Thursday, August 17, 2017

Current Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Conditions (Aug 17)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is compiled each Thursday afternoon.

Contribute Your Knowledge: Send observations, corrections, updates, and suggestions to adkalmanack@gmail.com.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

PRACTICE LEAVE NO TRACE: Abide by the Leave No Trace Principles when recreating in the Adirondacks Park.

BUSY SEASON: This is the busiest time in the Adirondacks. Expect to encounter many people on trails and waterways. Most popular interior campsites fill by Friday evening and popular trailhead parking lots reach capacity early on weekends. Seek recreational opportunities in lesser used areas of the Adirondacks. Hikes Outside the High Peaks provides a list of alternative day hikes.

SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 6:04 am and sunset at 7:53 pm, providing 13 hours and 49 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 3:28 am Saturday, and set at 6:31 pm. It will be about 6% illuminated.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK: Showers and isolated thunderstorms will increase in areal coverage over Northern New York after midnight tonight and showers and isolated thunderstorms are expected across the area Friday morning. During the afternoon hours Friday there is the potential for stronger thunderstorms across Northern New York, including the Northern Adirondacks and the St Lawrence Valley, which could produce gusty winds, small hail, heavy downpours, and frequent lightning. Follow the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here.

LIGHTNING SAFETY REMINDER: There is a chance of encountering thunderstorms. There is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm, follow local weather closely and avoid storms. Hundreds of people are killed or permanently injured each year by being struck by lightning. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek safe shelter immediately. If you are caught outdoors away from the safety of cars or buildings, then avoid open fields, hill-tops, and isolated trees, and stay away from water. You should never be above treeline or on water when there is lightning.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: Trails continue to become drier, and shallower paddle routes are more difficult, or impassable. The fire danger remains higher in the Adirondacks.

BE PREPARED! Start slow, gain experience. 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 the woods. Just before entering the backcountry or launching a boat check the National Weather Service watches, warnings, and advisories here. Follow Adirondack weather forecasts at Burlington and Albany and consult the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

FIRE DANGER ELEVATED: The Fire Danger has been raised to MODERATE in the Adirondacks. Use caution with open fires, especially this weekend. It is illegal to leave even a smoldering fire unattended. Elsewhere, the Fire Danger remains LOW, but could be raised depending on the amount of rain we receive this weekend.

BITING INSECTS: Ticks, black flies, and mosquitoes are present. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: 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 abundant; and use an insect repellent.

BLUE GREEN ALGAE MAY BE PRESENT: Blue green algae blooms have recently been reported in parts of Lake Champlain. There have not been blooms reported on the New York side, but several places have reported blooms earlier this season, including: Ausable Point Campground and the beaches at Port Henry and Bulwagga Bay/Port Henry. Check with beach authorities for current conditions before swimming in these areas. A bloom has also been reported at Eagle Pond in Franklin County and also at Hadlock Pond in Washington County. People and pets should not swim or bathe in, or drink, algae-contaminated water, and do not use it in cooking or washing.

WATER LEVELS: Waters levels have returned to about normal for this time of year.  Shallow paddle routes are more difficult, or impassable. Boaters should be aware of areas that are too shallow for passage at this time of year. All backcountry water crossings are passable, but there is the possibility of localized heavy storms Friday afternoon that could raise the levels of rives and streams locally. Swimmers, waders, novice paddlers, and tubers should avoid swift currents – such as those that come after localized rain storms – especially near waterfalls and rapids.

Check the levels of Adirondack waters here for waters where you intend to recreate and follow the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here.

The following stream gage readings were observed on Thursday afternoon.

Moose River at McKeever – 2.22 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 5.52 feet
AuSable River at Ausable Forks – 1.36 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 2.97 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 1.98 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 95.86 feet

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures remained steady this week; smaller waters and shallower areas remain in the mid to upper-70s. The following water temperatures were reported Thursday:

Ausable River (Wilmington) – lower-60s
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – about 65 degrees
Lake Champlain (average) – about 70 degrees
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 74 degrees

INVASIVE SPECIES: Boaters are reminded to clean, drain and dry boats before launching into a water and that state regulations prohibit launching, or attempting to launch, a watercraft from a state boat launch, or leaving a state boat launch, with any aquatic invasive species attached to the boat or trailer. For more information on these regulations visit DEC’s website.

