Thursday, December 26, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec 26)

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

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** indicates active, new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS: Expect winter weather conditions with temperatures below freezing and occasional light snow around the region, heavier snowfalls in the lake effect snow areas, and the potential for sleet, ice, and rain on Sunday in the Southeastern Adirondacks. Day time highs are forecast in the 30s, with night time lows in the teens, the forecast for early next week is calling for colder weather. Pack and wear extra winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry.

** PREVENT HYPOTHERMIA: Dress properly and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Hypothermia is a threat even when air temperatures are in the 40s, especially in wet weather.

** SNOW AND ICE: We have lost considerable snowpack, but snow and ice are present at all elevations, and microspikes or crampons will be necessary for any foray into the backcountry. Snow cover is more substanitial in the lake effect areas of the Southwestern Adirondacks, the Western Slopes, and the Northern Adirondacks. Trails in the lower elevations have a thick layer of ice over snow and middle elevations have a mix of snow and bare ground. There is about 6 inches of snow at Lake Colden, and about 8-10 inches at higher elevations and in Northern Herkimer and Southeastern St. Lawrence County.

** TRACTION DEVICES AND CRAMPONS REQUIRED: Snow conditions are not conducive for snowshoes or skis. Nearly all surfaces, from the parking areas to higher summit trails are very icy. Traction devices should be worn at all elevations. Crampons should be carried for use on icy summits and other areas where ice has built up.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Adirondack weather can change dramatically in a short time. Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times. 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 in the Adirondack region is LOW. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness at all times. It is illegal to leave a fire unattended until it is fully extinguished. Use extreme care at this time of year with open fires.

** RIVERS AND STREAMS WELL ABOVE NORMAL: Rivers and streams are running well above normal levels for this time of year. Ice has formed on all waterbodies. The US Drought Monitor reports Abnormally Dry conditions extend through all of Essex, Warren, and Hamilton and Herkimer counties.

** ICE ON WATERS: Open water around the outlets has increased in size and the nearby ice is thin. Earlier this week there was several inches of water above the ice, and many lakes were not considered safe to cross – including higher elevation lakes such as Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake. Open water remains on Lake Champlain and Lake George. Always check the depth of ice before crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Use extreme caution on what ice that remains

** LIFE JACKETS (PFDs) REQUIRED: State law requires life jackets be worn by anyone on a boat less than 21 feet in length through 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.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: The regions downhill resorts took a hit with the warm weather and rain early this week, but all will be open this weekend with the exception of Big Tupper and Hickory Mountain. Downhill ski areas with snowmaking have about have about 40-50% of half their terrain open; Oak Mountain is reporting 30% of their terrain open; Whiteface 47%; and Gore Mountain is reporting 57%. The Adirondack Almanack‘s Ski Season Preview has been posted here.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: Cross country skiing is limited to lake effect snow areas, and smoother terrain at Paul Smith’s, Lapland Lake, and Garnet Hill. Conditions will be thin and icy, although forecasts are calling for a few inches of snow by Saturday, so there may be some improvement – visitors should call ahead.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: No backcountry skiing can be recommended. Where there is snow cover, surface conditions will be poor and so the best skiing will be at the groomed cross-country ski centers noted above.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: With the exception of Tug Hill very northern Herkimer County and St. Lawrence County, snowmobiling can no longer be recommended. Do not ride on closed trails. As expected warmer weather put an end to reasonable riding, but some base remains for the next round of snow (provided it comes). The temperatures are expected to be cold this coming week, but there is not enough snow forecast. On February 16, historian and Adirondack Almanack founder and editor John Warren will present a talk at the Adirondack Museum. Warren will trace the history of snow machines in the Adirondacks from the early 1900s through the development of the personal sled that is so familiar today.


These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to outdoor recreation roads, trails and facilities around the Adirondacks.

** indicates new or revised items for this week.

Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** Traction Devices Needed: Nearly all surfaces, from the parking areas to higher summit trails are very icy. Traction devices should be worn at all elevations. Crampons should be carried for use on icy summits and other areas where ice has built up.

Corey’s Road: Corey’s Road is closed at the the Raquette River Trailhead Gate due to logging operations at Ampersand Park. Public motorized access is prohibited beyond the gate through the winter and until the end of the spring mud season. It is nearly 3 miles from the gate to the Truck Trail Trailhead, plan trips accordingly.

Elk Lake Easement Lands: The trails through the Elk Lake Easement Lands is open but the Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed. The parking lot a Clear Pond is two miles from the trailhead, adding four miles to a round trip.

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

** Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Route: Ice has formed on all waters. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1.

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

** Former Finch Lands – Essex Chain Lakes Tract: The Town of Newcomb is plowing Goodnow Flow Road. The public can park in the designated plowed area along the Goodnow Flow Road just before the Chain Lakes Road entrance – this is the road used in the summer to access the Hudson River at the Polaris or Iron Bridge. The public can access the Essex Chain Lakes Tract to ski, snowshoe or otherwise traverse the roadways and the lands. Interim winter public access will be limited this year as no plowed parking areas have been designated on the Essex Tract itself. The plowed parking area on the Goodnow Flow Road is used by the Gooley and Polaris Club members to park vehicles and snowmobile trailers – it is likely to be crowded on weekends. The Deer Pond and Chain Lakes Road gates have been closed and locked. The roads beyond are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Members of the Gooley and Polaris Clubs will be able to use snowmobiles on the roadways to get to and from their camps.

Tongue Mountain Range: Trails in the Tongue Mountain Range are snow and ice covered, especially on the top of the ridge, small traction devices are recommended.

Jabe Pond Road: The Jabe Pond Road is impassable to motor vehicles due to heavy ice build up, access may be gained by foot.

Cat and Thomas Mountains: Trails on Cat and Thomas Mountains are snow and ice covered, especially near the summits, small traction devices are recommended.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Blowdown was cleared from the Sacandaga Trail from the Eleventh Mountain Trailhead to the Old Farm Trailhead, and also along the Second Pond Trail. On the Halfway Brook Trail the washout of a culvert at Barton Mines Road was temporarily repaired and is passable for the time being. Also on the Halfway Brook Trail the washed-out timber bridge crossing near the Vly has been repaired.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest / Sleeping Beauty: Blowdown has been removed from the Sleeping Beauty Mountain Trail.

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

** Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Route: Ice has formed on all waters. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The D&H Road Linear Recreation Corridor is closed to public traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The gate is closed and locked and the Barnes Pond Road is closed to public motorized traffic until next September, except for use by people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). The Town of Franklin will continue to plow the Goldsmith Road parking area during the upcoming snowmobile season. All snowmobile gates are currently closed.

DeBar Mountain Wild Forest/Kushuqua Conservation Easement Lands: The Town of Franklin will plow the Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead parking area on County Route 26 to allow off-highway parking for winter recreation enthusiasts using the Loon Lake Mountain Trail and the conservation easement lands in that area.

Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road gate has been locked and the road will be closed to public motor vehicle traffic through the winter and until the end of mud season. Hikers, skiers and snowshoers may still use the road, but are prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands. Park along the Sabattis Road and do not block the gate.


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.

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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