** indicates new or revised items.
** LATE SPRING CONDITIONS: Warm and wet weather moved into the region this week but forecasters are calling for a fine Memorial Day weekend in the upper 50s and 60s on Monday. Nighttime temperatures on Saturday and Sunday will likely dip into the 30s at higher elevations and colder sheltered valleys. Remember that conditions can change suddenly with weather and unintended accidents happen so always 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.
** MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CROWDS: Trailhead parking lots and interior campsites will reach capacity in popular areas of the Adirondack Park, especially in the High Peaks, Old-Forge-Inlet corridor, and the Lake George and Lake Champlain areas. Plan accordingly and seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Park to avoid crowds.
** TRAIL CONDITIONS: Snow and ice remain above about about 3,500 feet where trails are sloppy and susceptible to damage and so should be avoided. Recent rains and the forecast for showers throughout the weekend means trails will be wet and muddy. Water levels may be high; low water crossings may be unpassable and trails along waters may be flooded. Wear appropriate footwear for hiking through wet and muddy areas. Stay on the trail and hike through muddy areas to avoid widening the trails or creating “herd paths”.
** AVOID TRAILS ABOVE 3,000 FEET: DEC is still advising hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet to protect the trails and surrounding vegetation, which are very vulnerable at this time of year. Melting snow saturates thin soils found on the steep slopes of the mountains and much of the vegetation growing in high elevations is surviving on the edge of existence. Hikers can cause severe erosion of trails and significant damage to vegetation. Steep, wet and muddy trails are also very slippery. Hikers are asked to hike in lower elevation areas until the trails have dried up. A list of trails to avoid is located here.
** SNOW AND ICE ON SUMMITS: Lower and middle elevations trails are clear of snow but elevations above about 3,500 feet still have some snow and ice.
** INCREASED BEAR ACTIVITY: Bears are becoming active in the backcountry. The use of bear-resistant canisters to store all food, toiletries and waste is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.
** BITING INSECTS: Now until the end of summer Black Flies, Mosquitoes, Deer Flies and/or Midges (No-see-ums) will be present. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: Wear light colored clothing; Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, and tuck shirts into pants; Button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist; Tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick; and Use an insect repellant with DEET, follow label directions
** WATERS RUNNING AT NORMAL LEVELS: Although waters are currently running at normal levels for this time of year, snow-melt continues in the High Peaks, and a flash flood watch has been issued through Friday. Storms at this time of year can quickly raise the level of rivers and streams – watch weather reports closely.
** LOCAL WATER TEMPERATURES: The temperature off the dock at Mirror Lake is in the lower 60s. The Ausable River is in the upper 50s; Lake Champlain water temperature has fallen to about 50 degrees; and the temperature at Warner Bay on Lake George has fallen to about 55 degrees.
** SAFE BOATING WEEK: Safe Boating Week (May 18 – May 24, 2013) is a reminder to recreational boaters to know their risks, learn the rules, and be prepared while boating this summer. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were more than 4,000 boating accidents, including 758 deaths, in 2011. Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were reported as not wearing a life jacket. At this time of year hypothermia can become a significant threat to survival even while wearing a life jacket. More information on boating safely can be found online. DEC also maintains a Boating webpage with information about boating access and safety, invasive species, and more.
** OLD MILITARY ROAD DETOUR: Road construction on Old Military Road, which connects Route 73 and Route 86, should be completed on Friday. Vehicles may still be required to detour through the village of Lake Placid during the day Friday.
** SOME SEASONAL ROADS REOPENING: DEC has begun reopening gates on some roads typically closed during mud season. Roads reopen when conditions dry out. See a complete list of road closures below, sorted by region.
** SOME CLIMBING ROUTES REMAIN CLOSED: DEC has closed all climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch, at the Lower Washbowl cliffs in the Chapel Pond area, routes on the Main Face of Pok-O-Moonshine between and including Shark Week and Lichenstorm, and routes on the Main Wall of Shelving Rock from Snake Charmer to Infinity Crack. DEC has reopened Upper Washbowl cliffs to climbing. If you observe a peregrine falcon exhibiting defensive or distressed behavior while climbing, please descend immediately and report your observations to the DEC Region 5 Wildlife Office at 518-897-1291. Closed climbing routes will reopen once the young falcons have fledged which is typically by August 1.
** 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
The fire danger rating is LOW, however the eastern half of the Adirondack Park is still categorized as abnormally dry by the US Drought Monitor. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. Numerous wildfires have reported around the Adirondack region in recent weeks. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished.
** NEW STATE LANDS HEARINGS SET: The Adirondack Park Agency plans to hold eight hearings around the state to explain options for managing 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands and up 24,200 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve. The agency also will gather input from the public on the management and use of the lands. The hearings will begin on June 12 in Ray Brook. More information about the hearings can be found here. All the Almanack‘s coverage of the new state lands can be found here.
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.
