It’s one of the most popular weekends for hiking in the Adirondacks: Columbus Day Weekend! Temperatures are brisk, leaves are changing colors, and it’s shaping up to be a great weekend for hiking and camping. Just take a few moments to review the current hiking conditions, trail notices, and more to know before heading out.
- Crown Point: Fri 57° and mostly sunny, Sat 66° and partly cloudy, Sun 62° and scattered showers
- Indian Lake: Fri 57° and mostly sunny, Sat 61° and mostly cloudy, Sun 61° and scattered showers
- Lake George: Fri 61° and mostly sunny, Sat 66° and mostly cloudy, Sun 65° and showers
- Lake Placid: Fri 53° and mostly sunny, Sat 62° and scattered showers, Sun 57° and scattered showers
- Malone: Fri 51° and mostly sunny, Sat 63° and scattered showers, Sun 58° and scattered showers
- North Creek: Fri 56° and mostly sunny, Sat 60° and mostly cloudy, Sun 62° and scattered showers
- Saranac Lake: Fri 55° and mostly sunny, Sat 62° and scattered showers, Sun 56° and scattered showers
- Speculator: Fri 59° and mostly sunny, Sat 60° and mostly cloudy, Sun 64° and showers
- Ticonderoga: Fri 55° and mostly sunny, Sat 64° and partly cloudy, Sun 59° and scattered showers
Temperatures will be colder and winds stronger at the summits.
Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend
It’s a very popular weekend for hiking in the Adirondacks. You can expect to encounter many vehicles on the road and many people on the trails and waters this weekend. Trailhead parking lots and interior campsites in popular areas will fill early.
Plan accordingly and seek backcountry recreational opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
Parking & Shuttle Information for Lake Placid
All parking for Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain along Route 73 will be closed as of October 4th until the 8th. Parking for both mountains will instead be located at the Olympic Sports complex. There is no overnight parking here.
Shuttles will run to and from the Cascade Mountain Trailhead on the half hour beginning at 7am each day. Shuttles will pick up hikers at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex. The last shuttle to Cascade Trailhead will leave the complex at 3pm. The last shuttle back to the complex from Cascade Trailhead will leave at 7pm each day.
Hikers should also be aware that only the shuttles will be allowed to drop off and pick up people at the Cascade Mountain Trailhead. Other vehicles are not allowed to enter the trailhead area. Also, no dogs will be allowed on the shuttle.
Hikers who choose to hike Mt. Van Hoevenberg should be aware that the trail will still be under construction. The trail will still offer hikers a marked, beautiful, 2-mile one-way, winding hike through the forest to the open summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg.
The Olympic Sports Complex will have snacks, beverages, and last-minute hiking supplies on site.
Watch for Moose
Motorists should be aware that moose are rutting this time of year. Moose will be wandering around looking for mates and walking into roads without paying attention to vehicles. Four moose-vehicle collisions have occurred recently during a three-day period. Take precautions to avoid colliding with a moose.
Fall Foliage Report
Vibrant and near-peak foliage is expected this weekend in some areas of the Adirondacks. Here’s the official prediction:
- 30 to 50% color change in Crown Point
- 50 to 60% color change in Lake Placid
- 40% color change in Lake Pleasant
- 65% color change in Old Forge
- 50% color change in Malone
- 60 to 70% color change in Saranac Lake
- 20% color change in Schroon Lake
- 30% color change in Ticonderoga
- 85% color change in Tupper Lake
- 65% color change in the Whiteface area
Leaf Peeping Etiquette
If you’re driving on busy roads, don’t slow down to look at the leaves. This is unsafe for drivers behind you, and also causes congested parking areas. Find a safe place to pull over to admire the leaves and get pictures.
Park only in designated parking spots. Don’t park alongside busy roadways.
Share the views! As mentioned before, summits and trails will be busier. If the outlook is smaller, be sure to allow space for everyone to experience the view.
Hike in a single file line, especially when approaching other hikers. Stay to the right and pass on the left when safe and appropriate. Allow faster hikers to pass. When approaching other hikers from behind, politely let them know of your presence and desire to pass.
