BEST DAY: Sunday will be a few degrees warmer.
SUN AND MOON (AND METEORS): Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:28 am; sunset at 4:19 pm. There will be a New Moon on Sunday night, coinciding with the winter solstice and the Ursid Meteor Shower, which is expected through December 25th, but will peak early Monday Morning. More information on these astronomical events can be found here.
SHORTER DAYS: Days are considerably shorter – the sun sets around 4:15 pm. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries. After Sunday’s Winter Solstice, days will slowly begin to lengthen.
WINTER CONDITIONS: Expect to encounter heavy snow; carry traction devices and snowshoes (required in the High Peaks). Rain and warm temperatures decreased snow cover at lower elevations this week, but higher elevations picked up some additional snow where there is two to three feet in some locations. Daytime highs this weekend will be near zero at higher elevations and in the teens and 20s elsewhere. Nighttime temperatures will be in the single digits and teens. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment, inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.
WINDS: This weekend expect winds 5-10 mph, higher on and near summits.
SNOWSHOES OR SKIS NEEDED, CARRY CRAMPONS: Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or cross-country skis for their safety and the safety of other backcountry users. It is strongly recommended that visitors to other parts of the Adirondacks do the same. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing”, which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy mountaintops and other exposed areas.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Lower elevations lost some snowpack this week, but higher elevations add some. The Lake Colden Caretaker reports 22 inches of snow at the stake, and more at higher elevations (up to three feet). Snow depths outside the High Peaks range from 8 to 12 inches, with the southern most part of the Park having 4 to 8 inches. Many secondary and lesser used trails, may contain unbroken, fresh snow. Traveling through fresh snow takes more time and energy – plan accordingly. Use caution around stream crossings as snow may cover thin ice or open water.
EXPECT BLOWDOWN: Heavy wet snow from last week’s storm, in combination with high winds in some areas, have contributed to considerable blowdown. Expect to encounter blowdown, especially on lesser used trails.
LONG RANGE FORECAST: Expect gradually warming (mid-30s) unsettled weather with a possibility of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, when some areas could reach into the 40s. It will then turn colder before the weekend. Next Saturday is currently forecast to be in the upper 20s / lower 30s with a 50% chance of snow showers.
THIN ICE: Ice has formed on smaller waters and ice fishermen have been out. There is about 8 inches of ice in Newcomb and Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are passable, but ice thickness varies by region and one man required rescue in the Southwestern Adirondacks last week after falling through the ice. Some larger lakes have not iced over yet, including Great Sacanadaga Lake and Schroon Lake. Mayfield and Northville Lakes have about 5 inches of ice, and the bays on Great Sacandaga our frozen and there has been some fishing in front of Sport Island Pub. For now, no ice should be considered safe with first testing its thickness and snowmobiles should stay off lakes. Use caution around the inlets, outlets and along the shoreline which are slushy at this time. Always use caution when traveling on ice. Check the thickness while traveling over ice. Ice may not bear the weight of a person, even if it has snow on it.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: All backcountry ski routes remain skiable with good early season conditions are being reported. A nice base is forming on trails, and some light snow in the forecast should freshen trails by the weekend. Ski safely however, as some obstacles remain uncovered. Drainages are generally wet and some lesser used trails may still be untraveled since last week’s storm. Breaking trail takes more time and energy. Mount Marcy and Avalanche Pass are being skied, as is Wright Peak and the Calamity Brook Trail. The Jack Rabbit trail has about a foot and half base, though less toward Paul Smith’s where the snow from last week’s coastal storm tapered off. Practice good avalanche awareness if you are headed to steeper terrain.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, with the exception of Hickory near Warrensburg. Gore and Whiteface with about 50% of their terrain and Big Tupper will open this weekend for the first time this season. Hickory Mountain has announced a plan to add snow-making. Find out more about all the new facilities in the Adirondacks in Jeff Farbaniec’s Adirondack Ski Season Preview, 2014-2015.
CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: All cross-country ski areas will be open. Garnet Hill and Lapland Lake, both have about an 8 inch base. Mt Van Hovenber and Cascade are reporting a 6 inch base, Dewey also has a 6 inch base, and Paul Smiths and the Tupper Lake trails have about a 3 to 5 inch base.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Stay off lakes! DEC gates to designated snowmobile trails are open, but many club trails remain closed. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Warren County trails remain closed, but the South Western Adirondack trails are open, including those in Webb, Inlet, and Indian Lake. Trails still have a rather thin base, and are in fair to good condition. Village trails are best avoided this weekend and the best riding will be found in Perkins Clearing and the Moose River Plains. Use caution and be aware of blow-down, water holes, and small stream crossings covered by only thin snow. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. Please respect land owners and hunters by not riding on closed trails. There will be no parking at the Million Dollar Beach Lot this winter. Parking is available at the lot on the Transfer Station Road in Lake George, and behind the old Lake Luzerne Highway Garage on Town Shed Road in Luzerene. The northern section of the Perkins Clearing Road will be closed to snowmobiles from Pole Brook/Hardwood Hill to Mason Lake to allow for logging operations. Crews from the Town of Lake Pleasant Highway Department and local snowmobile clubs with DEC oversight have worked to upgrade a secondary snowmobile trail to serve as reroute of the main snowmobile trail this winter.
SEASONAL ACCESS ROADS: Gates on seasonal access roads traditionally closed for winter have been shut. Roads will reopen after the spring mud season. Motor vehicles should not be driving on seasonal access roads that serve as snowmobile trails in the winter.
FIRE DANGER LOW: The fire danger 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.
EASTERN ADIRONDACKS DROUGHT CONDITIONS ABATED: The US Drought Monitor is no longer reporting abnormally dry conditions in the Eastern Adirondacks, which should be good news for gardeners and maple producers.
RIVERS AND STREAMS: Rivers and streams are running at or just above normal levels for this time of year. The Hudson River streamgage at North Creek is 3.36 feet Thursday afternoon and rising slowly. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is 94.92 feet and rising. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for details about the waters where you intend to recreate before heading out.
PFDs REQUIRED: State law requires life jackets be worn by anyone on all boats less than 21 feet in length through May 1st.
KEEP DOGS LEASHED: Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the 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 leashed in most areas for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and as a courtesy to fellow hikers.
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 recently revised items for this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks
** Avalanche Lake Outlet: The bridge on Avalanche Lake Outlet is washed away. During low water rock hopping will be necessary to cross, during high waters crossing will require getting wet.
** Elk Lake Trails and Clear Pond Gate: The two trails that pass through the Elk Lake property to Panther Gorge in the High Peaks Wilderness and the southern approaches to Dix Mountain in the Dix Mountain Wilderness are open for public use. The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This will add four miles to round trip – plan accordingly.
** Avalanche Pass Slide: The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to public recreation of any type through the winter.
** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: People have been traveling on Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake. Use caution around the inlets, outlets and along the shoreline which are slushy at this time. Always use caution when traveling on ice. Check the thickness and remember ice that holds snow may not bear the weight of a person.
** Connery Pond Road: The Connery Pond Road and its gate have been closed until the end of the spring mud season. Skiers and snowshoers may still use the road to access trails to Connery Pond and Whiteface Landing on Lake Placid.
Meadow Lane Closed: Meadow Lane (South Meadows Road) near Adirondac Loj has been closed. The trailheads for the South Meadows/Marcy Dam truck trail, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Klondike Notch remain open, but the closure adds just under a mile. The road will remain closed through the spring mud season.
** Corey’s Road: The Corey’s Road gate will close for spring mud season (around March 1 to May 15). The caretaker may not always have the road plowed. Cars must not block the road.
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake
** Moose River Plains: DEC is seeking comments to amend the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan to improve its mountain bike trail system and is seeking comments. A public meeting will be held in Raquette Lake tonight, December 18th. More information can be found here.
** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: All roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic. The Town of Indian Lake does not plow beyond the end of the paved portion of the Cedar River Road. Snowmobilers and cross country skiers can park in that area and access the eastern Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) from there. All designated snowmobile trails are open.
** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: All Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic. Designated snowmobile trails are open and will be groomed by this weekend. The northern section of the Perkins Clearing Road will be closed to snowmobiles from Pole Brook/Hardwood Hill to Mason Lake to allow for logging operations. Crews from the Town of Lake Pleasant Highway Department and local snowmobile clubs with DEC oversight have worked to upgrade a secondary snowmobile trail to serve as reroute of the main snowmobile trail this winter. All designated snowmobile trails on the Speculator Tree Farm are open without any reroutes.
** Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands: The O’Neill Flow Road and its gate and the Barker Pond Road are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.
** Ferris Lake Wild Forest: All designated snowmobile trails on state land and their gates are open. Beavers have caused flooding problems on some trails: The Fall Stream Trail from Piseco towards the Big Brook trail has one bridge flooded out. The Hurrell Vly Trail in Morehouse has a bridge flooded out.
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co
** Warren County Snowmobile Trails: There will be no parking at the Million Dollar Beach Lot this winter. Parking is available at the lot on the Transfer Station Road in Lake George, and behind the old Lake Luzerne Highway Garage on Town Shed Road in Luzerene.
** Essex Chain Lakes Complex: The Shadow Dam Gate which provides access to the Deer Pond Parking Area is closed and the road beyond is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The Chain Lakes Road North Gate which provides access to the Iron Bridge/Hudson River Parking Area is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The gate on the Chain Lakes Road in the southern portion of the complex near the Outer Gooley Club has also been closed. The Town of Indian Lake plows the road to the raft put-in site. The roads beyond will be closed to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season.
** Santanoni Historic Area: Newcomb Road, the road to access the Farm Complex and the Main Camp is open for cross-country skiing and and snowhoeing.
** Western Lake George Wild Forest: Jabe Pond Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season. Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic.
** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: Shelving Rock Road is open.
Thirteenth Lake Road: The bridge on Thirteenth Lake Road (County Route 78) just past the intersection with Beach Road has been repaired and the road is open – that improves access to the Old Farm Clearing Trailhead and the Balm of Gilead Mountain Trailhead.
Black Mountain: The Black Mountain Trailhead gate off Pike Brook Road remains closed, but only adds 15 minutes to hike up Black Mountain or other destinations.
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
** Saranac Lake Chain Locks Closed: The Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain will be shut down for the winter on Monday, December 8th. The locks are closed and made inoperable every winter to avoid unsafe situations for users and to prevent damage to the locks. DEC does not officially close the Upper Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain. They are manually operated and become inoperable when ice forms. Unlike the Lower Locks, there is no hydraulic equipment that can be damaged. The Lower Locks will be reopened after the ice goes out in the spring.
Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch Closed: DEC is undertaking a major upgrade to the Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch that has closed the boat-launch until next spring.
** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Connery Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing. The Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road (aka the St. Germain Pond Road) and its gate are closed until the end of the spring mud season.
** Kushaqua Tract Easement Lands: The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities. The Mountain Pond Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.
William C. Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road but must not trespass on adjacent private lands.
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffice until the beginning of the 2015 hunting season. The D&H Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.
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.