BEST DAYS: Saturday will be clear and cold; Sunday will be about 10 degrees warmer than Saturday with snow moving in; expect fresh snow on Monday morning with continued snow Monday.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:27 am; sunset at 4:45 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 4:19 am Saturday, and moon set at 2:09 pm. Saturday’s moon will be Waning Crescent with 11% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated. There will be a Last Quarter Moon early Tuesday morning.
SHORTER DAYS: The sun sets before 5 pm. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.
WINTER CONDITIONS: Snow cover has improved considerably and traction devices and snowshoes / or skis should be carried – additional snow is forecast Friday, Sunday and Monday. Very cold temperatures will persist in the Adirondacks through mid-day Sunday before warmer, unsettled weather returns which will provide some additional snow and possibly some mixed precipitation that will likely change over to snow through Monday. Expect 1 to 3 inches of Fresh snow Friday morning, more at higher elevations. A windy and snowy Friday morning will give way to very cold temperatures well below zero (-20 to -30) Friday night. Expect daytime highs in the single digits and teens, and near zero at higher elevations, on Saturday. Saturday night temperatures will be near or below zero. Sunday and Monday high temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s with 1-3 inches of snow by Monday afternoon. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry, however. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment, inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.
TRAIL CONDITIONS GOOD, ICY IN PLACES: Fresh snow this week softened trails and improved the base throughout the region, but heavily used and wind blown areas will be icy under a few inches of fresh snow Friday morning (more at higher elevations). Fresh snow is also expected on Sunday evening into Monday. Traction devices are recommended and bring snowshoes if you are headed to higher elevations. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or 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.
HIGH WINDS FRIDAY: Expect winds Friday 15-25 mph, as high as 45 to 55 mph on and near summits. Winds are forecast be 5-10 mph the rest of the weekend.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Expect to encounter 6 to 12 inches of generally dry snow around most of the region with a foot or more in the extreme Northwest corner of the Adirondack Park. There is about two feet of snow at Lake Colden and up to three feet at higher elevations. Expect 1 to 3 inches of Fresh snow Friday morning, more at higher elevations and another 1 to 3 inches possible on Sunday night into Monday (this could end up as freezing rain, possibly rain in southern areas).
EXPECT BLOWDOWN FROM FRIDAY’S STORM: Higher winds on Friday will produce blowdown. Expect to encounter blowdown, especially on lesser used trails.
ICE REPORT: Smaller streams have generally frozen. Cold temperatures persist and ice will be made through Sunday. There is a foot or more on some lakes Great Sacanadaga Lake and Schroon Lake have iced-over. Most of Lake George and much of Lake Champlain has iced-over and there has been fishing in the bays. Use extreme caution on ice, especially around inlets, outlets and near bubblers and moving water. Always check the thickness of ice frequently when traversing frozen waters.
LONG RANGE FORECAST: Expect Tuesday through Thursday to be overcast and in the teens and 20s. A storm headed our way on Friday could bring 3 to 5 inches of snow to the northern Adirondacks and 8 to 12 inches toward the south. Next Saturday is currently forecast to be in the teens with snow showers.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Conditions have improved considerably and will improve further with some additional snow Friday and Sunday-Monday, but ski safely, as some obstacles remain uncovered, especially on steeper terrain. The Jackrabbit Trail has a 6 to 10 inch base and is skiable it’s entire length, but caution should still be used on the steeper sections, especially the first 1/2 mile above Whiteface Inn Lane and at the Keene end of the Old Mountain Road section. If you are headed to Marcy Dam, take the Marcy Truck Trail. There are some obstacles and a few bare spots toward Avalanche Camp, but it is definitely skiable. Wright Peak and Marcy are not recommended at this time. The Calamity Brook Trail is reported rough but passable, and the Opalescent River and Flowed Lands are frozen. The Newcomb Lake Road and Moose Pond are both good skis this weekend, as are the Fish Pond and Hays Brook Truck Trail, though Raquette Falls is reported to be “probably not yet” skiable. The first open house ski weekend at Great Camp Santanoni will be held this weekend, January 17-19 (suggested hours of visitation at the Main Lodge are 10 am- 3 pm each day; see below for details). Phil Brown skied in the Five Ponds Wilderness from Wanakena recentlt and reported excellent conditions to Glasby Pond via the Dead Creek Truck Trail and Cowhorn Junction Trail. You can see his report here. For updated conditions this weekend check here.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, including Hickory near Warrensburg and Big Tupper (though call ahead there, they are not reporting conditions) and conditions have improved considerably. Hickory will have the lower mountain 100% open on Saturday and Sunday, and possibly a few trails on the upper mountain. Smaller Mountains generally have about 50% of their terrain open; Gore and Whiteface about 80%. 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 this weekend, with excellent skiing being reported and most facilities have a 4 to 6-inch base, although Lapland Lake has a few more inches and remains the best bet this weekend in the Adirondacks. There are a few inches less base at Paul Smith’s, Tupper, and Dewey where the lower mountain is in good shape and the new lodge is open.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Trails are open in poor to good condition and a little rough. The best conditions are north of Old Forge toward Cranberry Lake and the extreme northwest part of the Adirondack Park. Conditions are only fair at Raquette Lake, BLue Mountain Lake, Indian Lake, and Newcomb. Southern Warren County Trails remain closed, northern warren County trails are rough but rideable. Everywhere popular trails are rougher and some village trails shot. 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS FROZEN, ABOVE NORMAL: Smaller rivers and streams are generally frozen. Larger rivers and streams are running above normal for this time of year. The Hudson River streamgage at North Creek has fallen to 3.57 feet Thursday afternoon. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is 95.96 feet. 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
** Open Waters: Indian Pass Brook is open preventing access to Street & Nye Mountains. Johns Brook may still be open at the Bushnell Falls crossing.
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: There is two feet of snow at Lake Colden. People have been traveling on Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake. Use caution around the outlet to Avalanche Lake. Always use caution when traveling on ice. Check the thickness frequently.
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: 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 snowshoeing. The popular open house ski weekends at Great Camp Santanoni will be held January 17-19, February 14-16, and March 14-15. Over these weekends, visitors can arrive at their leisure and enjoy a self-guided trip from the Gate Lodge, past the Farm and on to the Main Lodge. On the far side of the Lodge is the Artist’s Studio, where cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to warm up before the return trip. Staff will be on hand to answer questions, discuss the ongoing restoration and offer impromptu tours of the Main Lodge. Suggested hours of visitation at the Main Lodge are 10 am- 3 pm each day. Great Camp Santanoni is located off Route 28N in Newcomb. The round-trip ski is 9.8 miles on a gently sloping carriage road. There is no fee and reservations are not required. More information can be found here.
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: Blowdown has been cleared from the trail from Hogtown Parking Lot to Sleeping Beauty and the trail from the Shelving Rock Trailhead to Dacy Clearing. Forest Rangers continue to work on removing blowdown from the other trails.
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.