Thursday, April 23, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Apr 23)

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

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BEST DAY: Saturday; rain is likely on Sunday.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 5:56 am; sunset at 7:52 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 11:52 am, and moon set at 2:14 am, Sunday. There will be a First Quarter Moon Saturday at 7:55 pm.

WINTER CONDITIONS PERSIST: Daytime high temperatures are forecast to be mostly in the 40s and lower 50s. Nighttime temperatures will drop below freezing. Snow and rain showers are forecast through the weekend. The middle and higher elevations will continue to receive new snow through the weekend – up to 3 to 6 inches. Always check the weather forecast before entering the backcountry, carry proper safety equipment, inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

TRAIL CONDITIONS VARY: Trails are muddy and wet in the lower elevations. Middle elevations are a transition zone of water, mud, snow and ice. The middle and higher elevations will continue to receive new snow through the weekend – up to 3 to 6 inches. Snow remains present in the higher elevations with more than a foot at 2,700 feet and 2 feet or more at high elevations. Snow on trails will be hard in the morning and soft when it warms. Carry traction devices and snowshoes and wear them when warranted. Don’t posthole; if you don’t have snowshoes, turn back when you encounter snow. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required by regulation to use snowshoes or skis when snow depths are 8 inches or more.

SNOW COVER REPORT: Areas below 2,000 feet are mostly bare of snow, but there remains more than a foot at 2,700 feet and 2 feet or more at high elevations. The middle and higher elevations will continue to receive new snow through the weekend – up to 3 to 6 inches. Snowshoes or skis are necessary in the High Peaks and higher elevations elsewhere, and carrying traction devices is recommended.

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.

ICE IS MOSTLY OUT: Ice is out on all but smaller high elevation waters, which are covered with water and slush. No ice should be considered safe.

RIVERS AND STREAMS: Water levels are high, currents are swift and water temperatures are cold. Use caution near and while crossing rivers and streams this weekend in the High Peaks as snow and ice bridges has weakened and may no longer be safe to cross. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate. Rafting on the Hudson River is underway. The North Creek streamgage was at 6.74 feet and falling on Thursday afternoon; the Lake Champlain gage at Whitefall is at 97.59 feet and falling.

WATER TEMPERATURES COLD: Water temperatures are in the lower 30s. The water temperature of the AuSable River at Wilmington, Arbutus Lake in Newcomb, Lake Champlain, and at Warner Bay on Lake George are all about 35 degrees. Wear life jackets – unexpected immersion in water less than 70 degrees poses a much greater risk of drowning. Wearing a properly zipped and or buckled life jacket will likely keep a person’s head above water and support their body should swimming ability fail or they become unconscious due to cold water immersion. The Coast Guard estimates that 80% of all boating deaths might have been prevented had a life jacket been worn. PFDs must be worn by all paddlers and boaters in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1st.

LONG RANGE FORECAST: Aside from a sunny Wednesday, it is currently forecast to be a cloudy and rainy week with daytime temperatures mostly in the 40s and 50s, warming to the 50s and 60s beginning Thursday. nighttime temperatures will be near or below freezing, rising into the uppers 30s as the week progresses. Next Saturday is forecast to be in the lower 60s and mostly cloudy.

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: Backcountry skiing can no longer be generally recommended due to exposed obstacles and bare patches, but die-hards will find some skiing left in the upper elevations, above Marcy Dam, although carrying skis will required. Marcy still has cover, but the hiking trail portion of the Wright Peak ski trail is no longer recommended.

DOWNHILL, CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING HAS ENDED: All down downhill and cross country ski areas have closed for the season.

SNOWMOBILING HAS ENDED: Snowmobiling has ended 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.

FIRE DANGER LOW – BURN BAN IN EFFECT: The Fire danger in the Adirondacks is LOW. However, the US Drought Monitor is reporting that the entire Adirondack Region is currently ABNORMALLY DRY and there were several wild fires reported last week.  Conditions can dry quickly at this time of year, especially when there is wind and warm temperatures, so  use caution with campfires. Residential brush burning currently prohibited in the Adirondack Park until May 16th. New York State prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the number of wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources. Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. Learn more about the burn ban here.


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

** Garden Parking Area: The Town of Keene will begin charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead beginning Friday, April 24. The Town has reopened the road.

** Ice on Marcy Pond is thinning, especially over the channel. Use the footbridge over Marcy Brook rather crossing Marcy Pond.

** Colden Trap Dike: Water is running down the Trap Dike under and through the snow and ice.

** 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 has been reduced to one alternating lane 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.

** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Colden and Avalanche lakes may be crossable, but it is not reccommended – both are covered in water and slush.

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 for mud season. Seventh Lake, Eighth Lake and some of Raquette Lake are open.

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The Town of Lake Pleasant has closed & locked the gate at the north end of the Perkins Clearing Road at Mason Lake and the Village of Speculator closed and locked the gate at the end of blacktop on Elm Lake Road. These roads will remain closed through the end of mud season. All other roads also remain closed to public motor vehicle traffic through the end of mud season.

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: Beavers have caused flooding problems. 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.

** Jessup River Wild Forest: The two designated primitive tent sites at the northern end of Fawn Lake have been closed for rehabilitation. Two new tent sites will be designated this summer. The southern portion of Indian Lake is open but there is still ice on the northern portion.

The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): 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. Jabe Pond and Little Jabe Pond still have ice on them.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Eastern) The gate has been closed on the Dolph Pond Road in the Dolph Pond State Forest. The Town of Fort Ann has closed Shelving Rock Road to motor vehicles until the end of mud season. A barrier has been placed on Shelving Rock Road at the intersection with the Hogtown Road. Motor vehicles found beyond the barrier could be ticketed.

** Essex Chain Lakes Complex: all roads are closed until the end of the spring mud season.

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

** Fish Creek Pond Campground Open: The DEC’s Fish Creek Pond Campground in Franklin County has opened for the season.

** Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch: The Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch is closed for major reconstruction. It is scheduled to reopen before Memorial Day Weekend 2015.

** Round Lake Wilderness: Ice remains present on Round Lake.

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. 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: Ice remains present on lakes and ponds. The Lake Lila Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic 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.

** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Taylor Pond, Silver Lake and Union Falls Pond still have ice.


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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