Thursday, September 15, 2016

Current Outdoor Conditions in the Adirondacks (Sept 15)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is issued each Thursday afternoon and can be heard at North Country Public Radio on Friday mornings.

Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 6:38 am; sunset at 7:02 pm, providing 12 hours and 24 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 7:46 pm Saturday night and set at 8:41 am, Sunday morning. There will be a Full Harvest Moon on Friday afternoon. The Moon Saturday night will be Waning Gibbous, 95% illuminated.


WEATHER THIS WEEKEND: Always check the latest weather and be prepared for the possibility of low temperatures – some summits saw daytime temperatures dip into the 30s recently, and nights reaching into the 30s are not uncommon at this time of year. Some areas will see dense fog Friday night, with lows near 40, and winds to 10 mph over higher terrain. After valley fog burns off Saturday morning expect increasing cloudiness and a chance of afternoon showers with highs in the 70s and winds 10-15 mph, gusting to 25 mph. Showers will be likely on Saturday night, including the chance of a thunderstorm, with lows in the lower to mid-50s. Sunday morning showers should give way by the afternoon when highs will be in the 70s. A few scattered showers will continue into Sunday night.

SHORTER DAYS< COOLER EVENINGS: Days are now shorter and nights considerably cooler. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp and clothing suitable to spend an unplanned night in the woods in low temperatures. HUNTING SEASON HAS BEGUN: Early bear hunting season opens this Saturday. Hikers should wear bright colors and keep pets leashed as a precaution.

FOLIAGE REPORT: Leaves are just beginning to change with 10-15% change in the High Peaks. And 5-10% at mid-elevation areas, and 0-5% at lower elevations in the central Adirondacks. No leaf change is yet reported in the Southern Adirondacks, or in the Lake Champlain and Lake George valleys.

BE PREPARED! Always carry proper safety equipment – including plenty of food, water, extra clothing, a flashlight, and a map and compass – inform someone of your itinerary, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in an emergency. On waters, wear a pfd. Just before entering the backcountry or launching check the latest weather forecasts for the Adirondack region at Burlington and Albany and the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

BLACK BEARS VERY ACTIVE: Always at this time of year, but especially now due to recent dry conditions, black bears are much more active than usual throughout the Adirondacks. Notable bear activity has been reported – including people losing their food and other gear – especially in the Eastern High Peaks, at the campgrounds along Route 28 south of Raquette Lake, and east of Lake George. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.

TRAIL CONDITIONS: Trails will be wet and muddy due to expected rains this weekend and heavy summertime use. All hikers should wear waterproof footwear and gaiters, remain on trails, and walk through mud and water to prevent eroding trails and damaging sensitive vegetation.

BUG SEASON: Bug Season has abated considerably with the cooler nights we’re experiencing. Black Flies, mosquitoes, deer flies and/or midges (no-see-ums) may still be present and active in the evening. Avoid their impacts by wearing light-colored loose fitting clothing, with long sleeves and long pants.

FIRE DANGER ELEVATED: The fire danger remains MODERATE due to summer-long dry conditions. There have been a number of recent wildfires in the Adirondacks started by unattended or poorly doused campfires. Leaves, branches, and organic material on the forest floor remain very dry. A New York State Drought Watch remains in effect for the Adirondacks and the U.S. Drought Monitor continues to report the entire Adirondack region as Abnormally Dry, with Moderate Drought in the northern and western Adirondacks. Use caution with fires this weekend and remember that it’s illegal to leave even a smoldering fire unattended.

WATERS WELL BELOW NORMAL: Rivers, streams, and lakes around the Adirondacks remain well below normal, even for this time of year, but will rise with the expected rains by the end of the weekend. Due to lack of snow cover this past winter and an unusually dry summer, area boat launches may still be more difficult to negotiate or impossible with larger boats. Typically shallow areas may not be navigable. Paddlers and boaters should use caution, especially in shallow areas, and be aware of obstacles typically covered by water. The following stream gage readings were observed on Thursday afternoon. Before heading out check the streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.

