Thursday, October 1, 2015

Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Oct 1)

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

Sunrise Saturday will be at 6:56 am; sunset at 6:33 pm. The Moon will rise on Saturday night at 10:58 pm and set at 1:56 pm on Sunday afternoon. There will be a Last Quarter Moon on Sunday, October 4, at 5:06 pm.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

FALL FOLIAGE REPORT: Leaves are just beginning to change in most of the lower elevation areas, but leaf change is near-peak in the upper elevations. Expect very little change in the Southern Adirondacks, and along the Sacandaga, Lake George, and Lake Champlain valleys; about 20 to 30% change in other lower elevation areas; and about 75% change underway in the High Peaks.

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.

WEATHER COLDER, DAYS SHORTER: Be prepared for cold weather. Days are shorter and temperatures are falling below freezing at night. Plan hikes accordingly. Carry a flashlight or headlamp. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat and gloves, in addition to your usual equipment. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat.

FREEZE WARNING: A Freeze Warning has been issued for tonight for the entire Adirodnack Region. Temperatures are expected to be between 25 and 32 degrees.

LAKE CHAMPLAIN WIND ADVISORY: The National Weather Service has issued a Lake Wind Advisory until further notice for Lake Champlain. Strong high pressure anchored across Ontario and Quebec will maintain moderate northerly winds across Lake Champlain, generally 15-25 knots today and tonight. This will result in the highest winds and waves across the southern end of the lake.

HURRICANE JOAQUIN: Follow the weather closely this weekend. On Thursday afternoon it’s still too early to tell which track the powerful Hurricane Joaquin will take out of the Bahamas. Although models are tending toward an off-shore route along the Atlantic Coast, the storm could turn more inland and affect the Adirondack region beginning early Monday. Right now it looks like the southeastern portion of the Adirondacks (from Keene Valley to Lake George) could see some rain, heavy at time into Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the final track the storm takes.

CONDITIONS OVERVIEW: It turned noticeably colder this week; expect freezing nighttime temperatures. Trails are mostly dry although there has been some considerable, well-needed, rain this past week that has left typically muddy or wet low-lying areas with some mud and standing water. Waters have returned to normal flows for this time of year, the drought has eased some, and the fire danger is now lower. Depending the track of Hurricane Joaquin (see above), forecasts are calling a continued dry and sunny weekend with starkly cooler weather warming only into the mid-50s, and 40s at higher elevations. Nighttime low temperatures will be near or below freezing. Expect winds mostly 10 to 15 mph, gusts to 25 mph through Friday, and 5 to 10 mph higher across summits. Follow the weather closely to monitor Hurricane Joaquin’s approach if you intend to be in the back-country beyond Sunday afternoon.

FIRE DANGER MODERATE: The fire danger is currently MODERATE. Use care with open fires this weekend across the region. The US Drought Monitor is reporting the entire Adirondack region is ABNORMALLY DRY. It is illegal to leave an even smoldering fire unattended. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks, in the Essex Chain, and at other locations in the Adirondack Park. Check local fire regulations.

RIVERS AND STREAMS NORMAL: Waters have returned to normal levels for this time of year due to heavy rains this week. On Thursday afternoon, the Raquette River at Piercefield was about average at 4.57 feet and rising. The Hudson River was running at about 5.51 feet on Thursday afternoon (well above normal for this time of year) at the North Creek streamgage; the Lake Champlain gage at Whitehall is at 95.70 feet, but will be rising. These values are only an estimation of current conditions – before heading out check the streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures have fallen into the 50s and 60s. 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 in cold water (any water below 70 degrees). 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 mid-50s
Lake Champlain is about 65 degrees
Upper Hudson River near the High Peaks is about 55 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb is about 54 degrees
Warner Bay on Lake George is about 67 degrees

DEC CAMPGROUND CLOSING DATES: The following DEC campgrounds remain open until October 12th: Ausable Point, Cranberry Lake, Eighth Lake, the Lake George Narrows, the Indian Lake Islands, Lake Durant, Lake Eaton, Lake George Battleground, Lewey Lake, Meacham Lake, Moffitt Beach, Nick’s Lake, Northampton Beach, Putnam Pond, Rogers Rock, Saranac Lake Islands, and Wilmington Notch. Fish Creek campground will close October 25th.

HUNTING SEASON UNDERWAY: Hunting seasons are underway in the Adirondacks. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or other hunting implements while hiking on trails. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare but hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

USE BEAR-RESISTANT CANISTERS: The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight users in the Adirondacks. All food, toiletries and garbage should be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

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 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

** Ward Brook Truck Trail: The Ward Brook Truck Trail remains flooded due to beaver activity just north of the junction with the Northville-Placid Trail. There is no reroute around the water. Hikers will need to walk through shin to knee deep waters.

Marcy Dam Removal: Work on the first stage of removal of Marcy Dam, including the removal of the splash boards, top rocks for the first tier, first tier crib pieces and the vertical side boards from the walls of the dam downstream of the spillway has been completed for this year.

