Last week was unusually warm with many trails slushy and muddy. This week, we can expect more traditional wintry conditions in the Adirondacks, with snow predicted for Saturday.
Current Weather Report
- Crown Point: Fri 15° and sunny, Sat 19° and snow, Sun 34° and cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 10° and sunny, Sat 17° and snow, Sun 28° and snow showers
- Lake George: Fri 21° and sunny, Sat 23° and snow, Sun 37° and cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 6° and partly cloudy, Sat 19° and snow, Sun 28° and snow showers
- Malone: Fri 6° and partly cloudy, Sat 18° and snow, Sun 26° and snow
- North Creek: Fri 12° and sunny, Sat 16° and snow, Sun 30° and cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 7° and partly cloudy, Sat 19° and snow, Sun 29° and snow showers
- Ticonderoga: Fri 13° and sunny, Sat 19° and snow, Sun 34° and cloudy
Winter conditions are present throughout the Adirondacks. Check hazardous weather notices and current conditions and forecasts for the location where you plan to recreate.
You can expect extreme cold and high winds. Temperatures range from below zero degrees to single digits with wind chills of -15 degrees to -25 degrees through Friday night into Saturday morning. Temperatures will be even colder and winds stronger in the higher elevations.
The sun sets at approximately 4:45pm.
Be Prepared for the Weather
Wear insulated, water resistant/waterproof winter hiking boots; waterproof/wind resistant outer shell; layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric; a hat and mittens or gloves; and pack extra clothing. Snow shoes are recommended in the high elevations and are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and wherever snow depths exceed eight inches.
With the recent snow fall, snow depths are greater in the higher elevations and may warrant the use of snowshoes. And gaiters can protect your lower legs from the wet, cold elements of snow.
Pack or carry the following on all hikes: water, working headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries, extra layers of clothes and wool socks, a map of the area, and food or snack.
Protect Yourself From Frostbite and Hypothermia
Breaking trail exhausts more energy, so plan extra time for your trip. Know your route as well as trail signs. Junctions may be difficult to find under snow cover. Bring a map with you.
Protect yourself from frostbite by covering all skin including your face. Use a balaclava, face mask, or scarf with goggles. Cover all exposed skin when on open summits and ledges.
Know the warning signs of hypothermia. Call for help and/or turn around if these symptoms start occurring: uncontrollable shivering, exhaustion, slurred speech, confusion, and/or decreased heart rate. Always carry a fire starter in your emergency kit in case hypothermia symptoms become severe.
Recent Storm Damage on Trails
This past weekend’s icy weather has caused significant loss of snow, flooding, and blowdown on some access roads and trails. The DEC has just begun assessing the damage in the backcountry. Hikers should be aware they may encounter flooded trails, extensive blowdown, and/or damaged or missing footbridges and other infrastructure. Be prepared to turn around when conditions warrant.
Trailheads and trails will be covered in snow. Again, breaking trails through fresh snow uses more energy and takes more time, so plan accordingly.
Ice on Waterbodies
Ice has formed on most waters. Ice will thicken with the extremely cold temperatures forecast through Saturday. 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. Be safe on the ice, especially when ice fishing.
Water levels remain high. Some crossings may be difficult or impossible due to high water levels. 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. With snow forecasted for this weekend the trail conditions are expected to improve.
Watch for skiers and snowshoers using snowmobile trails and slow down to safely pass.
Leave the Drones at Home
Drones are motorized equipment and operating drones on lands classified as wilderness, primitive, or canoe is prohibited.
High Peaks Wilderness
Lake Colden Caretaker Report: 24 inches of snow is present at the stake at the cabin. 2 to 3 feet of snow is present below the tree line. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen but there is thin ice and open water around outlets and inlets.
Meadows Lane, South Meadows Truck Trail, and Avalanche Pass Ski Trail are good for skiing. The Van Hoevenberg Trail should have good skiing conditions by Friday. (Note: Conditions will change from the current snow event, and the forecasted snow and cold temperatures over the next sever days.)
Corey’s Road was reported extremely icy and impassable earlier this week.
There are 4 to 5 mid-size trees down at various locations on the Big Slide via the Brothers Trail. It’s easy to get around, over, or under them.
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.
Wilmington Wild Forest
The Whiteface Mountain Trail on the Wilmington side of the mountain is flooded about waist deep a short distance past the intersection of the Esther and Lookout Mountains Trail.
Saranac Lake Wild Forest/Paul Smiths College Conservation Easement Tract
Expect blowdown on the Jack Rabbit Ski Trail between Route 86 and Lake Clear.
Mt. Tom State Forest
The gates on Noch Lane are locked due to icy road conditions and will remain so until there is at least a foot of snow.
Black River Wild Forest
The bridge across Little Woodhull Creek on the Stone Dam Trail has washed out, likely due to the Halloween flood.
Silver Lake Wilderness
West River Road, which accesses Whitehouse and the Northville-Placid Trail, is a seasonal road and is not maintained from December 1st through April 1st.
Debar Mountain Wild Forest
Gates have been closed and locked on the C8 Snowmobile Trail between Debar Mountains and the DEC Meacham Lake Campground. The gate will be reopened once there is enough snow.
Siamese Ponds Wilderness
Warren County has completed replacing a washed-out culvert with a bridge. Motor vehicle access to the Thirteenth Lake Trailhead is once again available via the road.
Shaker Mountain Wild Forest
Tolmantown Road, which accesses portions of Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, is a seasonal road and is not maintained from December 1st through April 1st. Green Lake Road, which accesses Kane Mountain Trailhead, is temporarily closed due to downed trees and power lines from recent icy weather.
Giant Mountain Wilderness
There is a large tree across the Rocky Peak Ridge Trail. It’s easy to step or slide over the tree trunk.
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.