Thursday, February 27, 2014

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Feb 27)

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

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** indicates active, new or revised items.

** MID-WINTER CONDITIONS: Daytime temperatures will be below zero in the morning then warm into the high 20s in the afternoon before dropping into the single digits overnight. Sunday’s forecast is sunny with daytime temperatures remaining in the single digits. Wear a cold weather 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. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

** WINTER TRAIL CONDITIONS: Warm weather, rain and usage last week compacted snow on trails. The return of cold weather has hardened the trails. Beware of frozen washouts and other icy and rough areas on trails. Expect to encounter 2-3 inches of powder over the hard snow and some ice. Skiing conditions are poor, snowshoes with cleats (crampons) are the best way to travel on trails at this time.

** AVALANCHE WARNING: Despite the warm-up last week, the threat of avalanches in the Adirondacks remains. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 and 50 degrees and no vegetation, especially on north facing aspects. If you are going to travel into avalanche terrain carry a shovel, probe, and transceiver, and know how to use them. If you are unsure, don’t go. Avalanches occur often in the Adirondacks and they can have deadly consequences.

** CURRENT SNOW COVER: Snow cover varies with elevation, and there is considerably more snow in the woods, than there is in open areas. There is more snow on the ground in the Southwest Adirondacks (there’s 10 to 12 inches in open areas in Inlet, Old Forge, Lake Pleasant, Speculator and Indian Lake), but less in the Southeast, Eastern Essex County, and into the Keene Valley, where there is 8-10 inches at lower elevations. There is 12-16 inches in Paul Smiths. Northern slopes and areas at higher elevations retained much of their snow despite last week’s warm-up and rains, but open areas were hard hit, including most trails which are compacted and with some icy spots.  In the High Peaks, there is about 30 inches of snow at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Backcountry skiing is mostly poor, snowshoes are recommended everywhere and one or the other are required in the High Peaks Wilderness.

** LONG RANGE FORECAST: The long range forecast has our region remaining in below normal temperatures. A chance of a major storm passing to our south should bring some additional snow to the southern Adirondacks late Sunday night through Monday evening. The rest of the week will be generally dry, with temperatures remaining below normal.

** BLOWDOWN: Winter storms and recent high winds 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.

** RIVERS RUNNING NORMAL: Rivers are currently running about normal for this time of year. Stream crossings are generally frozen.

** ICE ON WATERS: Lake ice remains good and the slush and water from last week has refrozen, however, lakes are now rutted and rough for snowmobilers and skiers.  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 extreme caution on ice over water.

** DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All the region’s downhill ski areas will be open this weekend. Gore Mountain and Whiteface are both reporting about 85% of their terrain open. Big Tupper will be open; call ahead for Hickory. Conditions are being reported by skiers around the region as good, but use caution as some trails will be fast.

** CROSS COUNTRY SKI REPORT: All cross country areas are open with at least 6-8 inches of hard base, and a topper of a few inches of fresh snow this week, including Dewey, Tupper Lake and Paul Smith’s. There is about a 16-18 inches of base at Garnet Hill and at Lapland Lake. Because of last week’s warm-up groomed trails are going to provide the best cross-country skiing this weekend.

** BACKCOUNTRY SKI REPORT: Back-country ski routes at lower elevations are skiable but generally thin, icy and rough and rutted. Conditions remain good at higher elevations, but the problem is getting there. Backcountry skiers will find the best skiing on smoother terrain, especially on lesser-used trails. Skiers and snowshoers on roadways used by snowmobiles should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.

** SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Trails remain open everywhere but conditions are hard packed and somewhat icy with a few inches of powder on top. Southern Warren County trails are thin and fair condition, trails in Northern Warren and Hamilton counties are good to fair. Herkimer county trails will be good to very good this weekend. Everywhere however, be aware of washed-out areas that have refrozen, icy turns, and rough re-frozen slush ruts on lakes. Best bet: stick to lesser used trails in Herkimer County for the best ride in the Adirondacks this weekend. The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail is open for its whole length (DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them). Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season and no gas is available in and around the Cranberry Lake area. Do not ride on closed trails.


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

** Snowshoes or Skis Required: Snowshoes or skis are required the High Peaks Wilderness. 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.

** Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen, but use caution around inlets and outlets. There is nearly three feet of snow at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations.

** Flowed Lands and River Crossings: Flowed Lands and river crossings are frozen.

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.

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

The Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail: The trail is now open for its whole length. DEC crews added ramps to the bridges that had been missing them.

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

Camp Santanoni: The final of three Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends is scheduled for March 15 and 16. Skiers and snowshoers will be able access and learn about the historic buildings and warm up in the Artist Cabin with a fire and hot beverages. Find out more here.

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

Cranberry Lake: Cranberry Lake Lodge is closed for the 2013-2014 Winter season. The restaurant, tavern, and hotel lodging are closed, and there is no gas available on the premises. There is no access to Cranberry Lake from the Lodge property. At present, there is no gas available in and around the Cranberry Lake 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.

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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 [email protected]

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