BEST DAY: Sunday will be about 10 degrees warmer than Saturday.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:30 am; sunset at 4:37 pm. Moon rise Saturday night will be at 10:16 pm Saturday, and moon set at 10:30 am Sunday. Saturday’s moon will be Waning Gibbous with 75% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated. There will be a Last Quarter Moon early Tuesday morning.
SHORTER DAYS: The sun sets around 4:30 pm. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.
WINTER CONDITIONS: Very cold temperatures have taken hold in the Adirondacks, with nighttime windchill factors in the -30s and -40s on Wednesday night (the coldest windchill temperature reported was on the summit of Whiteface, -77 degrees). Expect daytime high temperatures this weekend ranging from below zero at higher elevations to teens and lower 20s elsewhere. Winds 10 to 15 mph will produce colder wind chill temperatures. Keep skin covered to avoid frostbite. Nighttime temperatures will be below zero, well below zero at higher elevations. A trace to three inches of snow will freshen trails on Friday and into early Saturday (with possibly some higher amounts in lake effect areas of the extreme western Adirondacks), but no significant precipitation is forecast for the weekend. 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 CRUSTY, ICY: Freezing temperatures have hardened trails and made them generally icy, traction devices are recommended and bring snowshoes if you are headed to higher elevations. There is a thick layer of ice crust and lighter snow underneath in untraveled areas that will slow progress and make breaking trail with skis difficult. 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS ABOUT NORMAL: Rivers and streams are running about normal for this time of year, but some freeze-up ice jams are possible in the region. The Hudson River streamgage at North Creek has fallen to 3.90 feet Thursday afternoon and falling. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is 96.09 feet. 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 10-15 mph, higher on and near summits.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Expect to encounter 4 to 8 inches around most of the region with up to a foot in the High Peaks. There is about about 20 inches at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations, though many summits are windblown and icy. A trace to three inches of snow will freshen trails on Friday and into early Saturday (with possibly some higher amounts in lake effect areas of the extreme western Adirondacks), but no significant precipitation is forecast for the weekend.
EXPECT BLOWDOWN: Recent storms have contributed to blowdown. Expect to encounter blowdown, especially on lesser used trails.
ICE REPORT: Cold temperatures have solidified most lake ice and there is a foot or more on some lakes, although larger lakes are only just beginning to ice over, including Great Sacanadaga Lake, Schroon Lake (which iced over last Tuesday night), and the Bays of Lake George and Lake Champlain. 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: Cold will remain through next week with a chance of some snow Wednesday through Thursday. A storm moving west toward the coast has the potential to turn up the coast and if conditions are right, could develop into a larger snow event. Next Saturday is currently forecast to be in the 20s and clear.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: There is a small amount of powder on a crust of snow that will make breaking trail more difficult, although most trail should be already broken. All downhills will be fast. Smoother terrain remains the best bet this weekend and steeper terrain is not recommended. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable it’s entire length, but the steeper sections can not be recommended. If you are headed to Marcy Dam, take the Marcy Truck Trail. There are some obstacles and a few bare spots to the top of Avalanche Pass, but it is skiable. Wright Peak and Marcy are not skiable at this time and will need a good dump of snow to come back into play. The Calamity Brook Trail is reported rough but passable, and the Opalescent River and Flowed Lands are frozen. The Newcomb Lake Road is a good bet for this weekend, as are the Fish Pond and Hays Brook Truck Trail, though Raquette Falls is reported to be “probably not yet” skiable. Ski safely, as some obstacles remain uncovered and frozen ruts lie below new snow.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, with the exception of Hickory near Warrensburg and Big Tupper, but expect limited terrain at smaller mountains without substantial snow-making, they are still operating with only a handful of trails. Gore and Whiteface will have 60-70% 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 this weekend, most with a two to five inch base, although Lapland Lake has a few more inches and remains the best bet this weekend in the Adirondacks. The new snow will help. The cross country trails at McCauley are currently closed awaiting more snow. The trails at Dewey have been closed this week, but call ahead for this weekend.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Trails are generally open, but in fair to poor condition and very rough. The southwestern Adirondacks remains your best bet, with the best conditions north of Old Forge. Trails have now opened in Raquette Lake, Long Lake, and Northern Warren County Trails are open, but thin and rough. Southern Warren County trails remain closed. 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
** 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: 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: 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 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.