The DEC has provided some excellent info on breaking down the different types of traction devices for winter hiking, which you will likely need depending on where you’re recreating in the Adirondack Park. And, there’s plenty of trail info for the snowmobilers out there.
Expect Snow & Frigid Temperatures This Weekend
- Crown Point: Fri 36° and snow, Sat 18° and partly cloudy, Sun 23° and sunny
- Indian Lake: Fri 29° and snow showers, Sat 8° and mostly cloudy, Sun 14° and mostly sunny
- Lake George: Fri 39° and rain and snow, Sat 22° and partly cloudy, Sun 27° and mostly sunny
- Lake Placid: Fri 28° and snow showers, Sat 6° and cloudy, Sun 11° and partly cloudy
- Long Lake: Fri 29° and snow showers, Sat 8° and cloudy, Sun 13° and partly cloudy
- Malone: Fri 30° and cloudy, Sat 8° and cloudy, Sun 12° and partly cloudy
- North Creek: Fri 33° and snow showers, Sat 13° and partly cloudy, Sun 19° and mostly sunny
- Old Forge: Fri 30° and snow,* Sat 8° and cloudy, Sun 12° and partly cloudy
- Saranac Lake: Fri 29° and snow showers, Sat 7° and cloudy, Sun 12° and partly cloudy
- Ticonderoga: Fri 36° and rain and snow, Sat 19° and rain and snow, Sun 22° and sunny
- Tupper Lake: Fri 30° and snow showers, Sat 7° and cloudy, Sun 12° and partly cloudy
*There is a Lake Effect Snow Warning for Old Forge in effect into 7pm this evening (Friday the 22nd). Heavy snow is expected with additional accumulations of 3 to 6 inches. Travel could be difficult.
Also, there is a “weekend weather warning” from the DEC indicating an extreme wind chill on Friday night into much of Saturday at elevation. You can see forecasts for specific summits at these links:
There have been several reports of unstable snowpack on open slopes, particularly in the High Peaks Wilderness. Travel safely when crossing exposed areas.
The following from the DEC provides current snowpack depths in inches as of January 19 at a select number of towns. This info is collected every other week.
- Northwoods Club Road, Minerva: 14.5 inches
- Goodnow Flow Road, Newcomb: 14.3 inches
- Tahawus/Upper Works, Newcomb: 13.1 inches
- Blue Ridge Road, Newcomb: 16 inches
- Elk Lake Road, North Hudson: 17.3 inches
- Lake Colden: 27.1 inches
- Cedar River Road, Indian Lake: 19.1 inches
- Sagamore Road, Long Lake: 19.9 inches
- Haskell Road, Ohio: 20.9 inches
- North Lake road, Ohio: 20.4 inches
Lake Colden Caretaker Report
The latest report indicates 2 feet, 3 inches of snow accumulated at the Colden Caretaker cabin. There is 3 to 4 feet of snow on summits. Snowshoes are needed on all trails, starting at parking lots. Skiing is in, including the ski trail, South Meadows Road, and the trail to the Flowed Lands. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen.
Bring That Winter Gear & Wear Appropriate Clothing
Prepare for the elements by bringing and wearing the following: base layer tops and bottoms made of wool or moisture-wicking synthetic fabrics, insulating layers, a waterproof/windproof jacket (preferably with a hood), a puffy jacket, a hat, mittens or gloves and extra to change when wet, wool socks (preferably tall) and extras, gaiters, goggles, a face mask or balaclava, waterproof/sturdy/comfortable boots, snowshoes, and traction devices; microspikes are good for flat, thin ice, while crampons are necessary for thick ice and steep, icy terrain.
Demystifying the Different Kinds of Traction Devices
Speaking of microspikes and crampons, here’s a quick breakdown of different traction devices. There are so many it can be tough to determine which is needed.
Snowshoes: Help you “float” on the surface of deep snow by distributing your weight over a greater surface area. Using them helps to prevent postholing, which in turn prevents falls and injuries for you. Snowshoes are recommended to be worn whenever there is significant snowpack, and are required in the High Peaks Wilderness whenever snow is at minimum of 8 inches deep.
Skis: Skis serve a similar purpose to snowshoes and are great on flat trails. When there’s elevation, things can get tricky. Skiers should also bring snowshoes with them.
Microspikes: Micropikes are small metal spikes that attach to your boots and provide stability on flat, thin ice. They are not good for thick ice or steep terrain. For that you will need crampons.
Crampons: Crampons are large, sharp metal spikes that attach to your boots. They allow you to penetrate the ice, providing grip and stability on thick ice, and on steep, icy terrain.
Other ice cleats: There are additional kinds of ice cleats that range from small metal studs and coils to plastic or rubber treads. These are not effective enough to keep you safe in the backcountry.
Additional advice from the DEC on traction devices: Foot practice makes perfect. Use your gear in a safe, controlled, familiar environment first before bringing it into the backcountry.
And, you can have the best gear in the world, but it won’t do you any good if it stays in your bag. Stop as many times as needed along the trail to change or put on gear to ensure you’re wearing the right traction for the conditions at all times.
A Recommended Awesome Activity From the DEC
You’ve tried hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, maybe fat tire biking – just when you think you’ve exhausted all winter activities the DEC pulls out another one: winter tracking. Much like birding, tracking can be a fun secondary activity while you’re out and about recreating.
Emergency Situations – Save This Number
If you get lost or injured keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518.891.0235 (or 911).
For the Snowmobilers
There are several snowmobile trail notices – many trails are open but a few are thin in spots:
- Debar Mountain Wild Forest
- Snowmobile Trail C8 is open.
- Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement
- Snowmobile trails on both tracts are now open.
- Old Route 8 between Cave Hill Road and Robbs Creek Road in Perkins Clearing is currently a shared logging road and snowmobile trail – drive slowly, stay on the groomed trail, and use caution near logging trucks and equipment.
- Saranac Lake Wild Forest
- The gates on Snowmobile Trail C7B have been opened. Snow cover is thin in spots and riders should use discretion.
- Snowmobile Trail C7 is closed between Tupper Lake and Lake Clear.
- Vanderwhacker Wild Forest
- Snowmobile Trail C8A is open from the gate at Lake Harris through to Indian Lake. Snowpack is inconsistent and thin, but rideable.
Seasonal Access Roads – Mostly Closed
Most seasonal access roads have closed for the winter season. Some roads may remain open if conditions allow.
COVID-19 is Still a Concern
The DEC reminds us this week that new cases of COVID-19 are on the rise throughout the state, including in the Adirondacks. Continue to play smart, play safe, and play local.
Current Hiking Notices
Remember if you are skiing or snowshoeing on designated snowmobile trails to be careful to move to the side when snowmobiles come by.
Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area
Madawaska trails, including Blue Mt. Road gates and trails, are opened and groomed. The Meacham Lake to Debar Meadow/Hatch Brook gate on County Route 26 is also open and groomed.