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Old 04-20-2016, 11:28 AM   #1
jmax
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Early May High Peaks Overnight Recommendations

My brother and I are heading up to the High Peaks area the weekend of May 6. We want to hike in Saturday morning and hike out Sunday morning. Any suggestions for routes and associated lean-to or tent sites that should be great this time of year?

Many, many thanks in advance.

Cheers.

Jason
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Old 04-20-2016, 12:06 PM   #2
DSettahr
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You'll need to be prepared for mud, and possibly even for snow and ice. At higher elevations, snow sticks around until late May (and even into early June) in a typical season. Snowshoes, microspikes, and/or crampons may still be necessary, depending on the route you pick. Flooding from melting snow may also be a concern.

Another thing to keep in mind is that that the DEC typically implements a hiking ban during mud season every spring and asks hikers to stay off of steep trails in the High Peaks. During this time of year, soils that are still saturated with melt water are particularly susceptible to adverse impacts from hikers. The soils in the High Peaks are pretty sensitive to hiker traffic to begin with, and erosion in particular is already a problem on my High Peaks trails. Hiking during mud season can significantly exacerbate this issue. The ban is purely voluntary, so you won't be ticketed of fined if you hike in the High Peaks anyways, but ultimately complying with it is generally in the bests interests of protecting resources in the High Peaks. It may be worth considering altering either the timing of your trip, or the destination, if you're serious about helping to protect fragile resources in the High Peaks area. (The High Peaks represents a small fraction of the hiking and backpacking opportunities in the Adirondack Park anyways.)

Remember also to familiarize yourself with the regulations- in particular, you need to be aware of the fire ban in the Eastern High Peaks (due to high levels of use, there isn't enough fire wood to sustain campfires in this area), as well as the bear canister requirement for overnight food storage in the Eastern High Peaks (this helps to keep bears wild by preventing them from habitually relying on the theft of backpacker food to feed themselves).

With all of that being said, with limited time available, you can go wrong with Marcy Dam. It is a high use area, but there are 4 lean-tos and numerous tent sites in the area. It is also an easy 2 mile hike in from the Adirondak Loj trailhead. Definitely bring tents as a back up in case the lean-tos are full. From Marcy Dam, you have easy access to a number of peaks, including fairly easy ones like Phelps or Colden, to a more moderately difficult one like Tabeltop (which necessitates navigating an unmarked trail) to a more difficult peak like Marcy.

You might also consider a southern approach. Dix is a moderate peak in difficulty, and there is good camping at Slide and Lillian Brooks on the approach to Dix from the south. The Dix Range tends to dry out sooner than the rest of the High Peaks (in my experience), and sticking to a southern approach means that conditions should be even drier still.

Non High Peaks destinations that would make good packing alternatives during mud season that would still allow you to climb peaks include Black Mountain and/or Sleeping Beauty, near Lake George; Five Mile Mountain and/or Fifth Peak, also near Lake George; Pharaoh Mountain or Treadway Mountain, near Schroon Lake; and Hurricane Mountain and/or the Nun-da-gao Ridge, near Keene.

Last edited by DSettahr; 04-20-2016 at 12:29 PM..
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