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.

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

* indicates new items this week.

HIGH PEAKS REGION
Including Dix Mountain, Giant Mountain, Hurricane Mountain, Jay Mountain, McKenzie Mountain, Sentinel Range Wildernesses
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** High Bear Activity in Eastern High Peaks, Giant Mountain, and Dix Mountain Wildernesses: Bears have been approaching hikers and campers in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, campers in the Roaring Brook Falls area and campers and climbers in the Chapel Pond area. All visitors to these areas are advised to practice proper management of food, trash, and toiletries to prevent negative encounters with bears and creating nuisance bears including:

  • Store ALL food, toiletries, and garbage in bear resistant canisters
  • Bear resistant canisters are required in the Eastern High Peaks and strongly encouraged in the Dix Mountain Wilderness
  • BEAR HANGS DO NOT WORK in this area
  • Cook and eat before dark
  • Cook away from your campsite
  • Don’t leave food unattended
  • Know what to do in a bear encounter
  • Consider carrying bear spray for close encounters with bears

** Avalanche Lake Trail Closure: The trail along Avalanche Lake remains closed through August 25th while repairs to the Hitch-Up Matildas are being made – hikers are not able to pass along the elevated boardwalks (Hitch-Up Matildas) along Avalanche Lake. The head of Avalanche Lake is accessible from the Avalanche Pass Trail, as is the outlet from the Lake Colden end, but through passage is not possible.

Owls Head Trail Closed: The trail to the summit of Owls Head in the town of Keene is closed to public access by the landowners between 4 pm Fridays and 7 am Mondays. The road to the trail, the trailhead, and all but the last 0.1 mile of the trail are located on private lands. The landowner has announced their intention to close the trail for public use at the end of the 2017 hiking season. More about this closure, and a map of the area can be found here.

Garden Parking Fee: A fee of $10 (USD, $13 Canadian) per calendar day (12:01 AM to Midnight) is being assessed for parking at the Garden Lot. The daily fee will continue through the month of October. An attendant will be at the Garden Lot from 1:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Fridays and from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays during this period. Town Employees and DEC Rangers will monitor the lot during the week. The parking fees pay for attendants on weekends, maintenance and winter snowplowing of the Garden, Rooster Comb and Roaring Brook Parking Lots, portable toilets, information kiosks and donations of rescue equipment.

High Peaks Parking Shuttle: The shuttle from the Southwest corner of Marcy Field, off Route 73, to the Garden Parking Lot will resume on Saturday, June 17th, operating on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Sunday, October 15th will be the last day of operation. A fee of $10 (USD, $13 Canadian) will be charged per person for a round trip.

** Lake Arnold and the Feldspar Lean-to: Sections of the trail between Lake Arnold and the Feldspar Lean-to are underwater but passable. Hikers should expect to get their feet wet. This area may not be passable after heavy rains.

** Mountain Bike Trails: Trail stewards responsible for bike trails in the Wilmington-Lake Placid-Saranac Lake area are asking riders to abide by trail closures posted on TrailHUB. Dewey Mountain is reported closed.

Lake Colden – Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and the Indian Pass Trail is impassable due to blowdown.

* Calamity Brook Trail: The high water bridge on the Calamity Trail is unsafe and unusable and should not be crossed. Crossing Calamity Brookis not a problem at this time, but may be difficult during and after moderate to heavy rains. The East River Trail (aka the Opalescent River/Hanging Spear Falls Trail) can also be used to access the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. It is an additional 3.7 miles one-way to reach the Flowed Lands using this route.

Ouluska Brook Bridge: The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Crossing the brook is possible only during low water conditions.

Boreas Ponds Tract: The public can drive 3.2 miles of Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract – as far as the interim parking area created last year. Hikers can walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds; paddlers can portage 2.5 miles to LaBier Flow to reach the ponds. Mountain bikers can ride to the pond.

WESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Including Aldrich Pond Wild Forest, Bog River Complex, Cranberry Lake Wild Forest, Five Ponds & Pepperbox Wildernesses, Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest, William C. Whitney & Round Lake Wilderness
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Lows Upper Dam: A maintenance project is underway at Lows Upper Dam in the Bog River/Lows Lake area in southern St. Lawrence County. Construction activities will impact recreational users of the portage from Hitchins Pond to Lows Lake, as well as private landowners and users of the Sabattis Boy Scout Camp. Work is scheduled to occur Monday through Friday and is expected to last through November 2017. Members of the public wishing to access Hitchins Pond and Lows Lake will continue to launch at Low’s Lower Dam, located near the end of State Highway 421. Recreational users should continue to use the existing designated portage around Low’s Upper Dam. From Hitchins Pond travel northwest past the old homesite; stay within the designated traffic area (delineated with orange construction fence) as you make your way through the work area; and continue to the dock on the right side of the Bog River Flow. Stay within the designated travel corridor at all times while traveling through the work area. Construction activities will not affect vehicular traffic to private land on Lows Lake (Boy Scouts and others) on Saturday and Sunday, but will change traffic patterns during the work week. Authorized vehicles may access private property from NYS Route 421 when the Sabattis Road is not passable.

Five Ponds Wilderness: An 800-foot portion of the Plains Trail (part of the Cranberry 50) has been rerouted to avoid a dangerous log crossing of a beaver dam. The new route has been brushed out and marked with red trail markers. Some blowdown remains in the reroute but the trail is usable. DEC plans to remove the blowdown this fall.

NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Including Grass River Complex, Raquette Boreal Complex, Whitehill Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** Goldmine Conservation Easement: Goldmine Road, town of Parishville, St. Lawrence County, is closed to allow for the construction of a new bridge over Dead Creek on the Goldmine Conservation Easement. The public will not have motorized, or non-motorized, access past the construction site. This includes the trailhead and trail that leads into the southern end of White Hill Wild Forest. Members of the public that wish to access Lilly Pad Pond and Long Pond can continue to do so by foot from the north via the Clear Pond trailhead. The bridge replacement project is expected to take approximately 30 days.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS
Including DeBar Mountain Wild Forest, Kushaqua Tract Easement, Paul Smiths College Easement, Santa Clara Tract Easement, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, St. Regis Canoe Area
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** Eagle Pond: A blue green algae bloom has recently been reported in Eagle Pond in Franklin County. People and pets should not swim or bathe in, or drink, algae-contaminated water, and do not use it in cooking or washing.

DeBar Mountain Wild Forest: The foot bridge on the access trail to Debar Pond has been removed. Debar Pond may now be accessed near the lodge building using the road beyond the gate at the parking area. A new gate is expected to be installed that will allow easier passage of people with boats in the very near future. Trespassing in the lodge or any other building is prohibited.

** Azure Mountain Fire Tower: A crew from the Student Conservation Association has finished painting the Azure Mountain Fire Tower and the fire tower has reopened to the public.

Santa Clara Tract Easement: Vanderwalker Road, between State Route 458 and the East Branch St. Regis River, has brush growing in from the sides of the road and there are number of trees leaning over the road. Pinnacle Road has brush growing in from the sides of the road and there are number of trees leaning over the road.

Kushaqua Tract Easement: There is a deep washout on the North Branch Road. The road remains passable to four wheel drive pickups, SUVs and other high clearance vehicles but not cars.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
Including Chazy Highlands Wild Forest, Lake Champlain Islands Complex, Sable Highlands Tract, Taylor Pond Complex, Wilmington Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** Wilmington Wild Forest: More than 1.5 miles of bike trails, including a new loop opportunity, have been added to the Beaver Brook Trail Network.

Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower: A Fire Tower Steward, sponsored by the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, is staffing the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower Thursday through Monday until the end of August.

SOUTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Including Black River Wild Forest, Fulton Chain Wild Forest, Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, Independence River Wild Forest, Pigeon Lake Wilderness

These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** Black River Wild Forest: The gate for the “Loop Road” on the North Lake Easement Tract has reopened.

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) is no longer flooded by beaver activity. 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.

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: 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 replacing the sign soon.

WEST CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
Including Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Township 19 Easement, Township 20 Easement, Blue Ridge Wilderness, Moose River Plains Complex, Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement, Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, West Canada Lakes Wilderness
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: All three lean-tos on Seventh Lake are fully repaired, work on Lean-to #2 and Lean-to #3 was completed this past spring by Lean2Rescue.