Moose River at McKeever – 1.97 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 3.18 feet
Ausable River at AuSable Forks – 1.05 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 2.47 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (County Route 11) – 1.22 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 93.97 feet

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures fell this week, with most waters now in the 60s, and only the largest water bodies remaining near 70. The following temperatures were recorded on Thursday afternoon:

Ausable River (West Branch) – mid-60s
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – about 60
Lake Champlain – about 71 degrees (average)
Lake George (Warner Bay) – about 72 degrees
Great Sacandaga Lake – about 70 degrees

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 carefully before entering the backcountry and always carry a map and compass – and know how to use them.

KEEP DOGS LEASHED: 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 for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and rare plants, and out of 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. Take the free online Leave No Trace course here.

GROUP SIZE RESTRICTIONS: Large groups have significantly more impact on the trails, natural resources and other users. DEC regulation restricts group size in the High Peaks Wilderness to no more than 15 hikers (day users) or 8 campers (overnight users) and encourages this practice to be followed in other areas. Outside the High Peaks Wilderness, DEC regulation requires a temporary permit be issued to authorize organized events of more than twenty people; camping at the same location for more than three nights; or camping in groups of more than 10 people.

SOME CAMPGROUNDS REMAIN OPEN: Most New York State campgrounds in the Adirondacks are now closed with the exception of Ausable Point, Cranberry Lake, Crown Point, Eighth Lake, Glen Island (Lake George), 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. With the exception of Fish Creek, which closes October 23, all other Adirondack DEC campgrounds will close October 10th.

VOLUNTEER FOR TRAIL WORK: No matter what your sport, if you’re a trail user consider contributing your efforts to one of the many organizations dedicated to maintaining the region’s network of thousands of miles of trails.


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, Newcomb, Essex Chain

** Adirondak Loj Parking: Due to expected high use on the weekends through Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving Day Weekend, when the parking lot at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead is full DEC Forest Rangers will be turning around motor vehicles on the Adirondak Loj Road at South Meadow Lane.

DEC has identified a dozen nearby hikes that provide a similar experience as hiking the High Peaks with amazing scenic views of the autumn foliage, mountains and waters of the Adirondacks.

** Bears In Eastern High Peaks, Dix Range: Bears have been active in the Eastern High Peaks and Dix Range. Campers not using bear-resistant canisters have lost their food to bears. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.

** Marcy Dam: Through Wednesday 9/21, DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program are working on the second year of Marcy Dam removal work. Please pay attention to caution flagging in this area and follow minor reroutes around the rigging equipment at the dam. Do not enter the worksite or disturb tools when workers are not present after hours and on weekends.

Opalescent Trail: A reroute of the Opalescent Trail has been constructed around the washout near Uphill Lean-to by members of the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program.

Allen Mountain: The second bridge on the East River Trail to Allen Mountain and Hanging Spear Falls has been replaced by DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program. Please do not bounce on the bridge.

Moose Creek Suspension Bridge: Work on the Moose Creek Suspension Bridge on the Northville-Placid Trail between Shattuck Clearing and Cold River has been completed by DEC and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and the bridge is now open.

Ouluska Brook Bridge: The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions crossing the brook is still possible.

Cold River Bridge: Some boards are broken on the suspension bridge over the Cold River on the Northville-Placid Trail. Use caution when crossing.

Blueberry Hiking Trail: The first 1,500 feet of Blueberry Hiking Trail has been closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail approximately 0.3 mile east of the previous location (0.8 mile from the Seward Trailhead). This reroute eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area and avoids hiking (and maintaining) more than 120 feet of bog bridging.

Blueberry Horse Trail: The Blueberry Horse Trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation and is poorly marked. The trail is impassable to horses making it impossible to complete the Cold River Horse Trail Loop. DEC intends to work on the trail this fall.

Northville-Placid Trail: The Northville Placid Trail has rerouted around a beaver pond south of Plumley’s Point on the shores of Long Lake. The reroute passes the beaver pond higher up the slope and eliminates having to cross the beaver dam and the wet feet obtained when the water levels were high. Follow the Blue NPT trail markers.

Route 73 Bridge Work: Bridge work is underway on several bridges in Keene and Keene Valley. Traffic may be reduced to one lane at these bridges. Expect delays during busy travel times.

