We are continuing to see a mix of both spring and winter conditions in the Adirondacks, with deep snow present on some of the summits, and muddy conditions and erosions elsewhere.
Be sure to check the weather and trail notices to know what to pack and what to expect while out hiking this weekend.
Be Prepared for Anything
Backcountry conditions can change suddenly and all hikers should prepare accordingly. Bring extra clothes and food, first aid equipment, and a flashlight. Always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods before heading out.
If you are planning on spending the night, overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks are required to store all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canister.
Remember to always stay on the trails to protect vegetation and prevent further erosion, especially in the higher elevations. Walk through mud and water, not around it.
Snow, hard-packed snow, and ice are still present on trails in the highest elevations. Two to three feet of snow is present on the summits. Microspikes and snowshoes should be carried; use microspikes to walk on hard-packed snow and ice, and snowshoes to get through soft, deep snow.
High elevation trails are susceptible to erosion and expansion – consider other destinations or activities. Lower and middle elevation trails are wet and muddy, especially in low spots and along waterways.
Backcountry hiking trails are often rugged and rough; they’re not as maintained as park walkways, so proper footwear is essential.
Temperatures will be colder, winds stronger, and snow will be present at the summits. Snow will be deep above 3,300 feet.
If you plan to summit one of the High Peaks, or any mountains higher than 3,300 feet, carry snowshoes and microspikes and use as needed.
Fire danger is currently low.
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.
Water levels are high 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 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.
Backcountry Steward Positions in the High Peaks
Attention hikers! Do you want to work in the High Peaks? The DEC is looking to fill four Student Conservation Association (SCA) Backcountry Steward internship positions in the High Peaks Wilderness. These are six-month positions.