Thursday, April 2, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Apr 2)

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

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BEST DAY: Sunday; a chance of 3 to 6 inches of snow, possibly mixed precipitation in the southern Adirondacks is expected by Saturday morning.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:32 am; sunset at 7:27 pm. There will be a Full Moon on Saturday, at 8:05 am. Moon rise Saturday night will be at 7:49 pm, and moon set at 7:06 am, Sunday morning. Saturday night’s moon will be Waning Gibbous with 99% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated.

WINTER CONDITIONS PERSIST: Although temperatures have now generally warmed to daytime highs in the 30s and 40s, with 50s on Thursday and Friday; winter conditions persist at elevation with deep snow, mostly below freezing temperatures, and 3 to 6 inches of snow in the Forecast for Friday night. Saturday and Sunday will be markedly cooler with high temperatures around the region struggling to reach into the lower 30s, and 20s at higher elevations. Lows Friday night in the 30s will give way to lows in the 20s and teens on Saturday and Sunday nights. 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.

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.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: Hiking trails are in good condition with hard-packed snow softening in the afternoons, but expect hard and icy conditions when temperatures are below freezing and in the mornings. Hard packed and well-traveled lower elevation areas will be icy and steeper sections may require traction devices. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or skis.

RIVERS AND STREAMS RISING: Use caution while crossing rivers and streams, especially in lower elevation areas this weekend. While there is less concern about larger rivers rising above flood stage, or at higher elevations, secondary rivers and streams at lower elevations will continue to rise through the weekend and the coming week. Be advised that some stream crossings in those areas may no longer be cross-able, and snow bridges over streams may be unsafe. Larger rivers are below normal for this time of year. Checking local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

SNOW COVER REPORT: Temperatures in the 40s and 50s have diminished the snow pack somewhat this week, but without rain that reduction has been minimal, especially in wooded areas and at higher elevations. A weather system on Friday night could bring as much as 3 to 6 inches of snow to the central and northern Adirondacks by Saturday morning, with less, or possibly mixed precipitation in the Southern Adirondacks. In general, snow has melted in open and south facing areas in the southern Adirondacks and at the periphery of the Adirondack Park. Snow depths at lower elevations generally range from a patchy 6 to 10 inches at the periphery of the Adirondack Park to one to two feet in the interior, with as much as three or four feet in the mid and upper-elevations of the High Peaks, although some south facing areas, especially where bedrock is exposed, may be bare rock. The High Peaks picked up 8 to 10 inches of new snow late last week, and another 3 to 6 could fall by Saturday morning, less in the southern Adirondacks. On Thursday the snow depth at Marcy Dam (2,350 ft. elevation) is about 40 inches, Lake Colden (2,750 ft. elevation) has about three feet of snow, with deeper snows at higher elevations. Snowshoes or skis are necessary, and carrying traction devices is recommended.

ICE REPORT: Rivers and streams are being to melt and rise, but lakes remain covered in ice with water and slush on top. Lake Champlain remains iced over. Use extreme caution on ice however, as conditions vary, especially at lower elevations and 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.

LONG RANGE FORECAST: The coming week is expected to be in the lower-40s with nighttime lows near and just below freezing. Next Saturday is currently forecast to be sunny with a high near 50.

SOME CLIMBING AREAS CLOSED: Due to the presence of peregrine falcons, DEC has closed the following climbing areas: All routes at Moss Cliff, Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond area, and Shelving Rock at Lake George. At Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, all routes on the Main Face are closed except the following routes described on pages 39-45 of Adirondack Rock – A Rock Climber’s Guide: Waterfall area, Superman Wall, Luther Wall.

BACKCOUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Winter conditions will be found this weekend on backcountry ski trails, including at least some fresh snow. All trails remain skiable, with caution on the steeps. The Jackrabbit Trail will have an 8 to 12-inch base this weekend, and is skiable its entire length with the exception of the section along River Road in Lake Placid. If you are headed to Marcy Dam from Adirondack Loj, take the truck trail. There is cover top to bottom at Wright Peak and Marcy, but the trails may be fast – there is still more than five feet of snow above Indian Falls. Conditions in Newcomb remain good. Phil Brown recently skied Dewey Mountain, over the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg, and the Mr. Van Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. His report can be found here.

AVALANCHE AWARENESS: Changing conditions 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. Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, ledge areas and be aware of avalanche safety precautions if traveling in avalanche prone areas. Last Saturday two climbers triggered a wind slab avalanche in the upper end of the Trap Dike, in an area with a slope angle of approximately 30 degrees. Both climbers were partially buried, but were able to dig themselves out. See DEC’s Avalanche Preparation Webpage.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Conditions remain very good at downhill mountains. Big Tupper, Hickory and Oak Mountain have closed for the season. Gore and Whiteface will have about 80% of their terrain open, McCauley about 60%, no glades or slides are open. Whiteface has announced a tentative closing date of April 12, but may extend the season pending conditions; Gore has announced it will be in daily operation until April 12.

CROSS-COUNTRY FACILITIES: With the exception of Cascade, all cross-country ski areas will be open this weekend, with mostly fast and firm conditions. This could be the last weekend for Garnet Hill however, which is down to a 2 to 6-inch base. The best conditions this weekend will be at Lapland Lake with an 12 to 18-inch base and at Mt. Van Hoevenberg with a 10 to 14-inch base – both are still grooming and conditions are reported to be excellent. Good skiing is also still being reported at the New Land Trust Trails and there is still plenty of skiing at Paul Smiths. Van Hoevenberg is closing Monday and Tuesday through the end of the season. The lodge at Dewey has closed for the season, but trails remain open.

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REPORT: Although trailering to state lands east of Route 30 remains an option for serious die-hards, snowmobiling can no longer be generally recommended and private trail systems have closed for the season.

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.

ABNORMALLY DRY DROUGHT CONDITIONS: The U.S. Drought Monitor is reporting the entire Adirondacks are experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

TROUT SEASON OPEN: This winter in the Eastern Adirondacks was historically cold, but there was abundant snow coverage for much of the winter. Larger trout streams building have built an abundance of ice which can increase the mortality of fish, and anglers may not be able to reach rivers due to the buildup of ice along the banks. Anglers interested in Adirondack trout streams may want to wait until later in April for rivers and streams to warm enough for the fish to become active.


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.

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.

** Route 73 Bridge Work: The bridge carrying Route 73 over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene will be reduced to one alternating lane starting Monday, April 6, through November. The rehabilitation of this bridge, sometimes known locally as the “Post Office” bridge, will include replacement of its superstructure, including the beams and concrete deck. The concrete approaches will also be replaced. Work will be done in two stages. During construction, traffic will be controlled by temporary traffic signals at either end of the bridge. The bridge will be open to two travel lanes in late July to accommodate the annual Ironman Triathlon Race.

** 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: Last Saturday two climbers triggered a wind slab avalanche in the upper end of the Trap Dike, in an area with a slope angle of approximately 30 degrees. Both climbers were partially buried, but were able to dig themselves out.

** 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.

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, but are rough and not recommended.

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, but rough.

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

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Snowmobile trails are closed for the season, gates are closed on the following roads until the end of mud season: Lilly Pond Road, Long Pond Trail, Palmer Pond Road, Gay Pond Road.

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.

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

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.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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