Are You Really Legally Required to Wear Snowshoes in New York?
Winter is here, and while we've been enjoying an unseasonably warm January so far, snow is just around the corner. Powder accumulation may not stop avid Hudson Valley hikers from hitting the trails, but a New York State regulation regarding footwear has caught many outdoor enthusiasts off guard.
Winter Hiking in the Hudson Valley
Nearly every dangerous aspect of hiking is magnified in the winter. Cold weather can bring frostbite and hypothermia (like this hiker learned in the Adirondacks just a few weeks ago), and ice and snow can make trails treacherous. Currently, Mohonk Mountain House is requiring all hikers to wear spikes on their boots when exploring their paths. But is there really a law about what to wear on your feet?
Are You Really Required to Wear Snowshoes on New York Hikes?
Yes... and no. There is a regulation on the books regarding winter hiking gear, but it all depends on the weather, snow accumulation, and location. From the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC):
In the High Peaks Wilderness Area, no person shall... fail to possess and use skis or snowshoes when the terrain is snow-covered with eight or more inches of snow
The "High Peaks Wilderness Area" is defined as a corridor in the Adirondacks that includes towns in Hamilton and Essex counties, but the NY DEC recommends the practice state-wide. It may not be for the reason you think.
Why You Really Need Snowshoes or Skis when Hiking
Other than the obvious reason of making travel in deep snow easier, snowshoes and skis avoid the practice of "post-holing", which refers to a hiker's boot (and leg) creating a narrow and deep pit (much like a post-hole) when they walk. These "holes" can then freeze and act as a danger to other outdoor enthusiasts trying to enjoy the trails.
Skis and snowshoes are just the tip of the iceberg (winter pun intended). Check out everything you need for a New York winter below, and keep scrolling to check out all the brave Hudson Valley ice cream shops staying open all year long.