This weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is issued each Thursday afternoon and can be heard at North Country Public Radio on Friday mornings.
Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 7:11 am; sunset at 6:11 pm, providing 11 hours and 00 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 6:15 pm Saturday and set at 7:30 am Sunday morning. The Moon will be Full at 12:23 am Sunday morning, meaning a well lit Saturday night, weather permitting.
WEATHER THIS WEEKEND: Always check the latest weather and be prepared for the possibility of below freezing temperatures. Widespread frost and subfreezing temperatures are likely Friday night. Expect a mostly sunny Friday during the day, with highs in the 50s and northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Friday night is expected to be mainly clear with frost likely and lows from near 20 in sheltered valleys in the mountains to lower 30s elsewhere. Saturday and Saturday night should be mostly clear, with highs in the upper-50s to lower-60s and lows in the 30s to low 40s, near 30 in sheltered mountain valleys. Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny, though increasing high clouds in the afternoon with highs in the lower-60s north. Sunday night there is a chance of showers.
ICE REPORTED: There have been reports of ice accumulating above about 3,000 feet. Consider carrying traction devices.
GEOMAGNETIC STORM WARNINGS: A G2 (Moderate) Geomagnetic Storm Warning has been issued through 6 pm, Thursday. G1 (Minor) conditions are already in progress and G1-G2 (Minor-Moderate) conditions are likely to continue overnight. In addition, forecasters have upgraded to a G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for tomorrow (Friday, October 14) as potential for activity as high as G3 levels are possible. Although the odds of seeing visual Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are lower, you can follow updates on this geomagnetic storm activity here.
SHORTER DAYS COLDER EVENINGS: Days are now shorter and nights cold. Carry a flashlight or headlamp and clothing suitable to spend an unplanned night in the woods in freezing temperatures.
HUNTING SEASON HAS BEGUN: Some big game, small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are open. Hikers should wear bright colors and keep pets leashed as a precaution.
FOLIAGE REPORT: Leaf change around the Adirondacks is at or near peak, with leaf change at about 50% in the Lake George and Lake Champlain Valleys, and just past peak in the High Peaks.
BE PREPARED! Always carry proper safety equipment – including plenty of food, water, extra clothing, a flashlight, and a map and compass – inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in an emergency. On waters, wear a pfd. Just before entering the backcountry or launching check the latest weather forecasts for the Adirondack region at Burlington and Albany and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.
BLACK BEARS VERY ACTIVE: Always at this time of year, but especially now due to recent dry conditions, black bears are much more active than usual throughout the Adirondacks. Notable bear activity has been reported – including people losing their food and other gear – especially in the Eastern High Peaks, at the campgrounds along Route 28 south of Raquette Lake, and east of Lake George. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.
TRAIL CONDITIONS: Trails are generally dry, although typically wet spots remain so due to heavy summertime use. All hikers should wear waterproof footwear and gaiters, remain on trails, and walk through mud and water to prevent eroding trails and damaging sensitive vegetation.
FIRE DANGER ELEVATED: The fire danger remains MODERATE due to summer-long dry conditions. There were a number of wildfires in the Adirondacks started by unattended or poorly doused campfires this summer season. Leaves, branches, and organic material on the forest floor remain very dry. The U.S. Drought Monitor is reporting that the Southeastern Adirondack is Abnormally Dry, and the rest of the Adirondack Park is now in a Moderate Drought. Use caution with fires this weekend and remember that it’s illegal to leave even a smoldering fire unattended.
WATERS WELL BELOW NORMAL: Rivers, streams, and lakes around the Adirondacks remain well below normal, even for this time of year. Many shallow wells around the region are reportedly dry, or low, and mountain streams typically relied on for drinking water may be dry. Due to lack of snow cover this past winter and an unusually dry summer, some area boat launches remain difficult to negotiate or impossible with larger boats. Typically shallow areas may not be navigable. Paddlers and boaters should use caution, especially in shallow areas, and be aware of obstacles typically covered by water. The following stream gage readings were observed on Thursday afternoon. Before heading out check the streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.
