Are you planning to visit the Adirondacks for the holiday season? While you can attend some of the local holiday celebrations and craft fairs, it can also be fun to get out and enjoy an early winter hike. Check out the latest hiking conditions in the Adirondack Park and plan your weekend trip!
Be Prepared for the Weather
Temperatures on mountain summits will be below freezing, and winds are stronger, snow is deeper, and ice is present. Approximately two inches of additional snowfall is expected across most of the Adirondacks this weekend. Nighttime and early morning temperatures will reach below freezing, and daytime temperatures will be around the low 30s and low 40s in different regions.
- Snowshoes are recommended in high elevations
- Inform someone of your travel plans
- Temperatures will be cold
- Know your route
Regional Weekend Temperatures
- Crown Point: Fri 45° and AM clouds/PM sun, Sat 42° and sunny, Sun 41° and mostly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 39° and AM snow showers, Sat 37° and mostly sunny, Sun 39° and mostly cloudy
- Lake George: Fri 44° and AM clouds/PM sun, Sat 41° and mostly sunny, Sun 41° and mostly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 43° and snow showers, Sat 35° and partly cloudy, Sun 37° and mostly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 45° and AM rain/snow, Sat 39° and partly cloudy, Sun 39° and mostly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 40° and mostly cloudy, Sat 40° and sunny, Sun 41° and mostly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 42° and snow showers, Sat 37° and partly cloudy, Sun 38° and mostly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 42° and snow showers, Sat 37° and partly cloudy, Sun 39° and mostly cloudy
Current Trail Conditions
Trailheads will be icy, especially in the morning, and you will likely encounter ice and snow on the trails. Some bridges have been washed out or damaged because of the October 31 storm, making streams impassable. Use caution and be ready to turn back. Look out for hanging branches, unstable fallen trees, and other heavy blow down in areas.
In addition, snow depths range from two inches to eight inches in the lower elevations, with even deeper snow in the higher elevations. Ice has begun to form on water bodies, but it is not safe to walk on. Avoid ice over water that is covered by snow.
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 the Early Winter Conditions
The DEC recommends the following for the current early winter conditions:
- Waterproof hiking boots with wool socks; traction devices for high elevations
- Warm layers to prevent hypothermia, including winter 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
Wear or pack warm layers. Water levels in many rivers and streams are average or above average, and they are flowing swiftly. Temperatures are cold.
The Westport Boat Launch on Lake Champlain is closed through November.
Anyone in a boat, canoe, or kayak that is less than 21 feet in length must wear a personal flotation device from November 1 – May 1.
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.
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.
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, Small Game, and 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.
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. If roads remain open, use caution as some may still be flooded or have experienced minor wash out in some places.
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.
Opalescent Bridge has been washed out along the East River Trail to Allen/Hanging Spear Falls, making the river impassable at this time.
The Calamity Trail has several bridges out.
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
Gulf Brook Road is closed due to culvert damage and washout from the October 31st storm.
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.
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.
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest
The NYSDOT has replaced the Spider Creek Culvert on State Route 30. Paddlers can travel between Follensby Clear Pond and Fish Creek Ponds using the culvert in 2020.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
Tower Road is now open from both directions. The Barton Mines Road is passable by most passenger vehicles. Work is still underway on Route 8, but there are fewer traffic stoppages.
William C. Whitney Wilderness
Due to snow and poor road conditions, Lake Lila Road is closed for the season.
Speculator Tree Farm
The Elm Lake Road is rough but passable to the Cisco Brook Trailhead in Siamese. It’s recommended your vehicle has 4-wheel drive.
West Canada Lake Wilderness
- Old Military Road that accesses Pillsbury Mountain Parking Area is closed due to washouts.
- The Northville Placid Trail trailhead on Haskell Road in Piseco is open. A large washout has impacted the motor vehicle bridge at the end of the road.
- The trailhead can be accessed by foot.
- The foot bridge over the Mad Tom Brook on the South Branch Trail has washed out, and the stream may be impassable in high water.
- G Lake Road is closed because of washouts.
- Mountain Home Road is in rough condition but passable with a 4-wheel drive and high clearance vehicles.