Both spring and winter conditions are present in the Adirondacks this weekend! If you’re going out hiking you’ll likely encounter mud, snow, and ice. Find out where you’ll need to wear skis or snowshoes, and what else to be prepared for.
Snow & Spring Conditions
Temperatures are warming up, rain is falling, snow is melting, and waters are rising. Spring conditions are present in the lower elevations, while winter conditions remain in the higher elevations. Be prepared for a variety of conditions.
Snow depths range from 0 to 4 inches in the lower elevations. The snow is mostly in patches and along wooded areas and on north-facing slopes. There is 2.5 to 3 feet of snow present at Lake Colden with 4 to 5 feet in the higher elevations and up to 6 feet on north-facing slopes.
Trailheads & Low Elevation Trails
Low elevation trails are wet and muddy with ice patches present. Remember to walk through mud and water, don’t go around it.
Do not let the conditions at the trailhead fool you – deep snow remains present in higher elevations!
High Elevation Trails
Deep snow is present at 2,500 feet. Snow is soft by mid-morning, and very soft by mid-afternoon. Hikers have reported post-holers sinking to their knees, waist, and chest as they climb up to the summits. Even snowshoers are sinking to their knees in the high elevations.
Skiing conditions are still good on the high elevation ski trails, except at crossings and along streams and drainages. Be aware of ice coming off cliffs above the trails.
Snowshoes & Skis
Snowshoes or skis are still required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness where snow is deeper than 8 inches (above 2,300 feet). Snowshoes or skis should be used on all high elevation trails with more than 8 inches of snow (deeper than the top of hiking boots). Snow on the trails will be soft due to rain and warm temperatures, so the use of snowshoes is essential.
Ice will be present in patches on most trails, on open summits, and at other exposed locations in the higher elevations. Carry microspikes (foot traction devices) and use as warranted.
Avoid ice on all water surfaces. Where it is present, the ice is thinning, breaking up, rotting, and/or is covered with water.
Water levels are high, particularly in the afternoon when snow is rapidly melting. Water crossing may be difficult or even treacherous. Easy water crossings in the morning may not be so when you return in the afternoon – plan accordingly.
High Peaks Information Center
The High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at the Adirondack Loj Trailhead is closed at this time.
Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs
All rock climbing routes on the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs will be closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest.
Jack Rabbit Trail
Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail; check the ice before crossing.
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 and wind. Fencing and railings were broken off and the tower stairs and landings are slippery. The top landing and the cab are closed to the public at this time. DEC plans to repair the tower this year.
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 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.
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.