Thursday, August 27, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Aug 27)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is issued each Thursday afternoon.

Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:15 am; sunset at 7:38 pm. The Moon will rise on Saturday evening at 7:30 pm and set at 7:14 am Sunday morning. On Saturday there will be a Full Moon at 2:35 pm.


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ENTER THE BACKCOUNTRY PREPARED: Always carry proper safety equipment – including plenty of food, water, extra clothing, and a map and compass – inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods. Just before entering the backcountry check the latest weather forecasts for Adirondack region at Burlington and Albany, and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

CONDITIONS OVERVIEW: Expect busy trails and parking and camping areas associated with July and August in the Adirondacks. Trails may be wet and muddy do to recent rains, especially in low areas and along water.  The weather is forecast to be partly cloudy in the upper 70s to lower 80s, with nighttime lows in the mid-50s.  Expect winds 0 to 5 mph and winds across higher terrain 5 to 10 mph.

LIGHTENING SAFETY REMINDER: The possibility of encountering thunderstorms is elevated at this time of year. There is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm, follow local weather closely and avoid storms. Hundreds of people are killed or permanently injured each year by being struck by lightening. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek safe shelter immediately. If you are caught outdoors away from the safety of cars or buildings, then avoid open fields, hill-tops, and isolated trees, and stay away from water. You should never be above treeline or on water when there is lightning.

AVOID DEHYDRATION: DEC Forest Rangers and other field staff have recently had to assist numerous people suffering from varying degrees of dehydration. Dizziness, confusion, weakness, cramping and nausea are signs of dehydration. Be sure to carry plenty of water. It is better to drink moderate amounts of water often than large amounts of water occasionally. Rest and drink water often – especially in warm weather – to avoid dehydration.

RIVERS AND STREAMS NORMALLY LOWER: Waters at their normally lower  levels for this time of year. The Hudson River is running about 2.98 feet on Thursday afternoon at the North Creek streamgage. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is at 95.72 feet. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

FIRE DANGER MODERATE: The fire danger for the Adirondacks has been raised to MODERATE – use extra care with open fires this weekend. It is illegal to leave an even smoldering fire unattended. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks.

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures fell again on cooler weather and rain this week into the 60s, with some warmer waters in the lower-70s. A properly worn 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 unexpected 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 were reported on Thursday:

Ausable River is in the upper 60s
Lake Champlain is about 72 degrees
Hudson River in Newcomb is about 66 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 64 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George is about 77 degrees

BLUE GREEN ALGAE WARNINGS: Blue green algae blooms have been reported in the northeast part of Lake Champlain, from Georgia County north including Missisquoi and St. Albans bays, north of the RT 129 bridge to Isle LaMotte, Pelots Point, at Dunham Bay and North Hero. Confirmed blue green algae blooms were reported this August in Friends Lake, Warren County and at Lake Placid; a suspected but unconfirmed bloom was reported in Schroon Lake. Do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water. There may be other waterbodies with blue-green algae blooms that have not been reported.

SOME DEC CAMPGROUNDS CLOSING SOON: Some DEC campgrounds will be closing September 7 (last night to camp September 6), including: Alger Island, Brown Tract Pond, Buck Pond, Caroga Lake, Crown Point, Forked Lake, Golden Beach, Limekiln Lake, Lincoln Pond, Long Island on Lake George, Meadowbrook, Narrows on Lake George, Paradox Lake, Point Comfort, Poplar Point, Rollins Pond, Sacandaga, Sharp Bridge, Taylor Pond, Tioga Point.

FIRE TOWER WORK UNDERWAY: DEC has also transported materials to three mountains and will be working on three fire towers over the next several weeks – St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower, Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower and Lyon Mountain Fire Tower.

BITING INSECTS: Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: wear light-colored loosing-fitting 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.

LEAVE NO TRACE – CARRY IN – CARRY OUT: Learn and practice the seven Leave No Trace principles. Carry out what you have carried in. Do not leave gear, food, or other unwanted or unneeded items at lean-tos and campsites. Do not litter.

GROUP SIZE RESTRICTIONS: DEC regulation limits organized events of more than twenty people, camping in the same spot for more than three days, or in groups of more than ten people, unless authorized under a temporary revocable permit.


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

Raquette River Trail: The section of the Raquette River Trail in the western High Peaks between Hemlock Hill and Palmer Brook that had been washed out has been repaired and is usable by hikers and horses.

Lake Placid: Reports of a blue green algae bloom was confirmed in Lake Placid two weeks ago. Do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

High Peaks 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 every weekend and holiday through October 18th. The Town of Keene has begun charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead.

** Calamity Brook Trail: The High Water Bridge over Calamity Brook on the Calamity Brook Trail between the Upper Works and the Flowed Lands has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers

** Whiteface Mountain: Hikers climbing Whiteface Mountain should not depend on obtaining water at the summit. Be sure to carry enough water to reach the summit and return to the trailhead to stya comfortable and not suffer from dehydration.

** Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy: The suspension bridge over the Opalescent River on the trail from Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers.

