Fall is easing into winter, and there is nowhere this is more true than in the Adirondacks, when temperatures can get quite cold in the mountains. Read up on the weather forecast, emergency essentials to bring with you, and everything else you’ll need to know before hiking this weekend.
Wintry Weather Conditions in the Forecast
- Crown Point: Fri 41° and rain, Sat 42° and partly cloudy, Sun 35° and sunny
- Indian Lake: Fri 35° and snow, Sat 33° and snow showers, Sun 29° and sunny
- Lake George: Fri 46° and rain, Sat 44° and partly cloudy, Sun 42° and sunny
- Lake Placid: Fri 35° and snow, Sat 34° and snow showers, Sun 27° and partly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 36° and rain and snow, Sat 35° and snow showers, Sun 27° and partly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 36° and rain and snow, Sat 36° and partly cloudy, Sun 30° and sunny
- Saranac Lake: Fri 36° and rain and snow, Sat 34° and snow, Sun 28° and partly cloudy
- Speculator: Fri 35° and snow, Sat 33° and snow showers, Sun 29° and partly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 41° and rain, Sat 41° and partly cloudy, Sun 36° and sunny
Late fall moving into early winter brings vastly changing weather conditions in the Adirondack mountains. You’ll find warmer temperatures and possibly rain at the trailheads that will quickly turn to freezing temperatures and freezing rain, sleet, or snow as you gain elevation.
Plan for below freezing wind chills and heavier winds on exposed areas and summits. Bring warm, wind protectant layers to help prevent hypothermia.
Remember the sun is setting earlier these days, so carry a flashlight or headlamp with you. Those hiking to the higher summits should also pack a winter hat, gloves, and traction devices.
Varying Trail Conditions
You’ll also discover a range of conditions on the trails. Trails are very muddy in the lower elevations – always walk through the mud and not around it to avoid damaging trailside vegetation. Fallen wet leaves have made trails very slippery. Use caution on steeper slopes and exposed areas.
Higher elevations in the High Peaks and exposed summits are experiencing early winter snow and ice. Bring traction devices on all high peaks.
Plan Accordingly & Bring Emergency Essentials
Before you head out, let someone know where you’re going, your planned route, when you plan to return, and emergency numbers to call if you don’t return at the scheduled time.
Bring emergency essentials with you: pocket knife, duct tape to patch ripped jeans or broken poles, a headlamp for unexpected trips out in the dark or overnight stays, space blanket, emergency whistle, first aid kit, fire making tools, extra layers and socks, and extra snacks.
Know What to Do if You Get Lost
If you realize you are lost, stop where you are. Keep calm and assess your situation. Try to determine your location. Look for recognizable landmarks and listen for vehicles on nearby roads.
If you’re sure you can get yourself out of the woods using a map and a compass do so, otherwise stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Dispatch number at 518.891.0235. The dispatcher will ask questions to collect information needed to help searchers locate you quickly.
If you do not have cell service, move to a location close by where you are visible to searchers on the ground or in the air. If you have something brightly colored, wear it or place it in an obvious location.
If it appears you’ll be spending the night, clear an area of snow to build a campfire for heat, light, and comfort; a fire will also help searchers locate you. Using snow or items from your pack, build a shelter that will serve as a quasi cocoon to keep you warm and sheltered from the weather. You can also use dead branches, conifer boughs, and leaf litter to insulate the shelter.
How to Keep Food & Water From Freezing
Store small snacks close to your body. Choose food that is less likely to freeze, like nuts or granola, and break it into small pieces. You can also wrap your food in newspaper or extra clothing to help insulate it within your pack.
It’s super beneficial on very cold hikes to pack extra weight in calories. Bring a thermos of soup, coffee, hot chocolate, etc., for a quick warm up. A cookstove, cookware, and non-perishable food like soup, oatmeal, or freeze-dried meals will help pack more calories and offer warm meal on long hikes.
Store your water upside down in your pack. Wrap bottles in wool socks, clothing, or use insulated carriers. Bladders will usually not freeze deep in your pack, however, the tubing will. Blow water back into the bladder after every drink. Use a hydration bladder tube insulator to keep water from freezing.
