Snow has piled up from the recent winter storm and avalanches are possible in the Adirondacks. If you’re heading out to hike or ski this weekend you’ll definitely want to be aware of weather conditions and trail notices.
Snow, Snowshoes & Skis
More than three feet of new snow has fallen in the High Peaks Region during this past week. There is 55 inches of snow at Lake Colden.
The DEC is emphasizing that snowshoes or skis are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and should be used on all trails elsewhere. The use of snowshoes prevents “post-holing,” helps to avoid injuries, and makes traveling on the trails easier.
The recent winter storm brought more than 30 inches of snow on the higher peaks. The high winds moved the snow to the leeward side of mountains producing deeper snows and cornices.
The below-freezing temperatures that are forecast throughout this weekend will slow bonding in the snowpack. Light snowfall continues to add to the snow already accumulated and strong winds will continue to contribute to the leeward slope. Be aware of what direction the wind is coming from and those slopes that may be prone to wind loading.
Cross-country skiers and snowshoers should stay on the trails and away from steep slopes on summits.
Skiers, snowboarders, and other outdoor enthusiasts who may traverse avalanche-prone steep open terrain and slides should take the following precautions:
- Know the terrain, weather, and snow conditions
- Dig multiple snow pits to conduct stability tests – do not rely on other people’s data
- Practice safe route finding and safe travel techniques
- Never ski, board, or climb with someone above or below you – only one person on the slope at a time
- Ski and ride near trees – not in the center of slides or other open areas
- Always carry a shovel, probes, and transceiver with fresh batteries
- Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques
- Never travel alone
- Let other people know where you are going
- Be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions >>
All trails are covered with fresh, deep, powder snow. Expect to push through deep, fresh snow on untraveled trails now through early on Saturday or through the weekend on secondary or lesser used trails.
Trails above the tree line will be easily lost. Know how to use a map and compass to navigate, or simply wait to use these trails. High winds have likely created blowdown on many trails.
Temperatures will be colder, winds stronger, and the snow will be deeper at the summits. Whiteout conditions are occurring suddenly and frequently.
If you are going to summits:
- Carry a map and a compass
- Know how to navigate without the ability to see landmarks, cairns, or your tracks
- Do not attempt to summit mountains when whiteout conditions exist
Ice on Water
Ice conditions are extremely variable. The ice had thinned, weakened, and receded from inlets, outlets, and shorelines before the recent cold spell. Ice on rivers, streams, and most channels of moving water only recently formed during the very cold temperatures and is very thin, even though it is covered in snow.
Ice that can hold snow may not be able to hold the weight of a person. No ice should be considered safe without having checked the thickness and condition first.
Dress for Winter Conditions
Just as a reminder, here’s how you should dress for winter conditions in the Adirondacks:
- Wear water and wind-resistant outer layers.
- Wear layers of fleece, wool, and other non-cotton clothing
- Pack extra clothing including a fleece, wool, or other non-cotton jacket or sweater
- Add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature
- Wear a cold weather hat and gloves or mittens
- Eat, drink, and rest often
- Carry snowshoes and foot spikes, and wear when needed
- Always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
Corey’s Road remains closed beyond the Raquette River Trailhead. The gate and access to the summer parking lot will reopen on May 15 unless the weather prevents the road from drying and hardening.
Elk Lake Trailhead
The trail from the Elk Lake Trailhead located on the privately-owned Elk Lake Easement Lands is open. Elk Lake Road is still closed to public motor vehicle access beyond the Clear Pond Gate until the end of the spring mud season. Park in the parking area at the Clear Pond Gate and ski, snowshoe, or hike the two miles to Elk Lake Trailhead.
Calamity Brook Trail
The high water trail bridge on Calamity Trail is unsafe and unusable at this time. Crossing the brook, which is open at this time, without using the bridge would be very difficult, particularly during high water. On warm and rainy days the water levels in the brook will be higher in the afternoon; plan accordingly.