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 is charging for parking at The Garden Trailhead.

** Dix Mountain Wilderness: The gate to the Hunter’s Pass trailhead at Elk Lake into the Dix Mountain Wilderness will close October 18 and reopen in the spring.

** Elk Lake: From October 24 through December 6, trails on the Elk Lake Lodge Easement Lands are closed to general public for regular deer hunting season.

** Whiteface Memorial Highway:The Whiteface Memorial Highway will close for the season on October 12th.

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 Firetower: DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower are working to restore and rehabilitate the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower.

CENTRAL-SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS
Newcomb, Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes

** Northville-Placid Trail Reroute: See details under Shaker Mountain Wild Forest below.

O’Neill Flow Road Access Extended: The portion of the O’Neill Flow Road open to public motor vehicles has been extended to the gate at Dun Brook – do not drive past the gate (a map is available online). Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. Expect to encounter logging trucks on the road. Drive slowly, be observant and cautious. Logging trucks do not have the ability to slow down quickly. Access and parking are only available on the south side of the road – the right side as you drive in. Please respect private property on the north side and do not trespass. Non-motorized uses (hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, biking, etc.) are allowed on the lands south of the road only.

Township 20 Tract Easement Lands: The Minerva Club Road off State Route 28N on the Township 20 Tract is open to the gate at Sixmile Brook – do not drive past the gate. The lands to the west of the road are open to non-motorized public access and abut forest preserve lands. Do not cross Sixmile Brook and trespass on private property.

** Lake Durant Campground / West Canada Lakes Wilderness: The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lake Durant Campground is closed until further notice. Blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail impassable and difficult to follow. DEC is developing plans to restore the trail corridor and allow safe passage for hikers. The Colvin Brook Lean-to at the western end of the trail remains open but can only be accessed from the Northville-Placid Trail.

** Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: An 8.6 mile reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail has been completed. The trail traverses between trailheads on the Collins-Gifford Valley Road in the Town of Northampton and the Benson Road in the Town of Benson. The reroute eliminates 7.6 miles of walking along State Route 30 and the Benson Road. Hikers will need to ford West Stony Creek until a footbridge over the creek is completed. While this can be done by rock hopping during low water, it will not be passable during high water. Hikers wishing to hike the full length of the trail will still need to walk 3.5 miles between the Gifford Valley Road Trailhead and the official southern terminus trailhead in Waterfront Park, Northville. This section includes travel along South Main Street, Bridge Street, County Routes 152 & 152A, Mountain Road and Gifford Valley Road. More information about the reroute and maps can be found here.

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.

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.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co

** Lake Champlain Wind Advisory: The National Weather Service has issued a Lake Wind Advisory until further notice for Lake Champlain. Strong high pressure anchored across Ontario and Quebec will maintain moderate northerly winds across Lake Champlain, generally 15-25 knots today and tonight. This will result in the highest winds and waves across the southern end of the lake.

** Paradox Lake Launch Closure: The DEC Paradox Lake Campground and the Paradox Lake Boat Launch undergoing a campground paving project through October 18. Boaters and lake camp owners should be aware the boat launch may be closed on Columbus Day Weekend. More information can be found here.

** Route 74 Paving: Paving work on Route 74 in Ticonderoga and Schroon will begin Tuesday from just east of Letsonville Road to just west of the causeway at Eagle Lake (about 2.5 miles). Motorists will encounter alternating single closures controlled by flaggers from 6:30 am to 5 pm. The work is expected to be completed by Oct. 23.

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.

** Prospect Mountain Memorial Highway: The Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway in Lake George will close October 25.

** Lake George Village Boat Launch: The newly refurbished boat launching ramp next to Lake George Beach (Million Dollar Beach) is open year round. However, from Memorial Day through Labor Day parking is limited to 26 boat trailer spaces and there is a day use fee. From Labor Day through Memorial Day parking is unlimited and there is no free.

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.

** Lyon Mountain Fire Tower: Restoration and rehabilitation of the Lyon Mountain Fire Tower has been completed by DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

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.

** St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower: DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower have restored the fire tower and it is now open to the public.

** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Barnes Pond Road is now open to public motor vehicles through the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season. Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended.

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.

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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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3 Responses

  1. laurie says:

    Is the note on the Lake George Village boat launch correct? It sounds like a 2014 update. The new launch at Million Dollar Beach is meant to be open all year, it no longer closes when the beach opens for the season.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Hi Laurie,

      I’m checking with DEC and will get back to you when I hear.

      Thanks for the question.

      John Warren
      Editor

  2. John Warren John Warren says:

    Hi Laurie,

    The newly refurbished boat launch next Million Dollar Beach is open year round. However, from Memorial Day through Labor Day parking is limited to 26 boat trailer parking spaces and there is a day use fee. From Labor Day through Memorial Day parking is unlimited and there is no free.

    Thanks for helping to clear this up! I’ve made the correction.

    John

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