Moose River at McKeever – 1.84 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 2.30 feet
Ausable River at AuSable Forks – 1.01 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 2.31 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (County Route 11) – 1.12 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 92.93 feet
WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures fell this week, with most waters now in the 50s. The following temperatures were recorded on Thursday afternoon:
Ausable River (West Branch) in Wilmington – lower 50s
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – about 50
Lake Champlain – about 60 (average)
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 57
DO NOT RELY ON TECHNOLOGY: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Plan and prepare carefully before entering the backcountry and always carry a map and compass – and know how to use them.
KEEP DOGS LEASHED: Dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks when on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, everywhere above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates. It is recommended dogs be kept leashed for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and rare plants, and out of courtesy to fellow hikers.
LEAVE NO TRACE / CARRY IN – CARRY OUT: Learn and practice the seven Leave No Trace principles. Carry out what you have carried in. Do not leave gear, food, or other unwanted or unneeded items at lean-tos and campsites. Do not litter. Take the free online Leave No Trace course here.
GROUP SIZE RESTRICTIONS: Large groups have significantly more impact on the trails, natural resources and other users. DEC regulation restricts group size in the High Peaks Wilderness to no more than 15 hikers (day users) or 8 campers (overnight users) and encourages this practice to be followed in other areas. Outside the High Peaks Wilderness, DEC regulation requires a temporary permit be issued to authorize organized events of more than twenty people; camping at the same location for more than three nights; or camping in groups of more than 10 people.
MOST CAMPGROUNDS CLOSED: Except Fish Creek Campground, which closes October 23, all Adirondack DEC campgrounds are now closed.
VOLUNTEER FOR TRAIL WORK: No matter what your sport, if you’re a trail user consider contributing your efforts to one of the many organizations dedicated to maintaining the region’s network of thousands of miles of trails.
RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY
These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation roads, trails and facilities around the Adirondacks.
** indicates new or recently revised items for this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including Wilmington, Keene, Newcomb, Essex Chain
** Trail Work Underway: This Saturday, October 15, Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA) trail crew leaders will work with volunteers on Wright Peak, Whales Tail, Mr. Van and Avalanche Pass ski trails and ADK will lead trail projects on several other trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and the Cascade Mountain Trail. See ADK’s website for details about volunteering. Be respectful of volunteer work underway this weekend.
** Bears In Eastern High Peaks, Dix Range: Bears have been active in the Eastern High Peaks and Dix Range. Campers not using bear-resistant canisters have lost their food to bears. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.
** Lake Arnold/Feldspar Brook Trail: The trail is flooded and the bog bridging cannot be crossed. Alternate routes using other trails in the area can be used to avoid the trail. DEC is working to find a permanent solution to this section of trail in the near future.
Ouluska Brook Bridge: The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions crossing the brook is still possible.
** Garden Trailhead Parking Area: The town of Keene operates the Garden Parking Area and charges a $7/day fee for parking. This is the last weekend an attendant will be present at the parking area. The attendant will be present from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Friday and from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Hikers should use an envelope and the collection slot to pay all other times.
** Garden Trailhead Shuttle: This is last weekend the town of Keene will operate the shuttle between the overflow parking area at Marcy Field and the Garden Trailhead. The shuttle will operate from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. A roundtrip costs $5.
Cold River Bridge: Some boards are broken on the suspension bridge over the Cold River on the Northville-Placid Trail. Use caution when crossing.
Blueberry Hiking Trail: The first 1,500 feet of Blueberry Hiking Trail has been closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail approximately 0.3 mile east of the previous location (0.8 mile from the Seward Trailhead). This reroute eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area and avoids hiking (and maintaining) more than 120 feet of bog bridging.
Blueberry Horse Trail: The Blueberry Horse Trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation and is poorly marked. The trail is impassable to horses making it impossible to complete the Cold River Horse Trail Loop. DEC intends to work on the trail this fall.
** Northville-Placid Trail: The Northville Placid Trail has rerouted around a beaver pond south of Plumley’s Point on the shores of Long Lake. The reroute passes the beaver pond higher up the slope and eliminates having to cross the beaver dam and the wet feet obtained when the water levels were high. Follow the Blue NPT trail markers.
