There’s a winter storm warning for this weekend! Whiteout out conditions are expected in the Adirondacks – if you’re heading out extra precautions must be taken.
Not a fan of deep, wet snow? You could always check out one of these cozy bars in the Adirondacks instead! If you do decide to head out into the woods, keep reading.
Winter Storm & Snow
A winter storm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service, in effect starting from 5am today, Friday the 31st, to 2pm on Saturday, April 1st for Western Essex County (which includes the High Peaks region). Heavy, wet snow in excess of 6 to 12 inches is expected.
Snow accumulations will be deeper in the higher elevations. Whiteout conditions are predicted due to clouds and falling and blowing snow on summits during, and also possibly after, the storm. In other words, even if you wait until Sunday to head out when the storm should be over, you may still encounter whiteouts so prepare accordingly.
Currently, there is 12 to 15 inches of snow on the ground in the lower elevations, 45 inches at Lake Colden, and 6 feet above the tree line.
There is deep snow on all trails. Trails may have blowdown and might require “breaking trail” after the storm. Trails near streams may be wet, muddy, and icy. Snow bridges and ice on most stream crossings have only recently formed and may not hold the weight of a person.
Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and should be used on all trails elsewhere.
You may encounter ice on the trails. Rocks and bedrock along streams, in drainages, on open summits, and other exposed locations are icy. Carry microspikes or other foot traction devices and use when warranted.
Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper. Whiteout conditions can occur suddenly and frequently.
Carry a map and a compass and know how to navigate without the ability to see landmarks, cairns, or your tracks, and don’t attempt to summit mountains when whiteout conditions exist.
The recent storm before this current one left over 30 inches of snow on the higher peaks of the Adirondacks. The high winds transported snow to the leeward side of mountains resulting in deeper snows and cornices. Below freezing temperatures have slowed bonding in the snowpack.
The additional snowfall happening now has added to the total dropped from the previous storm, and strong winds are continuing to add to the leeward slopes, with potential for wind slab formation. Be aware of wind direction and those slopes prone to wind loading. Significant snowfall is expected.
Cross-country skiers and snowshoers should stay on the trails and away from steep slopes on summits.
Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and other winter recreationists who may be traversing avalanche prone, steep, open terrain, such as 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 someone know where you are going
- Know and be prepared for avalanche conditions
Ice on Water
Ice is thinning, weakening, and receding from inlets, outlets, and shorelines. Snow, slush, and water are present on the surface of the ice. Ice on rivers, streams, and most channels of moving water, if present, is breaking up or very thin.
Ice that can hold snow cannot necessarily hold the weight of a person. No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition first.
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.
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.