Editor’s Note (11/1/2019): On Friday, November 1, at 2:19pm, the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation sent out a bulletin advising the public to avoid Adirondack backcountry trails and summits this weekend.
Recent heavy rains and strong winds have resulted in flooding around the region. This has caused major roadways to close in the Adirondacks, as well as downed trees and debris at trailheads and on trails, dangerously high water levels, washed out bridges, and the danger for rock slides and falling debris.
Important Weekend Weather Conditions
On Friday, November 1, high winds are forecast throughout the Adirondacks, which means summits and overlooks will be colder and may be too dangerous to reach. If the winds become too strong, turn back, and watch for the signs of hypothermia. Blowdown is also a risk, so keep your eyes open for falling or fallen trees on trails.
In addition, Adirondack mornings and nights are cold, and snow and ice are present on high elevations. The sun continues to set earlier each day, so remember to pack a flashlight or headlamp on all hikes.
If you’re planning to hike to the higher summits, you should bring a winter hat, gloves, and trail crampons. Start your morning hike in warm layers. Put on a windbreaker to help keep you warm when on exposed overlooks and summits.
To prevent hypothermia dress properly, stay dry, and add or remove layers as needed to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink, and rest often. Being hungry, tired, or dehydrated makes you more vulnerable to hypothermia.
Note: Daylight savings ends this weekend, which means it will get darker earlier in the day. Plan your hike accordingly.
Regional Weekend Temperatures
- Crown Point: Fri 48° and partly cloudy/wind, Sat 49° and partly cloudy, Sun 48° and partly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 38° and AM snow showers/wind, Sat 44° and partly cloudy, Sun 39° and AM snow showers
- Lake George: Fri 48° and partly cloudy/wind, Sat 48° and mostly sunny, Sun 47° and partly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 37° and AM snow showers/wind, Sat 44° and partly cloudy, Sun 39° and mostly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 43° and partly cloudy/wind, Sat 47° and mostly cloudy, Sun 43° and partly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 44° and partly cloudy/wind, Sat 47° and partly cloudy, Sun 43° and partly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 38° and partly cloudy/wind, Sat 45° and mostly cloudy, Sun 40° and mostly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 49° and partly cloudy/wind, Sat 49° and mostly sunny, Sun 48° and partly cloudy
Plan Ahead With Parking
Don’t end a rewarding hike with a parking ticket! Plan to arrive early to get a parking spot and if one is not available, have an alternative hike planned.
You can expect to encounter many vehicles on the roads and people on the trails. Be aware of these parking restrictions and notices:
- Vehicles illegally parked along Ausable Road will be towed.
- Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead. Parking is allowed at trailheads and at other designated pull-offs. The AMR parking lots in particular fill quickly.
Essentials for Fall Hikes
The DEC recommends the following for fall hikes:
- Waterproof hiking boots with wool socks; traction devices for high elevations
- Warm layers to prevent hypothermia, including hat and gloves
- Wind protectant layer for open overlooks and summits
- Headlamp with extra batteries – even if you plan to hike in the daylight
- Plenty of food and water
- Thermos of hot cocoa, coffee, tea, or soup to warm up or in case of emergencies
- First aid kit
- Emergency basics you should always have in your pack: space blanket, matches and fire starters, pocket knife, para cord or rope, iodine tablets or water filtration system, extra batteries
- Map of route
For the Fall Paddlers & Anglers
Wear or pack warm layers. Always wear your personal flotation device while on the water this time of year. Water levels in many rivers and streams are high due to recent heavy rains, and currents are fast. Boaters should use caution.
The Westport Boat Launch on Lake Champlain is closed through November.
Again, it’s strongly recommended for all anglers, boaters, and paddlers to wear personal flotation devices.
For the Late Fall Campers
The ground is getting colder with the dropping temperatures. It’s time to start using sleeping pads and cold temperature rated sleeping bags. For extra warmth, try filling up a Nalgene with hot water right before bed and tucking it into your sleeping bag overnight.
If you get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service call 911 or the DEC at 518.891.0235.
Current Trail Conditions
Trails are currently wet and muddy, and low areas and areas along waterways may be covered with water. Be aware that these areas may be difficult to cross.
In the morning, there may be ice on trails and at trailheads. Ice, and possibly snow, will be present on trails all day in the higher elevations.
Practice Leave No Trace
Follow proper trail etiquette to maintain minimal impact on the environment and natural resources of the Adirondacks. This includes keeping pets on leashes, properly disposing of trash, and more.
For the Bikers
Trails may be wet and muddy in low areas and along water. Don’t ride on the muddy trails – they’re easily rutted and damaged through use. If you’re leaving tracks, turn back. Watch out for potential ice on trailheads and trails in the morning. Due to recent strong winds, blowdown may be present on trails.
Remember that electric powered bikes (e-bikes) are prohibited on all bike trails on the Forest Preserve.
Fire danger is low throughout the Adirondacks.