Be sure you are prepared for the hike you’re going on! Do research ahead of time. This is very important, especially if you’re hiking with children, dogs, or others who might not be serious hikers. Make sure to choose a safe and enjoyable hike for everyone in your group.
Cold Temperatures and Dressing & Packing Accordingly
Although the forecast above doesn’t look too chilly, temperatures in the Adirondacks are reaching near freezing at night. Campers and evening hikers should prepare for extreme temperature changes as the sun sets. Pack appropriately to protect yourself from hypothermia.
Prevent hypothermia by dressing properly, staying dry, and adding or removing layers as needed to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink, and rest often. Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
If you get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Emergency Dispatch at 518.891.0235. Try to stay warm and dry by separating yourself from the ground by sitting on your pack or an extra layer. Build a campfire to provide heat, light, and comfort. A campfire will also be useful for search crews to locate you.
Keep an emergency essentials kit in your pack just in case. A few things to include are: a pocket knife, duct tape (to patch ripped jeans or broken poles), a headlamp (for unexpected overnight stays), a space blanket, an emergency whistle, a first aid kit, fire making tools, extra layers, and socks.
Some big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are now open. Others will open soon.
Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Please acknowledge that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement Lands.
Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers can wear bright colors if it makes them feel safer.
Recent heavy rains have resulted in wet and muddy trails – especially in low spots, along water bodies, and in drainages. Avoid damaging hiking trails, trailside vegetation, and habitats. Wear water-resistant hiking boots and let them get muddy. Stay in the center of the trail and walk through mud and water.
Blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails. Be prepared for hikes to take longer than planned and to bushwhack around blowdown or turn back if blowdown is heavy.
Stream Crossings, Water Levels & Water Temperatures
Use caution around steep, shallow, rocky streams and rivers. These are considered “flashy,” meaning that water levels can rise quickly after a heavy rainfall. Water levels will also drop quickly after the rain has stopped.
Due to recent heavy rain water, most streams and rivers are at average or above average levels. Boaters and paddlers should be alert for objects on or below the surface that are typically covered by deeper water. Many shallow sections of rivers can’t be traversed by canoes or kayaks.
Water temperatures are cooling. Paddlers and boaters should wear a personal flotation device (PFD, aka life jacket). People immersed in cold waters can lose the ability to think clearly and move quickly after only a short time in the water. Anglers fishing from shore or wading should also wear a personal flotation device.
Practice Leave No Trace
Follow proper trail etiquette to maintain minimal impact on the environment and natural resources of the Adirondacks, as well as to ensure an enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors by following the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
Electric bicycles (e-bikes) of any class are not allowed on trails or roadways where public motorized access is prohibited.
Nuisance bear activity has significantly receded in the Eastern High Peaks. Hikers and campers should still take steps to avoid negative encounters with bears. The DEC requires the use of bear resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness through November 30th.
Hike Outside the High Peaks
To maintain the wilderness experience for everyone, and to protect against overuse of trails and the damaging of trailside vegetation, please consider hiking outside the High Peaks.
Try these equally great hikes without the crowds instead:
- Rocky Peak Ridge
- Whiteface Mountain
- Owl Head Lookout
- Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain
- Catamount Mountain
- The Crows
- Bear Den Mountain
- Silver Lake Mountain
- Whiteface Landing
- Copperas & Owen Ponds
- Cobble Lookout
- Brewster Peninsula Nature Trails
Giant Mountain & High Peaks Wilderness
Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south). The parking prohibition supports the DEC’s multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.
The lands formerly in the Dix Mountain Wilderness are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. The DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to eliminate the Dix Mountain Wilderness and transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
Group size regulations are now in effect on the lands in the former Dix Mountain Wilderness. Group should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than eight campers.
Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps recently replaced ladders, a small bridge, and bog bridging along the Avalanche Pass-Lake Colden Trail along Avalanche Lake.
The DEC has piled materials for improving campsites along South Meadow Lane in the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Trailhead Parking Area. Vehicles should park in the nearby pull offs along South Meadow Lane until the work is complete.
