** indicates active, new or revised items.
** WINTER CONDITIONS: Be prepared for below freezing nighttime temperatures and generally cold, wet weather this weekend. Snow and sleet on Friday, turning to rain on Saturday and into Sunday. This significant warm-up and rain will result in rapid snow melt, and runoff, which will increase the potential for flooding – especially in small streams and poorly drained areas. Flooding from ice jams will be possible in areas traditionally prone to ice jam flooding. Rivers and stream crossings that were easy to cross on Friday evening or Saturday morning, may impassible on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. Wear a waterproof outer shell and bring winter gear, extra layers of clothing and a winter hat and gloves. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry.
** ICE, TRACTION DEVICES, CRAMPONS: Trails, parking lots, and other access points are very icy everywhere, a situation that is likely to worsen with warmer weather and freezing nighttime temperatures this weekend. Traction devices should be worn on all hikes. Crampons should be carried for use on icy areas especially in steep terrain, summits and other open areas.
** PREVENT HYPOTHERMIA: Hypothermia is a threat even when air temperatures are in the 40s, especially in wet weather.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.
** SNOW COVER REPORT: While much of the interior of Northeast, including Vermont and Northern New York, is in need of snow, the Atlantic Coast and Midwest are seeing plenty, including New York State’s Tug Hill and lake effect snow areas where four to five feet fell this week in the most persistent lake effect areas. Unfortunately, those heavy lake effect snows did not reach into the Adirondack Park, with the exception of the western Adirondacks (From Cranberry Lake and Wanakena through Stillwater Reservoir to Old Forge), which picked-up about 6 inches Tuesday and has about 8-10 inches of snow cover. Areas east of that line have less snow, in general 4 to 6 inches at lower elevations. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 14 inches at the stake this morning, but snow has drifted from strong winds. The lakes are completely windswept and only hard snow is found in other open areas. Snow is deeper in the higher elevations, typically about a foot, but summits and other areas above tree line are windswept and icy. This situation will change dramatically by Tuesday, when likely little snow will remain.
** SNOWSHOES AT HIGHER ELEVATIONS: Expect to use snowshoes above 3000 feet and in wind-blown areas of deeper snow. Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks, and encouraged elsewhere, wherever snow depths are 8 inches or more. The use of snowshoes or skis eases travel through snow, avoids injury and prevents “post-holing”, which ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse.
** BLOWDOWN: A recent ice storm in the Northwestern part of the Adirondacks, and heavy winds elsewhere have left blowdown on trails, especially secondary, lesser used trails.
** 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 WILL RISE: Rain and melting snow will raise water levels in streams and will result in rapid snow melt and runoff, which will increase the potential for flooding – especially in small streams and poorly drained areas. Flooding from ice jams will be possible in areas traditionally prone to ice jam flooding. Rivers and stream crossings that were easy to cross on Friday evening or Saturday morning, may impassible on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. The US Drought Monitor reports Abnormally Dry conditions extend through all of Essex, Warren, and Hamilton and Herkimer counties.
** ICE ON WATERS: Several reports of people falling through the ice last weekend have been received, including on Lake George and the outlet of Avalanche Lake. There is more ice than has been seen at this time of year in many years, but conditions will be very wet and/or slushy this weekend and ice conditions will deteriorate considerably on Saturday. Most small and mid-sized lakes have at about 6 inches of ice. Lake Champlain north of Port Henry and Lake George has now skimmed over, but should not generally be considered safe this weekend. Always check the depth of ice before and during crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Always use caution on ice over water.
** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Most of the region’s downhill resorts will be open this weekend, although the rain and warm-up, accompanied by freezing nighttime temperatures on Saturday night, will hamper conditions which are already somewhat icy. Whiteface and Gore both are reporting more than 70% of their terrain open, McCauley and Oak have about 60% of their terrain open. Big Tupper still has not opened; call ahead at Hickory Mountain and Mount Pisgah.
** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: Cross country ski conditions have generally declined and cannot be recommended, except at Garnet Hill and Lapland Lake. Lapland Lake has enough base that they may survive Saturday’s warm-up. Although Whiteface and Mt. Van Hovenberg are currently open, conditions in the High Peaks are thin and icy. Visitors should call ahead in those areas for more detailed conditions on Saturday. Dewey has closed, but there are still good conditions at the Paul Smith’s VIC, but the Tupper Lake trails are not skiable. Cross country trails at Fern Park in Inlet, have been recently groomed.
** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: No backcountry skiing can be recommended with the exception of the Newcomb Lake Road, and in the western Adirondacks along a line from Cranberry Lake and Wanakena through Stillwater Reservoir to Old Forge and to the west, which picked-up about 6 inches Tuesday and has about 8-10 inches of snow cover.
** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: With the exception of the Old Forge – Inlet corridor, the Town of Webb, and areas West of Route 30 which picked up about 6-8 inches on Tuesday and where trail remain in good to fair condition. Traveling north and west from that area is currently the best bet, nowhere else can be recommended. Do not ride on closed trails and be aware of the possibility blowdown in areas of the northwestern Adirondacks which were hit by the ice storm before Christmas. On February 16, historian and Adirondack Almanack founder and editor John Warren will present a talk at the Adirondack Museum tracing the history of snow machines in the Adirondacks from the early 1900s through the development of the personal sled.
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 for this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks
** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake have frozen up but ice is thin near the Avalanche Lake outlet and people continue to break through the ice – avoid this area.
Ausable Lakes: The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited.
Flowed Lands: Unbridged streams have mostly refrozen and Opalescent River is now crossable in the Flowed Lands.
Johns Brook Valley Campsite Closed: The designated campsite on Big Slide Mountain Brook in the Johns Brook Valley near the intersection with the Phelps Trail has been permanently closed due to site degradation. Other designated campsites are located across from the Howard Lean-to and just past Johns Brook Lodge. Signs on the hiking trail direct hikers to these sites.
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake
** No New reports this week.
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.
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
** No New reports this week.
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.