** Poor Man’s Downhill Mountain Bike Shuttle: The Poor Man’s Downhill shuttle bus for mountain bikers will be operating NEXT Sunday, September 6 (between 1 pm and 4 pm) and also on September 20. The shuttle will take mountain bikers from the downhill trailhead off Route 86 of the to the uphill trailhead off Route 431. The Poor Man’s Downhill is a multi-use trail on the northeast side of Whiteface Mountain. The trail begins just below the toll booth for the Whiteface Mountain Veteran’s Memorial Highway and ends 1,150 feet lower and nearly 3 miles away in the hamlet of Wilmington. Riders can meet the shuttle at LeepOff Cycles, 5549 Route 86.

Lake Arnold/Feldspar Lean-to Trail: The trail between Lake Arnold and Feldspar Lean-to is very wet and muddy but passable. The trail has dried up enough that the bog bridging is usable – immediately after heavy rains flooding may occur that makes the bridging difficult to use. Expect to get your feet wet and muddy when traversing some portions of the trail where bog bridging is not present. Use Avalanche Pass/Lake Colden Trail or Mt. Colden Trail to travel between Lake Arnold and Feldspar Lean-to if you want to avoid this trail.

Opalescent River – Uphill Lean-To: A 10-foot section of trail near Uphill Lean-to along the Opalescent River above Lake Colden was washed out during heavy rains last weekend. Hikers can get around it by going through the trees but should use caution when doing so.

** Hurricane Mountain Wilderness: Materials for the restoration of the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower have been transported to the summit of the mountain. DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower will be working over the next several weeks to restore and rehabilitate the fire tower.

Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes

** Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: DEC staff recently completed constructing a new lean-to on the southeastern side of Big Island on Raquette Lake. The new lean-to replaces the dilapidated middle lean-to which was removed earlier this summer.

Essex Chain: The public should not travel on the Goodnow Flow Road beyond the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North. The Goodnow Flow Road becomes a private road shortly after the DEC sign for “Essex Chain Lakes and Hudson River Access” sign at the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North. Motorists, bicyclists and others should turn left at the sign on to the Chain Lakes Road North.

New Mountain Biking In Essex Chain Complex: DEC has opened nearly 20 miles of dirt roads in the Essex Chain Lakes Area to mountain bikers. The roads provide access to Deer Pond, Jackson Pond, Pine Lake, and take you past Third and Fourth lakes. Also accessible via mountain bike is the Cedar River at the location of a proposed bridge, and the Polaris Bridge (the Iron Bridge) over the Hudson River (though no biking is allowed across the river). The routes offer two loops, one a 2.5 mile ride around Deer Pond and the other about a 15 mile ride utilizing Essex Chain Road North through the middle of the Essex Chain of Lakes, Deer Pond, Cornell, Woody’s, and Goodnow Flow roads. More information, including a map, can be found here.

** Hudson Gorge Wilderness – Ross Pond Trail: The Ross Pond/Whortleberry Pond/Big Bad Luck Pond Trail has dried considerably, most of the standing water is gone but expect to encounter wet and muddy areas on the trail. Wear proper footwear and walk through – not around – mud and water to avoid further eroding the trail. The trail to OK Slip Falls Trail is in good shape.

Northville-Placid Trail – Jessup River Road: A bridge on the Jessup River Road, approximately 0.5 mile before the Spruce Lake Trailhead, is damaged and closed to motor vehicle traffic. Hikers seeking to access the Northville-Placid Trail and Spruce Lake can park along the road before the bridge provided they don’t block traffic and walk across the bridge using caution. This will add approximately one mile for a round trip. This section of the Jessup River Road is soft.

Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co

** Friends Lake Algae Bloom: A confirmed blue green algae bloom was reported two weeks ago in Friends Lake, Warren County. Do not swim, bathe, or drink algae contaminated water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

** Lake Champlain Algae Blooms: Blue green algae blooms have been reported in the northeast part of the lake, from Georgia County north including Missisquoi and St. Albans bays, north of the RT 129 bridge to Isle LaMotte, Pelots Point, at Dunham Bay and North Hero. Do not swim, bathe, or drink algae contaminated water, or use it in cooking or washing, and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

Schroon Lake: Reports of suspicious algae blooms were reported on Schroon Lake two weeks ago. Although those these have not been confirmed to be the toxic, it’s best to avoid algae blooms.

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: There has been an increase number of sightings of timber rattlesnakes on the eastern side of Lake George by hikers and other recreationist. Be alert, pay attention to the trail ahead of you and areas adjacent to the trail. Rattlesnakes do not always rattle just because you are close. If you spot a rattlesnake keep away or move slowly away. The snake will likely want to move away from you don’t block its escape. Do not harass or harm the snake – it is unsafe and illegal to do so.

Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic.

Shelving Rock Trails: Heavy blowdown is present above 1,200 feet on Erebus Mountain Trail, Fishbrook Pond to Lake George Trail and other lesser used trails in the area.

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

Saranac Lakes Lower Locks: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is notifying boaters that the Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain are fully operational. DEC staff are present from 10 am to 8 pm to electronically operate the locks. Outside of these hours the locks are manually operable to the boating public.

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.

St. Regis Canoe Area: Campers on Little Green Pond no longer are required to get a permit from the Adirondack Fish Hatchery. Regular state land camping regulations now apply – a permit is only required if campers will be camping four or more nights. This permit can be obtained from the local forest ranger.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Crews are working on improvements to the Ranger Trail on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain for the next several weeks. That is the “old” Poke-O-Moonshine trail. Hikers may encounter work operations, especially during the week. Please be respectful of the crew’s work and cooperate with directions given regarding safe passage through the work area.


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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