Thursday, May 21, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (May 21)

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

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BEST DAYS: Saturday or Sunday; 60s on Saturday, 70s on Sunday and Monday; rain is forecast for late Monday.

SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 5:22 am; sunset at 8:24 pm. Moon rise Saturday will be at 10:37 am, and Moon set at 12:47 am Sunday morning. On Saturday night the Moon will be Waxing Crescent with 31% of its visible disk illuminated.

FREEZE WATCH FRIDAY NIGHT: The National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Watch for Friday night for the entire Adirondack Region – temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 20s to around 30. More information about the Freeze Watch can be found here. Historic Records show that last freezes in Saranac Lake, a regional cold spot, can happen in the first week of June, and occasionally, even in the second week of June. For most areas in the Adirondacks, the median last freeze date is in the last week to 10 days of May.

SPRING CONDITIONS: This week’s spell of cold air, which caused frost and freeze warnings around the region, well-below freezing temperatures and an inch or two of snow above about 3,500 feet, will move off on Saturday. Expect ice on trails early Saturday morning. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be clear, sunny, warmer, but breezy, with highs in the 50s and 60s on Saturday and near 80 on Sunday.  Monday is forecast to be cloudy with some rain, especially late Monday and into Monday evening, temperatures should remain in the upper 60s and lower 70s however. Nighttime temperatures remain cold: in the 20s and 30s on Friday night; and mostly upper 40s on Saturday and Sunday nights.  Expect muddy trail conditions – especially at mid and upper elevations – lower than usual water levels for this time of year, and a high fire danger. 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.

WINDS: Expect winds 10 to 15 mph Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, settling to 5 to 10 mph in the evenings. Expect higher winds on summits: 25 to 40 mph on Friday, and 20 to 35 mph on Saturday.

AVOID MUD SEASON IN THE HIGH PEAKS: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until mid-June. DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. If you must hike in muddy conditions, stay on the trail, and walk through – not around – mud and water on the trails. The DEC has listed several trails that should be avoided and alterante hikes that would be better choices this weekend. You can find them here.

BUSY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: This is Memorial Day Weekend. Visitors to the the wilderness areas in this region, particularly the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, should be aware that trailhead parking lots and interior campsites may reach capacity. Visitors should plan accordingly and are advised to seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

FIRE DANGER HIGH / MODERATE – FIRE BAN IN EFFECT: The fire danger at the northern and eastern periphery of the Adirondack Park, including the St. Lawrence, Champlain, Lake George and Hudson River valleys is HIGH and numerous wildfires have been reported around the region, including a fire last week that burned 26 acres in Newcomb. The Central Adirondacks fire danger is MODERATE – use extreme care with open fires. Across New York State more than 100 fires have burned several thousand acres so far this year.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS: The US Drought Monitor is now reporting the entire Adirondack Region as ABNORMALLY DRY, and the periphery of the Adirondacks as MODERATE DROUGHT.

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 upcoming week’s forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies with temperatures near 80 and a chance for afternoon showers Monday through Friday. Next Saturday is forecast to be near 80 and partly cloudy.

RIVERS AND STREAMS: Waters are generally running below, or well below normal for this time of year. The North Creek streamgage was at 3.36 feet and falling on Thursday afternoon – below 3 feet makes rafting more difficult; the Lake Champlain gage at Whitefall is at 96.46 feet and falling. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

WATER TEMPERATURES COLD: Water temperatures are mostly in the 40s and 50s. Occupants of small boats operating on waters below 70 degrees should be prepared with cold water protective gear and wear life jackets. 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.

The following water temperatures are were reported on Thursday:

Lake Champlain is about 50 degrees
AuSable River in Wilmington is in the mid-50s
Mirror Lake is about 65 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 57 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George is about 58 degrees

BITING INSECTS: Black flies and mosquitos are present at lower elevations. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: wear light colored clothing, long sleeve shirts, and long pants; tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick.

USE BEAR-RESISTANT CANISTERS: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks.

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.

DEC CAMPGROUNDS NOW OPEN: All DEC campgrounds are now open.


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

** Avoid Areas Over 3,000 Feet: DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. Please use trails at lower elevations during the spring mud season. The Muddy Trail Advisory press release has additional information and a list of alternate trails.

** Busy Memorial Day Weekend: This is Memorial Day Weekend. Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and other popular locations should be aware that trailhead parking lots and interior campsites may reach capacity. Visitors should plan accordingly and are advised to seek backcountry recreation opportunities in other areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

** Marcy Field Overflow Parking: The overflow parking area at Marcy Field is open. The shuttle will be running between the parking area and the Garden Trailhead from 7 am to 7 pm each day this holiday weekend.

