Thick ice is present on most trails, snow and below freezing temperatures are forecasted for the weekend, and a number of snowmobiling trails are closed. See what you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable weekend recreating in the Adirondacks.
Below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice are present throughout the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 10 to 12 inches.
Snow showers are forecast through the weekend with accumulations of 1 to 2 inches, with more in the higher elevations.
- Crown Point: Fri 17° and partly cloudy, Sat 27° and mostly cloudy, Sun 35° and snow showers
- Indian Lake: Fri 9° and mostly cloudy, Sat 19° and cloudy, Sun 31° and snow
- Lake George: Fri 23° and partly cloudy, Sat 30° and mostly cloudy, Sun 38° and snow
- Lake Placid: Fri 4° and mostly cloudy, Sat 18° and snow showers, Sun 31° and snow
- Malone: Fri 4° and partly cloudy, Sat 19° and cloudy, Sun 33° and snow showers
- North Creek: Fri 11° and partly cloudy, Sat 20° and cloudy, Sun 31° and snow
- Saranac Lake: Fri 5° and mostly cloudy, Sat 19° and snow showers, Sun 32° and snow showers
- Speculator: Fri 8° and mostly cloudy, Sat 18° and cloudy, Sun 29° and snow
- Ticonderoga: Fri 12° and partly cloudy, Sat 21° and mostly cloudy, Sun 30° and snow showers
- Tupper Lake: Fri 4° and partly cloudy, Sat 19° and snow showers, Sun 31° and snow
As always, mountain summit conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead. You’ll find colder temperatures, stronger winds, lower wind chill temperatures, and deeper snow.
Prepare for the Cold
Below freezing temperatures can mean frozen snacks and water. Prepare snack bars ahead of time by cutting them into chunks for easy consumption if frozen. Pack Nalgene bottle in a thermal case to avoid freezing. Water in tubes of Hydration bladders can freeze quickly – keep the valve tucked into your jacket, insulate the tubing, and bring an empty water bottle as a failsafe.
Wear a waterproof upper and lower outer shell, waterproof footwear, layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing (not cotton), and a hat and gloves or mittens.
Keep emergency essentials in your backpack, as this is especially important for winter hiking. Include a pocket knife, duct tape to patch ripped jackets or broken poles, headlamp for unexpected trips out in the dark or overnight stays, space blanket, hand and feet warmers, emergency whistle, first aid kit, fire-making tools, extra layers, and socks.
The recent cycle of thawing and re-freezing weather has caused hard, thick ice to form on trails and especially at the high elevations. The use of crampons is strongly advised. Microspikes are suitable on level ground, but not on trails on slopes. Bring snowshoes in case deep snow is encountered.
Use trekking poles for added support and balance when traveling on icy trails and summits. These are particularly helpful when descending trails.
The DEC is advising hikers to review a trail map prior to your trip to become familiar with specific junctions, markers, or trail changes. It can be easy to miss a sign or marker on a trail in the winter, so familiarizing yourself ahead of time will allow you to remain aware and on the lookout. Bonus tip: Bring the map with you.
Remember that weather conditions can alter your plans and you should always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods before entering backcountry. Backcountry hiking trails can be rugged and rough – they are not maintained like park walkways, so wear proper footwear.
Stream crossings may be impassable. Prepare to take alternate routes or turn back if you need to. Recent thaws, icy conditions, and very cold water, fast-moving streams should be avoided. Keep dogs on leashes near fast-moving water.
Ice on Water
Rivers and Streams
Ice is building on rivers and streams. Ice over moving water is thin. Beware of perched ice and use caution at stream crossings.
Lakes and Ponds
Ice is solid and there is little to no snow cover on most ponds and lakes. Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it. Avoid ice over running water, near inlets and outlets, and near boathouses and docks, especially those with bubblers or other ice prevention devices.
Closed Snowmobile Trails
Snowmobile clubs have closed most of the trail systems in Fulton, Saratoga, and southern Hamilton Counties due to the lack of snow and the amount of ice and bare patches on the trails. These conditions can be found throughout much of the Adirondacks. Check local conditions before going out.
Snowmobile trails are closed in the following areas: Moose River Plains Wild Forest, Ferris Lake Wild Forest, Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Jessup River Wild Forest, and Wilcox Lake Forest.
We’re still experiencing short days, so bring a flashlight with you on all hikes with fresh batteries and carry extra batteries. Don’t use your cellphone as a flashlight; it drains the battery and you’d be unable to call for help.
Practice Leave No Trace
Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace when you’re recreating in the High Peaks Region. This is important to protect lands and waters of the Adirondacks that we all love.
These principles include being considerate of other visitors and of wildlife (winter is an especially vulnerable time for wildlife), along with other important trail etiquette practices.