** DON’T DISTURB WILDLIFE: The DEC reminds New Yorkers to keep their distance and not to disturb newborn fawns or other young wildlife as many animals are in the peak season for giving birth. It is not unusual to see a young animal that appears abandoned. Finding a fawn deer lying by itself is also fairly common. Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are helpless and need assistance for their survival, however, in nearly all cases this is a mistake and typically human interaction does more damage than good. Those that see a fawn or other newborn wildlife should enjoy their encounter but keep it brief, maintain some distance and do not attempt to touch the animal.
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 revised items this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks
** Snow and Ice on Summits: Snow and ice remains at elevations above about 3,500.
** Muddy Trails Advisory: Hikers are advised to avoid trails above 3,000 feet to protect the trails and surrounding vegetation which are very vulnerable at this time of year. Melting snow saturates thin soils found on the steep slopes of the mountains and much of the vegetation growing in high elevations is surviving on the edge of existence. Hikers can cause severe erosion of trails and significant damage to vegetation. Steep, wet and muddy trails are also very slipper. Hikers are asked to hike in lower elevation areas until the trails have dried up.
** Expect Memorial Day Weekend Crowds: Trailhead parking lots and interior campsites in the Eastern High Peaks will reach capacity on Friday. Plan accordingly and seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve to avoid crowds.
** Garden Parking Lot / Marcy Field Shuttle: The town of Keene is staffing The Garden parking lot and a $7/day fee is being collected 7 days a week. The shuttle from the remote parking near Marcy Field is running.
Clear Pond Gate: The gate at Clear Pond on the Elk Lake Road has reopened, providing motor vehicle access to the Elk Lake-Mt. Marcy and Dix Mtn.-Hunter Pass trailheads.
South Meadow Road: South Meadow Road has reopened.
Connery Pond – Whiteface Landing: The Connery Pond Gate for access to Conery Pond and the Whiteface Landing Trail is open and motor vehicle access is allowed. However, 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.
** Old Military Road Detour: Road construction on Old Military Road, which connects Route 73 and Route 86, should be completed on Friday. Vehicles may still be required to detour through the village of Lake Placid during the day Friday.
Western High Peaks – Corey’s Road: The Corey’s Road Gate is open and the road is open to motor vehicle traffic.
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake
** Adirondack Canoe Route (Central Portion): Water levels are running below normal for this time of year; water temperatures are in the upper 40s and lower 50s. 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).
Jessup River Wild Forest: Road access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead parking areas has reopened.
** Perkins Clearing – Speculator Tree Farm Easement: All Town, Village and DEC roads designated for motor vehicle use are now open including the town of Lake Pleasant’s Perkins Clearing Road and the Village of Speculator’s Elm Lake Road. Road access to the Cisco Brook, Pillsbury Mountain and Spruce Lake trailhead parking areas is now available. The road to the Spruce Lake Trailhead is in good shape. Elm Lake Road is open and access to the Cisco Brook Trailhead is in good shape.
** Perkins Clearing – Speculator Tree Farm Easement: The Old Military Road from Sled Harbor to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead is passable only by high clearance SUVs and Trucks. All other vehicles should park at Sled Harbor and hike from there. DEC Operations staff have removed blowdown and raked the Jessup River Road and part of the the Old Military Road.
** West Canada Lakes Wilderness: The road to the Spruce Lake Trailhead is open and in good shape.
** Moose River Plains: The Cedar River Road is now open to the Cedar River Flow. The Limekiln Lake and Cedar River Gates are open and the Moose River Plains road system, except for the Otter Brook Gate is open to motor vehicles. DEC plans to open the Otter Brook Gate by Thursday, May 30.
Cedar River, Indian Lake: 3.1 miles of the Cedar River south of the Cedar River Road near Indian Lake is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. The Cedar River contains brook trout, brown trout and smallmouth bass. DEC stocks brook trout in the river. DEC plans to construct parking areas and access trails in the near future. Once completed two other sections of this stretch of the river will be open for public fishing.
Fishing Brook, Long Lake: Four miles of shoreline along Fishing Brook in the Town of Long Lake in Hamilton County north of Route 28N is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. Fishing Brook is located between the communities of Long Lake in Hamilton County and Newcomb in Essex County. It contains brook trout. DEC plans to construct parking areas and a boat launch for small trailered-boats on 60-acre County Line Flow and a parking area and boat launch for car top boats on 47-acre Fishing Brook Bog. The two waters, which are located at each end of this stretch of Fishing Brook, will be open for the public to fish by boat.
Otter Creek Horse Trails: The water has been turned on at the Assembly Area for the Otter Creek Horse Trails located just outside Lowville on both the Independence River Wild Forest Unit of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and on the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests on the western border of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County. A group of volunteers are working to distribute new maps of the area. The water is shut off the day after Columbus Day. More information is available here.