Heads Up! It’s Hunting Season
All big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are now open and others will open soon. Bear in mind that you may encounter hunters while hiking or camping; these are fellow outdoor recreationists who have a legal right to participate in these activities.
Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare, but consider wearing bright colors just to be extra safe.
Be Mindful of Moose
Motorists need to be keeping an eye out for moose at this time of year. This is the time when they‘re out and about looking for mates and are likely to walk into the roads without paying attention. Moose collisions with vehicles have occurred recently. Please take precautions to avoid colliding with a moose.
Nuisance Bears & Bear Resistant Canisters
Nuisance bear activity has lessened, but the DEC is still asking hikers and campers to take steps to avoid negative bear encounters. Continue to store all food, toiletries, and garbage in bear-resistant canisters. These canisters are required in the Eastern High Peaks wilderness through November 30th, but are encouraged throughout the Adirondack Park.
The Current Fire Danger
Fire danger is low, but continue to be safe with campfires. DEC forest rangers have responded to several wildland fires started by unattended or improperly extinguished campfires.
Water Temperatures, Water Levels & Streams Crossings
Water temperatures continue to get colder. Paddlers and boaters should wear a personal flotation device (PDF). 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 PDF.
Most streams and rivers are at average or are above average water levels.
Streams are still considered to be “flashy” at this time, meaning that the water level can rise and drop quickly.
No Mountain Biking on Select Trails
Electric bicycles (e-bikes) of any class are not allowed on trails or roadways where public motorized access is prohibited.
Practice Leave No Trace
Follow proper trail etiquette to maintain the minimal impact on the environment and natural resources of the Adirondacks, and to ensure an enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors by following the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
Specific Notices to Know About
Deep River State Forest
A portion of the Conservation Road, located immediately north of Adirondack Park, has been flooded due to beaver activity. The road will reopen once the flooding has been addressed any necessary repairs have been completed.
Independence River Wild Forest
Big Otter Lake Road has been rehabilitated up to Tommy Roaring Brook. The road will be temporarily blocked beyond Tommy Roaring Brook until further rehabilitation occurs.
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Tract
The gate on Barnes Pond Road is open for big game hunting season. The 3.9-mile seasonal access road is off the True Brook Road and provides access for hunters and others to six campsites along the road and the interior of the 3,761 acre Barnes Pond Public Use Area.
Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tract
The southern half of Cave Hill Road will be closed to the public for the remainder of big game hunting season.
High Peaks Wilderness
The DEC, with the assistance of NY State Police Aviation Unit, is airlifting white bags of stone to the ledges near the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg. The stone will be used to build up retaining walls and harden trails to protect the soil and vegetation along with the exposed ledges from wind, rain, and hikers.
Some work will be completed this month, and the remaining work will be completed in the spring. Please take care about the flight bags and stone piles. The temporary visual inconvenience of the flight bags will be offset by the protection their contents will provide to the natural resources on the summit long into the future.
The DEC is undertaking a multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks, focused on the State Route 73 corridor between Exit 30 of the Northway and Lake Placid. 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 Road (south).
The trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract – to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain – are closed to public use until December 3rd for the big game hunting season.
The new Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail is now open for public use. The 1.7-mile trial climbs 920 feet from the trailhead in the Olympic Sports Complex to the summit of the mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness.
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 off season.
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 regulations 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.
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.
Boreas Ponds Tract/Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
Work on the roads and parking lots beyond the Fly Pond Gate is complete for the year. Gulf Brook Road is once again open for public motor vehicle use to the Fly Pond Gate seven days a week until it closes for the Winter. Work beyond the Fly Pond Gate will be completed in the spring.
Currently there are no designated tent sites on these lands – roadside or truck camping is not available at this time.
The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (aka Ausable Club)
Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead. The ease agreement provides for public hiking only on designated trails and roads.
Do not trespass on AMR lands or waters, or participate in authorized activities. Dogs are prohibited.
Giant Mountain Wilderness
A trail reroute has been constructed around the flooded area on the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to.
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.