** Route 73 Bridge Work: Bridge work is underway on several bridges in Keene and Keene Valley. Traffic may be reduced to one lane at these bridges. Expect delays during busy travel times.
Giant Mountain Wilderness: Construction work on the Route 73 bridge over the East Branch Ausable River near the Mossy Cascade Trailhead prevents the use of the trailhead during the week when work is occurring. The trailhead may be used on weekends or when workers are not present.
** Lake Placid / Wilmington Area Mountain Bike Trails: All mountain biking trails are open in the Lake Placid/Wilmington area, including the Craig Wood Trails. Current trail conditions for BETA managed trails can be found here.
Whiteface Landing Trail: Construction is occurring on the State Route 86 Bridge over the West Branch Ausable River about three miles northeast of Lake Placid. Construction is expected to continue unit November 1st. Parking near the bridge will be restricted. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are discouraged from using the parking areas near the bridge. Paddlers using that section of the river are advised to find an alternate takeout. Paddlers are discouraged from paddling under the bridge during the construction period. Entering the construction site or staging area are not allowed. Anyone parking near the bridge should use caution when pulling out of the parking area. Pedestrians crossing the road should use the marked crosswalk. The Whiteface Landing Trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail.
Essex Chain Lakes: Campers at one of the 11 tent sites on the shores of the Essex Chain Lakes are no longer required to reserve a site before camping. Self-issuing permits available at the trailhead will still be required to allow DEC to gather use data. Campfires are prohibited on the 11 shoreline tent sites.
** Boreas Ponds Tract: DEC has issued an Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract which includes: five year-round parking areas and three seasonal parking areas; 3.2 miles of motor vehicle access on the Gulf Brook Road; 6.7 miles of roadway open to bicycling from Blue Ridge Road to the Boreas Ponds Dam; and approximately 25 miles of seven roadways open to horse and horse drawn wagons. The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. You can find out more here.
Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes
** Bears Very Active At Campgrounds Along Route 28: Black bears have been very active at the campgrounds along Route 28 south of Raquette Lake. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.
** Essex Chain Lakes: Through the first Sunday in December, an additional 1.5 miles of the Chain Lakes Road South (accessed from Indian Lake) and 1.0 mile of the Camp Six Road (accessed from Newcomb) is open to motor vehicles. Small parking areas are located at the end of each road segment and campsites are located along each road. Four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles strongly recommended.
Raquette Lake: The lean-tos at Boucher’s Point on Raquette Lake have been renovated and relocated nearby.
** Lake Durant Campground: The public restrooms and showers at DEC’s Lake Durant Campground have been closed for renovation. They are expected to be reopened in time for the 2017 camping season.
Sunset Bay Marina: Sunset Bay Marina on Great Sacandaga Lake has now closed.
Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower: Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower and the access trail to the summit of the Stillwater Mountain located on the Big Moose Tract Easement are now open for public use thanks to the work of the Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower. The fire tower and the trail are closed annually from the second Tuesday in October through December 20.
Black River Wild forest: The third bridge on the Otter Lake – Brandy Lake Trail (approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead on State Route 28) has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge and the trail on either side of it are under nearly two feet of water.
** Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: East Pond-Lost Creek Trail has been cleared of blowdown and vegetation has been cut back. Blackfoot Pond Trail off of the East-Pond Lost Creek Trail remains rough, grown in and may contain blowdown. The trail is difficult to follow at times. The sign at the junction of the trails is missing, the turn off to Blackfoot Pond is not readily marked or noticeable. DEC will be replace the sign soon.
** Independence River Wild Forest: Water has been shut off at the Otter Creek Horse Trails Assembly Area.
East Stony Creek Trail: Hikers using the East Stony Creek Trail must park at the new trailhead parking area on Hope Falls Road and walk the 0.4 mile on the road to reach the East Stony Creek Trailhead. It is 5.1 miles from the new trailhead to Wilcox Lake and 6.0 miles from the new trailhead to the Harrisburg Road.