Ticks are Still Out
Follow these steps to protect against ticks and prevent disease: Wear light colored long sleeves and long pants. Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks. Pack a head net to wear when insects are thick. Use an insect repellent with DEET and follow the label directions.
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks through November 30th; they’re highly encouraged elsewhere. All food, toiletries, and garbage should be stored in these canisters. You may also want bear spray.
Please report nuisance bear incidents to the DEC.
Please Report Moose Sightings
The DEC is asking us to report moose sightings and observations. The DEC and its research partners use these public sightings as indices of moose distribution and abundance in New York.
This is part of a multi-year research project to obtain information on the status of New York State’s moose population, health of the moose, and the factors that influence moose survival and reproductive rate.
The Northern Zone, Regular Big Game, most small game, and many waterfowl hunting seasons are open.
Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Please recognize 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. You can wear bright colors if it makes you feel safer.
Rock Climbing Routes
All Adirondack rock climbing routes are open.
Seasonal Access Roads
Seasonal access roads typically remain open until the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
Seasonal access roads are zone are dirt and gravel which can be rough. Roads may be narrow – use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles. Four-wheel drive SUVs, pickup trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads.
High Peaks Wilderness
The trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement to the Dix Mountain Range and Panther Gorge are closed to public use. The trails will reopen on December 9th at the end of the Northern Zone Regular Big Game Season.
The Garden Trailhead Parking Lot is open.
Gates on two roads in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex are open and offer hunters and others motor vehicle access to additional lands and roadside primitive tent sites.
The Bradley Pond Lean-to has been repaired by volunteers from the Adirondacks 46ers.
The roadway on the Bradley Pond Trail has been washed out by the Harkness Lake Outlet approximately half a mile from the parking lot. Hikers will be unable to cross the outlet when water levels are high.
The Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail, which opened last fall, will be re-routed around the construction underway to make significant improvements to the Olympic Sports Complex facilities. Hikers can park at the Biathlon Facility parking area in the Complex and use a marked 1-mile detour bypassing the construction zone using roads, ski trails, and a temporary trail to reach the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail.
It’s a 3.8-mile roundtrip hike from the parking area to the summit and back. Expect to encounter trail workers along the trail to the summit of the mountain as they complete the final touches on the sustainably designed and recently opened trail. Hikers can also reach the summit using the traditional 2.4-mile (4.4-mile roundtrip) Mt. Van Hoevenberg West Trail which begins at the trailhead on Meadows Lane.
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.
The 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 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.
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 take care near drainages and several stream crossings that will be muddy. The DEC plans 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. 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.
Boreas Pond Tract
A new ADA accessible lean-to has been constructed on a site overlooking Boreas Ponds thanks to work by DEC staff, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Moriah Shock Camp Crew, and members of Lean2Rescue.
The inner universally accessible parking lot will not open until 2020. The Boreas Ponds Dam is one mile from the Four Corners parking lot.
A 1.3-mile section of the Boreas Road, between the Four Corners Parking Lot and the Brace Brook Parking Lot, is open. Parking is limited to the four number parking spaces in the parking lot, and you can not park on the shoulders of the road. This road and parking lot will remain open until the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
Gulf Brook Road is open to motor vehicle use to the Four Corners Parking Lot. Hikers and horseback riders may travel one mile between the parking lot to the Boreas Ponds dam. Hikers and horseback riders may also travel on any of the numerous miles of roadway.
Bicyclists may ride on Gulf Brook Road and the roadway to Boreas Ponds as far as the gate which is located 500 feet from the Boreas Ponds dam. Paddlers may carry one mile to access the water near the Boreas Ponds dam.
Or, paddlers can drop off canoes or kayaks and equipment at a waterway access site on LaBier Flow, 0.1 mile away from the Four Corners Parking Lot before parking. Paddlers may then paddle halfway down LaBier Flow and carry 0.3 mile to access the water near Boreas Ponds dam.
Campers can camp at large providing they are more than 150 feet away from any road, trail, or surface water.
Dix Mountain Area/Eastern Zone of High Peaks Wilderness
The lands of the Dix Mountain Area are now part of the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness. All regulations applicable to the Eastern Zone are now in effect, including by not limited to:
Group size: Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than eight campers.
Bear-resistant canisters: These are required for overnight users between April 1st and November 30th. All food, toiletries, and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.
Glass containers: Glass containers are prohibited.
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.
Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract
Be aware of two logging operations on this easement that will be using the North Branch Road through the middle of December. If you encounter vehicles, move safely off the road to allow them to pass.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
The Spruce Mountain Fire Tower and the trail to it will remain closed through the Northern Zone Regular Big Game Hunting Season. It will reopen on December 9th.
Lake George Wild Forest
The public is free to drive up the Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Parkway on the first two weekends in November and on Veterans Day. The highway is open 9:00am-5:00pm provided there is no snow or ice on the ground.
Hammond Pond Wild Forest
The Belfry Mountain Fire Tower will be closed from November 4-8 while DEC crews replace the lower stairs and landings.