High Peaks Wilderness
The Cascade Day Use area, located off State Route 73 between Lower and Upper Cascade Lakes, is closed until further notice due to the icy condition of the unmaintained entry road.
There is 22 inches of snow at the stake of the showers of Lake Colden (elevation 2,750 feet) with up to 3 to 4 feet in the higher elevations. Microspikes are suitable between the trailhead and Marcy Dam. Crampons are required on high elevation, steep slopes.
Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are crossable, but ice around the inlets and outlets of both lakes should be avoided.
Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 2,300 feet and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
Water levels in high elevation brooks remain higher than usual.
A small section of the Whiteface Mountain Trail just above the junction with the Whiteface Highway (Wilmington Turn) has been rerouted to avoid hazard created by ice conditions and the “rock cut” of the highway.
The trail through the Elk Lake Easement lands connecting to the High Peaks Wilderness is open once again. However, the Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road will remain closed through the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a roundtrip hike; plan accordingly.
The gate on Corey’s Road will remain open until March 1st, however, the road and parking areas may not be plowed. If you do not have four-wheel drive, and there is snow on the ground, you might consider parking along the plowed section of the road and walking. It is imperative to not block traffic here. Also, have a shovel in your vehicle in case you need to dig it out after a snowstorm.
South Meadow Lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of spring mud season. Vehicles can park at the barrier just off the Adirondac Loj Road. Do not block the opening – it’s used for emergency access.
A large tree has fallen on the lean-to on the Mr. Van Ski Trail causing severe damage and rendering the lean-to unsafe and unusable. The DEC is working with partners to evaluate the extent of the damage and the requirements and timing of repairs.
Several sections of the Phelps Trail in the Upper Johns Brook Valley contain extensive blowdown. Please use caution when hiking around this area.
The Cold Brook Trail between Indian Pass and Lake Colden is no longer a designated trail and is not maintained. It hasn’t been a designated trail since Tropical Storm Irene devastated this trail in 2011.
A new section of the Bradley Pond Trail to Santanoni Mountain has been constructed near the beginning of the trail to avoid the two crossings which had unusable bridges. The new trail section leaves the old trail just as the trail leaves the gravel road and crosses Santanoni Brook on a newly constructed bridge, and then joins the old trail a short distance later.
The Owl’s Head Trail across private lands to the summit is closed to public access and use on weekends, but is available for public use on weekdays.
Blowdown has been cleared from the Blueberry Horse Trail between Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks. The trail has been “brushed out” (trailside vegetation has been trimmed). The trail is once again passable to horses and riders, however, riders should take care near drainages and several stream crossings that will be muddy. The DEC plans to improve the trail tread of this route in the future.
The high water bridge over Calamity Brook has been repaired. Although it leans slightly, it is usable for crossing. The lean will be corrected at a later date. The repairs were completed by SCA High Peaks Backcountry Stewards, a DEC Forest Ranger, and the DEC High Peaks Wilderness Land Manager.
The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse-drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
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, making them unsafe.
The use of wood burning stoves is prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks. The ban of campfire applies to any type of use of wood as fuel to protect the trees and other vegetation from being damaged.
Dix Mountain Wilderness
The trail through the Elk Easement lands connecting to the Dix Mountain Wilderness is open for public use once again; as mentioned in the High Peaks section, the Clear Pond Gate on Elk Lake Road is closed through spring mud season.
The Boquet lean-to on the Dix Mountain Road Pond Trail has been moved away from the river and repaired by volunteers from the Adirondack 46ers.
Giant Mountain Wilderness
A trail re-route has been constructed around the flooded area on the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to.
The bridge over Ouluska Brook has collapsed into the brook. Due to the low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible.
McKenzie Mountain Wilderness
The first bridge on the Jackrabbit Trail between McKenzie Pond Road and McKenzie Pond is flooded and impassable. The stream isn’t safe to cross. Skiers and snowshoers should avoid this portion of the trail until further notice.
The portion of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail through this wilderness is popular with cross-country skiers. The use of segments of the trail which cross through private property is by permission of the landowner. Please respect the private property by staying on the marked trail and obeying posted signs. Anyone using this trail should wear skis or snowshoes, and snowshoers should avoid walking in ski tracks.
Sentinel Range Wilderness
Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail.
William C. Whitney Wilderness
Lake Lila Road is closed to public motor vehicle access until the end of the spring mud season. Hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers may use the road but are prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands.
Boreas Ponds Tract
An Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract identifies access and recreational opportunities that are available prior to the classification of the tract and development of a unit management plan.
The lower gate on Gulf Brook Road is closed until the end of spring mud season.
The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club)
The public easement agreement only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. Don’t trespass on AMR lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. Dogs are prohibited on the AMR.