also have a website, updated by staff, with feedback from trail users on conditions they encountered – see check-out in 6 below.)

    3) Harden the trails. While ‘pristine wilderness’ advocates may desire as little man-made presence as usual, there are two choices. Either limit the number of users allowed in, or harden the trails to handle the crowds that are showing up. (I understand trails are actually paved in the Alps in Europe in some locations.) Something as basic as laying large flat stones on the paths would be a start. It’s time for New York State to make a real investment, or continue to see increasing impact on the region.

    4) Bite the bullet and restore rail service to Lake Placid. Pair it with shuttle buses to take people to trail heads. This would reduce the traffic and parking problems at trail heads and in the towns – fewer cars would be good. Make the train stations trail check-in information sites similar to suggestion 2 above. Hikers getting off the trains could get updated information on what trails were the best choices in terms of conditions and crowd numbers, and take the appropriate bus to them.

    5) Check in stations at trail heads. If nothing else, have people at the trail heads tracking user numbers in real time and letting the information stations described in 2 and 4 have a real time measure of how many people were coming to any given trail at any given time. Which leads into…

    6) If it’s not possible to man every trail head, develop something like an automated kiosk where hikers can register themselves and their parties before starting in, see how many people are ahead of them, what alternatives might be better, and allow trail information centers to be updated with the information in real time as well.

    Touch screens can serve visitors by having different language options. Cameras can also provide a measure of security – if search and rescue becomes necessary, searchers would be able to see who they were looking for with a picture taken at check-in. (Give hikers the option of getting the photo emailed to them, and they would be more likely to embrace it than see it as an intrusion.) People could also use the kiosks to check-out when they finished their hike. It would also be a place to report an emergency and call for help.

    As the above implies, the kiosks would need to be connected to some kind of network (Call it Empire Trail Net) and would need power. Solar panels and batteries are one option where nothing is available on site. Cell service is spotty in some areas – perhaps the best option is a cable to some kind of cell tower or repeater station located in an area where it would have minimal impact. Kiosks could actually supplement live humans at some spots, allowing them to do crowd control, monitor parking, etc. etc.

    7) Stop laughing hysterically because you know New York State will never pay for any of this. It’s time for the state to stop promoting the Adirondacks as a world class destination without giving them the world class budget they need. With the kiosks for example, the state could allow sponsors to fund them in exchange for publicity, naming rights, etc.

    Kiosk prototypes could be tested at the trail information centers mentioned in 2 and 4, allowing people to try them under controlled conditions first, and they could be installed at the busiest trail heads in a gradual roll-out. This doesn’t have to be done all at once – but it should be done as part of an overall strategy to bring the region up to the 21st century.

  2. Maureen Wrightsman says:

    You are spot on New York State will never provide the financial support the area needs. Dandy Andy Cuomo only values downstate endeavors.

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