If you’ve been looking forward to seeing peak fall foliage in the Adirondacks, then this is the weekend to visit! Peak or near-peak colors are expected in many parts of the region, especially in the high peaks. Be aware that trails will be busy and rain is in the forecast, so plan your hiking trip accordingly.
Check the Fall Foliage Report
Here’s what’s up with the foliage in the Adirondacks, according to the always-detailed I Love NY Fall Foliage Report:
Crown Point: 65% color change with brilliant yellows, oranges, reds, and purples
Lake George: 60 – 65% color change north of the Town, and 50% color change south of the Town with shades of red, yellow, and orange
Lake Placid: Peak foliage with brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange
Lake Pleasant: Near peak conditions with bright shades of red and orange
Malone: About 90% color change with gorgeous splashes of red, orange, and yellow
Newcomb: 70% color change with bright shades of red, yellow, and orange
Old Forge: About 85% color change with a mix of bright orange, red, and yellow
Plattsburgh: More than 50% color change with bright reds, yellows, and oranges
Saranac Lake: More than 85% color change with shades of yellow, gold, and red
Ticonderoga: 70% color change with a bright mix of fall color
Tupper Lake: 80 – 85% color change this weekend with above-average brilliance
The Weather Report: Warm, But Still Layer Up
- Crown Point: Fri 57° and showers, Sat 58° and showers, Sun 61° and mostly cloudy
- Indian Lake: Fri 54° and showers, Sat 52° and PM showers, Sun 55° and mostly cloudy
- Lake George: Fri 58° and showers, Sat 58° and PM showers, Sun 60° and mostly cloudy
- Lake Placid: Fri 51° and showers, Sat 51° and showers, Sun 53° and mostly cloudy
- Long Lake: Fri 53° and showers, Sat 52° and PM showers, Sun 54° and PM showers
- Malone: Fri 55° and AM showers/PM isolated thunderstorms, Sat 52° and cloudy, Sun 56° and PM showers
- North Creek: Fri 55° and showers, Sat 54° and showers, Sun 56° and mostly cloudy
- Old Forge: Fri 53° and partly cloudy, Sat 50° and showers, Sun 53° and mostly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 52° and showers, Sat 52° and showers, Sun 55° and PM showers
- Ticonderoga: Fri 57° and showers, Sat 59° and showers, Sun 61° and mostly cloudy
- Tupper Lake: Fri 52° and showers, Sat 51° and PM showers, Sun 55° and mostly cloudy
Approximate time of sunset: 6:30pm. Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly to ensure you return before dark.
Stay safe and warm this fall by wearing and bringing the right clothes: non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers on your person, and then bring additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers along with a hat and mittens (or gloves, but mittens are reportedly better). Avoid sweating through your clothes, as that can create ideal conditions for hypothermia as the clothes cool.
Hunting Seasons are Starting
Some autumn hunting seasons are open. Hikers should be aware that they may come across hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with a legal right to participate in these activities. And, hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.
Bring a Headlamp With You & Otherwise Prepare Properly
Daylight hours are shortening. The DEC is seeing an increase in individuals without headlamps requiring rescue, as hikers find themselves unexpectedly still out on the trails after dark. It’s especially important now to be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and to plan accordingly.
Hiking in the dark can be dangerous, and the sun is setting earlier all the time. Always bring a headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries in case you end up getting caught out there after dark; the DEC specifically recommends a headlamp. Don’t rely on a phone flashlight – it will drain your battery quickly.
Hiker Information Stations
Visitors to the Adirondacks are encouraged to stop by these stations to check out info on parking, alternative hiking locations, and more:
- Mid’s Park, Lake Placid: Friday, 1pm to 7pm (this station will move inside the Lake Placid Visitors Bureau during inclement weather)
- High Peaks Rest Area, Northbound Route 87: Saturday and Sunday, 6am to 11:30am
- Marcy Field, Keene: Friday to Monday, 7am to 1pm
If you get lost or injured keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service call 518.891.0235.
Continue to Follow COVID Guidelines
COVID-19 guidelines are still in effect. Pack a mask, practice social distancing, only have one person sign in at the trailhead, and move quickly through shared areas like parking lots. It is especially important right now to hike within your means – within your physical abilities and experience.
Current Fire Danger & Campfire Safety Reminder
Fire danger is low. Continue to be safe with campfires, never leaving them unattended, fully extinguishing before leaving your campsite, etc.
Bears & Ticks are Still Present
Nuisance bear activity is still high in the front and backcountry. The use of bear resistant canisters by overnight campers is required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and recommended throughout the Adirondack Park.
