If you’re hiking over St. Patrick’s Day weekend in the Adirondacks you’ll want to make sure to prepare accordingly with the right clothing and footwear – there’s a flood watch in effect, and trail conditions could vary greatly. Here’s what you need to know!
The Current Weather Forecast & Flood Watch
- Crown Point: Fri 59° and scattered showers, Sat 38° and mostly cloudy, Sun 33° and cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 52° and scattered showers, Sat 28° and snow showers, Sun 25° and partly cloudy
- Lake George: Fri 63° and scattered showers, Sat 41° and cloudy, Sun 38° and cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 51° and scattered showers, Sat 27° and snow showers, Sun 24° and cloudy
- Malone: Fri 50° and rain, Sat 29° and snow showers, Sun 25° and mostly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 54° and scattered showers, Sat 31° and mostly rain, Sun 27° and cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 51° and scattered showers, Sat 28° and snow showers, Sun 25° and cloudy
- Speculator: Fri 50° and scattered showers, Sat 28° and snow showers, Sun 24° and partly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 57° and scattered showers, Sat 37° and mostly cloudy, Sun 33° and cloudy
Temperatures rising well into the 50s on Friday (and yesterday, Thursday) will lead to a rapid loss of snowpack, especially in the valley locations. The runoff will contribute to river ice breakup, likely beginning during the day Friday and extending through Saturday.
Due to thick river ice, in excess of one foot in many areas, there is the potential for localized ice jams and associated flooding. A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.
The flood watch covers all of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties.
Nighttime low temperatures will range from the single digits to the teens.
Mountain summits will have colder temperatures, stronger winds, deeper snow, and ice will be present.
What’s Up With the Snow Cover
Snow depths range from 1 to 3 feet across the vast majority of the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 6 to 12 inches in the northeastern and very eastern part of the Adirondacks. Snow depths are only 2 to 6 inches in the southeastern corner east of Lake George.
Snow is deeper in the higher elevations – it’s at 6 to 8 feet deep above 3,000 feet in the High Peaks region. Snow depths will decrease due to warm temperatures and rain leading into the weekend but most of the Adirondacks will still have plenty of snow this weekend.
Flooding Will Affect Trail Conditions
Be prepared for a variety of conditions you may encounter on the trails this weekend. Plan to hike routes without water crossings, or have intact foot bridges to use to cross the water.
High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous or even impossible. Plan hiking routes that don’t require water crossings or have intact foot bridges. Don’t try to cross through cold, high fast flowing waters.
Trail conditions will be mixed except at the highest elevations. Trails will be a mix of water, slush, snow and ice. The amount of each will depend on latitude, altitude, aspect to the sun, and tree cover.
Northern, higher elevation trails on north-facing slopes with evergreen trees will have plenty of snow and ice. Southern, lower elevation trails on south-facing slopes without trees will be wetter and might not have any snow.
Heavy winds can knock down trees, limbs, and branches, known as blowdown. Expect to encounter blowdown on trails, especially lesser used trails. Plan for hikes to take longer than usual, and be prepared to turn back if blowdown is heavy.
Carry snowshoes, trail crampons, and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when warranted. You may also want waterproof boots.
Ice, Ice Fishing & Water Levels
Water and slush will be present on the surface of ice on most waterbodies. 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.
Water levels on streams and rivers will be high due to the melting snow and rain. Use caution along rivers and streams and at water crossings.
All ice fishing shanties must be removed from ice on water bodies by March 15th. After March 15th, the ice fishing shanties can be taken on and off the ice when in use, but cannot be left empty on the ice.
Designated Snowmobile Trails
For snowmobilers: Trail conditions will vary depending on latitude, altitude, and tree coverage. Weather forecasts indicate it’s a great weekend to get out for a ride. Check with local snowmobile clubs to determine status and condition of trails. Keep an eye out for skiers and snowshoers using snowmobile trails and slow down to safely pass them.
For hikers: Watch and listen for snowmobiles when skiing or snowshoeing on designated snowmobile trails. Move off the trail to allow snowmobiles to safely pass.
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 spring mud season.
Save This Number to Your Phone & Stay Safe
If you do find yourself lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC or Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518.891.0235.
Try to stay warm and dry by separating yourself from the wet snow with a thicker layer on the ground. Protect yourself from the elements by building a shelter with items around you and in your pack. Build a campfire to provide heat, light, and comfort. A campfire will also be useful for search crews to locate you.
Practice Leave No Trace
Take a look at the Leave No Trace Seven Principles so you know what to do to help preserve the Adirondack Park for generations to come.
Camp Santanoni Historic Area
The last of the 2019 Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends is this weekend. Some loss of snow might occur with the warmer weather. However, there is currently more than two feet of snow on the ground, so there will be plenty of snow remaining when the temperatures return to below freezing.
The forecast for the weekend in this area looks good for winter conditions – low 30s and snow showers on Saturday, and mid 20s and partly sunny on Sunday. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will have access to the historic camp properties to rest, tour the buildings, and view interpretive displays. Snow conditions for skiing are excellent and snowshoes are available to borrow.
Lake George Wild Forest
The Town of Fort Ann has closed Shelving Rock Road for mud season. Parking along Shelving Rock Road and at the gate is prohibited. Sleeping Beauty, Shelving Rock, and the Buck Mountain East Trailhead are not accessible while the road is closed.
High Peaks Wilderness
The Lake Colden Caretaker Report indicates 67 inches of snow at the stake at 2,750 feet elevation and seven to eight feet of snow above 3,000 feet elevation. The use of snowshoes or skis is required on all trails.
South Meadow Lane, Marcy Truck Trail, and the ski trails are in good condition for skiing despite the loss of snow depth prior to the weekend.
Rain and melting snow will likely blow out drainages, exposing rock and soil. Wet areas and melting snow will refreeze with the return of cold weather. Trail crampons and steel tipped hiking poles should be carried on all hikes and used when warranted. Snow cover on foot bridges may be above the handrails. Use caution when crossing.
The Marcy Dam #4 lean-to has been removed. A new Phelps Brook lean-to has been installed off the Marcy Truck Trail. A lean-to was built by students from the Franklin-Essex Clinton Counties BOCES Natural Resource Science Program.
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.
Santa Clara Conservation Easement Tract
The S82 Snowmobile Trail between Meacham Lake Campground and the Red Tavern Road is closed due to unsafe conditions created by current and previous logging operations on private lands west of State route 30.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) (AKA Ausable Club)
Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead. The easement agreement provides for public hiking only on designated trails and roads. Don’t trespass on AMR lands or waters, or participate in unauthorized activities. Dogs are prohibited.
Boreas Ponds Tract
Gulf Brook Road is closed for the winter.