BEST DAY: Sunday; temps near 30 and fresh fallen snow.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:47 am; sunset at 5:33 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 8:10 am, and moon set at 9:14 pm. Saturday’s moon will be Waxing Crescent with 11% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.
WIND CHILL WARNING: The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Warning for the Western Adirondacks and a Wind Chill Advisory for the rest of the region from 10 pm tonight until 9 am Friday. Expect very cold wind chills as low as 30 to 40 degrees below zero late tonight through Friday morning, the coldest wind chills will be in the Western Adirondacks and on and near summits. Frostbite and hypothermia are possible for those without proper protection from the cold. Winds will be west 5 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
WINTER CONDITIONS THIS WEEKEND: The extreme cold will last through Friday as a storm forms Saturday in the Southeastern United States that will track just south of the Adirondacks and, depending on the storm’s track, could produce as either 1 to 3 of snow across the entire region Saturday night (possibly as much as 3 to 6 inches across the north) and possibly a wintry mix early Sunday as temperatures warm toward and above the freezing point, especially in the Southern Adirondacks. As the storm moves off Sunday it will leave warmer and drier weather before turning sharply colder again Monday. There is between one and four feet of snow, so snowshoes will be needed everywhere, and carry traction devices; ice axes may be necessary on and near High Peaks summits. 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 IN EXCELLENT CONDITION: Trails are in excellent condition, although some hard packed and well-traveled lower elevation areas may be icy and steeper sections may require traction devices and ice axes if you are headed to summits. Snowmobile, ski and snowshoe trails are in excellent condition and Saturday’s snow will keep them fresh. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are now required to use snowshoes or skis.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Snow depths at lower elevations range from a a foot to 18 inches at the periphery of the Adirondack Park to two to three feet in the interior. The snow depth at Marcy Dam (2,350 ft. elevation) is 34 inches, Lake Colden (2,750 ft. elevation) has 37 inches of snow and there is up to five feet at higher elevations. Snowshoes or skis will be necessary, and carrying traction devices is recommended, along with ice axes for higher elevations.
BLOWDOWN: Expect to encounter blowdown from recent storms and high winds, especially on lesser used trails.
ICE REPORT: Warmer temperatures Sunday could bring some slush to lake ice, although much colder temperatures will return on Monday. Smaller rivers and streams are frozen. Lake Champlain iced over completely this week. There is one to two feet of ice on smaller lakes. Use caution on ice over areas of current, 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: A storm is expected to bring snow into the Northeast Wednesday, possibly as much as 5 to 8 inches, depending on the storm’s track. Otherwise temperatures will remain cold, reaching only into the teens and 20s.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Backcountry ski conditions are very good and all trails are skiable. Expect a small amount of fresh snow on Saturday evening to freshen trails. The Jackrabbit Trail has a 12 to 16 inch base and is skiable its entire length and good skiing is being reported top to bottom at Wright Peak and Marcy and along the Whiteface Highway. All other popular routes around the region are in very good shape and have generally been tracked out. Additional details on conditions can be found here.
AVALANCHE AWARENESS: New snow and recent snow events have left layered snow that should not be skied or traversed without taking proper avalanche assessments and using proper safety gear – if you are unsure, don’t go.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Downhill ski conditions are excellent. All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, including Big Tupper and Hickory. All mountains will have about 90-95% of their terrain open; most glades will be open at both Gore and Whiteface; the Whiteface slides remain closed.
CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: All cross-country ski areas will be open this weekend, and outstanding ski conditions are being reported. Most facilities have a 12 to 16-inch base on groomed trails, although there will be a 6 to 10 inch base at Paul Smith’s, Tupper Lake, and at Dewey in Saranac Lake. Lapland Lake has a 24 to 30-inch base.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Trails are open and in good condition around the region, with about an 8 to 14 inch base. Shoulders will have variable conditions due to high volume; most town roads have decent snow cover. Expect trails to be busy and ride with care. The snowmobile trail between Dacy Clearing and Black Mountain, east of Lake George, has been cleared of blowdown and groomed. Due to an ongoing issue regarding access across the trail, the snowmobile trail connecting Morrey Road (Town of Caroga) to Stewarts Landing (Town of Stratford) in the Ferris Lake Wild Fores is closed until the issue can be resolved. 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, BELOW NORMAL: Most rivers and streams are frozen. Larger rivers are running about below normal for this time of year. Be advised that when checking local streamgages on the USGS website for details about the waters where you intend to recreate before heading out, they are mostly affected by ice.
DO NOT RELY ON TECHNOLOGY: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Plan and prepare before entering the backcountry and carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as a backup – and know how to use them.
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
** Stay On Trails On Summits: Stay on trails or deep snow when on summits. Exposed and ice covered sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged under winter conditions.
** Colden Trap Dike: The Trap Dike is full of snow, slowing movement through the dike considerably. A party last week reported taking many hours more than expected to climb the dike.
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 three feet of snow at Lake Colden and Colden and Avalanche lakes are crossable, but avoid inlets and outlets, especially at the outlet to Avalanche Lake.
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
Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave in the Siamese Pond Wilderness is closed from October through May to protect hibernating bats.
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: Due to an ongoing issue regarding access across the trail, the snowmobile trail connecting Morrey Road (Town of Caroga) to Stewarts Landing (Town of Stratford) in the Ferris Lake Wild Fores is closed until the issue can be resolved.
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co
** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The snowmobile trail between Dacy Clearing and Black Mountain has been cleared of blowdown and groomed.
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. A final open house ski weekend at Great Camp Santanoni will be held March 14-15. On this weekend 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
** Jay Mountain Wilderness: Crampons should be carried and worn when warranted on the ridgeline trail of Jay Mountain.
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.