Thursday, May 31, 2012

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (May 31)

This weekly Adirondack conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack also publishes weekly a Adirondack Hunting and Fishing Report.


** indicates new or revised items.


Some trails are wet and muddy, or will be this weekend, especially in the Southeastern Adirondacks where quite a bit of rain fell this week. Conditions can change suddenly with weather so be prepared and carry a flashlight, first aid kit, food, water and extra clothing. Conditions on summits are more extreme.

Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region. NWS Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3,000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** Fire Danger: MODERATE
Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water.

The levels of rivers and streams throughout the region are normal. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.

Ausable River (in Wilmington) water temperature is in the upper-60s.
Mirror Lake water temperature is in the upper-60s.
Lake Champlain (at Burlington) water temperature is 56 degrees.
Lake George (at Warner Bay) water temperature is 66 degrees.

The Vermont Air National Guard (VANG), 158th Fighter Wing, Burlington, Vermont is seeking public comments about training activities over the Adirondacks by F-35 aircraft that may be assigned to VANG’s 158th Fighter Wing. The US Air Force is accepting public comment on the F‐35A Operational Basing Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) until June 1, 2012. Copies of the DEIS, and Executive Summary of the DEIS and other information regarding the F-35 Aircraft are online Those wishing to provide comments may send them to: Nicholas Germanos, HQ ACC/A7PS, 129 Andrews St., Suite 332, Langley AFB, VA 23665‐2769.


The following rock climbing routes are closed to protect peregrine falcon nest sites: All routes at Moss Cliff and Labor Day Wall in Wilmington Notch, all routes on Upper Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond area (all routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliff have reopened), and all routes on the Main Face Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain except routes described on pages 26-82 of Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber’s Guide [More].

“Bug Season” has begun in the Adirondacks. Now until the end of summer Black Flies, Mosquitoes, Deer Flies and/or Midges (No-see-ums) will be present. Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and long pants; rap a rubber band around sleeves at the wrist; tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks; pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick and use an insect repellant.

With the arrival of warmer weather, New York’s black bear population is in motion after their winter hibernation. Black bears will take advantage of readily available food sources, including bird feeders and garbage. To prevent encounters with bears, you should never intentionally feed them, and you should discourage them from seeking food from sources near your home or camp. The use of bear canisters is required by campers in the Eastern High Peaks from April 1 to November 30 and recommended throughout the Adirondacks. Pack all food, toiletries and garbage in canisters. DEC has issued a Guidance to Discourage Black Bear Encounters.

Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern 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 leased in most areas for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and as a courtesy to fellow hikers.

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have been ticketing violators of the firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats. White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states.



Blowdown Report: Blowdown has now been removed from the Northville-Placid Trail with the exception of West Canada Creek north to Sucker Brook Trail and from Tarbell Rd. trailhead north to Shattuck Clearing. Those areas still have some major blowdowns but are passable. The rest of the trail may have a few blowdowns but in general is clear.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers and may be impossible this weekend. Bridge replacement is expected now expected begin this spring and be completed by fall of 2012.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond lean-to, a bridge is out that crosses Chick-a-dee Creek in the middle of a former lumber camp clearing. It may be possible to cross on the remains of the bridge in low water situations.


** Water levels are normal, and water temperatures are in the 60s.

Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

Bear Canisters Required: The use of bear resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

Hurricane Irene Damage to Trails: Last summer Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc in the backcountry in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness creating many new slides and damaging trails and other infrastructure. While considerable efforts have been made to repair the trail system, hikers should be attentive as trails may not look the same as they did when they were last hiked or as described in guidebooks and maps. Some bridges are missing and trails have been rerouted. Low water crossings have been created near the location of missing bridges. Trails may be hard to recognize and drainages may be mistaken for trails. The ability to navigate by map and compass is essential. Some trails remain closed. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant. DEC updated closed trail map can be found online [pdf]. Full coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is available here.

Brook Crossing at Marcy Dam: The footbridge over Marcy Dam was washed away during Hurricane Irene. The low water crossing below the dam may not be passable during high water events. People uncomfortable rock hopping across Marcy Brook can use the Marcy Dam Truck Trail from South Meadows Trailhead to access the trails on the east of the brook.

