Thursday, December 5, 2013

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Dec 5)

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

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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 report can also be found at Mountain Lake PBS.


** indicates active, new or revised items.

** WINTER WEATHER: Expect winter weather conditions with a wintry mix of rain, ice and snow showers through Friday, but daytime temperatures in the 20s this weekend as arctic air moves in. Saturday and Sunday wind chills on summits will be in the single digits below zero. Pack and wear winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry.

** SNOW AND ICE: At least some snow and ice are present at all elevations. Expect from 2 to 4 inches of snow in most lower and middle elevation areas, with 4 to 6 in upper elevations, and more on summits to the north west. Generally snow tends to be be deeper toward the Northwest part of the park, with little to no snow in the Lake George and Lake Champlain valleys and in the South Central Adirondacks.  Traction devices will be needed in summit areas and are recommended elsewhere. Ice has formed on most smaller lakes, ponds and backwaters – see the full Ice Report below.

** TRAIL CONDITIONS: In the lower elevations trails should harden up by the weekend and may be icy in some areas. Hard snow and ice can be expected in the higher elevations.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Early winter weather is often unsettled and 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: Rivers and streams are running about normal levels for this time of year, but will be rising with rain and snow melt Thursday and Friday. Ice has formed on smaller lakes, ponds, and backwaters. Expect higher waters in the High Peaks on Friday afternoon and into Saturday. The US Drought Monitor reports Abnormally Dry conditions extend through all of Essex, Warren, and Hamilton and Herkimer counties.

** ICE ON WATERS: Ice has formed on smaller lakes, ponds and backwaters, although warm weather this week will make already thin ice weak and soft on Friday which may not refreeze enough for the weekend.  Some bays are beginning to freeze on larger lakes, but they are generally too thin. Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, and Sacandaga are all still open.  No ice should be considered safe, however, some early season skating and ice fishing has been taking place on smaller lakes.  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.

** 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: Whiteface and Gore Mountain have opened on a daily basis, but will have only  20-30% of their terrain open this weekend.  Other resorts with snowmaking will be making snow this weekend. Oak Mountain, near Speculator, will open this weekend. McCauley Mountain opened last weekend, the earliest opening day in 25 years. McCauley will be open this weekend, Dec. 7 and 8, and is planning to open on a daily basis, excluding Tuesdays, next weekend. Mount Pisgah, Hickory Mountain, and Big Tupper have yet to open.  The Almanack’s Ski Season Preview has been posted here.

** BACKCOUNTRY – CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: The widespread rain has ended skiing on what smoother terrain was available in the Central and Northwestern Adirondacks. The upper reaches of the Whiteface Memorial Highway will probably be skiable this weekend. Mount Van Hovenberg may open this weekend, but you’ll want to call ahead, and Lapland Lake may have some early season trails open (again call ahead), otherwise no cross-country resorts will be open this weekend.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Although many snowmobile trails are scheduled to open Monday, December 9, 2013, unless next week’s wintry weather is snowier than expected, we’ll need more snow to kick of the snowmobiling season. As we have for the past three years, Adirondack Almanack will provide snowmobiling conditions through the season for the entire Adirondack Park. 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.

** HUNTING SEASONS OPEN: Hunting seasons are now open. Northern Zone regular big game season ends on December 8; late muzzelloading and bow seasons end December 15. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are rare, but hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution and keep pets leased and on the trail.


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

** Corey’s Road: Due to planned logging operations at Ampersand Park the Raquette River Trailhead gate will be closed this winter. Public motorized access will be prohibited beyond there. It is nearly 3 miles from the gate to the Truck Trail Trailhead, plan trips accordingly.

Elk Lake Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season (December 15).

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

** Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Route: Ice is forming in backwaters, bays and shorelines of stillwater stretches and lakes. 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

** Essex Chain Lakes Tract: Gates to the Essex Chain Lakes Tract roadways will be closed and locked on Monday, December 16. The Town of Newcomb will be plowing the Goodnow Road, and there are some parking areas along that road the people can use. The public can ski, snowshoe or otherwise trek (non-motorized) into the parcel from plowed areas along the Goodnow Flow Road. Members of the Gooley and Polaris Clubs will be able to use snowmobiles on the roadways to get to and from the camps. Note: public parking will only be allowed in areas specifically marked as public parking areas.

** 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 is forming in backwaters, bays and shorelines of stillwater stretches and lakes. 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.


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.

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