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Analysis: High Peaks Trails Don’t Meet Design Standards

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  • debmonster
    commented on 's reply
    What's especially ridiculous is that the standards being referenced are for front country type paths and walkways (what my trail crew friends affectionately call the "white sneaker" crowd), not backcountry wilderness. Trails can be hardened and drainage improved to minimize erosion without sacrificing their original character. Especially when the steep and challenging terrain is an inherent part of the experience of enjoying those trails.

  • DayTrip
    commented on 's reply
    I do most of my hiking in the Whites. I would not categorize Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail as difficult. It is certainly steep and can be awkward in wet or icy weather and in Spring snow melt can have some dangerous or impassable brook crossings. Falling Waters is similar. Constantly climbing with some awkward areas. Flume Slide Trail is definitely on the difficult side if you stay on the actual trail. Over the years though it, like many other trails in the Whites, it has become heavily braided and there are bypasses through many of the awkward spots. I've only done Giant in Winter but I would say the Falling Waters trail would be a better comp.

  • FlyFishingandBeer
    commented on 's reply
    dwgsp They may have been installed for that reason, but that is relative to hikers misusing the terrain due to lack of appropriate footwear or ability. 1,000 people could walk up the center of that slide every day and it would be ages before they'd leave so much as a groove in the rock surface. That slide is gradual enough to serve as a beginner ski slope (as in green/blue trails) in the winter and is mild enough to simply walk up in the summer.

  • bfinan0
    commented on 's reply
    I enthusiastically support that if it means the elimination of slide and slime (or the continuation of it as an alternate route that is not the only way)

  • tcd
    replied
    The discussion further reinforces that these "standards" are mindless stupidity. When otherwise intelligent people present something that is obviously stupid, look for the hidden agenda. What is the Council's agenda here? Guesses welcome.

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  • FlyFishingandBeer
    commented on 's reply
    Most people would probably tack on a few miles to Allen's ascent to avoid the mud pits and eroded mess just above and below the slide. Or if we're dreaming big, why not a whole new route from White Lily Pond, ascending via Allen's SE ridge?

  • Makwa
    commented on 's reply
    Currently the herdpath from Skylight Brook to the summit is 2000' of ele gain in 1.5 miles. To get it to the standards mentioned in the article that trail would need to be 5 miles long thus making Allen about 25 miles round-trip.

  • bfinan0
    replied
    A trail spiraling up Allen? That would be nice, but a connection to the Cliff/Redfield mud bog would be better, and still within the slope standards.

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  • dwgsp
    commented on 's reply
    I thought that the Ore Bed Brook steps were installed to address erosion issues caused by hikers clinging to the sides. It's my understanding that this is why many of the ladders and steps have been installed in the high peaks.

    Just sayin'...

  • ndru
    commented on 's reply
    ^ ...and the bottom few levels of that ladder have been washed away and smashed downstream already. Saw it firsthand last Fall.

  • Neil
    commented on 's reply
    The Whites have different soil. Mineral vs. organic.

  • Neil
    replied
    Be interesting to see the plan to re-route say, the Santa Direct, Seward, Seymour and a few others of that ilk so they get the grade down to that of a bob-sled run. The organic soil and side-hilling that would be part and parcel of such a plan would be a killer. Whatever the budget, make sure it's an annual one because the maintenance will be horrendous.

    Memo to Adirondack Council: please cut a trail whose grade does not exceed 6% to the summit of Allen.
    In fairness, you could cut a trail from the Skylight Brook crossing that spirals it's way 360 degrees around the mountain towards Sand Brook, then switch-back your way up to the summit. I did this as a whack (without the switch-backing) and it might actually work if people don't mind lots of added mileage.

    Leave a comment:


  • gebby
    commented on 's reply
    FlyFishingandBeer They couldn't keep the riff raff away by taking away the parking, so let's try this! :(

  • gebby
    commented on 's reply
    New Hampshire has NY beat for sustainable trails from my experience(44/48 4000 footers).

  • FlyFishingandBeer
    replied
    “It’s well known that Adirondack foot trails are in crisis with overuse and huge crowds of people hiking on these too-steep slopes,” Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway

    I've seen Willie out on the trails tagging summits multiple times. He's part of his own alleged overuse crisis.

    Janeway believes the problem is repairable. “Redesign, reconstruction and strategic hardening of some surfaces with natural materials will help. The state and trails professionals in the Adirondacks know what to do, if given the resources. Not every trail, nor every foot of trail, is in crisis. But the majority of the trail mileage is, and the problem isn’t limited to the High Peaks,” Janeway’s statement said. “Step one is assessing the amount of work to be done,” he said. “This analysis shows it’s a big job. The next step is a comprehensive plan, an estimate of the budget needed to fix the problems. We need a commitment to invest in the plan now and to keep investing in the years ahead.”

    OK, that's completely rational. He goes on to talk about poor trail design in the ADK; trails following drainages, etc.

    A slope of eight percent is too steep for an interstate highway (max. 6 percent), unless yellow warning signs and permanently reduced speed limits are in place. (The Adirondack Northway, which traverses more than 100 miles of the Adirondack Park, includes no permanent speed reductions for slope alone. Slopes above 8 percent are too steep for public wheelchair ramps, according to New York State’s building code. Out of the 300 studied, about 40 miles of trails have a slope between 8 and 12 percent. About 58 miles of trails have a slope of 12 to 20 percent, which is steeper than an Olympic bobsled run (Beijing’s track averages 9.8 percent; Lake Placid 9.35; St. Moritz 8 percent) and steep enough for an expert downhill ski trail. About 69 miles of trails have slopes of 20 percent or more. Whiteface Mountain Ski Center’s Cloudspin Trail is 26 degrees. The Rumor Trail at Gore Mountain Ski Center is 25 degrees. A slope of 30 percent is equal to a residential staircase.

    So wait, are we're talking about making trails easier and more accessible, or preventing soil erosion? How about a comparison to Yosemite's Half Dome? I'm no geologist or bobsled track designer, but I'm pretty sure that surface composition is a much more significant factor than grade when we're talking about longevity. It seems that most trails that follow ridge lines are in pretty good shape, whereas most trails that follow drainages are not. Low lying areas, even at elevation, are almost always muddy messes, because low lying areas hold water. I'm certainly not opposed to seeing a number of trails being rerouted. Marshall, Cliff, Tabletop, etc., but assuming that a lower angle automatically prevents erosion is just being ignorant.

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