The DEC says to prepare for a “treacherous” environment hiking this weekend. Here’s what that means and what else to expect for recreating in the Adirondacks.
The Current Weather Forecast
- Crown Point: Fri 37° and rain and snow, Sat 43° and rain, Sun 38° and partly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 34° and snow showers, Sat 41° and rain, Sun 31° and snow showers
- Lake George: Fri 40° and rain and snow, Sat 47° and rain, Sun 42° and partly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 35° and rain and snow, Sat 43° and rain, Sun 29° and snow showers
- Malone: Fri 40° and partly cloudy, Sat 43° and rain, Sun 30° and snow showers
- North Creek: Fri 35° and snow showers, Sat 41° and rain, Sun 34° and partly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 36° and scattered showers, Sat 44° and rain, Sun 30° and snow showers
- Ticonderoga: Fri 35° and rain and snow, Sat 42° and rain, Sun 38° and partly cloudy
Showers and freezing rain are forecast for Friday night, with above freezing temperatures and rain predicted for Saturday night. Temperatures will drop below freezing Saturday night. High temperatures Sunday will hover around the freezing mark and snow showers are forecast.
Snow and ice are present throughout the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from little to no snow across the northern Adirondacks, 1 to 4 inches across the central Adirondacks, and 2 to 8 inches across the southern Adirondacks.
Snow depths are deeper in higher elevations. Snow depths will decrease with the warmer weather and rain forecasted for Saturday.
Temperatures are colder, winds are stronger, snow is deeper, and ice is present at the summits.
The sun sets at approximately 4:20pm.
Ice on Water Bodies
Ice has begun to form on most water bodies. No ice is currently safe to travel on. Avoid ice over water which is covered by snow.
Stream crossings will be icy and can be covered in snow. Use caution when nearing a stream and use bridges to cross. If a bridge has been washed out, attempting to cross a cold, fast-flowing stream can be dangerous. Be prepared to turn around.
Be Prepared Before Heading Out
Wear insulated, water resistant/waterproof winter hiking boots; wool socks; waterproof outer shell; layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing; hat and mitten (or gloves); water; working headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries; and extra layers of clothes.
Bring food or snack, trail crampons (foot traction devices), and snowshoes. Wear trail crampons or snowshoes as conditions warrant. Snowshoes are recommended for all hikes above 3,000 feet.
Review a trail map prior to your trip. Familiarize yourself with specific junctions, markers, or trail changes along your route. It’s easy to miss a sign or a junction and get off trail in the winter, so looking at this stuff beforehand will allow you to remain aware and on the lookout. Then bring the map with you.
Seasonal Access Roads to Close
All seasonal access roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic next week. The roads will reopen after the spring mud season upon completion of all maintenance and repair work.
Leave the Drones at Home
Drones are motorized equipment and operating drones on lands classified as wilderness, primitive, or canoe is prohibited.
Practice Leave No Trace
Follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace, including winter trail etiquette: Avoid postholing. Wear skis or snowshoes on winter trails, as bare boots leave dangerous holes in the snow. Share the trails – ski on one side, snowshoe on the other. Avoid crossing tracks. Travel in single file and always give downhill skiers the right of way.
The Trail Conditions
Expect and prepare for treacherous conditions. Trailheads, trails, footbridges, and other infrastructure will be wet and icy this weekend. Trails will be a mix of ice, water, and slush on Saturday. Trails will be icy with some snow on Sunday.
Many bridges were washed out or damaged in the October 31st storm, leaving some streams impassable. Use caution and be prepared to turn around.
The DEC continues to asses backcountry infrastructure. Hikers should be aware that not all areas have been assessed – more remote areas and less traveled trails are likely to have unreported damage. Be cautious of hanging branches and unstable fallen trees. Blow down may take considerably more time to hike around.
Boreas Ponds Tract
Gulf Brook Road is closed to public motor vehicle use until after the spring mud season and necessary repairs are made.
The inner universally accessible parking lot will not open until 2020.
High Peaks Wilderness
Corey’s Road will be open for winter access to Seward Trailhead. Only four-wheel drive vehicles should use the road. Don’t block the road when parking. Bring a shovel, and be prepared to shovel out off-road parking spots and your vehicle when you return from your hike or ski.
Lake Colden Caretaker Report: 4 inches of snow is present at the stake at the cabin. Up to a foot of snow is present in the highest elevations. Recent warm weather and rain have resulted in a considerable loss of snow. Skiing conditions are poor. Meadow Lane, Marcy Truck Trail, and the Loj to Marcy Dam Trail have little to snow snow. Middle elevation trails have bare spots and exposed rocks and roots.
Trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement to the Dix Mountain Range and Panther Gorge are open to public use.
Elk Lake Road is open to the Clear Pond Gate. This will add four miles round trip to hikes. Plan accordingly.
Three bridges were washed out on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail. Repair of the bridges won’t occur until spring 2020. The trail is currently closed to the public through the end of the big game hunting season. When the trail reopens the three crossings will be hazardous except when water levels are low.
The Opalescent Bridge on the East River Trail to Allen Mountain and Hanging Spear Falls is washed out. The river is impassable at this time.
Calamity Trail has several bridges out.
Hikers seeking to use the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail, which opened last fall, will be re-routed around the construction underway to make significant improvements to 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 roads, ski trails, and a temporary trail to reach the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail.
It’s a 3.8-mile round-trip hike from the parking area to the summit and back. Hikers may also reach the summit using the traditional 2.2-mile (4.4-mile round-trip) Mt. Van Hoevenberg West Trail which begins at the the trailhead on Meadows Lane.
The roof of the Bradley Pond Lean-to was repaired by volunteers from the Adirondack 46ers.
Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends.
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.
Cold Brook Trail is not designated DEC trail and is not maintained. The trail has not been maintained since Tropical Storm Irene.
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 those lands is now prohibited. The summit of Little Porter Mountain can still be accessed from the Marcy Field Trailhead or the Cascade Mountain Trailhead.
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 int he Slide Brook Area south of Dix Mountain by volunteers from 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.
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 trail tread 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 the 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.
The lands of the Dix Mountain Area are now part of the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness. The DEC will be changing signs, webpages, and regulations to transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
All regulations applicable to the Eastern Zone are now in effect including by not limited to the following:
Group size: Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
Bear-resistant canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is 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.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
The Spruce Mountain Trail is open for public use.
Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands
All seasonal access roads are closed to motor vehicles until after the spring mud season. All designated snowmobile trails are open for use except for the north end of Perkins Clearing Road which will be used as a haul road for timber operations this winter.
The Brister Brook Parking Area is closed this winter due to damage from the October 31st storm. the Town of Lake Pleasant has created a larger parking area off NYS Route 30 near the turn for Jessup River Road.
Blue Mountain Lake Wild Forest/Township 19
Logging operations will continue this winter. Snowmobilers will be sharing the road with logging trucks and other equipment. Be alert and proceed with caution.
The Middle Branch Lake Trail flooded due to beaver activity between the Cedar Pond Trail and the Middle Branch Lake.
The DEC has removed the culvert on the Big Otter Lake East Trail and constructed a foot bridge over Indian Brook. On the Big Otter Lake East Trail, beaver activity has ceased at South Inlet Flow and the trail is no longer flooded.
Essex Chain Lakes
All seasonal access roads are closed to motor vehicles until after the spring mud season.
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.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve Conservation Easement Tract (AMR/Ausable Club)
The easement agreement provides for public hiking only on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR lands and waters, or participate in unauthorized activities. Dogs are prohibited.