The Outdoor Conditions Report also runs each Friday at Saratoga Wire.
** indicates new or revised items.
** EARLY SPRING CONDITIONS: After a warm spell that seems to have mostly ended the sap season, colder stormier weather returned this week and is expected to continue through the weekend. Friday’s temperatures are expected to be about 10 degrees below normal, with some gusty winds along the western slopes. Summits are expected to be a mixed bag with below freezing temperatures at night, wind chills in the lower teens in the morning, and highs only in the mid-30s during the day on Saturday and Sunday. Remember that conditions can change suddenly with weather and accidents happen so be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always carry a flashlight, first aid kit, food, water, extra clothing, and map and compass and know how to use them.
** SNOW COVER AND TRAIL CONDITIONS:There is no snow in open areas and snow is patchy to nonexistent in the woods at lower elevations. Slush and mud may be present in lower and middle elevations. Middle elevations have little to no snow in open areas with some snow in the woods, where snowshoes may still be necessary in more sheltered areas. Higher elevations still have plenty of snow, but the conditions there are variable. Trails may be icy or crusty in the morning and soft in the afternoon. Drainages and water crossing have no snow or ice. Skis or snowshoes are still necessary at higher elevations. There is still deep snow at the Lake Colden interior cabin.
** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS: Wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches the use of snowshoes or skis is required in the High Peaks and strongly encouraged throughout the Adirondacks. The use of snowshoes prevents falls, avoids injuries and eases travel on snow. “Post-holing” takes much more energy, ruins trails and endangers other users.
** MUD SEASON HAS BEGUN: Expect access roads and trails to be muddy, especially in low-lying areas. No would be a good time to seek recreation opportunities in less visited, and drier areas of the Adirondack Park such as lower elevation areas, and areas in the Lake George and Lake Champlain drainages.
** MAPLE SAP RUN ENDS: Maple Sugaring ended this week. This year’s sugaring season looks to be a good one. Some early sugar shacks began boiling during a late January thaw, but most began in mid-February. Some reports indicate that this week’s run produced an unusually dark syrup, even for a late season run.
** WATERS RUNNING HIGHER: Waters are running seasonally high, with rivers and streams in the Western Adirondacks, including the Oswagatchie, Beaver, Independence, and Black Rivers, running well above normal for even for this time of year.
** RAFTING SEASON BEGINS: White water rafting season began on Saturday, with three rafting companies (Adirondack River Outfitters, Whitewater Challengers and Beaver Brook Outfitters) on the Hudson River. Additional rafting companies will be running this weekend. The rafting season runs through to mid-October. More than 10 rafting companies run the Hudson, beginning on the Indian River from the state launch site off Chain Lakes Road and ending in North River.
** NO ICE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED SAFE: Ice should no longer be considered safe. Several people and various vehicles have gone through ice recently.
** DOWNHILL SKIING REPORT: Skiing and snowboarding continues on spring conditions at Gore and Whiteface, which closed this week (including Friday, but will reopen on Saturday and Sunday. Skiing and boarding at all other downhill areas has ended for the season.
** CROSS-COUNTRY SKI REPORT: Cross country skiing has ended for the season, however, the road to Great Camp Santanoni is still reported skiable.
** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: Approaches to backcountry ski areas have deteriorated and backcountry skiing can no longer be recommended, although a few die-hards will no doubt be out beyond Marcy Dam where conditions are reportedly still skiable above the 50 meter bridge.
** ROAD CLOSURES: DEC has shut the gates on roads typically closed during mud season. Roads reopen when conditions dry out, typically in mid May. See a complete list of road closures below, sorted by region.
** SNOWMOBILING REPORT: The snowmobiling season has ended. Gates to local club and DEC trails have been closed.
** CLIMBING ROUTES CLOSED: Ice climbing has come to an end, and DEC has closed all climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch, at the Upper and Lower Washbowl cliffs in the Chapel Pond area, and most routes on the Main Face of Pok-O-Moonshine to allow for the nesting of Peregrine Falcons. Once DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcon pairs have established a nest site at these locations, climbing routes that don’t interfere with the nesting activity will be reopened.
** PADDLING CONDITIONS: Ice is still present on lakes and ponds but many of the rivers are opening up and some hardy paddlers are beginning to get out on the waters. Ice remains along shorelines and in backwaters. Water levels are rising and water temperatures are cold. Paddling is not encouraged at this time. Paddlers should be patient and wait for better conditions. Those that are not patient should at least be cautious. Don’t paddle alone, wear clothing that will keep you warm and dry and always wear a personal floatation device (PFD).
** LIFE JACKETS (PFDs) REQUIRED: State law requires life jackets be worn by anyone on a boat less than 21 feet in length between November 1st and May 1st. Cold water temperatures can cause hyperventilation, hypothermia and weakening of limbs all which could lead to drowning if a person is not wearing a Personal Floatation Device.
** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: 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: Low.
While the fire danger rating is low it is the Spring Fire season when fire danger can change quickly. Dry leaves, grass, twigs and other dead vegetation can quickly dry allowing fires to ignite easily and spread rapidly. Be careful with campfires.
** WASHINGTON COUNTY BRUSH FIRE: An unattended campfire burned out of control last weekend over nearly 20 acres of land in Washington County. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished. Also, the state’s temporary burn ban is in effect until May 14.
GENERAL BACKCOUNTRY NOTICES
ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, BE PREPARED: 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.
FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT: 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. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.
PRACTICE ‘LEAVE NO TRACE’: 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.
KEEP DOGS LEASHED: 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.
RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY
These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation trails and facilities around the Adirondacks. ** indicates new or revised items this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks
** Skiing and Snowshoeing: High elevation trails still have snow for skiing or snowshoeing.
** Calamity Brook: The Calamity Brook Trail from the Upper Works to Flowed Lands is skiable, with some small patches of bare ground, as well as, ice, and soft snow.
** Adirondac Loj – Mary Dam: Snow on the Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam Trail and the first part of the Algonquin Trail are thin – snowshoes or skis are not necessary on that trail.
** Rock Climbing: All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl Cliffs and Upper Washbowl Cliffs near Chapel Pond, on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch are closed at this time. The rock climbing routes are closed to allow Peregrine Falcons to establish nesting sites. Once DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcon pairs have established a nest site at these locations, climbing routes that don’t interfere with the nesting activity will be reopened.
** Wilmington Wild Forest: Snowmobiles trails are closed for the season.
Adirondak Loj Closure: The Adirondak Loj will be closed April 1st through May 2nd for renovations to the front desk and kitchen. Phone lines will still be open for reservations. The Wilderness Campground and cabins will remain open, but meals will not be available at the Loj during the closure.
Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam: Snow on the Adirondack Loj to Marcy Dam Trail and the first part of the Algonquin Trail are thin – snowshoes or skis are not necessary on that trail, but will be necessary elsewhere.
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake
** Adirondack Canoe Route (Central Portion): Lakes and backwaters still have ice. Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold.
** Jessup River Wild Forest: There is no road access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead parking areas until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.
** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm: All snowmobile trails are closed. Mud gates along designated public motor vehicle roads are closed until at least early May. Closed roads include: Robbs Creek, Fly Creek, Long Level, and East (or Elm Lake ) roads within the Speculator Tree Farm area. The Perkins Clearing, Mud, Old Military, and Jessup River roads within the Perkins Clearing area are also closed. There is no road access to the Cisco Brook, Pillsbury Mountain and Spruce Lake trailhead parking areas until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.
** West Canada Lakes Wilderness: There is no road access to the Spruce Lake Trailhead parking area until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.
Moose River Plains: The Limekiln Lake and Cedar River gates are shut and the Moose River Plains road system is closed to snowmobiles and motor vehicles at this time. Once mud season has ended and the roads are suitable, those roads designated for motor vehicle access will be reopened.
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co
** Santanoni Historic Preserve: Snow conditions still allow for skiing to the Main Camp, there are some small patch’s of bare ground, as well as, ice and soft snow.
** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: DEC will replace the roof on the Milman Pond Lean-to in the town of Dresden this spring. Materials for this project are being stored in the lean-to. Please leave these materials in the lean-to and use the other half of the floor space if you are camping there.
** Black Mountain: The gate at the Black Mountain Trailhead in the town of Dresden on the road to the Minogue Camp is closed for mud season. The gate will be reopened when the road is sufficiently dry to prevent damage from motor vehicle use.
** Gates in the Shelving Rock and Pilot knob areas are closed for mud season, as is the Dacy Clearing Road. They will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.
** Mount Tom State Forest: Notch Lane Road in Mount Tom State Forest in town of White Creek, Washington County is gated closed for mud season. The gate will be reopened when the road is sufficiently dry to prevent damage from motor vehicle use.
** Gay Pond Road: Gay Pond Road in the Town of Warrensburg portion of the Hudson River Special Management Ares is closed for mud season, it will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.
** Hudson River Recreation Area: All roads in the Hudson River Special Management Area are wet, muddy and in poor condition. Motor vehicles are discouraged from traveling on any of these roads during mud season. Motor vehicles may become stuck. Tire ruts from motor vehicle traffic will cause the road to be unsuitable for safe motor vehicle passage for a longer period of time.
** Horicon: The gates and access roads to Lilly Pond and Long Pond in the Town of Horicon are closed for mud season. The roads and gates will reopen when the roads have dried and are suitable for motor vehicle traffic.
** Palmer Pond: The gate and access road to Palmer Pond in the Town of Chester are closed for mud season. The road and gate will reopen when the road has dried and are suitable for motor vehicle traffic.
** Siamese Ponds Wilderness: There is no road access to the Cisco Brook Trailhead parking area until the end of mud season when these roads will open. The average opening date is around May 15th.
** Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: All gates are now closed in the Newcomb area on the Newcomb to Blue Mountain Snowmobile Trail to include the Green County Line Gate.
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
** Adirondack Canoe Route (Northern Portion): Lakes and backwaters still have ice. Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold.
** DeBar Mountain Wild Forest: Gates on snowmobile trails have been closed.
** Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The gate on Red Road on Terry Mountain is closed for mud season, the gate and road will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable to motor vehicle traffic.
** Climbing: All rock climbing routes on the Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch and at the Main Face at Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain are closed except “Opposition”, “A Womb with a View” and all the routes in between as described on pages 39-45 of Adirondack Rock – A Rock Climber’s Guide. The rock climbing routes are closed to allow Peregrine Falcons to establish nesting sites. Once DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcon pairs have established a nest site at these locations, climbing routes that don’t interfere with the nesting activity will be reopened.
Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Public access to the Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands, including Madawaska Flow, from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area.
General warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Additional detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation information 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.