DEC issues muddy trail advisory

Trails like Cobble Lookout in Wilmington are good mud season hikes since the path is relatively flat and rocky. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

RAY BROOK — The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a muddy trail advisory for the High Peaks and other wilderness areas, asking hikers to refrain from going above 2,500 feet in elevation.

“Backcountry trails in the highest elevations are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow,” a press release from the department said. “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. Sensitive alpine vegetation is also easily damaged by hikers attempting to avoid the mud and ice.

“Avoiding these trails during the Muddy Trail Advisory helps to alleviate impacts to the trail tread and adjacent areas. Saturated, thin soils and steep grades combined with hikers trying to get traction lead to increased impacts to the trail corridors during the shoulder seasons.”

The DEC said that hikers venturing out should pack extra socks, wear waterproof boots and go through any mud pits that are encountered.

“Walking through the mud keeps the pressure in the center of the trail which is designed to take the use,” the DEC’s weekly Outdoor Recreation Bulletin said. “By walking around mud or puddles, trailside vegetation becomes damaged or removed, and softer portions of the trail erode which can create unwanted wider trails. Widened trails mean less habitat for wildlife and insects and more damage to tree roots and vegetation.”

The department has a list of Adirondack hikes that can be taken during the mud season on its website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/116823.html.

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