The Outdoor Conditions Report also runs each Friday at Saratoga Wire.
** indicates new or revised items.
** EARLY SPRING CONDITIONS: We’ve been experiencing chilly, windy, and unsettled spring weather this week, and after a warming on Friday, it looks like that will be with us this weekend. Temperatures remain below normal for this time of year, Saturday and Sunday highs are forecast to be in the upper 30s at higher elevations. Late winter conditions continue at higher elevations, where conditions are a mixture of snow and ice, and snowshoes are still necessary. 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:Snow is patchy to nonexistent in the woods at lower and middle elevations where trails are generally muddy throughout the central Adirondacks, and less so on the periphery where snow has already melted. Higher elevations still have snow and ice, but the conditions there are variable. Drainages and water crossing have no snow or ice. Snowshoes may be needed at higher elevations. There is still plenty of 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, this will be the case at higher elevations into early May at least. 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: Expect access roads and trails to be muddy, especially in low-lying areas. Now 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 where trails are much drier and firmer.
** 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 above normal, even for this time of year.
** WATER TEMPERATURES: The Lake Champlain water temperature is about 39 degrees; The temperature at Warner Bay on Lake George is about 49 degrees.
** LAKE ICE IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED SAFE: there are been several rescues and other ice incidents this week. Ice should no longer be considered safe.
** DOWNHILL SKIING REPORT: Daily skiing and snowboarding has ended around the region, however Gore and Whiteface are planning to open for one last weekend, weather permitting, and be sure to call ahead.
** CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING SEASON OVER: Cross country skiing has ended for the season.
** BACKCOUNTRY SKIIING SEASON OVER: Backcountry skiing has ended for the season.
MUD SEASON 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.
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: Some ice is still present on lakes and ponds but many of the rivers are opening up and being paddled. Water levels are seasonally higher and water temperatures cold. Paddlers should use caution, and be on the lookout for debris carried by spring freshets. 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: Moderate
The fire danger rating is Moderate for areas without snow cover. During Spring conditions 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 twio weeks ago 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
** Snowshoes Needed: High elevation trails will require snowshoes for at least another week or two.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.