Thursday, January 22, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Jan 22)

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

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Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

 

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

 

 

BEST DAYS: Both days will be partly cloudy, Saturday will be considerably warmer than Sunday.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:22 am; sunset at 4:54 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 9:38 am Saturday, and moon set at 10:23 pm. Saturday’s moon will be Waxing Crescent with 23% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

SHORTER DAYS: The sun sets before 5 pm. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.

WINTER CONDITIONS: A coastal storm Friday night and Saturday is expected to miss the Adirondack region, but will bring warmer temperatures near and just above freezing on Saturday before turning considerably colder early Sunday. There is a chance of some light snow or mixed precipitation on Sunday afternoon-evening in some forecasts, any snow accumulation will only be an inch or two, across the northwestern half of the Adirondack Park, and that may include some mixed precipitation. Hiking trails are icy and traction devices will be needed, along with snowshoes for higher elevations, some summits are windblown bare. Expect daytime highs in the 20s and 30s on Friday and Saturday, near zero to the teens on Sunday. Nighttime temperatures Friday and Saturday night will be in the 20s and teens; Sunday night will be at or below zero. 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.

TRAILS ARE ICY, FAST: Trails are icy, especially hiking trails and other frequently used trails at lower elevations. Traction devices are recommended and bring snowshoes if you are headed to higher elevations. Ski trails are fast, with less cover on steeper slopes. 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 prevent “post holing” which can ruin trails and result in injuries to others.

WINDS: Expect winds 5-10 mph this weekend, higher on summits. Saturday and Sunday summit wind gusts could reach 35 mph.

SNOW COVER REPORT: Expect to encounter 6 to 12 inches of generally dry snow around most of the region with one to two feet of snow above about 2,500 feet. There is about 26 inches of snow at Lake Colden and up to three feet at higher elevations, although some summits are windblown bare. Trail are icy and traction devices will be needed, along with snowshoes for higher elevations. There is a chance of some light snow or mixed precipitation on Sunday afternoon-evening in some forecasts, any snow accumulation will only be an inch or two, across the northwestern half of the Adirondack Park.

BLOWDOWN: Expect to encounter blowdown on lesser used trails.

ICE REPORT: Smaller rivers and streams have generally frozen. There is a foot or more on some lakes and 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. Beware of unseen obstacles (especially near shorelines) and pressure ridges.

KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER: Be aware of weather conditions at all times by checking Adirondack region forecasts at Burlington and Albany, and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

LONG RANGE FORECAST: Cold temperatures moving in early Sunday will persist through next weekend barely rising out of the teens, and below zero at night. There is an outside chance for some light snow Monday, and again late in the week, but otherwise there is no substantial precipitation in the forecasts.

BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Conditions have remained about the same from last week, with smoother terrain recommended at lower elevations and better conditions at the higher elevations where the snow cover is deeper. Ski safely, however, as some obstacles remain uncovered, especially on steeper terrain. The Jackrabbit Trail has a 6 to 10 inch base and is skiable its 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. Skiing from Adirondac Loj through the Avalanche Pass trail has improved with some new snow last week, though take the Marcy Truck Trail to Marcy Dam. Wright Peak and Marcy are not recommended at this time. There is still marginal cover in Keene Valley and skiing to Johns Brook Lodge is not yet recommended. 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, as are the Fish Pond and Hays Brook Truck Trails, and Raquette Falls is reported skiable with caution on the steeps. Phil Brown wrote about current ski conditions on Thursday – his report here. Additional details on conditions can be found here.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts should be open this weekend, with the exception of Big Tupper (though call ahead at Hickory to be sure there was no report this week). Skiing is reported to be good, though fast. 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. Facilities in the High Peaks Region have a 6 to 8-inch base, although Lapland Lake has a few more inches. There is a 4 to 6 inch base at Paul Smith’s, and 3 to 5 at Tupper, and Dewey where the lower mountain is in good shape and the new lodge is open.

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Trails are open and in generally good condition though a little rough in heavily used areas. The best conditions remain north of Old Forge toward Cranberry Lake and the extreme northwest part of the Adirondack Park. Conditions have improved to good at Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Indian Lake, and Newcomb. Southern Warren County Trails are not recommended, northern Warren County trails are rough but rideable – their poker run has been rescheduled to Feb. 7. 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, NORMAL: Smaller rivers and streams are frozen. Larger rivers and streams are running about normal for this time of year. The Hudson River streamgage at North Creek has fallen to 3.46 feet Thursday afternoon. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is 95.79 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

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 and Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are crossable, but avoid inlets and outlets, especially at 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.

SOUTHERN-CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

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.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

** New Upper Hudson River Cross-Country Trail: DEC has opened a new cross-country trail along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in Newcomb. The 4.2-mile loop begins on Goodnow Flow Road just before the Goodnow River where there is a parking lot for three or four cars. The new loop trail follows old logging roads and ATV trails and is recommended for intermediate and advanced beginner skiers (skiing the route counterclockwise is easier). Phil Brown recently skied the new trail. Vehicles that park on nearby lands posted by the Goodnow Flow Association are trespassing and may be towed. You can read about his trip here.

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. Two more open house ski weekends at Great Camp Santanoni will be held 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.

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.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

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.

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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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