Mud Season Hiking in the Adirondacks

Hikers Should Avoid High Elevation Trails in the Adirondacks During Mud Season

With the start of a new spring season of Adirondack hiking and recreation on public lands, hikers are anxious to climb mountains before blackflies and other biting insects become prevalent.

However, high elevation trails are wet and muddy during the spring, making them vulnerable to degradation from hikers. The best thing a hiker can do for the high elevation trails and plant communities is to postpone taking any hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until mid-June, when the trails have dried and hardened.

Hikers are advised to only use trails at lower elevations during the spring mud season, to avoid damaging natural resources and promote safety by reviewing Adirondack hiking guidelines. Lower trails usually dry soon after snowmelt and are on less erosive soils than the higher peaks.

High elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas of the northern Adirondacks are particularly vulnerable. Prevent the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and the trail due to soft ground.

Avoid the following:

  • High Peaks Wilderness Area - all trails above 3,000 feet; 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 Mtn. Wilderness Area - all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond
  • Giant Mtn. Wilderness Area - all trails above Giant's Washbowl, "the Cobbles," and Owls Head.

Lower elevation alternatives are available to hike during the spring months while you await the high elevation trails to dry out.

Spring Hiking Areas:

  • Debar Mountain Wild Forest: Azure Mountain;
  • Giant Mt. Wilderness: Giant's Washbowl and Roaring Brook Falls;
  • High Peaks Wilderness: Ampersand Mountain, Cascade Mountain, Big Slide, the Brothers, and Porter Mountain from Cascade Mountain - avoid all other approaches;
  • Hurricane Primitive Area: The Crows and Hurricane Mountain from Route 9N;
  • McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Haystack Mountain and McKenzie Mountain;
  • Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area: Pharaoh Mountain; and
  • Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Baker Mountain, Panther Mountain and Scarface Mountain.

Remember when hiking in wet and muddy conditions to wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and walk through - not around - mud and water on trails. This will avoid unnecessary trampling of vegetation and widening of trails through erosion.

Check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website contains additional information on Trail conditions in the Adirondacks or you may contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518- 897-1300.


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