Tenant Creek Falls: A new trail has been built to Tenant Creek Falls from a new trailhead parking area on Hope Falls Road, 0.4 mile before the old trailhead. The old trail across private land is now closed. Hikers must use the new trail to Tenant Creek Falls and not trespass on private lands. The new trail is 0.9 mile from the new trailhead to the first falls, it is 2.1 miles to the second and third falls. The trail was constructed by an Adirondack Mountain Club Volunteer High School Group under DEC contract and direction. An ADA accessible outhouse at the new trailhead was constructed by DEC Northville Operations
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The North Bend Bridge on Oregon Trail is flooded but intact. Hikers will need to wade through water to enter and exit the bridge. The Ski Hi Road to Crane Mountain Trailhead was recently improved and is now drivable by all vehicles. It is recommended the public use this road to access the trailhead.
Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co
** Prospect Mountain: Prospect Mountain Veteran’s Memorial Parkway will remain open through Sunday, November 6, 2016 and will be open free of charge on November 5th and 6th.
** Lake George Village: Dog Beach on Beach Road in Lake George Village is open; Lake George Beach (Million Dollar Beach), the Battlefield Picnic Area; and Lake George Battlefield Campground are now closed.
** Bears Active East of Lake George: Black bears have been very active at the camping areas east of Lake George. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.
** Hudson Gorge Wilderness: A crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack program recently completed installing turn-piking in a chronically muddy section of Hudson River Access Trail. This a technique in which nearby natural materials are used to harden the tread of the trail. This keeps hikers within the designated trail corridor and not forming herd paths around muddy and wet areas. The technique is especially useful on sections of trails that are poorly drained but do not have standing water. An Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew under contract and direction from DEC has installed 65 feet of stone check steps on the Hudson River Access Trail from the OK Slip Falls Trail dramatically improving a steep section of trail.
Gay Pond Road – Lake George Wild Forest: Gay Pond Road is open, but the road is heavily rutted from illegal use by four-wheel drive vehicles during the snowmobile season. Only high clearance vehicles should be used to traverse the road and even those should be used with caution.
Bluff Point Lighthouse: Tours of the Lighthouse have ended for the season.
** Poke-O-Moonshine: Trail crews have finished work the Ranger Trail at Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain.
** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle use, including access to the six designated primitive campsites along the road. The six designated campsites are marked with “Camp Here” discs and have privies, fire rings, and picnic tables. The campsites are scheduled for routine maintenance, but are in useable condition. Camping is permitted at designated sites only. A new parking area has been built off Franklin County Route 26 (aka Old Route 99) north of Loon Lake which provides access to the northern portion of the Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area. A 0.4-mile foot trail follows an old skid road east from the parking area, through a log landing, and continues on to access the banks of Plumadore Brook – a trout stream. The stream bank access point also provides scenic views of the Loon Lake Mountain Range to the west
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
** Saranac River: Channel markers in the sections of the Saranac River between Middle Saranac Lake and Lower Saranac and Second Pond and Oseetah Lake have been moved closer to direct boats to remain in the deeper waters in the center of the channel. Boaters should slow down and use caution when meeting and passing boats coming in the opposite direction.
** Saranac Locks: The Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain are closed until Spring 2017. Boats upstream of the locks can be removed from the water at the Second Pond Boat Launch along State Route 3. Boats downstream of the locks can be removed from the water at the Lake Flower Boat Launch in Saranac Lake.
** Kushaqua Tract Easement: 2.3 miles of Hunter’s Camp Road is newly open for public motor vehicle use. The road provides public access to the southern-most reaches of the tract for outdoor recreation. A designated parking area has been constructed at the end of section of road. A newly opened 115-foot path to a dock on the upper reaches of the North Branch of the Saranac River provides access for non-motorized watercraft to this trout stream. The path is located off the southern shoulder of the North Branch Road approximately 460 feet west of the North Branch Road Parking Area near intersection of Mountain Pond Road.
Madawaska Road -Santa Clara Tract Easement: Madawaska Road to Madawaska Pond from State Route 458 is once again open to public use by motor vehicle and bicycles. The road provides access to Madwaska Pond, Quebec Brook and the thousands of acres of surrounding forest preserve and conservation easement lands. The entrance to the road is on the south side of State Route 458, 1.25 miles west of the intersection with State Route 30. Currently, there is no sign to identify the road.
