BEST DAYS: Saturday will be sunny but very cold, Sunday will be somewhat warmer but turn cloudy in the afternoon.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:15 am; sunset at 5:04 pm. Moon rise Saturday afternoon will be at 2:45 pm, and moon set at 5:21 am Sunday. Saturday’s moon will be Waxing Gibbous with 90% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated. There will be a Full Moon on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 6:09 pm.
WINTER CONDITIONS: Expect to encounter bitter cold, winds, and snow and ice conditions. The eastern half of the Adirondacks picked up about 3 to 6 inches of light dry snow from last weekend’s storm, and snow cover has been freshened around the region this week. Another storm tonight and Friday morning is expected to bring another 3 to 6 inches to the Southern Adirondacks, less to the north, before turning windy and bitterly cold Friday night with lows in the teens to 20 below zero on summits. Saturday is expected to be sunny but cold, with some blustery winds, with highs only near or just below zero on summits and the single digits and teens elsewhere; lows at night in the single digits and teens below zero. Sunday should warm about 10 degrees but turn cloudy in the afternoon with some lake effect snow in the Western Adirondacks. . Hiking trails are icy and traction devices will be needed, along with snowshoes for higher elevations, and ice axes for the highest elevations; some summits are windblown bare. 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 and in stepper sections where ice axes may be necessary. Traction devices are recommended and bring snowshoes and ice axes if you are headed to higher elevations. Ski trails remain somewhat fast, though improved, 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.
STRONG WINDS: Expect summit winds to be south 45-60 mph this evening, and 15 to 30 mph on Friday and gusts to 30 mph per hour on Saturday.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Expect to encounter 10 to 16 inches of generally dry snow around most of the region with two to three feet of snow above about 3,000 feet and more higher. There is about 18 inches of snow at Marcy Dam, 26 inches of snow at Lake Colden and up to four feet at higher elevations, although some summits remain windblown bare. Trail are icy and traction devices will be needed, along with snowshoes and ice axes for higher elevations. On Thursday (before the storm) there is about 14 inches on the ground at Olmsteadville, Newcomb, and Lake Placid, and 10 at Tupper Lake.
BLOWDOWN: Expect to encounter blowdown from the Thursday night/ Friday morning storm and high winds, and blustery winds on Saturday.
ICE REPORT: Smaller rivers and streams are frozen. There is one to two feet of ice on some lakes including Great Sacanadaga Lake which has about 18 inches. Lake George and most of Lake Champlain has iced-over. Use extreme caution on ice, especially on the larger lakes which have less ice and 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.
LONG RANGE FORECAST: Continued very cold, with a slight chance of a storm moving through on Monday – Wednesday. Next Saturday is forecast to be in the teens and partly cloudy.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Expect conditions to improve to good with the additional snow forecast for Thursday night. All trails will be skiable this weekend, but there will likely be blowdown from high winds associated with the storm. Ski safely, as some obstacles on steeper terrain are only lightly covered. 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 in the High Peaks is reported to be good and Wright Peak and Marcy should come into play by Friday afternoon. 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. Additional details on conditions (and an updated report on Friday) can be found here.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, including Big Tupper and Hickory. Skiing is reported to be very good to excellent. Smaller Mountains will have about 50-60% of their terrain open; Gore and Whiteface about 80%-90%. 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 around the region will have an 8 to 10-inch base, though there will be a 4 to 6 inch base at Paul Smith’s, Tupper Lake, and at Dewey in Saranac Lake.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Trails are open and in generally good to very good condition though a little rough in heavily used areas before the storm expected Thursday and Friday; conditions are thinner and rougher (fair to good) in the southern Adirondacks including Warren County and in the Inlet to Long Lake corridor. The best riding will be in Indian Lake, Moose River Plains and Perkins Clearing. 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS FROZEN, NORMAL: Smaller rivers and streams are frozen. Larger rivers and streams are running about normal for this time of year. Most streamgages are affected by ice at this time. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for details about the waters where you intend to recreate before heading out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.