** Avalanche Pass Trail: Heavy cobbles, debris or mud can be found at various locations between Marcy Dam and Avalanche Lake is quite deep in spots. Hikers may need to leave the trail to avoid problem areas.

** Giant Mountain Slides:  The approach to Eagle Slide (and others in the area) was significantly affected by Hurricane Irene, the herd path approach between the Bottle Slide and Eagle Slide drainages is no longer recommended. Instead, follow Roaring Brook to the base of the Eagle Slide. There are some trees downed in the brook. [Hat Tip: Adirondack Rock]

** Colden Trap Dyke:  The Trap Dyke was changed considerably during Hurricane Irene. 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.

Jay Mountain Road: Jay Mountain Road is open but the bridge on the Carlott Road, one of the roads to access the Jay Mountain Road from the southeast, is closed.

Connery Pond Road: Connery Pond Road has been reopened for motor vehicle usage. However, hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are encouraged to park at the paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road.

Corey’s Road: Corey’s Road is open. Visitors should use caution and be aware of logging trucks. Vehicles should park at designated parking areas and well off the road to avoid blocking the road. Vehicles blocking the road will be towed.

Deer Brook Flume – Snow Mountain: The low water route through the Deer Brook Flume on the Deer Brook Trail to Snow Mountain remains impassable due to severe erosion.

Duck Hole: The Roaring Brook Bridge near Duck Hole is out. One side of the Duck Hole Dam has washed away and the pond has dewatered. The bridge over the dam had been previously removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water. Note: This affects the Bradley Pond Trail and not the Northville Placid Trail.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve Closed Trails: The first (northernmost) cross over trail between the East River Trail and the West River Trail in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve remains closed. This affects access to the W.A. White Trail to Lower Wolf Jaw. The alternative is to approach via the Deer Brook trailhead (although not through Deer Brook Flume, see note below). The bridge will be rebuilt next spring a few yards downstream. The other four cross over trails and bridges are open and can be used to travel between the East River and West River Trails.

Johns Brook Valley: The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost remains closed due to landslides. The opening of this trail will be evaluated this spring. Due to the significant erosion caused by Ore Bed Brook the Ore Bed Brook Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics) is open but may not be recognizable. Pay close attention to trail markers and watch for reroutes.

Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Pass Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass remains closed. The opening of this trail will be evaluated this spring.

Dix Mountain Wilderness- Clear Pond: The Clear Pond Gate is open and the Elk Lake Trailhead can be accessed by motor vehicles.

Elk Lake-Marcy Trail: The bridge is out in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail. Also there is light blowdown between Marcy Swamp and Panther Gorge Lean-to.

Klondike Trail: The bridge near South Meadow Road on the Klondike Trail is out. The Mr. Van Trail and the Marcy Truck Trail will need to be used as a detour to reach South Meadow Road. The Mr. Van Trail is clear of blowdown between the lean-to and the Klondike Notch Trail, however there are a number of bridges out.

Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the trail between Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold.

Indian Pass: The Indian Pass Trail is clear of blowdown to the Wall Face Bridge, but the Wall Face Bridge is out and the Henderson Bridge is damaged. All bridges encountered on the Indian Pass Trail from Upper Works are gone, the trail has been rerouted to low water crossing in many locations.

Calkins Creek Horse Trail: The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.

Dix Mountain Wilderness: The Carry Trail from Adirondack Mountain Reserve to the Colvin Range Trail contains some blowdown. The Colvin Range Trail from the summit Blake Peak south to Pinnacle and beyond remains closed.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain from 9N just past the lean-to.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Blowdown remains the McKenzie Mountain Trail above the intersection with the Jack Rabbit trail. The Connery Pond Truck Trail has been closed for mud season.

West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

Black River Wild Forest: The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed with no current timetable for reopening (though it is likely to reopen this year).

Eagle Cave in Jessup River Wild Forest: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

Jessup River Wild Forest: Gates and roads are closed for mud season. Hikers can still travel past gates and on muddy roads. The roads will be reopened for motor vehicle use as soon as they have dried and firmed up.