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co
** New State Lands / Former Paper Lands: The nearly 12-mile Hudson River Corridor between Newcomb and the confluence with the Indian River is now part of the Forest Preserve. While the river corridor is open to the public the only access currently available is on Harris Lake in Newcomb. The river above and below Route 28N Bridge contains some good stretches of flat water with a small rapid under the bridge itself. A road to a put-in/take-out site (landing) at the approximate mid-way point should be open to public use sometime in June. A take-out site (landing) just before (above/upstream of) the confluence with the Indian River also should be completed sometime in June. Facilities such as campsites, privies, canoe carries, marked trails, boundary lines, etc. will not be in place until mid to late summer. There are several stretches of flat but moving waters that people of all skill levels can enjoy, especially in the upper portion. There also are numerous rapids and shallow rocky areas. Depending on water levels the rapids are mostly rated Class 1, 2 or 2+. Under the right water levels a few of the rapids may rate Class 3 such as Long Rapids and Ord Falls. During low water conditions (Water levels below 4.0 at the North Creek gage a considerable amount of portaging, dragging and lining of kayaks and canoes will be required. DEC recommends the public wait until landings, marked trails and other infrastructure are in place before paddling on the newly open section of river. Even then, inexperienced paddlers should plan to carry around all rapids or hire a licensed guide to lead their trip. DEC will provide updated information as roads are opened and trails, landing sites and other infrastructure are developed.
** OK Slip Falls Tract: The OK Slip Falls Tract is now part of the Forest Preserve. Parking areas do not exist; no trails have been established; and boundaries lines with adjacent private lands have not been marked. DEC is discouraging public access until public access infrastructure has been developed. DEC will provide updated information as the infrastructure for public access is developed.
The Branch and Palmer Pond, North Hudson: A 1.6-mile stretch of The Branch immediately upstream of Palmer Pond and 0.7 miles of the pond’s shore is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. These two waters are located in the Town of North Hudson, Essex County south of the Blue Ridge Road (aka Boreas Road). Both waters contain brook trout which DEC stocks annually. Additionally, brown trout are present and stocked in Palmer Pond. Anglers can now fish the entire 1.4 miles of Palmer Pond’s shoreline, except on the dam itself, as the public fishing rights on the pond’s shore adjoin to forest preserve lands that abut the remainder of the pond. A small parking area is located near the dam at the eastern end of Palmer Pond. Pull off sites along the Blue Ridge Road are located at the western end of the pond and along The Branch. DEC plans to improve the parking area near the dam, construct an access site for launching small car-top boats and install a fishing pier on Palmer Pond. Once completed, the public will be able to fish the 28-acre pond by boat.
English Brook, Lake George: English Brook is located along Somerville Road the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County. A 0.4 mile section of the brook which contains brook trout is now open to the public following state land purchases from the Nature Conservancy. DEC stocks this water which is west of Route 9 between the communities of Warrensburg and Lake George.
Mineville Iron Ore Man Challenge: The second Mineville Iron Ore Man Challenge event is a hike up the Cheney Mountain Trail Saturday, June 1. Registration will be 8:45 a.m. at the trail head on Pelfershire Road, 1.4 miles east of Route 22/9N. Registration is $5. The hike will begin at 9 a.m. The first 80 people will receive a 2013 hiking patch. The Cheney Mountain Trail opened in the fall of 2011 and has become a popular hiking trail. It’s estimated that more than 1,500 people have used the trail since it opened. The trail is about two miles round-trip with a moderately-easy climb to the summit. Champlain Area Trails volunteers constructed the Cheney Mountain Trail on town property that was once site of a landfill.
** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): All roads in the Hudson River Special Management Area designated for motor vehicle access are open. Darlings Ford Road in the Hudson River Special Management area is open to motor vehicle access for those with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic. Lily Pond Road is open to motor vehicle access. Palmer Pond Road is open to motor vehicle access for those with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). The gate for Long Pond Road is closed until next winters snowmobile season.
Lake George Wild Forest (Eastern): The gate at the Hogtown Parking Lot is open and the Shelving Rock Road to Dacy Clearing is open to motor vehicle traffic. Vehicles with low clearance should use caution as the road is in rough shape in a few spots.
Pilot Knob: The gate to the Pilot Knob area remains closed for mud season. It will reopen when the road has dried and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.
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.
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
DeBar Mountain Wild Forest: The Hatch Brook Gate is open. Motor vehicles can access the Debar Meadow (Old Game Farm) Road.
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Moose Pond Road and the gate for the Moose Pond Waterway Access Site in the town of St. Armand, Essex County, are open to motor vehicles. The St. Germain Gate for the Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road is open. The gate to Little Clear Pond and Little Green Pond is open.
** Chazy Highlands Complex: DEC is preparing a management plan for nearly 60,000 acres of Forest Preserve and other state-managed lands in the Chazy Highlands Complex. Public input is sought. More information can be found here. A public meeting will be held on Thursday, May 23, at the Saranac Central School in Saranac, NY, at 6:30 pm to obtain suggestions for recreational opportunities on the lands within the complex.
** Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The gate on Red Road on Terry Mountain is open and the road open for vehicle access.
** 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 between and including Shark Week (#106) and Lichenstorm (#167) as described on 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.
Lake Lila Road: The gate for Lake Lila Road is open and the road is open to motor vehicle traffic. Do not block the gate at the Lake Lila Trailhead parking areas.
Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest: The gate at the Lewis Clearing Trailhead remains closed.
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.