Snow, ice, rain, and mud are all present in the Adirondacks this weekend. Having the proper footwear and equipment is more essential than ever for those planning to head out hiking. Some recent hikers have been calling in the DEC for help when they find themselves unprepared and needing assistance – the wide variety of conditions means you need to be ready for anything!
Early Spring Conditions
Temperatures are warming, rain is falling, waters are rising, and snow is melting. As with last week, there are spring conditions in the lower elevations and winter conditions at the higher elevations. Be prepared for a variety of conditions.
There is patchy to 6 inches of snow between 2,300 feet and 2,500 feet, a foot or more of snow at 2,600 feet, 2 feet at Lake Colden, and 3 feet or more in the higher elevations.
Even if there is no snow at the trailhead there is deep snow in the higher elevations and at the summits. If you’re planning to hike to the summit of one of the High Peaks or another mountain higher than 2,600 feet carry snowshoes and use them when the snow is deeper than your lower shins.
Snowshoes are still required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness where snow is deeper than 8 inches, and are highly recommended elsewhere.
Hikers have reported observing post-holers sinking to their knees, waist, and stomach as they continued to climb to summits through deepening snow. DEC Forest Rangers have responded to several incidents of hikers who have continued on to mountain summits despite deepening snow and lack of snowshoes, then sought assistance because they were wet, cold, tired, and running out of daylight.
Carry snowshoes or do not climb up to the higher elevations when you encounter snow.
Trails are wet and muddy in the lower and middle elevations. Remember to walk through water and mud, not around, to protect trailside vegetation and erosion of trails. Patches of snow or ice are present on the middle elevation trails.
Ice is present on the higher elevation trails. Carry microspikes and use as needed.
Water & Water Crossings
Avoid all ice on water surfaces – it is breaking up, thinning, rotting, and/or is covered in water.
Water levels are particularly high in the afternoon when the snow is rapidly melting. Water crossing may be difficult or treacherous. Easy water crossings in the morning may not be so upon your return in the afternoon. Plan accordingly.
High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at the Adirondack Loj Trailhead is closed at this time.
Elk Lake Road is closed to public motor vehicle access beyond the clear Pond Gate until the end of spring mud season. Park in the area at the Clear Pond Gate and hike, ski, or snowshoe 2 miles to Elk Lake Trailhead.
The trail from the Elk Lake Trailhead on the privately-owned Elk Lake Easement Lands is now open.
All rock climbing routes on the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are currently closed to allow peregrine falcons to breed.
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 the Adirondack Loj Road but should not block the opening to ensure emergency vehicles may access the lane.
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.
The high water bridge on the Calamity Brook Trail is unsafe and unusable and should not be crossed. Crossing Calamity Brook, which is completely open at this time, without using the bridge will be difficult – especially with high water levels. On warm and rainy days water levels in the brook will be higher in the afternoon; plan accordingly.
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 is an additional 3.7 miles one way to reach the Flowed Lands using this route. The DEC will work to stabilize and repair the high water bridge sometime this spring.
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. The DEC plans to repair the tower sometime this year.
Lake Arnold/Feldspar Brook Trail is flooded and the bog bridging cannot be crossed. Alternate routes using other trails in the area can be used instead. The DEC is working to find a permanent solution to this section of the trail in the near future.
The first 1,500 feet of the Blueberry Hiking Trail in the Western High Peaks is closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail approximately 0.3 miles east of the previous location (0.8 miles from the Seward Trailhead). This route eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area and avoids hiking (and maintaining) more than 120 feet of bog bridging.
Blueberry Horse Trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation, and is poorly marked. The trail is impassable to horses; it is impossible to complete the Cold River Horse Trail Loop. The DEC worked on this in the fall of 2016 to open up about 75% of the trail. Work is continuing on this trail this spring.
Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
The high water bridge on Phelps Trail over Slide Mountain Brook between the Garden Trailhead Parking Area and Johns Brook Lodge broke in the spring of 2016. The remains were removed. Materials have been flown to the site and a new bridge will be built this year.
Whiteface Landing Trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail.
The first and second foot bridges on the Bradley Pond Trail are damaged and unusable. The stream can be forded/rock hopped on the downstream side of the bridge sites.
The lower gate on Gulf Brook Road near the Blue Ridge Road is closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of spring mud season.
The five exterior parking lots along Blue Ridge Road and Elk Road will be plowed.
The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible.
The Northville-Placid 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 the need to cross the beaver dam. Follow the blue NPT trail markers.
A trail reroute has been constructed around the flooded area on the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to.
Many of the herd paths found on Mount Marshall and some of the other trail-less peaks meander around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Those climbing these peaks should navigate with a map and compass rather than follow the paths created by others.
Fixed ropes, harnesses, and other equipment are often abandoned in the Trap Dike. Do not use any of these materials – they have been aged and weatherized and are unsafe.
Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract has been developed which identifies access and recreational opportunities including: five year-round parking areas and three seasonal parking areas, 3.2 miles of seasonal motor vehicle access on the Gulf Brook Road, 6.7 miles of roadway open to bicycling from Blue Ridge Road to the Boreas Ponds Dam, and approximately 25 miles of seven roadways open to horses and horse drawn wagons. The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around the leased hunting camps.
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.