BEST DAY: Sunday; snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain is forecast for Saturday.
SUN AND MOON: Friday is the first day of Spring. Sunrise Saturday will be at 7:01 am; sunset at 7:07 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 6:26 am, and moon set at 6:30 pm. Saturday moon will be Waning Crescent with 1% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated. There will be a New Moon on Friday, March 20, 2015 at 5:36 am.
LATE WINTER CONDITIONS THIS WEEKEND: Winter conditions persist with deep snow and mostly below freezing temperatures. Rain, snow, sleet or freezing rain is possible on Saturday (more snow toward the Western Adirondacks and on summits in the afternoon); expect highs in the upper 30s and lower 40s and lows in the teens and single digits in the mountains. Sunday will be mostly cloudy and considerably colder, with highs only in the teens and 20s and below zero temperatures Sunday night. There is currently between 8 inches and three feet of snow around the region, and snowshoes will be needed everywhere in the central Adirondacks. Also, carry traction devices. 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 VERY GOOD CONDITION: Trails remain in very good condition, although expect hard and icy conditions when temperatures are below freezing. Hard packed and well-traveled lower elevation areas will be icy and steeper sections may require traction devices and ice axes if you are headed to summits. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or skis. Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, ledge areas and be aware of avalanche safety precautions if traveling in avalanche prone areas.
SNOW COVER REPORT: Some more snow has melted in open areas, especially in the southern Adirondacks where there are some bare spots in open areas and southern exposures, but there has been relatively little melt in the woods. Snow depths at lower elevations range from about 8 to 14 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 about two feet, Lake Colden (2,750 ft. elevation) has about three feet of snow. Snow depths at 3,500 feet are about 45 inches and between 4,000 and 5,000 feet there is about 45 to 55 inches; some drifts are up to five feet deep. Snowshoes or skis are 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: Rivers and streams are being to melt and rise, but lakes remain covered in thick ice. Lake Champlain remains iced over and there is there is 20 to 25 inches of ice on most 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.
FISHING SHANTIES MUST BE REMOVED: All ice fishing shanties must be removed from water bodies by March 15. More information is available here.
KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER BEFORE YOU GO: 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: The coming week is expected to be in the 30s and cloudy or partly cloudy. No substantial storms are in the long-range forecast.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Backcountry ski conditions remain very good, but are now faster, with some icy areas and untracked areas contain a breakable crust that will make breaking trail more difficult. All trails remain skiable, and popular trails are tracked. The Jackrabbit Trail will have a 12 to 14 inch base this weekend, and is skiable (and tracked) its entire length. Good skiing remains top to bottom at Wright Peak and Marcy. The Whiteface Highway is skiable, but there are icy conditions where winds have blown off the snow on the upper reaches. Two new loops have been tracked out at the New Land Trust near Lyon Mountain. A ski loop along the Long Swing Trail to Pharaoh Lake to Putnam Pond has been broken out in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. The Bog River ski trail loop from the trailhead closest to Rt. 30 has also been broken out. Phil Brown recently skied Mount Marcy and has a report 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. See the 2/25 Marcy Dam Snow Cover Profile and DEC’s Avalanche Preparation Webpage.
DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Downhill ski conditions remain very good, though somewhat fast. All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, except Big Tupper which closed on Sunday. Most mountains will have about 85-90% of their terrain open; Gore and Whiteface are scaling back the number of open glades and the slides at Whiteface remain closed. Oak Mountain, which has switched to weekend only operation, will have their last day of skiing on March 28th. Whiteface has announced a tentative closing date of April 12, but may extend the season pending conditions.
CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: All cross-country ski areas will be open this weekend, and with mostly fast and firm ski conditions being reported. There is about 12 to 14 inches on groomed trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, at Cascade and Paul Smiths; about 8 to 10 at Tupper Lake and at Dewey in Saranac Lake; Lapland Lake has a 20 to 24-inch base.
SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Snowmobile trails are in fair to poor condition around the region, with at best about a 6 to 10 inch base in the wooded trails. Some melting and then cold temperatures this week have left icy turns and frozen ruts, and most village trails are shot and road shoulders are marginal. Die-hards can get in one more weekend of riding in the Central Adirondacks, but inner trails are the best bet this weekend, and trailering to more remote trails is recommended. Warren and Washington county Trails have closed. See specific notices for the areas you intend to ride below.
RIVERS AND STREAMS BELOW NORMAL: Most rivers and streams have begun melt and rise, but remain below normal for this time of year. Larger rivers are about normal for this time of year. Be advised that when checking local streamgages on the USGS website 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 always 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
** Route 86 Bridge Closed: The Route 86 bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington, Essex County, is closed to vehicles and pedestrians for a bridge replacement project. Businesses near the bridge remain open. The new bridge is expected to be opened by June 1. Detours direct motorists to Springfield Road (Essex County Road 83) and Fox Farm Road (Essex County Road 63). More information can be found here.
** 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.
** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Colden and Avalanche lakes are crossable, but avoid inlets and outlets, especially at the outlet of Avalanche Lake, where winter travelers frequently fall through.
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 a round trip – plan accordingly.
Avalanche Pass Slide: The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to public recreation of any type through the winter.
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 Gate Closed: The gate on Corey’s Road is closed until the end of the spring mud season. Those seeking to access the Calkins Brook and Ward Brook Trails must park at the Raquette Falls Trailhead and traverse the 3 miles to the summer parking lot.
McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Volunteers from Lean2Rescue and the Syracuse University Outing Club have re-roofed the Whiteface Brook Lean-to.
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.
Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The snowmobile trail connecting the northeast corner of Raquette Lake and Forked Lake has been rerouted. The location for snowmobiles gettting on and off the Raquette Lake has been moved approximately 1.25 miles west on the north shore. Snowmobiles will need to use the Northpoint Road to travel between the trail to Forked Lake, which remains the same, and the new trail to Raquette 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, but are rough.
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 is 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.
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.