RAY BROOK - The state Department of Environmental Conservation is urging hikers to stay off trails above 3,000 feet for a few weeks to prevent erosion and potentially dangerous situations.
Trails at this time of the year are often muddy, leaving thin soil and vegetation at high elevations, vulnerable to erosion. Hikers are also more likely to slip and injure themselves on steep, wet and muddy trails.
The DEC specifically mentioned all trails above 3,000 feet in the Dix, Giant and High Peaks wildernesses as ones to avoid.
People are instead being asked to hike on low-elevation trails, where snow melts sooner, soils are thicker and dry more quickly, slopes are not as steep, and vegetation is less sensitive to damage from hikers. At lower elevations, muddy trails are less susceptible to erosion, the DEC said.
Hikers are also encouraged to wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and to hike through, not around, wet and muddy portions of trail to avoid widening the trails or creating "herd paths" around those areas.
Some mountains the DEC recommends hiking include Debar, Azure, Ampersand, Cascade, Porter from Cascade, Baker, Haystack (the smaller one in Ray Brook), Panther and Scarface.
DEC's website contains additional information on trail conditions in the Adirondacks at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html or contact the DEC forest rangers at 518-897-1300.