Last week the DEC referred to the conditions for hiking as “treacherous.” This week, they’ve put out a notice that the weather is optimal for winter recreation!
The Current Weather Forecast
- Crown Point: Fri 19° and partly cloudy, Sat 28° and partly cloudy, Sun 39° and partly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 17° and sunny, Sat 27° and partly cloudy, Sun 37° and partly cloudy
- Lake George: Fri 15° and mostly sunny, Sat 27° and partly cloudy, Sun 39° and partly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 15° and mostly sunny, Sat 29° and partly cloudy, Sun 36° and partly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 12° and partly cloudy, Sat 26° and partly cloudy, Sun 37° and mostly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 20° and sunny, Sat 26° and partly cloudy, Sun 38° and partly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 14° and mostly sunny, Sat 29° and partly cloudy, Sun 37° and partly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 18° and partly cloudy, Sat 26° and partly cloudy, Sun 36° and partly cloudy
It’s going to be sunny this weekend! Today (Friday) is extremely cold, but will get progressively warmer over the next few days, with Sunday’s daytime highs a little above freezing. Nighttime lows will remain below freezing but will also progressively warm from single digits to teens and twenties. Sunset is at approximately 4:20pm. As usual, the weather will be more brutal at the mountain summits.
Snow + Cold Weather = Great Winter Conditions
The DEC has officially put out an announcement about how great the winter recreational opportunities are in the Adirondacks now! Recent snow and cold weather has created excellent conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry.
“Now that snow has arrived in the Adirondacks, visitors can take advantage of all the winter recreation opportunities in the park,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said in the announcement. “However, winter can also present dangerous – even perilous – conditions to the unprepared. DEC advises visitors exploring the backcountry to dress for cold weather and use snowshoes and skis to navigate trails where appropriate.”
Snow depths range from 6 to 12 inches in the Northern, Western, and Central Adirondacks and 2 to 6 inches in the Eastern and Southeastern Adirondacks. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations.
Be Prepared for the Weather
There’s a theme here – it’s cold outside and we have to dress appropriately in order to stay safe and have a great time in the Adirondacks!
Wear the following: insulated, water resistant/waterproof winter hiking boots; waterproof outerwear; layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing; a hat and mittens or gloves.
Pack or carry the following: water, working headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries, extra layers of clothes, map of the area, food or snack.
Proper footwear is also vital. Trail crampons (foot traction devices) should be carried on all hikes and used when warranted. Snowshoes should be worn wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
Trails are covered in snow and may be icy in spots. Skiing conditions are fair to good depending on the location and the trail surface. Level, smooth trails have the best conditions.
Many bridges were washed out or damaged in the October 31st storm leaving some streams impassable. Use caution and be prepared to turn around.
Watch and listen for snowmobiles when traveling on designated snowmobile trails. Move to the side of the trail and allow snowmobiles to safely pass.
Ice on Waterbodies
Ice has begun to form on most waterbodies. No ice is currently safe to travel on. Avoid ice over water covered by snow.
Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast-flowing brooks and rivers. Rocks and other surfaces may be covered with ice from splashing water. Wear crampons and use steel or carbide pointed hiking sticks.
For the Snowmobilers
Only a few snowmobile trails are reported as open at this time.
Watch for skiers and snowshoers using snowmobile trails and slow down to safely pass.
Seasonal Access Roads
All seasonal access roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic. Designated snowmobile trails will open when snow depths allow. The roads will reopen after the spring mud season, upon completion of all maintenance and repair work.
A Word on Drones
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.
High Peaks Wilderness
Lake Colden Caretaker Report: 12 inches of snow is present at the stake at the cabin, 2 to 3 feet of snow is present below the treeline. Carry and use snowshoes on all hikes above 2,500 feet. Only ice is present above the treeline – you will need crampons on summits above the treeline and they may be required at other locations on trails.
Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen, but avoid the area around the outlets and inlets where ice is thin or not present. Meadows Lane and South Meadows Truck Trail are passable on skis. VanHoevenberg Trail from the Loj Trailhead to Marcy Dam is not passable on skis.
Corey’s Road will be open for winter access to the Seward Trailhead. Only four-wheel drive vehicles should use the road. Do not 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.
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.