With spring rains, many hiking and biking trails in the Adirondacks have become muddy, and in some cases, hazardous. The warm air, the whistles of the hermit thrush, and the greens of the hemlocks beckon to hikers and bicyclists, but it’s important to remember proper trail etiquette during mud season for the protection of the trails and the safety of everyone.
DEC To All-Terrain Bikers: Avoid ADK Trails During Mud Season
In a recent press release, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) urged all-terrain bikers to avoid trails and closed seasonal access roads in the Adirondacks until these trails and roads have dried and hardened. Trails can easily be damaged in muddy conditions, and even low trail traffic can create ruts. Bike tires (including fat bike tires) damage tree roots, erode slopes, and widen trails in muddy conditions.
The DEC has asked bikers to help protect the trails and surrounding habitats by checking trail conditions and advisories and avoiding any wet or muddy trails.
“Mud season in the Adirondacks is a very sensitive time for mountain bike trails,” said Josh Wilson, Executive Director of BETA. “…Riding on wet and muddy trails can cause lasting damage very quickly. If you are leaving ruts in the trail surface, the soil is definitely too wet to be riding. Call it a day and wait for better conditions. Ride dirt, not mud, and help us keep the trails in great shape for you and others to enjoy.”
Hike Responsibly: Stay To The Center And Embrace The Mud
Mountain bikers aren’t the only adventurers exploring the Adirondacks this time of year: despite the boot-sucking mud, many hikers are itching to get outside and explore after a long winter indoors. When mud season is at its worst, New York State often asks hikers to stay off some trails. In fact, hikers are encouraged to postpone their spring hikes on any trails that are above 3,000 feet until about mid-June to allow the trails to fully dry and harden.
If you’re determined to hike in the High Peaks during mud season, always check the DEC’s latest High Peaks trail conditions, where you’ll find updates on parking and trail conditions. When you’re up-to-date on trail conditions and have packed and prepared for your trip, follow these guidelines to keep yourself safe and to protect the trail and the natural environment:
Walk the line: Stay in the middle of the trail. Going off-trail tramples and destroys plants.
Embrace the mud: Don’t try to avoid the deepest, muddiest sections by moving to the side. Stick to the middle.
Be prepared: Pack enough snacks, water, sunscreen, and bug spray for your hike.
Carry in, carry out: Don’t litter. If you see litter on the trail, place it in your backpack and throw it in a trash receptacle when you finish your hike.