Looking to take a hike in the warmer spring weather and enjoy the beauty of the Adirondacks? The Department of Environmental Conservation recently released their guidance on spring recreation. Check out the list below to keep your favorite places pristine for years to come!
Practice the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace: Learn and follow the seven principles of leave no trace. In particular, be sure to pay careful attention to the first principle–plan and prepare–during the spring months! Because of the unpredictable Adirondack weather, conditions at the trailhead can be vastly different from those at the summit, so it’s more important than ever to prepare for anything you may encounter.
Avoid hiking on high elevation trails above 2,500 feet until further notice: Despite recent warm weather, high elevation trails are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. Sliding boots destroy trail tread, damage surrounding vegetation, and erode thin soils, increasing the likelihood of washouts; rotten snow and monorails are a safety hazard even with proper equipment; and high elevation and alpine vegetation are extremely fragile during this time. Hikers can encounter thick mud, flooding, ice, and deep slushy snow even on low-elevation trails. Walk through the mud, slush, or standing water and down the center of the trail.
Avoid wet and muddy mountain biking trails: Trail systems can be severely damaged by eager mountain bikers who hit the trail too early in the season. Avoid biking on trails until they are dried and hardened.
Plan and prepare for variable conditions: Spring weather can change rapidly. Stay up to date with current weather reports and if the forecast calls for harsh conditions, consider rescheduling. If you decide to proceed, make a timeline–including a turnaround time–and stick to it. Visitors should leave their trip plans with a trusted friend or relative that will call for help if they don’t return on time.
Safely enjoy spring water recreation: Paddling, fishing, and boating are great ways to sustainably enjoy the outdoors this spring if done responsibly. Waterways are still very cold and with spring snow melt, high water and swift currents are always a possibility. Always wear a life jacket.
Know how to protect against ticks: Ticks are very small bugs that can spread Lyme and various other diseases through their bites. Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. BE sure to check yourself thoroughly after leaving the woods.
Give wildlife ample space: Spring is a vulnerable time for wildlife. Some come out of hibernation and most begin to search for fresh food wherever they can find it. This can mean wildlife encounters closer to trails, parking areas, and roadways. If you see any wildlife, give them plenty of space and do not feed them.
Read the full DEC guidance on spring recreation in the Adirondacks here.