The East River Trail (also known as the Opalescent River/Hanging Spear Falls Trail) can be used to access the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. It’s an additional 3.7 miles one-way to reach the Flowed Lands when you use this route. The DEC will work to stabilize and repair the high water bridge this spring.
Mt. Adams Fire Tower
The top landing on the Mt. Adams Fire Tower has been damaged by ice wind. Fencing and railings were broken off and the tower stairs and landings are slippery. Please do not attempt to go into the tower cab or onto the top landing with the broken fencing. Work will be planned to fix this damage this year.
High Peaks Information Center (HPIC)
The HPIC at Adirondack Loj is now open. Although the store is not fully stocked at this time flush toilets, snowshoe and microspike rentals, and some retail merchandise is available.
Lake Colden & Avalanche Lake
Ice has receded from the areas around the inlets and outlets. Use caution around shorelines. Water is currently present on top of the ice.
Jack Rabbit Trail
Beaver activity has flooded some parts of this trail; check the ice before crossing.
Gulf Brook Road
The lower gate on this road near Blue Ridge Road is closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of spring mud season.
Boreas Ponds Tract
The Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract has been developed, opening up new recreational opportunities:
- 3.2 miles of seasonal motor vehicle access on Gulf Brook Road
- 6.7 miles of roadway open to bicycling from Blue Ridge Road to Boreas Ponds Dam
- About 25 miles of 7 roadways open to horses and horse-drawn wagons
- 5 year-round parking areas and 3 seasonal parking areas
The five exterior parking lots along Blue Ridge Road and Elk Lake road will be plowed.
The lands of this tract are unclassified at this time. The Interim Access Plan does not have any bearing on future land classification of the tract currently in development and does not prejudge what access and uses will be allowed in the future. The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around the leased camps.
High Peaks Region
South Meadow Lane: South Meadow Lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of spring mud season. Vehicles may park at the barrier at the intersection with Adirondack Loj Road but should not block the opening to ensure emergency vehicles are able to access the lane.
Lake Arnold/Feldspar Brook Trail: This trail is flooded and the bog bridging cannot be crossed. You’ll need to use alternate routes on other trails in the area. The DEC is working to find a permanent solution.
East River Trail: The second bridge on the East River Trail to Allen Mountain and Hanging Spear Falls has been replaced by the DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program. Please do not bounce on the bridge.
Blueberry Hiking Trail: The first 1,500 feet of this trail have been closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail about .3 miles east of the previous location (.8 miles from Seward Trailhead). This reroute eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area.
Blueberry Horse Trail: This trail between Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation, and is poorly marked. The trail is impassable to horses.
Phelps Trail: The high water bridge over Slide Mountain Brook between the Garden and Johns Brook Lodge is broken and unusable.
Bradley Pond: The first and second foot bridges on the Bradley Pond Trail are damaged and unusable. The stream can be forded/rock hopped downstream of the bridge sites.
Mount Marshall: Many of the herd paths and trail-less peaks go around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Use a compass to navigate and don’t follow the paths created by others.
Trap Dike: Do not use the abandoned equipment here; it is unsafe due to aging and weatherizing.
Calkins Creek Horse Trail: This trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
The use of wood burning stoves is still prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks. The ban on campfires applies to any type of use of wood as fuel to protect the trees and other vegetation from being damaged.
The trail has been rerouted around a beaver pond south of Plumley’s Point on the shores of Long Lake. The reroute passes the beaver pond higher up the slope and eliminates having to cross the beaver dam and the wet feet obtained when water levels were high. Follow the blue NPT trail markers.
Moose Creek Suspension Bridge: The bridge between Shattuck Clearing and Cold River is now open.
Ouluska Brook: The bridge over this brook has collapsed. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible.
Giant Mountain Wilderness
North Trail to Giant Mountain: Beaver activity has flooded this trail just past the lean-to.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) (Ausable Club)
The public easement agreement only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR lands or waters, or participate in unauthorized activities. Dogs are prohibited on the AMR.