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.
SUN AND MOON: Sunrise Saturday will be at 5:51 am; sunset at 8:11 pm. The Moon will rise on Saturday at 12:40 am and set at 3:23 pm. On Saturday the Moon will be Waning Crescent with 33% of it visible surface illuminated.
CONDITIONS OVERVIEW: Trails are generally dry, except for typically wet low-lying areas, and waters continue to recede. Expect busy trails and parking and camping areas associated with July and August in the Adirondacks. Forecasts are calling for a weekend in the 70s to near 80, with a mostly sunny Saturday, but a partly cloudy day on Sunday with a chance for afternoon or evening rain showers. Expect winds 0 to 5 mph throughout the weekend; higher on summits.
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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS RUNNING NORMALLY: Waters have returned to normal levels for this time of year. The Hudson River is running about 2.76 feet on Thursday afternoon at the North Creek streamgage, levels below about 3 feet make rafting there more difficult. The Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is at 96.67 feet. Check local streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.
FIRE DANGER ELEVATED: The fire danger for the Adirondacks remains MODERATE – use extreme care with open fires. It is illegal to leave an even smoldering fire unattended. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks.
WATER TEMPERATURES: Most water temperatures rose into the lower-70s this week, with some warmer, more shallow waters in the mid-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:
Lake Champlain is about 72 degrees
Hudson River in Newcomb is about 65 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 65 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George is about 75 degrees
Great Sacandaga Lake is about 80 degrees
BLUE GREEN ALGAE WARNINGS: With the warmer temperatures several reports of toxic blue green algae blooms have been reported, including in Lake Placid late last week and in Moon Lake in Jefferson County (outside the park). A suspicious bloom was reported in Schroon Lake. Although the Schroon Lake bloom has not been confirmed to be the toxic, its best to avoid algae blooms at this time of year. In Lake Champlain, blooms have been reported around Lake Champlain in the Main Lake, Missisquoi Bay and at St. Albans Bay. Algae reports were received from the Port Henry and Beekmantown areas earlier in the week. 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.
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.
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
** Lake Placid: Reports of a blue green algae bloom has been confirmed in Lake Placid. 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 is unusable due to a broken cable.
Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy: The suspension bridge over the Opalescent River on the trail from Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy is closed. It is unusable because one cable broke. Currently, and under most conditions, the river can be easily forded at that location. Caution should be used immediately after heavy rains and other times of high water.
Avalanche Lake: The bridge over the Avalanche Lake Outlet has been replaced.
** Poor Man’s Downhill Mountain Bike Shuttle: The Poor Man’s Downhill shuttle bus for mountain bikers will be operating on the following Sundays (between 1 pm and 4 pm): August 9, August 23, September 6 and 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.
** Raquette River Trail: A section of the Raquette River Trail in the western High Peaks between Hemlock Hill and Palmer Brook was washed out during a recent storm. Hikers and horses can cross but should use caution.
Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes
** 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 is extremely wet and muddy after the intersection with the OK Slip Falls Trail. Wear proper footwear – gaiters are suggested.
** Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Rock Dam Road is open to motor vehicle traffic for the entire length.
Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: DEC crews have completed improvements to the portion of the Old Military Road leading to the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead
** 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
** Lake Champlain Algae Blooms: In Lake Champlain, blooms have been reported around Lake Champlain in the Main Lake, Missisquoi Bay and at St. Albans Bay. Algae reports were received from the Port Henry and Beekmantown areas earlier in the week. 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.
** Schroon Lake: Reports of suspicious algae blooms have been reported on Schroon Lake. 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.
** Shelving Rock Climbing Routes Reopened: All climbing routes in the Shelving Rock area have reopened.
Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Trail markers on Siamese Ponds Trail from the suspension bridge across the Sacandaga River are now yellow.
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 a.m. to 8 p.m. 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.
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.