Moose River Plains: The Limekiln Gate and the Cedar River Gate are now open and the main Moose River Plains Road is open to motor vehicles. The Otter Brook Road is only open as far as the bridge over the South Branch of the Moose River at this time. The road will be open to the Indian River Road at a later time. The Indian River Road will be open later as well, but only to Squaw Lake where it will be gated in accordance with the management plan for Moose River Plains Complex.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: All designated public motor vehicle roads are open. DEC Operations staff have finished maintenance work on the 31+ miles of designated public motor vehicle roads. Access to destinations like Spruce Lake, Pillsbury Mountain, and Cisco Brook trailheads are once again available.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The Outlet Bay Lean-to on Raquette Lake is damaged and in poor condition from a tree fallen on its roof.

Silver Lake Wilderness: There is heavy blowdown on the Northville Placid Trail between Benson and Silver Lake.

West Canada Lakes: Two through hikers on the Northvillle Placid Trail report plenty of blowdown north of Spruce Lake and also from Stephens Pond to Lake Durant.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin next spring.

The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

Hoffman Notch Wilderness: The bridge over Hoffman Notch Brook on north end of Hoffman Notch Trail has been washed out. A section of Big Pond Trail approximately .5 miles in length near East Branch Trout Brook has not been cleared of blow down yet and will provide obstacle for hikers/skiers. There is no bridge over East Branch Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail.

Western Lake George Wild Forest: Gates are reopened to motor vehicle access for people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities on Pikes Beach Road, Schofield Flats Road, and Bear Slide Access Route. Darlings Ford and Buttermilk Road Extension are washed out and closed to all motor vehicle traffic. Gay Pond Road remains closed for mud season at this time.

Tongue Mountain: Trails on Tongue Mountain are clear and passable, thought there are small, wet spots in some places. Signs at the intersection of Lake Trail (blue) and Summit Trail (red), coming from Clay Meadows, are missing, replacements have been ordered. Signs at the top of Summit Trail (red) and Ridge Trail (blue) have been replaced.

Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing, Gay Pond, Jabe Pond and Shelving Rock roads are all open motor vehicle traffic.

Crane Mountain: The Crane Mountain Trail Head is accessible from the south by car and truck by way of Ski Hi Road via Putnam Cross Road. The south end of Ski Hi Road is washed out but Putnam Cross Road bypasses the washout. The north access by way of Crane Mountain Road is washed out and not accessible with any vehicle.

Hammond Pond Wild Forest: A bridge over Crowfoot Brook on the Crowfoot Trail is out. The bridge over the Berrymill Brook on the Hammond Pond Trail is out. The Lindsey Brook Trail remains closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

Hudson River Recreation Area: A few roads in the Hudson River Recreation area are open but have significant washouts and should only be accessed by 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles, these include: River Road; Buttermilk Road north of the Town line; and Gay Pond Road before Campsite #13. The following roads or sections of roads remain closed to motor vehicles due to damage caused by Hurrican Irene, they are passable on foot: Buttermilk Road Extension north of the Gay Pond Road and the access road to Darlings Ford Waterway Access Site.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: The trails along the northern and western sides of Pharaoh Lake (the two trails between the Lake and Glidden Marsh) have extensive blowdown in the sections along the lake. The Springhill Pond Trail has extensive, large-sized blowdown along the entire length from parking area on West Hague Road to Pharaoh Lake. The Goose Pond Trail is in fair condition. The Grizzle Ocean Trail is clear to southern end of Putnam Pond. The Blue Hill Trail has larger sized blowdown (greater than 2 feet diameter)and some minor trail washout from streams jumping banks. The trail is very wet with flooding in some areas deeper than the top of hiking boots. The Sucker Brook Horse Trail contains extensive blowdown and is need of brushing out. The bridge over Wolf Pond Outlet on the East Shore Pharaoh Lake Trail was replaced. There is a short reroute between the bridge and the intersection for the Swing Trail. The Glidden Marsh-Pharaoh Lake Trail on the north side of the lake has been moved up hill from the lake. Follow the Blue Trail Markers.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: A reroute has been constructed around the original beaver flooded trail segment of the West Puffer Pond Trail which travels around the south side of Chimney Mountain and continues past the John Pond Crossover Trail. The trails from the Old Farm Trailhead to Hour Pond Cut-off Trail and back to the Thirteenth Lake Trailhead has been cleared of blowdown.

