If you love snowshoeing, skiing, or snowmobiling this might be an excellent weekend to get out in the Adirondacks! But, the weather is intense, the risk of avalanches is increased, and there’s more know before you embark on your wintry adventure.
Winter Storm Warning
Here’s the current forecast:
- Crown Point: Fri 29° and snow, Sat 17° and sunny, Sun 26° and partly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 32° and snow, Sat 12° and partly cloudy, Sun 28° and mostly cloudy
- Lake George: Fri 24° and snow, Sat 7° and mostly sunny, Sun 31° and mostly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 32° and mostly cloudy, Sat 30° and cloudy, Sun 24° and partly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 22° and snow, Sat 6° and partly cloudy, Sun 24° and mostly sunny
- North Creek: Fri 31° and heavy snow storm, Sat 14° and sunny, Sun 33° and mostly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 33° and mostly cloudy, Sat 30° and cloudy, Sun 28° and mostly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 28° and snow with brief sleet, Sat 19° and sunny, Sun 27° and sunny
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the Northern Adirondacks. This warning is in effect until 10pm today (Friday the 7th). Heavy snow and mixed precepitation is forecast with total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches and ice accumulations of up to two tenths of an inch.
Snow depths range from 10 to 16 inches across much of the Northern, Northwestern, Western, and Central Adirondacks. Snow depths in the High Peaks Region are 12 to 15 inches, and deeper in higher elevations. Snow depths range from 4 to 10 inches in the Eastern, Southeastern, and Southern Adirondacks.
Additional snow accumulations are expected into the weekend: 12 to 18 inches of snow is forecast for the Northern Adirondacks, 6 to 8 inches is forecast in the Southern Adirondacks, and 8 to 12 inches in the Central Adirondacks.
At the summits: Temperatures and wind chills are below freezing; cover all exposed skin. Winds will be stronger on exposed outlooks and summits. Summit conditions are icy and warrant the use of trail crampons. Snow depths below the tree line and in other protected areas will be much deeper than the snow depths at the trailhead.
Weather is unpredictable on mountain summits. Be prepared to turn aruond.
Because of the heavy snow forecast through Friday evening the risk of avalanche events in the High Peaks Region and other high elevation mountains is increased. Avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope, and weather conditions combine to create the proper conditions.
Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are possible during the mid-day hours on Friday with mixed precipitation expected between periods of snow, creating avalanche conditions on steep slopes.
Know how to determine avalanche danger, avoid avalanches, and self-rescue if caught in an avalanche.
Wear Proper Footwear
Wear insulated, waterproof boots with warm, wool socks to keep feet dry. Trail crampons (foot traction devices) should be carried on all hikes and used when warranted.
The use of snowshoes or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and recommend whenever snow depths exceed 8 inches. Using snowshoes eases travel on snow, prevents post holing which can ruin trails, and reduces injuries from trips and falls.
The Trail Conditions
Parking lots will be covered in snow; few will be plowed. Trails will be covered in fresh snow with deeper snow depths present as you move north and/or higher in elevation.
Remember that it takes more time and energy to break trail through deep fresh snow – plan accordingly.
Conditions should be good to excellent throughout the Adirondacks for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
If you’re on a designated snowmobile trail watch and listen for snowmobiles and move to the side of the trail as necessary to allow them to safely pass.
Practice Leave No Trace
Follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace, which includes respecting wildlife, disposing of waste properly, and more.
Ice on Waterbodies
Ice has formed on most waters. 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.
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
Trail conditions will be good to excellent throughout the Adirondacks and most trail systems should be open, but still check before going.
Blowdown has been removed from the Wilmington Snowmobile Trail between Wilmington and Forestdale Road and the spur trail to the Cooper Kiln Pond. The trails are open and have good snow conditions.
S83 is open from the C7 to the Goldsmith Road Parking Area. A section of the S83 is closed north of the Goldsmith Road this winter due to logging activity.
DOT contractors have completed maintenance work on the rail bed between Lake Clear and Lake Placid. The snowmobile trail may be open this weekend.
Watch for skiers and snowshoers using snowmobile trails and slow down to safely pass them.
Leave the Drones at Home
Drones are motorized equipment and operating drones on lands classified as wilderness, primitive, or canoe is prohibited.
Trail Crew & Other Positions for Hire
The DEC is hiring for High Peaks trail crew (10 positions), Ray Brook trail crew (one position) and Marcy Dam interior caretaker (one position). Email Info.R5@DEC.NY.gov if you’re interested.
High Peaks Wilderness
Lake Colden Caretaker Report: 30 inches of snow is present at the stake at the cabin. There’s 4 to 5 feet of snow present in the higher elevations. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen. Use caution around outlets and inlets.
Meadows Lane, South Meadows Truck Trail, and Van Hoevenberg Trail from the Adirondack Loj Trailhead have good to excellent skiing conditions. The Avalanche Pass Ski Trail has good to excellent skiing conditions. The new Van Hoevenberg East Trail cannot be accessed due to construction activity at the Olympic Sports Center.
There is significant blowdown on the Phelps Trail before you reach Slant Rock. It’s difficult to get through the blowdown. The DEC is developing a plan to clear a way.
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.
Corey’s Road is 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 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. Currently the trail is 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 roadway on the Bradley Pond Trail has been washed out by the Harkness Lake Outlet approximately a half mile from the parking lot. Hikers will be unable to cross the outlet when water levels are high.
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.
Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
Gulf Brook Road: A large washout is present about half a mile from Blue Ridge Road – the washout can be problematic to traverse but is passable. There are several smaller washouts along the road that are easily traversed. There is some blowdown on the road but all of it is easy to pass around.
Blowdown is present on the Wolf Pond Trail.
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.