In New York, beware of treacherous trail conditions in Adirondacks’ high peaks

Mount Colden viewed from Marcy Dam — among the places DEC is asking people to avoid now. (Photo by DEC/Cristin Steding)

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urges hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet in the Adirondacks until high elevation trails have dried and hardened.

Spring conditions are present throughout the state and the lower elevations of the Adirondacks. However, backcountry 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 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 in the northern Adirondacks. Avoid the following trails until trail conditions improve:

  • 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 these trails 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 — Ampersand Mountain, Mt. VanHoevenberg, Mt. Jo.
  • Giant Mt. Wilderness— Giant’s Washbowl, Roaring Brook Falls, Owl’s Head Lookout, Hurricane Mountain Wilderness, The Crows, Hurricane Mountain from Rt 9N, Jay Mountain Wilderness, Jay Mountain.
  • McKenzie Mt. Wilderness — Baker Mountain, Haystack Mountain, McKenzie Mountain.
  • Saranac Lakes Wild Forest— Panther Mountain, Scarface Mountain, Floodwood Mountain.

DEC’s website contains information on backcountry conditions in the Adirondacks.

— New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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