Eagle Cave: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave until April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

Boreas River – Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: DEC has closed the campsites along the Northwoods Club Road near the bridge over the Boreas River due to the numerous dead and hazardous trees present in that area. The hazard trees will be removed from the heavily used site and the site will be rehabilitated to allow parking and day use. New campsites will be designated at other locations near the Boreas River.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Spur Trail between West Stony Creek Road and Baldwin Springs has extensive blowdown. There is substantial blowdown on the Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake beyond that to the east Stony Creek bridge; blowdown continues up the trail to Wilcox Lake. Mud Pond Road has been cleared of trees to the Mud Pond Trail Head, due to washouts it is recommended that it be used by trucks only. There are multiple trees down on the Pumpkin Hollow Road at the Wilcox Lake Trailhead preventing access to the Wilcox Lake Trail, the Murphy Lake Trail and the Pine Orchard Trail. The bridge over a small stream just north of Fish Ponds on the Bartman Trail is out. The bridge over Georgia Creek on the Cotter Brook Trail is under water due to beaver activity as is the Pine Orchard Trail .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. The Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake. During low water conditions crossing can be made by rock hopping. The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet and is also flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake.

Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

** Meacham Lake Campground: Meacham Lake Campground & Day Use Area off Route 30 in Town of Duane, Franklin County is now open. The campground had been closed for a construction rehabilitation project that finished ahead of schedule.

Phase 1 of Saranac River Trail Open: Phase 1 of the Saranac River Trail, a trail hoped to one day reached from the Plattsburgh Waterfront to the Town of Saranac, has opened. The first finished leg, a paved section from George Angell Drive near Plattsburgh High School to the Saranac Street Bridge, is hoped to walking and bicycling access across the city. Work on the trail began in 2010, but supporters have been pushing for a countywide trail system trail that connects along the Saranac River for many years. State funds were contributed in 2005 to fund a feasibility study; state transportation grants and and city monies supported the project. [Hat Tip]

Lewis Preserve WMA: The Brandy Brook has jumped its bank creating a braided stream channel across the main foot trail adjacent to the existing foot bridge. Users should use caution while attempting to cross this new stream channel as it may be deep and swift moving.

Kings Bay WMA: A section of the access road to the parking area off Point Au Fer Road has washed out. The damaged road is still passable but very narrow. The washed out section is marked with an orange barrel at each end.

Chazy Lake Boat Launch: The Chazy Lake Boat Launch is essentially unusable due to the water level draw down by the Town of Dannemora. The concrete ramp ends several yards from the water’s edge.

Lyon Mountain – Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The re-route of the top section of the Lyon Mountain Trail is complete and the trail is clearly signed and marked. Hikers should use the new trail and avoid the old trail which is not maintained and is in poor condition due to erosion.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The road accessing the Fishhole Pond fishing and waterway access site is now open. All other gates and roads are closed to public motor vehicle access at this time due to mud season. The roads will reopen when they have dried and firmed up. Accessible campsites #1-3 on the Barnes Pond Road are available to for use and the privy on campsite #2 has been repaired.

Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): The conservation easement lands are open to public recreational use, including hunting. Leasing of hunting and recreational camps on these conservation easement lands will continue under a new agreement between DEC and the landowner.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Gates on Little Clear Pond Road, Connery Pond Road, Lake Clear Camp Road (the road access to St. Germain Pond), and Moose Pond Road in the Town of St. Armand have been reopened. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road.

St. Regis Canoe Area: Ice on lakes and pond is out or very thin – do not travel on ice. A section of the canoe carry about half way between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers. This will required a short paddle across the beaver pond. Significant work on campsites in the Canoe Area was recently completed. A new webpage has been created to provide information including maps and recreational opportunities.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest – Poke-O-Moonshine: The Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower will be open Thursdays through Mondays beginning June 15. The fire tower is staffed by a steward through a cooperative program of the Friends of the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower and the DEC. Also, note the climbing closures above.

** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: DEC has release a Draft Unit Management Plan for the Taylor Pond Wild Forest. Public comment is being accepted until June 22. More information is available online.

Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road is now open for motor vehicle usage. Do not block the gate at the end of the parking lot which provides access to private lands beyond Lake Lila.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave has been reopened to the public following the expiration of the cave closing order on March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. DEC is considering whether to close all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population. It’s best to stay out of caves at this time.

Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC 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 will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

Related Stories

Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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