Don’t let the fact that spring is technically here fool you – snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling opportunities abound in the Adirondacks! As with last week, you’re going to want to brush up on avalanche safety and ice safety before embarking on your hike.
Snow is still present in the Adirondacks with more coming. There is currently 15 to 30 inches of snow on the ground, with much deeper snow in the higher elevations. Below freezing temperatures are forecast throughout the weekend with nighttime lows dropping into the low teens and single digits.
- Crown Point: Fri 42° and snow showers, Sat 32° and cloudy, Sun 39° and partly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 37° and cloudy, Sat 28° and cloudy, Sun 36° and partly cloudy
- Lake George: Fri 48° and snow showers, Sat 38° and snow showers, Sun 43° and mostly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 38° and snow showers, Sat 26° and snow showers, Sun 34° and mostly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 37° and snow showers, Sat 26° and snow showers, Sun 34° and partly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 38° and cloudy, Sat 30° and mostly cloudy, Sun 36° and partly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 38° and partly cloudy, Sat 27° and snow showers, Sun 35° and partly cloudy
- Speculator: Fri 37° and snow showers, Sat 29° and mostly cloudy, Sun 36° and partly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 37° and cloudy, Sat 29° and cloudy, Sun 34° and mostly cloudy
- Tupper Lake: Fri 36° and cloudy, Sat 26° and cloudy, Sun 36° and partly cloudy
Continue to dress and prepare adequately for the weather with 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.
Conditions will be more extreme at mountain summits than what you’ll find at the trailhead, with colder temperatures, stronger winds, deeper snow, and more ice.
The accumulated snow is still yielding to avalanche conditions in some areas. Educate yourself on avalanche safety before heading out: know how to dig test pits and read the snowpack, and what equipment to bring with you (avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel). Please report any observed avalanche activity to the DEC at 518.897.1300.
Trails are covered in snow. The use of snowshoes will be warranted, especially in the High Peaks Wilderness. Snowshoers and skiers are asked to stay on designated trails to avoid avalanche-prone terrain. Remember that more energy and time is required when you’re traveling through deep snow.
Use caution when hiking above the 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 in snow.
Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you’re planning to head up to mountain summits and use when needed; trail crampons will be ineffective here.
Ice on Water
Ice on Rivers and Streams
Large areas of ice over moving water are gone or have thinned considerably. Remember that ice that can hold the weight of snow may not hold the weight of a person, snowmobile, or ATV. Make sure you know the thickness of ice under the snow, and if you don’t know, then don’t go. Use extreme caution at all stream crossings; rocks are covered with ice.
Ice on Lakes and Ponds
Ice has thinned on lakes and ponds, especially over river channels and where there’s moving water. The DEC has received and responded to numerous reports of motorized vehicles falling through the ice – remember that if you’re unsure, just don’t go.
Stay away from ice that is over running water, near inlets and outlets, and near boathouses and docks.
Days are getting longer, but the DEC is still recommending all hikers to carry a headlamp or flashlight just in case. Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras. Don’t depend on your cell phone as a flashlight, because that drains the batteries which would leave you unable to call for help.
If you’re planning on camping this weekend, it’s extremely important to prepare for the cold Adirondack nights. The DEC is reminding campers to layer for sleep.
The first layer is your barrier – use a thick sleeping pad to help block the cold from the ground. Then, use two full-length sleeping pads: a closed cell foam pad for next to the ground with a self-inflating pad on top.
The second layer is the sleeping bag liner, which can add up to 15 degrees of warmth and it also helps reduce wear on your sleeping bag. Your sleeping bag itself provides the most amount of coverage on cold nights.
Be sure to use a sleeping bag that is rated for 10 degrees colder than what you are expecting to endure. Use a sleeping bag that offers draft tubes around the zippers and draft collars above the shoulders, as well as a hood for maximum warmth and security.
Deep snows are offering some great late season snowmobiling opportunities! Many gates and snowmobile trail systems are open. Check local conditions before going out.
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.
High Peaks Wilderness
There is 54 inches of snow on the shores of Lake Colden with up to five to six feet of snow in the higher elevations. Avoid the inlets and outlets of Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake.
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.
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 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.