If you’re heading out hiking this weekend now is the time to be extra safe. We talk about safety precautions here each week, particularly in the winter, but this weekend has a major snowstorm predicted coupled with avalanche conditions. Please read the following information and stay safe as you enjoy the beautiful snow.
The Snow is Coming – Be Prepared & Stay Safe
We’re under a Winter Storm Watch for all of the Adirondacks this weekend. This is the current forecast:
- Crown Point: Fri 33° and cloudy, Sat 9° and snow, Sun 10° and snow
- Indian Lake: Fri 30° and snow showers, Sat 10° and snow, Sun 10° and snow
- Lake George: Fri 37° and cloudy, Sat 18° and snow, Sun 16° and snow
- Lake Placid: Fri 28° and snow showers, Sat 7° and snow, Sun 4° and snow
- Malone: Fri 28° and snow, Sat 1° and snow showers, Sun 0° and snow
- North Creek: Fri 1° and cloudy, Sat 8° and snow, Sun 13° and snow
- Saranac Lake: Fri 28° and snow showers, Sat 7° and snow showers, Sun 4° and snow
- Speculator: Fri 31° and snow showers, Sat 13° and snow, Sun 13° and snow
- Ticonderoga: Fri 32° and cloudy, Sat 9° and snow, Sun 9° and snow
Wind chill factors will be in the double digits below zero due to winds. Keep skin covered to avoid frostbite. Avoid hypothermia by dressing properly, staying dry, carrying plenty of food and water, and eating, drinking, and resting often. Also remember to bring a flashlight or headlamp on all hikes.
Heavy snow is possible. Total snow accumulations greater than six inches possible. Some reports are saying up to two feet of snow is possible in parts of the Adirondacks.
Travel could be difficult to impossible. In addition, with many people having Monday off, there might be more vehicles than normal on the road (if they’re not staying home because of the weather!), so extra caution is needed if you’re heading out.
If you do get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518.891.0235.
Avalanche Conditions in the High Peaks
Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse slides and other steep, open terrain in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks must be aware of the risk of avalanche.
The new snow will fall on the current snow pack (details below), which already has distinct layers formed by rain and melt/freeze cycles. Due to the high winds, snow depths are deeper on leeward slopes or areas of snow deposits, such as gullies. Lower snow layers may be reactive to the added stresses of the recent snows, creating conditions conducive to avalanches.
Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope, and weather combine to create the proper conditions. Avalanche-prone territory is found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County.
The DEC is reminding backcountry winter recreationists to adhered by the following precautions when in avalanche-prone territory:
- Cross-country skiers and snowshoers should stay on trails and avoid steep slopes on summits
- Know the terrain, weather, and snow conditions
- Dig multiple snow pits to conduct stability tests – do not rely on other people’s data
- Practice safe route founding and safe travel techniques
- Never ski, board, or climb with someone above or below you – only one person on the slope at a time
- Ski and ride near trees, not in the center of slides or other open areas
- Always carry shovel, probes, and transceiver with fresh batteries
- Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques
- Never travel alone
- Notify someone about where you are going
What’s Up With the Snow Cover
Even before the snow that’s heading our way, we’ve had a lot of snow in the Adirondacks. Snow depths currently range from 6 to 15 inches across most of the region.
Deeper snow can be found in the northern, northwestern, and central Adirondacks, and also in the higher elevations. Snow depths in the southeastern part and the very northeastern corner of the Adirondacks are only 2 to 6 inches deep. Snow is deeper in the higher elevations; snow is 3 to 5 feet deep above 3,000 feet in the High Peaks Region.
Use Snowshoes While Hiking
All trails have snow. Snowshoes need to be worn on all trails where snow depths exceed one foot. They’ll be needed on all trails starting Sunday. Remember traveling through snow takes more time and energy, especially when breaking trail through deep, freshly fallen snow.
Ice may be present under the snow, or where snow has been blown off trails. Carry trail crampons and use when warranted.
Ice on Waterbodies
Ice has formed on most waters. 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.
Remember that ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.
For the Snowmobilers
Many trails are open or will be open this weekend. Shallow snow depths in the southeastern Adirondacks may prevent trails from opening in that area. Check with local snowmobile clubs to determine the status and condition of trails.
Watch for skiers and snowshoers using snowmobile trails. Slow down to safely pass.
Don’t Drive on Seasonal Access Roads
Gates on seasonal access roads on forest preserve and conservation easement lands are closed and locked. Motor vehicle use on all seasonal access roads is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. The DEC will reopen the roads after they have dried and any needed repairs and maintenance are completed.
Specific Notices on Hiking Trails
Route 73 Corridor
The DEC is still in the midst of 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 I-87 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.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) (Ausable Club)
Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead.
Dogs are prohibited.
Boreas Ponds Tract
Gulf Brook Road is closed for the winter.
High Peaks Wilderness
Avalanche conditions are present on the high elevation slopes and will become more prevalent after this weekend’s snow. Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who may traverse slides and other steep, open terrain must be aware of the risk of avalanche.
Marcy Dam #4 Lean-to has been removed. A new Phelps Brook Lean-to has been installed off the Marcy Truck Trail. The lean-to was built by students from the Franklin-Essex-Clinton Counties BOCES Natural Resource Science Program. The students and volunteers from Lean2Rescue assembled the new lean-to. Follow signs from the bridge below Marcy Dam to the new lean-to.
The Lake Colden caretaker reports 37 inches of snow at the stake (2,750 foot elevation) on Wednesday. Snow depths above 3,000 feet elevation range from 2 to 4 feet. Skiing conditions are good on the Marcy Truck Trail and the Avalanche pass, Wright Peak, and Marcy Ski Trails. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are crossable. Use caution around inlets and outlets.
Lake Colden and Lake Avalanche are crossable. Use caution around inlets and outlets.
The trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract – to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain – are open for public use. However, the Clear Pond Gate is closed for the winter. The Clear Pond Parking Area is two miles from the Elk Lake Trailhead – plan your travels accordingly.
South Meadow Truck Trail, Avalanche Ski Trail, and Avalanche Pass Trail all have good snow conditions.
Snowshoes are required above Marcy Dam – 2,360 feet elevation.
South Meadow Lane is closed to motor vehicle use. Do not block the opening when parking at the entrance. This is used by emergency response vehicles.
The gate on Corey’s Road is closed to accommodate logging operations in Ampersand Park. Parking is available at Raquette Falls Trailhead.
The new Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail is open for public use. The 1.7-mile trail climbs 920 feet from the trailhead in the Olympic Sports complex to the 2,940-feet summit of the mountain in the 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 DEC’s multi-year comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.
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.
Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail.
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 working on a temporary fix for this, 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 the trail crossing private land has been closed to public use 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.
Private landowners have once again agreed to allow hiking on the Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends.
Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail is not maintained.
Blueberry Horse Trail is 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 trailhead of this route int he future.
The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. During 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 rather than follow the paths created by others.
Fixed ropes, harnesses, and other equipment are often abandoned in the Trap Dike. Due to age, weatherizing, and wearing of these materials they are unsafe and should never be used.
The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
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.