As we inch our way towards spring we’re experiencing some wacky weather in the Adirondacks, with snow, ice, rain, and freezing rain. Hikers will need to prepare for a variety of conditions and snowmobilers might want to find another activity to enjoy this weekend. Check out the latest trail conditions and updates, and then prepare accordingly for your Adirondack outing.
Although a considerable amount of snow has melted with the warmer temperatures lately, snow and ice are still present, and below freezing temperatures are prominent. Snow depths currently range from 6 to 12 inches with deeper snow in the higher elevations.
If you check out the below weather report, you’ll see we’re looking at a mix of rain, snow, sleet, and freezing rain this weekend. Of course, weather conditions can and do change quickly, so check the forecast again before you head out.
- Crown Point: Fri 38° and rain, Sat 44° and cloudy, Sun 38° and rain and snow
- Indian Lake: Fri 33° and freezing rain, Sat 37° and cloudy, Sun 36° and snow with brief sleet
- Lake George: Fri 40° and showers, Sat 49° and mostly cloudy, Sun 41° and snow with brief sleet
- Lake Placid: Fri 36° and freezing rain, Sat 35° and snow showers, Sun 36° and freezing rain
- Malone: Fri 38° and showers, Sat 36° and cloudy, Sun 40° and freezing rain
- North Creek: Fri 37° and cloudy, Sat 38° and mostly cloudy, Sun 36° and snow with brief sleet
- Saranac Lake: Fri 36° and rain, Sat 37° and cloudy, Sun 33° and partly cloudy
- Speculator: Fri 36° and fog, Sat 28° and mostly cloudy, Sun 38° and freezing rain
- Ticonderoga: Fri 32° and rain, Sat 38° and cloudy, Sun 32° and rain and snow
- Tupper Lake: Fri 36° and rain, Sat 36° and cloudy, Sun 38° and freezing rain
Conditions at mountain summits will be more extreme than those at the trailhead. Temperatures will be colder, winds stronger, ice will be present, and snow will be present and much deeper.
Prepare for the Weather
Be prepared for cold weather and wet conditions. Avoid hypothermia by wearing waterproof upper and lower outer shell, waterproof footwear, layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing (not cotton), and a hat and gloves or mittens.
Ice has formed on trails and at high elevations. Microspikes are suitable for the level ground but not on trails on slopes – use crampons here. Bring snowshoes in case you encounter deep snow.
Low elevation trails have bare ground, thin snow, icy surfaces, water, mud, or a mixture of all of the above. Trail crampons and other traction devices should be carried for use on these lower elevation, less steep trails. Deeper, soft snow in the higher elevations will require the use of snowshoes.
Thick ice is present on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas. It’s also present underneath the snow, especially in windblown sections of trails. Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you plan to encounter these conditions and use when warranted.
Basically, prepare for all kinds of conditions on the trails this weekend. The trail conditions will vary from bare and hardened, to wet and slushy, to icy with snow based on the elevation, exposure, and specific location. Wear or carry with you waterproof boots, snowshoes, and crampons.
Water Levels & Ice on Water
Water levels are receding, but rivers and streams are running high and fast due to recent rains and warm temperatures. Melting snow and rain raise the water levels. High fast-moving waters make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. Heed high water warnings and find a safer alternative route. Don’t try to cross through cold, high, fast-flowing waters.
The ice moving over water is either gone or has significantly thinned. Newly formed ice is very thin and may be perched above the current water levels of streams. If you do opt to cross a stream use extreme caution.
Ice is still present on the surface of lakes and ponds. Water and slush are present on the surface of the ice under the snow and above the main surface of ice. Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
Avoid and remain a good distance away from ice that is over running water, near inlets and outlets, and near boathouses and docks, especially those with bubblers or other ice prevention devices.
Remember, ice that can hold the weight of snow may not be able to hold the weight of a person or snowmobile.
The days are slowly getting longer but you’ll still need to carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes to be safe. Make sure you have fresh batteries and carry extras. Do not rely on your cell phone as a flashlight because the batteries will drain quickly and you’d be unable to call for help.
If You’re Lost or Injured
If you do need to call for help call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518.408.5850.
Try to stay warm and dry by separating yourself from the wet snow with a thick layer on the ground. Protect yourself from the elements by building a shelter with items around you and in your pack. Build a campfire to provide heat, light, and comfort. A campfire will also be useful for search crews to locate you.
Practice Leave No Trace
Always adhere to the seven Leave No Trace principles to best preserve the Adirondack region we all love and to allow for an enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors.
Snowmobile trail systems in St. Lawrence County and Saratoga County have been closed due to lack of snow. All trail systems have lost a considerable amount of snow. Check local conditions before heading out.
High Peaks Wilderness
There is 30 inches of snow at Lake Colden (elevation 2,750 feet) with up to 5 to 6 feet of snow in the higher elevations. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake have water on the surface of the ice. Inlets and outlets have opened up and should be avoided.
Marcy Truck Trail is very icy. Use trail crampons here.
Snowshoes or skis are required wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches, which is basically on all trails above 2,600 feet.
The road under the train trestle in the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area has been closed due to flooding.
The Cascade Lakes 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.
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 on campfires 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.
Boreas Ponds Tract
The Adirondack Park Agency has approved the classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract, after nearly two years of discussion.
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.