** South Meadow Lane: South Meadow Lane near Adirondac Loj has reopened to public motor vehicle traffic providing direct access to the trailheads for the South Meadows/Marcy Dam truck trail, Mt. Van Hoevenberg and Klondike Notch.

Garden Parking Area Fee: The Town of Keene has begun charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead.

Whiteface Memorial Highway Open: The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway will be open May 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 from 8:45 am – 5:30 pm; the cost is $11 car and driver, and an additional $8 for each additional passenger; cyclists are $8. The Cloudsplitter Gondola and other Whiteface base area activities will be opening June 5th.

** Route 86 Bridge Reopened: The Route 86 bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River in Wilmington, Essex County has reopened. The bridge will be reduced to one lane during workdays to finish the project into July.

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.

Elk Lake Trails and Clear Pond Gate: The Clear Pond Gate is open and Elk Lake Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic to the Elk Lake Trailhead.

Connery Pond Road: The Connery Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic. However, hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road. Hikers may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing.

** Corey’s Road Reopened: The gate on Corey’s Road has reopened.

Some High Peaks Climbing Routes Closed: Although all routes at the Upper Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond Area have reopened, routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliffs and all routes at Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch remain closed due to the presence of peregrine falcons.

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.

** Some Moose River Plains Wild Forest Roads Open: The Moose River Plains (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River) Road is open to motor vehicles from the Limekiln Lake gate at the western end near Inlet to the Lost Ponds access road. In addition, the Otter Brook Road is passable to motor vehicles to the Icehouse Pond trailhead. The Wakely Dam camping area at the eastern end of the Moose River Plains is open and camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the nine primitive campsites. The Rock Dam Road and the Cedar River Gate at the eastern end of the Moose River Plains Road will remain closed until conditions improve. The road is unsuitable for maintenance vehicles due to wet and soft conditions. DEC will open the road after it dries and regular maintenance work can be completed.  The open sections of road provide access to 30 roadside campsites and numerous waters popular with anglers, including Icehouse Pond, Helldiver Pond, Lost Ponds, Mitchell Ponds and Beaver Lake.

** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: All roads designated for public motor vehicle traffic on the Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement are open and in good condition. Motorist should stay in the center of the roads as much as possible. The section of the Jessup River Road leading to the Spruce Lake Trailhead is soft and should only be used by four-wheel drive vehicles.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands: The O’Neill Flow Road and its gate and the Barker Pond Road remain closed.

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.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The Powley-Piseco Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic.

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

** Prospect Mountain, Lake George: Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway will open May 23 and remain open through October 25.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Jabe Pond Road and Lilly Pond Road have reopened to motor vehicles. The road is rough so use caution. Gates are closed on the following roads until the end of mud season: Long Pond Trail, Palmer Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, and Buttermilk Road Extension.

Shelving Rock Road: Shelving Rock Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic.

Shelving Rock Climbing Routes: Climbing routes on the Main Wall (left of Wake and Bake Buttress) from the Snakecharmer Corner to Infinity Crack in the Shelving Rock area are closed to climbers due to the presence of peregrine falcons.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Eastern): Hogtown Road and the Hogtown Parking Area are open to public motor vehicles, but due to severe erosion during the spring melt Dacy Clearing Road remains closed to motor vehicles. Those planning to camp at Campsites #1-7 can hike from the Hogtown Parking Area to the campsites. This will require a hike of 1.5 miles to reach Campsite #7.

** Essex Chain Lakes Complex: Chain Lakes Road South is now open for motor vehicle access to the Old Gooley Club Parking Area. Chain Lakes Road North and Drakes Mill Road are open to allow for public motor vehicle access to the the Hudson River/Polaris Bridge Parking Area. The Shadow Dam Gate and the Cornell/Deer Pond Road, which provide access to the Deer Pond Parking Area, remain closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season.

Black Mountain: The gate and access road for the Black Mountain Trailhead are closed to motor vehicles until the end of the spring mud season.

Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

** Poke-O-Moonshine Climbing Closures Adjusted: All rock climbing routes on the Main Face of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain have reopened, with the exception of routes from #106 Sharkweek to #167 Lichenstorm, as described in Adirondack Rock – A Rock Climber’s Guide.

** Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch Reopened: The newly renovated Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch is open for the launching and retrieving of boats.

** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Connery Pond Road has reopened. The Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road (aka the St. Germain Pond Road) is open to motor vehicles.

** Kushaqua Tract Easement Lands: The Mountain Pond Road has reopened to public motor vehicle traffic.

** William C. Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Road will open to public motor vehicle traffic by this weekend.

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.

** St. Regis Canoe Area: The roadway and gate for access to Little Green Pond and the Little Clear Pond Hand Launch Site are open to motor vehicles. Floodwood Road is open to motor vehicle traffic.


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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