Unusually warm weather followed by freezing temperatures can make for some interesting trail conditions! Know what to expect before heading out.
Snow & Weather
With the recent bout of warm weather, snow depths have been reduced significantly, particularly in the lower elevations. The middle and higher elevations will still have some deep snow present.
There is three feet of snow at the Lake Colden Caretaker’s Cabin with deeper snow on high elevations.
Weather forecasts can and do change quickly. Check the weather right before leaving, and be prepared to spend the night just in case – carry extra clothing, equipment, and supplies.
Microspikes (foot traction) should be worn on the low elevation trails, snowshoes or skis on the high elevation trails, and crampons will be necessary on the summits.
Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks Wilderness beyond Marcy Dam, and are strongly encouraged wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. Forest rangers are turning hikers back who do not have snowshoes in the High Peaks Wilderness, so come prepared!
Plan for conditions and expect hikes or skis to take longer than usual.
Trail conditions are variable – here’s what you may run into:
- Freezing temperatures following the warm weather and rain have caused some trails to harden.
- Recent high winds have resulted in blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches), especially on trails going through hardwood forests.
- Ice is present at trailheads, at low elevations, drainages, and on rocks near water.
- Thick ice is present on summits, exposed bedrock, and other open areas.
- Water may be present on lower elevation trails along waterways and in low spots – remember to walk through the water and mud, don’t go around it.
Skiing Conditions & Ski Trails
Conditions are good for skiing but with some obstacles. Drainages are open and blowdown is present on many trails, including South Meadow Lane, Marcy Truck Trail, and Calamity Brook Trail.
Trails designated as Ski Trails can only be used by people wearing skis. Snowshoeing or walking on Ski Trails is prohibited. This includes the following:
- Whale’s Tail Notch Ski Trail
- Mr. Van Ski Trail
- Avalanche Pass Ski Trail
- Wright Peak Ski Trail
- Van Hovenberg Ski Trail
Ice on Water
There is still ice on high elevation ponds and lakes. Avoid areas around the inlets and outlets, and use caution around shorelines. Ice has been significantly reduced on the lower elevation ponds and lakes. Rivers and streams are open. Practice ice safety at all times.
Conditions on high elevation summits are worse than conditions in the lower elevations:
- Temperatures are colder
- Winds are stronger
- Snow is deeper
- Exposed bedrock can be covered in thick ice – use crampons
- Whiteout conditions from blowing snow are common
Be prepared for the possibility of whiteout conditions. Carry a map and compass with you and know how to navigate without the ability to see landmarks, cairns, or your tracks. If possible avoid summits on mountains when whiteout conditions exist.
Lake Colden & Avalanche Lake
Ice has receded from the areas around inlets and outlets. Use caution around shorelines. Water is currently present on top of the ice.
The trail between Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake has no snow cover.
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.
Elk Lake Road
This road is 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 hike, ski, or snowshoe the two miles to Elk Lake Trailhead.
High Peaks Information Center (HPIC)
The HPIC at Adirondack Loj is still closed at this time. The Adirondack Mountain Club is operating out of a heated tent for snowshoe and microspike rentals, along with some other retail merchandise.
The flush toilet and shower facilities are not available, although there are porta-johns. Parking is available.
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
Whiteface Landing Trail: This trail has been rerouted to avoid the private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail starts at the parking area located before the private gate. Respect private property.
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 impassible 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 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.
This road is open to the summer gate, although the town does not plow the road beyond the bridge over Stony Creek, so plan accordingly. Do not park in the snowplow turnarounds.