It may be almost spring, but you wouldn’t know it in the Adirondacks! Conditions are great this weekend for snowshoeing, skiing, and snowmobiling. However, avalanche conditions may also exist, particularly in the High Peaks region, so read up on avalanche awareness and safety before heading out this weekend.
- Crown Point: Fri 29° and partly cloudy, Sat 23° and partly cloudy, Sun 29° and mostly sunny
- Indian Lake: Fri 20° and cloudy, Sat 16° and partly cloudy, Sun 22° and mostly sunny
- Lake George: Fri 34° and partly cloudy, Sat 31° and partly cloudy, Sun 34° and mostly sunny
- Lake Placid: Fri 18° and cloudy, Sat 13° and snow showers, Sun 18° and partly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 20° and snow showers, Sat 14° and partly cloudy, Sun 19° and partly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 21° and mostly cloudy, Sat 18° and partly cloudy, Sun 23° and mostly sunny
- Saranac Lake: Fri 20° and cloudy, Sat 15° and partly cloudy, Sun 20° and partly cloudy
- Speculator: Fri 21° and cloudy, Sat 19° and partly cloudy, Sun 23° and mostly sunny
- Ticonderoga: Fri 23° and partly cloudy, Sat 17° and partly cloudy, Sun 22° and mostly sunny
- Tupper Lake: Fri 20° and cloudy, Sat 16° and partly cloudy, Sun 21° and mostly sunny
Remember that weather forecasts can and do change suddenly. Check the weather report again right before you head out.
Always keep in mind weather conditions will be more extreme at summits than what you’ll find at the trailheads.
There is currently 15 to 30 inches of snow on the ground with much deeper snow in the higher elevations. Below freezing temperatures are forecasted throughout the weekend, with nighttime lows going into the low teens and single digits.
Continue to dress properly for winter conditions. Stay dry and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water, and eat, drink, and rest often. Being dehydrated, hungry, or tired makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
Remember that traveling through snow takes more energy and time than traveling on the same trails in the summer.
Avalanche conditions may exist on slides and other exposed slopes after significant snowfalls. Learn more about how to recognize avalanche conditions, avoid triggering an avalanche, and the necessary rescue equipment you should be carrying with you if you’re going backcountry skiing in the Adirondacks.
Dig test pits and know how to read the snowpack. Don’t rely on someone else’s assessment. Carry avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel, and know how to self rescue. Practice safe travel techniques and when in doubt, don’t go.
Please report any observed avalanche activity to the DEC Dispatch at 518.897.1300.
Hikers should be aware of spruce traps this weekend. After a large accumulation of fresh snow, spruce traps can occur. A spruce trap is when deep snow hides a cavity between buried branches. This happens more often at higher elevations where the trees grow shorter but the snow piles higher.
A misstep off the broken trail, even in snowshoes, could mean finding yourself waist deep in a trap. When breaking trail, be cautious of buried branches and take your time to find the safest path. Educate yourself on spruce traps before embarking on your hike.
Trails are covered with snow and snow depths do warrant the use of snowshoes. Snowshoers and skiers should stay on designated trails to avoid avalanche prone terrain. Secondary trails may contain deep, untrammeled snow. “Breaking trail” takes a lot of time and energy.
Use caution when hiking above tree line as trail markers (stone cairns) are covered by snow, and blowing snow will shorten sight distance and cover tracks.
Thick ice is present on high elevation trails, especially on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas. The thick ice might be covered by snow. Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you’re planning to travel up trails to mountain summits and use when warranted; trail crampons will be ineffective here.
Deep snows are providing great late season snowmobiling opportunities. Many gates and snowmobile trail systems previously closed have been reopened with the recent storms. Check local conditions before going out.
Ice on Water
Ice on Rivers and Streams
Large areas of ice moving have gone or thinned considerably. All the ice is covered in snow. Ice that holds the weight of snow might not hold the weight of a person, snowmobile, or ATV.
Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow. If you don’t know, don’t go over it.
Use extreme caution at all stream crossings as rocks are covered with ice.
Ice on Lakes and Ponds
Ice has thinned on lakes and ponds, especially over river channels and other moving water. Water and slush are present below the snow on the surface of the ice.
The DEC has received and responded to many reports of motorized vehicles falling through the ice. Again, if you’re unsure, don’t go on the ice.
Avoid and stay well away from ice that is over running water, near inlets and outlets, and near boathouses and docks.
While the days are getting longer, the DEC is still recommending to carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes. Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras with you. Don’t ever depend on your cell phone as a flashlight because it drains the batteries, which would render you unable to call for help.
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.
All areas right now have deep snow and snowshoes or skies are required.
High Peaks Wilderness
The High Peaks region has received 18 inches of new snowfall in the 24 hours prior to Wednesday afternoon and additional snow has accumulated since then. Snowshoers and skiers should stay on designated trails to avoid avalanche prone terrain.
There is 57 inches of snow at the shores of Lake Colden with up to 5 to 6 feet of snow in the higher elevations. Avoid the inlets and outlets of Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake, as snow is covering thin ice around the open water.
The private landowner of the Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract is conducting a timber harvest in the area of the Loon Lake Mountain Trail. Be prepared to encounter logging trucks and heavy equipment at any time on the trail and the easement lands in the area during this time. Please contact the DEC Ray Brook Office at 518.897.1291 if you have any questions about the harvest operation.
Due to logging operations on the CL West Tract, the DEC has closed the Cranberry Lake 50 connector trail and Lost Pond Trail to the public until further notice. The Cranberry Lake 50 trail has been temporarily rerouted to its former route State 3 during the closure.
The town of Fort Ann has closed Shelving Rock Road for mud season. Parking along the road before the gate is prohibited. During this time there is no access to Hogtown, Sleeping Beauty, Buck Mountain (east trailhead), Shelving Rock, Dacy Clearing, Log Bay, Shelving Rock Day Use Area, or Shelving Rock Falls. Buck Mountain from Pilot Knob and Inman Pond are still open.
Corey’s Road in the Western High Peaks is closed. It will remain closed through mud season. The road will reopen when it has dried and hardened, and all routine maintenance and repairs have been completed.
The road under the train trestle in the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area has been closed due to flooding.
Due to logging operations on the Conifer-Emporium Easement Tract the DEC has closed the Cranberry Lake 50 connector trail and Lost Pond Trail to public use until further notice. The Cranberry Lake 50 trail has been temporarily re-routed to its former route through State Route 3 during the closure.
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.