Adirondack Hiking Trails Show Their Age

When many of the High Peaks’ trails were cut more than a century ago, the work was done by guides and hired hands. Keene Valley’s Orson “Old Mountain” Phelps created the first trail up Mount Marcy in 1861; Verplanck Colvin’s survey workers cut routes up Algonquin and Dix in the late 1800s; and Henry Van Hoevenberg developed a trail system for the Adirondack Lodge (as it was then spelled).

The early trails opened up the High Peaks to more people and laid the groundwork for today’s trail system, but some of the original trails continue to cause maintenance problems.

“When trails were originally cut about a hundred years ago, there wasn’t anything called trail design,” said Adirondack Mountain Club Trails Coordinator Andrew Hamlin. “It was basically just a way to get to the mountain summits, so there’s a lot of erosion taking place on trails, especially in the High Peaks region. That’s pretty much why our crews exist: to try to mitigate and minimize that erosion.”

Modern trails tend to switchback up mountains and employ trail hardening techniques to minimize erosion. In the old days, however, trails were cut straight up steep slopes. Such trails can turn into streams during rainstorms. Due to erosion, the walking surface is often characterized by rocks, roots, and loose soil.

Given the poor design and increasing number of hikers, many people argue that more money is needed to maintain and redesign trails in the High Peaks as well as on other popular peaks.

Read full story…

 

Similar Posts: