BEST DAY: Saturday. Rain is expected on Sunday.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:32 am; sunset at 4:29 pm. Saturday’s moon will be waxing gibbous with 98% illuminated; there will be a Full Moon at 11:54 pm Sunday. Moon rise will be at 3:37 pm Saturday, and moon set at 6:25 am Sunday.
SHORTER DAYS: The sun sets around 4:30 pm. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.
WINTER CONDITIONS: Colder temperatures have taken hold in the Adirondacks. Expect daytime temperatures from near zero at higher elevations to the lower 20s and teens elsewhere through Saturday, warming into 30s on Sunday as a winter storm moves in. Sunday morning should see fresh snow, followed by mixed precipitation and rain, returning to light snow Sunday night. A lake effect snow storm is bringing 6 to 12 inches of snow in the western half of the Adirondacks including including Western Hamilton, Herkimer, St. Lawrence, and Franklin counties, with higher amounts north of Old Forge (12 to 18 inches). Tupper Lake, Paul Smiths, and St. Regis Falls will pick up 4 to 8 inches. Another storm is expected on Saturday night and into Sunday and will produce snow, changing to sleet and then rain. Freezing temperatures have hardened trails and made them icy in places, so wear traction devices and bring snowshoes if you are headed to higher elevations. 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS WELL ABOVE NORMAL: Rivers and streams are running well above normal for this time of year and an ice jam formed on the Ausable River on Wednesday. The Hudson River streamgage at North Creek has fallen to 4.50 feet Thursday afternoon and rising. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is 96.27 feet and rising. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for details about the waters where you intend to recreate before heading out.
WINDS: This weekend expect winds 5-10 mph, higher on and near summits.
CARRY CRAMPONS, SNOWSHOES OR SKIS MAY BE NEEDED: Ice traction devices such as micro-spikes should be carried for use in icy areas, especially mountaintops and exposed areas. 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 when snow depths exceed 8 inches. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing”, which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Expect to encounter 4 to 8 inches around most of Eastern Adirdonacks, with up to a foot in the High Peaks. There remains about 15 inches of snow at Lake Colden. There is 6 to 12 inches of snow in the western half of the Adirondacks including Western Hamilton, Herkimer, St. Lawrence, and Franklin counties, with higher amounts north of Old Forge (12 to 18 inches). Tupper Lake, Paul Smiths, and St. Regis Falls picked up 4 to 8 inches.
EXPECT BLOWDOWN: Recent storms have contributed to blowdown. Expect to encounter blowdown, especially on lesser used trails.
ICE REPORT: A bright spot in this week’s report is that the cold temperatures have solidified lake ice, although ice thickness varies by region and larger lakes are only just beginning to ice over, including Great Sacanadaga Lake, Schroon Lake (which iced over Tuesday night), and the Bays of Lake George and Lake Champlain. No ice should be considered safe without first testing its thickness. Use extreme caution around the inlets, outlets and along the shorelines. Always use caution when traveling on ice.
LONG RANGE FORECAST: Cold will return Sunday night into Monday morning and last throughout the week with daytime highs in the teens and single digits. Look for another storm system to bring snow to the Northern and Western Adirondacks on Monday-Tuesday. Next Saturday is currently forecast to be near freezing with a chance of snow.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: The return to cold temperatures have left most trails with frozen ruts, but some new snow on top will allow for skiing – smoother terrain is recommended in the Eastern half of the Adirondacks and high peaks areas. The best back country skiing will be in the Western Adirondacks. Ski safely, as some obstacles remain uncovered and frozen ruts lie below new snow. Skiing in the High Peaks is poor and cannot be recommended. The Jack Rabbit trail is skiable its entire length.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, with the exception of Hickory near Warrensburg, but expect limited terrain at smaller mountains, many are operating with only a handful of trails. Gore and Whiteface will have about 50% of their terrain open. 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 with a two to five inch base. Some new snow will help. Lapland Lake which had a much better base and has picked plenty of new snow is the best bet this weekend.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Stay off lakes! DEC gates to designated snowmobile trails are open. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Warren County trails remain closed. The South Western Adirondack trails are open and in good condition, with the best conditions north of Old Forge. Please respect land owners 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.
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. 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
** Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The footbridge on the Castle Rock Trail has been replaced by DEC staff.
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 gates on designated snowmobile trails on state land 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. There is significant blowdown on Dacy Clearing Road. Forest Rangers continue to work on clearing the road of fallen trees and limbs
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 have been shut down. The locks are 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 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.