While black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, and biting gnats aren’t as much of a problem, the ticks are still a concern at this time of year. Wear light-colored long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks. Pack a head net to wear when insects are plentiful and use an insect repellent with DEET.
Check Status of Parking Lots
If you’re planning to hike in the High Peaks use 511NY to check the status of parking lots along the busy Route 73 corridor. Have backup plans in place, and move along to them if the lot at your desired destination is full. The status of these parking lots are updated frequently throughout weekend days by patrolling DEC Forest Rangers and their assistants.
High Peaks Wilderness Rules & Regulations
Speaking of the High Peaks, make sure to adhere to the following:
- Day trip group maximum 15 people
- Overnight trip group maximum 8 people
- No camping on summits, above 3,500 feet except at lean-tos, and anywhere you see a “no camping” sign
- Carry out what you carry in
- Dogs must be leashed at trailheads, campsites, and above 4,000 feet
- No bikes, drones, ATVs, or fixed anchors for climbing
And for the Eastern High Peaks:
- No campfires
- Bear canisters are required for overnight campers
- Dogs must be leashed at all times
And for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR):
- No dogs, camping, drones, or off-trail travel
Invasive Species Info for Boaters
Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by having your boat and trailer inspected and cleaned at one of the many boat inspection and wash stations across the Adirondacks. There is one at the Adirondack Welcome Center between Exits 17 and 18 on Northway, which is right on your way if you’re coming up from the Capital Region.
Specific Hiking Notices, Trail Closures & More
Lake George Wild Forest
The summit and trail of Prospect Mountain are open once again.
High Peaks Wilderness
The sign on Blue Ridge Road (aka Boreas Road) identifying the turn onto Tahawus Road and the southern entrances into the High Peaks Wilderness has been stolen. If you’re accessing Blue Ridge Road from the west (Route 28N) watch for Tahawus Road on the left a short distance after the rail crossing. If you’re accessing Blue Ridge Road from the east (I-87), watch for Tahawus Road on the right a short distance after the rail crossing warning sign.
The Trap Dike route up Mount Colden is a rock climbing route, not a trail. DEC Forest Rangers have had to rescue numerous people recently.
The Town of Keene’s Garden Shuttle between Marcy Field Parking Lot and the Garden Shuttle is not operating at this time. The Town of Keene prohibits parking along Johns Brook, Market, and Adirondack Streets in Keene Valley and violators will be towed.
Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed. This adds two miles each way to hikes from the Elk Lake Trailhead. Be prepared.
The main span bridge in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail has failed. Hikers need to wade across the river (rock hopping is not possible). Be aware that during rain events the water level can fluctuate significantly. The DEC doesn’t expect to replace the bridge this year.
Nippletop via Elk Pass Trail has a few mid-sized trees down across the trail between Elk Pass and the summit of Nippletop.
The new Van Hoevenberg East Trail cannot be accessed due to construction happening at the Olympic Sports Center.
There are four or five mid-sized trees down at various locations on the Big Slide via the Brothers Trail. It’s easy to get around, over, or under them.
Three bridges were washed out on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail during the Halloween storm. 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.
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.
Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and is not maintained.
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.
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.
Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail.
The 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. Crossing the brook is possible during low water conditions.
The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse-drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
Once again, the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking at the trail are prohibited on weekends.
Boreas Ponds Tract
Gulf Brook Road, which provides access to the Boreas Ponds, remains closed to public motor vehicle use due to washouts caused by the 2019 Halloween storm. Hikers, off-road bikers, and horse riders may still use the road to access ponds.
In addition, Boreas Road, which the DEC typically opens during hunting season, cannot be accessed during this year’s hunting season due to the damage and closure of Gulf Brook Road.
Essex Chain Lakes Complex
Camp Six Road is open to public motor vehicle use, but it is in rough shape and has not been brushed out. Use caution when driving on the road. The road will remain open until the end of the Northern Zone big game hunting season, but may close sooner if conditions warrant.
Chain Lakes Road South between the Outer Gooley Parking Area and the Cedar River remains closed due to damage from the 2019 Halloween Storm. The DEC is working to repair the road and open it by the end of October 2020.
Giant Mountain Wilderness
There is a large tree across Rocky Peak Ridge Trail. It’s easy to step or slide over the tree trunk.
Hurricane Mountain Wilderness
Hurricane Mountain East Trail has a few small to mid-sized trees down across the trail.
The Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower is once again open for visitors. Please adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines.
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 cross safely.
Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail.
Jessup River Wild Forest
Please note that the Pillsbury Mountain Fire Tower will be closed to public access on October 3 – 4 due to restoration. The trail to the summit will remain open.
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement
Barnes Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle use, and the road will stay open until the end of the Northern Zone big game hunting season. It may close sooner if conditions warrant.