Black River Wild Forest: The bridge across the inlet to Little Woodhull Lake on the Little Woodhull Lake Trail is out. The stream may not be passable in times of high water. The third bridge on the Otter Lake – Brandy Lake Trail (approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead on State Route 28) has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge and the trail on either side of it are under nearly two feet of water. Nick’s Lake Outlet Trail to Remsen Falls may be rough and grown in. Nelson Lake Loop Trail has several blowdown trees. The gate at the end of the Wolf Lake Landing Road has been vandalized. Motor vehicle access beyond the gate is prohibited except by permit. Bear Lake Trail is wet and muddy for the first mile from the trailhead on Wolf Lake Landing Road. Chubb Pond Trail east from the new bridge over Gull Lake outlet is muddy to Buck Pond. Most blowdown has been cleared from the first two miles of Twin Lakes Trail from the Farr Road, the trail is in poor shape beyond to the marsh.
Fulton Chain Wild Forest: Safford Pond Trail is flooded by beaver activity near the Safford Pond Inlet. The Scenic Mountain (aka Vista) Trail contains several blown downs.
Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: Brown’s Tract Trail has been flooded by beavers between Tamarack lake and Bare Mountain, the trail is difficult to traverse. A culvert is washed out on the Big Otter Lake East Trail near Indian Brook. Also Big Otter Lake East Trail is flooded at South Inlet Flow but the trail remains passable. Moose River Mountain Trail has heavy blow down and is difficult to follow at times. Middle Settlement Lake Trail is flooded due to beaver activity between the Cedar Pond Trail and Middle Settlement Lake. East Pond-Lost Creek Trail between East Pond and the Big Otter Lake East Trail is rough, grown in and may contain blowdown. The trail is difficult to follow at times.
Independence River Wild Forest: Big Otter Lake Road is in very poor condition. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. Little Otter Lake Road is wet, muddy, and thickly vegetated. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. DEC plans to make improvements in November 2016. The southern half of McCarthy Road is rocky and muddy in some places. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. Florence Pond Road south of Little Otter Creek has some mud holes. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. Access to Catspaw Lake Road and Catspaw Lake should be done from the Van Arnum Road not the Patridgeville Road as the road is wet and rutted on that side. There is a mud hole on the east end of the Mt. Tom Trail (old route of both snowmobile and foot trails) near intersect with Silvermine Dam Trail/10 mile Crossing Road. Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower on Big Moose Tract Easement is being renovated and is not open to the public. The fire tower and access trail will be open later in summer 2016. Summer public access on the Big Moose Tract Easement is restricted to the fire tower trail which will open later this summer.
** Otter Creek Horse Trail System: The Otter Creek Assembly Area is open for use but the water has been turned off for the season. Some horses will not cross the bridge over Otter Creek on Erie Canal Trail – they may ford the stream parallel to the bridge. The foot trail to Old Hotel campsite along the west side of Big Otter Lake is rutted from illegal vehicle use.
Pigeon Lake Wilderness: Approximately half of the Twitchell Lake Trail (7.5 miles to Beaver River Station) at the Twitchell Lake end has been cleared of blowdown. The bridge crossing over the Oswego Pond Outlet on the Twitchell Lake Trail has washed out. An old beaver den can be used to cross the outlet. Cascade Lake Trail is wet and very muddy on the north-west section of the trail around Cascade Lake. Be alert of trail reroutes. Chub Lake Trail between Constable Pond and Queer Lake Trail is rough and grown in.
Watson’s East: Bear Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle access as are all designated seasonal access road on the Croghan Tract and Oswegatchie Tract Easements. Access to the Oswegatchie Tract Easement via the Bryant Bridge Road is limited to those paddling on the easement lands. All others should use the Bald Mountain Road.
Mount Pisgah: Mountain bike trails at Mount Pisgah are open. Current trail conditions for trails at Mount Pisgah can be found here.
Dewey Mountain: Dewey Mountain mountain bike trails are open. Check the latest trail conditions for mountain bike trails at Dewey Mountain here.
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. Check the Adirondack Almanack Outdoor Conditions Reports each Thursday afternoon. A map of the Adirondack Park can be found here.
The NYS Trails Supporter Patch is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.