The Cedar Point Lean-to has been repaired and relocated by Lean2Rescue volunteers. The lean-to is now located on the southeastern shore of Lake Colden, off the trail about .2 miles from the Opalescent River. Camping is prohibited at the former lean-to site.
A primitive campsite with two tent pads has been developed in the Slide Brook Area south of Dix Mountain by volunteers from the NOLS Northeast Adirondack Service Expedition. The site is west of the trail just before the crossing of slide brook.
The Kagel lean-to has been relocated and reroofed by the Adirondack 46er Volunteer Trail crew. The lean-to is located a few hundred feet away from its previous location on a sustainable site away from the brook.
Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail.
The Bradley Pond lean-to has a 3-foot by 6-foot hole in the roof. The lean-to can still be used, but should be avoided if it’s raining. The DEC is developing a temporary fix for the 2018 season and will fully repair the roof during the offseason.
The trail to Little Porter Mountain from the Garden Trailhead is closed. The portion of this trail crossing private land has been closed to the public by the landowner. Trespassing on these lands is now prohibited. The summit of Little Porter Mountain can still be accessed from the Marcy Field Trailhead or the Cascade Mountain Trailhead.
Group size limits are now in effect on the lands in the former Dix Mountain Wilderness. Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than eight campers.
Now through October parking at the Garden Parking Lot costs $10 ($13 Canadian) per day. A town of Keene attendant will be at the lot from 7am until 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Paying the fee is a self-serve process during the week.
The town of Keene’s shuttle between Marcy Field parking lot and the Garden Trailhead will be operating from 7am to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. There is a $10 ($13 Canadian) round trip fee to use the shuttle.
Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and is not maintained.
Blueberry Horse Trail is passable to horses and riders, however, riders should use caution near drainages and several stream crossings that will be muddy. The DEC is planning to improve the trailhead of this route in the future.
The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible.
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; don’t follow the paths created by others.
The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
A trail reroute has been constructed around the flooded area on the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to.
Boreas Pond Tract
Gulf Brook Road will be open to public motor vehicle access to the Fly Pond Gate from 5pm Friday through sundown on Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving.
Essex Chain Lakes Complex
Gates have been open on two roads providing hunters and others motor vehicle access to additional lands and roadside primitive tent sites.
Camp Six Road has three roadside primitive tent sites and a parking lot at the end – one mile from the Chain Lakes North Road. The gate at the Outer Gooley club on the Chain Lakes Road South is open, providing access to three primitive tent sites and a parking area 1.5 miles beyond the gate.
Two additional tent sites are located past the gate at the seasonal parking area – one further north on the Chain Lakes Road South and one at Pine Lake.
Big Moose Conservation Easement Tract
The Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower and the trial to it will be closed to public use beginning October 8th through December 20th.
Shaker Mountain Wild Forest
A new lean-to was constructed by the DEC staff along the Northville-Placid Trail just north of the West Stony Creek crossing.
Bog River Complex (Lows Lake)
Work on Low’s Upper Dam has been completed.
Taylor Pond Wild Forest
Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps recently completed a reroute of the Catamount Mountain Trail near the summit. The reroute includes a ladder and rock staircase.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Lean2Rescue has completed three projects on the Eighth Lake during the past several weeks.
Dunning lean-to on the northern shore of the lake has been completely rehabilitated. Volunteers with the organization replaced the roof, the floor, and select logs that were in poor condition. They all stained the lean-to.
The double-wide lean-to on the western shore of Eighth Lake has been completely rehabilitated. The four base logs, the floor, and the roof were all replaced, and the lean-to was stained.
Earlier this summer, the lean-to located on a small island near the western shore of Eighth Lake was removed. Due to the small size of the island, it cannot sustain camping. The site has been converted into a day use site.
Sentinel Range Wilderness
Several sections of the Pitchoff Mountain Trail, including the segment to “Balanced Rocks,” are severely eroded. These areas are challenging to navigate. Please use caution and turn back if it’s too difficult for your party to safely cross.
Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail.