Many snowmobile trails were closed last week because of a lack of snow – that is no longer a problem! There is now adequate snow on the snowmobile trails and hiking trails in the Adirondacks, with more snow coming this weekend. However, it’s still icy on some trails, and there are even avalanche conditions in certain areas. Check conditions before you go out and stay safe!
Below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice are present throughout the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 20 to 25 inches, including 5 to 7 inches of fresh snow. There will be more snow in some locations and at high elevations.
An additional 4 to 6 inches of snow is forecasted for Friday night and Saturday.
- Crown Point: Fri 25° and snow, Sat 39° and rain and snow, Sun 34° and snow with brief sleet
- Indian Lake: Fri 19° and snow showers, Sat 36° and rain and snow, Sun 35° and snow with brief sleet
- Lake George: Fri 29° and snow showers, Sat 43° and rain and snow, Sun 40° and freezing rain
- Lake Placid: Fri 20° and snow showers, Sat 35° and snow, Sun 34° and snow with brief sleet
- Malone: Fri 21° and snow showers, Sat 27° and snow, Sun 28° and snow with brief sleet
- North Creek: Fri 20° and snow showers, Sat 37° and rain and snow, Sun 35° and snow with brief sleet
- Saranac Lake: Fri 20° and snow showers, Sat 35° and snow, Sun 34° and snow with brief sleet
- Speculator: Fri 18° and snow showers, Sat 35° and snow, Sun 35° and freezing rain
- Ticonderoga: Fri 19° and snow showers, Sat 33° and rain and snow, Sun 28° and snow with brief sleet
- Tupper Lake: Fri 20° and snow showers, Sat 35° and snow, Sun 35° and rain and snow
Conditions will be more extreme at mountain summits than at the trailhead. Expect colder temperatures, very low wind chill temperatures, stronger winds, deeper snow, and thicker ice.
Prepare for Winter Conditions
Avoid hypothermia by wearing 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.
Bring or carry extra clothing with you, and food. Remember that freezing weather can mean frozen food and water. Break up snack bars ahead of time so they’ll be easy to consume, and pack a Nalgene bottle in a thermal case to avoid water freezing.
Always prepare to spend an unexpected night in the woods. Bring a headlamp or flashlight with fresh batteries with you (and carry extra batteries); don’t rely on your cell phone as a flashlight as it drains the batteries.
Trails are covered in 20 to 25 inches of snow, with 5 to 7 inches of fresh snow, and more in some locations. Snowshoes or skis are recommended and should be worn on all trails.
Many trails will not have been used since the most recent snowfall, especially less popular, secondary trails.
Microspikes and other less aggressive traction devices may be suitable for low elevation trails, but crampons are going to be needed for slopes and high elevation trails. Bring snowshoes in case you encounter deep snow; snowshoes should be worn whenever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
Hiking through the snow will take more time and energy than a summer hike on the same trails – plan accordingly.
Ice on Trails
Thick ice is present on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas. Thick ice is also present under the snow, including on trails, and especially in windblown sections of trails.
Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons when snowshoeing or skiing up mountains and use them when needed. The trail crampons are ineffective under these conditions.
Ice on Water Surfaces
Ice has formed and thickened on most water bodies. Ice on rivers and streams is less thick.
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.
Due to the significant amount of recent fresh snow, avalanche conditions may exist on slides and other exposed slopes in the High Peaks and surrounding mountains.
If you’re going out this weekend, take some time beforehand to learn more about how to recognize avalanche conditions, how to avoid triggering an avalanche, and the necessary rescue equipment to carry when backcountry skiing.
Snowmobile trail systems throughout the Adirondacks are open. The recent snowstorm has provided 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow. Previously closed snowmobile trails now have adequate snow coverage and have reopened. You should still check local trail conditions before heading out.
High Peaks Wilderness
Avalanche conditions may exist on slides and other exposed slopes in the High Peaks and surrounding mountains. Backcountry skiers and those traveling off trails should take basic safety precautions:
- Tell friends or relatives of your travel plans and activities and don’t travel alone.
- Be aware of the terrain you’re traversing, and the degree of slope and snow depth.
- Recognize that snow on the leeward side of mountains and ridges can be deeper and more unstable.
- Check the recent, current, and forecasted weather conditions.
- Know what constitutes a “safe” route and avoid potentially dangerous slopes.
- Carry essential equipment, including an avalanche transceiver (or beacon), a shovel, and a collapsible or ski-pole probe.
- Learn basic avalanche rescue techniques.
- Sign in at all trail registration boxes.
- Use common sense during outdoor recreational activities.
There is 37 inches of snow at the stake on the shores of Lake Colden (elevation 2,750 feet) with up to 5 to 6 feet of snow in the higher elevations. Five to 7 inches of new snow fell Wednesday night through Thursday.
Snowshoes or skis are required wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches, which is basically on all trails. There is good snow coverage on all trails. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are crossable, but ice around the inlets and outlets of both lakes should be avoided.
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.
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.
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.