O’Neil Flow Road: Logging operations on the Township 19 Easement Lands will result in increased numbers of logging trucks on O’Neil Flow Road this summer. Roll down vehicle windows, travel slowly, listen for trucks, and move off the road to allow passage of logging trucks. Logging trucks have the right of way. Barker Pond Roadside Campsite will be closed for several weeks due to logging operations in the area. Access to Barker Pond will remain open. Do not block the road when parking. Be prepared to reverse back down Barker Pond Road if you encounter logging trucks.

Wakely Mountain Fire Tower: remains closed until further notice due to safety concerns with the Wakely Mountain Fire Tower. The fire tower was closed to public access in December 2016 due to structural deficiencies.

EAST CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
Including Camp Santanoni Historic Area,Essex Chain Lakes Complex, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, Hudson Gorge Wilderness, Jessup River Wild Forest, Siamese Ponds Wilderness Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Two foot bridges have collapsed. The 55-foot bridge over the East Branch Sacandaga River on the Botheration Pond Loop Trail has collapsed and cannot be crossed. Do not attempt to scramble over it. During low water, rock hopping is possible. A 30-foot bridge on the Puffer Pond Trail over a tributary to the Thirteenth Lake south of the lake collapsed earlier this year and cannot be crossed.

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS
Including Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Lake George Wild Forest, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Split Rock Wild Forest, Lake Champlain
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Lake Champlain: Blue green algae blooms have recently been reported in parts of Lake Champlain, including at Ausable Point Campground (on 8/3); and at the beaches at Port Henry and Bulwagga Bay/Port Henry, which were closed two weeks ago; check with beach authorities for current conditions. People and pets should not swim or bathe in, or drink, algae-contaminated water, and do not use it in cooking or washing.

Hadlock Pond: A blue green algae bloom was reported a week ago in Hadlock Pond in Washington County. People and pets should not swim or bathe in, or drink, algae-contaminated water, and do not use it in cooking or washing.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: The bridge over the Pharaoh Lake Outlet (and dam) has been replaced by Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program Crews.

Lily Pond Road: high axle four wheel drive vehicles are recommended.

** Sleeping Beauty Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Sleeping Beauty Mountain remains closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest.

SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS
Including Ferris Lake Wild Forest, Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Silver Lake Wilderness, Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Caroga Lake Campground: The Caroga Lake Campground in the town of Caroga in Fulton County is open for day use only, 8 am to 8 pm, every Saturday and Sunday through the remainder of the summer. Swimming will be available at the beach, unless a lifeguard is unavailable. Picnic tables are available near the beach. The boat launch can be used to launch row boats, canoes, and kayaks that are available to rent on-site. While a contractor is upgrading the waste water system at the campground, camping is not available. However, portable toilet units are available for day users. DEC plans to open the campground later this summer when the work is completed. The day use area will then also be open daily.

Great Sacandaga Lake – Broadalbin Boat Launch Changes: Parking spots are striped in the main parking area for vehicles with trailers; Parking spots are striped in the auxiliary parking area for vehicles with canoes, kayaks, and other small boats on roof racks; Signs are installed identifying where parking is allowed and where parking is prohibited; An aquatic invasive species inspection site for boats and trailers is located at the access roadway to the auxiliary parking area; and a boat and trailer decontamination wash site will be located in the southwestern corner of the parking area. DEC plans to install bollards (posts) along the access road and on the periphery of the boat launch site to ensure vehicles travel and park within the boundaries of the boat launch site; bollards along the access roadway and on the periphery of the auxiliary parking area; and a trail between the auxiliary parking area and the boat launch ramp. Only vehicles with trailers may park in the main parking area of the boat launch and are restricted to parking in designated parking spots only. Vehicles carrying canoes, kayaks, and small boats on a roof rack or by other means must use the auxiliary parking area and are restricted to parking in designated parking spots. When the boat launch steward is present, all boats and trailers will be inspected. Due to the presence of spiny water flea in the lake, boaters leaving the lake that plan to boat on another lake within five days should have their boats decontaminated before leaving the boat launch. Boaters are encouraged to use other boat launches on the lake when parking is not available. A list of Great Sacandaga Lake boat launches is available on the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/32533.html.

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DEC Trail Supporter PatchBe 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; active alerts are updated by noon Friday here.

This weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is compiled by Adirondack Almanack founder and editor John Warren for publication each Thursday afternoon. John’s condensed version for radio can be heard Friday mornings on WSLP Lake Placid, and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

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.


Editorial Staff

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices. To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




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