Garden Trailhead Parking: The Town of Keene is operating The Garden Trailhead Parking Area and a fee is being charged for parking. The Town is operating the shuttle between the overflow parking area at Marcy Field and The Garden Trailhead on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, through October 16th.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: Construction work on the Route 73 bridge over the East Branch Ausable River near the Mossy Cascade Trailhead prevents the use of the trailhead during the week when work is occurring. The trailhead may be used on weekends or when workers are not present.

** Poor Man’s Downhill Shuttle: The Poor Man’s Downhill Shuttle will not be running this Sunday, but will run for the last time on September 25th. The shuttle leaves from Up A Creek Restaurant (5549 Route 86) continuously from 1 to 4 pm. The cost is $5 per person.

** Lake Placid / Wilmington Area Mountain Bike Trails: All mountain biking trails are open in the Lake Placid/Wilmington area, including the Craig Wood Trails. Current trail conditions for BETA managed trails can be found here.

Whiteface Landing Trail: Construction is occurring on the State Route 86 Bridge over the West Branch Ausable River about three miles northeast of Lake Placid. Construction is expected to continue unit November 1st. Parking near the bridge will be restricted. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are discouraged from using the parking areas near the bridge. Paddlers using that section of the river are advised to find an alternate takeout. Paddlers are discouraged from paddling under the bridge during the construction period. Entering the construction site or staging area are not allowed. Anyone parking near the bridge should use caution when pulling out of the parking area. Pedestrians crossing the road should use the marked crosswalk. The Whiteface Landing Trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail.

Essex Chain Lakes: Campers at one of the 11 tent sites on the shores of the Essex Chain Lakes are no longer required to reserve a site before camping. Self-issuing permits available at the trailhead will still be required to allow DEC to gather use data. Campfires are prohibited on the 11 shoreline tent sites.

** Boreas Ponds Tract: DEC has issued an Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract which includes: five year-round parking areas and three seasonal parking areas; 3.2 miles of motor vehicle access on the Gulf Brook Road; 6.7 miles of roadway open to bicycling from Blue Ridge Road to the Boreas Ponds Dam; and approximately 25 miles of seven roadways open to horse and horse drawn wagons. The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. You can find out more here.

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

** Bears Very Active At Campgrounds Along Route 28: Black bears have been very active at the campgrounds along Route 28 south of Raquette Lake. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.

** Raquette Lake: Three lean-tos at Boucher’s Point on Raquette Lake will be moved by Lean2Rescue on September 23-25 and October 7-9. Expect these lean-tos to be unusable during those weekends.

** Lake Durant Campground: The public restrooms and showers at DEC’s LAke Durant Campground have been closed for renovation. They are expected to be reopened in time for the 2017 camping season.

** Hinckley Reservoir: Hinckley Reservoir is now closed.

** Fourth Lake Picnic Area: Fourth Lake Picnic Area is now closed.

** Sunset Bay Marina: Sunset Bay Marina on Great Sacandaga Lake will close on October 1.

Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower: Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower and the access trail to the summit of the Stillwater Mountain located on the Big Moose Tract Easement are now open for public use thanks to the work of the Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower. The fire tower and the trail are closed annually from the second Tuesday in October through December 20.

Black River Wild forest: The third bridge on the Otter Lake – Brandy Lake Trail (approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead on State Route 28) has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge and the trail on either side of it are under nearly two feet of water.

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: Blackfoot Pond Trail off of the East-Pond Lost Creek Trail is rough, grown in and may contain blowdown. The trail is difficult to follow at times. The sign at the junction of the trails is missing, the turn off to Blackfoot Pond is not readily marked or noticeable. DEC will be replace the sign soon.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose Tract Easement, & Three Lakes Tract Easement): Construction of the new 120-foot West Bridge has been completed. The bridge provides foot access from the Fish Trail to the Beach Mill Trail on the north side of the river. Work was completed by the DEC Operations staff in Lowville.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The North Bend Bridge on Oregon Trail is flooded but intact. Hikers will need to wade through water to enter and exit the bridge. The Ski Hi Road to Crane Mountain Trailhead was recently improved and is now drivable by all vehicles. It is recommended the public use this road to access the trailhead.

Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co

** Lake George Village: Dog Beach on Beach Road in Lake George Village is open; Lake George Beach (Million Dollar Beach) and the Battlefield Picnic Area are now closed; Lake George Battlefield Campground will close October 10th.

** Bears Active East of Lake George: Black bears have been very active at the camping areas east of Lake George. Bears are most active in the evening; cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended for overnight use elsewhere in the Adirondacks. More information about reducing encounters with black bears can be found here.

** Rattlesnakes More Active: Timber rattlesnakes, which are a threatened species in New York State, are more active this time of year in the mountain ranges around Lake George and southern Lake Champlain, including on the islands of Lake George.If you see a timber rattlesnake you should view and photograph it from a distance, but not disturb it. It is illegal to harass or kill a timber rattlesnake. Campers should call the Lake George Islands Campground Headquarters at (518) 644-9684 if there is a rattlesnake near their campsite. Campground staff trained in the proper handling of rattlesnakes, will come and remove the snake for relocation to more suitable habitat.

Gay Pond Road – Lake George Wild Forest: Gay Pond Road is open, but the road is heavily rutted from illegal use by four-wheel drive vehicles during the snowmobile season. Only high clearance vehicles should be used to traverse the road and even those should be used with caution.

Bluff Point Lighthouse: Tours of the Lighthouse have ended for the season.

** Poke-O-Moonshine: Trail crews will begin working on the Ranger Trail at Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain. Work will be undertaken on and off through the Fall. Please be aware that you may encounter active work operations. Please be respectful of the crew’s work, and cooperate with requests they may have regarding safe passage in the work area.

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

** Saranac River: Channel markers in the sections of the Saranac River between Middle Saranac Lake and Lower Saranac and Second Pond and Oseetah Lake have been moved closer to direct boats to remain in the deeper waters in the center of the channel. Boaters should slow down and use caution when meeting and passing boats coming in the opposite direction.

Saranac Locks: Upper and Lower Locks on the Saranac Chain of Lakes are staffed and operated seven days a week from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Madawaska Road -Santa Clara Tract Easement: Madawaska Road to Madawaska Pond from State Route 458 is once again open to public use by motor vehicle and bicycles. The road provides access to Madwaska Pond, Quebec Brook and the thousands of acres of surrounding forest preserve and conservation easement lands. The entrance to the road is on the south side of State Route 458, 1.25 miles west of the intersection with State Route 30. Currently, there is no sign to identify the road.

Black River Wild Forest: The bridge across the inlet to Little Woodhull Lake on the Little Woodhull Lake Trail is out. The stream may not be passable in times of high water. The third bridge on the Otter Lake – Brandy Lake Trail (approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead on State Route 28) has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge and the trail on either side of it are under nearly two feet of water. Nick’s Lake Outlet Trail to Remsen Falls may be rough and grown in. Nelson Lake Loop Trail has several blowdown trees. The gate at the end of the Wolf Lake Landing Road has been vandalized. Motor vehicle access beyond the gate is prohibited except by permit. Bear Lake Trail is wet and muddy for the first mile from the trailhead on Wolf Lake Landing Road. Chubb Pond Trail east from the new bridge over Gull Lake outlet is muddy to Buck Pond. Most blowdown has been cleared from the first two miles of Twin Lakes Trail from the Farr Road, the trail is in poor shape beyond to the marsh.

Fulton Chain Wild Forest: Safford Pond Trail is flooded by beaver activity near the Safford Pond Inlet. The Scenic Mountain (aka Vista) Trail contains several blown downs.

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: Brown’s Tract Trail has been flooded by beavers between Tamarack lake and Bare Mountain, the trail is difficult to traverse. A culvert is washed out on the Big Otter Lake East Trail near Indian Brook. Also Big Otter Lake East Trail is flooded at South Inlet Flow but the trail remains passable. Moose River Mountain Trail has heavy blow down and is difficult to follow at times. Middle Settlement Lake Trail is flooded due to beaver activity between the Cedar Pond Trail and Middle Settlement Lake. East Pond-Lost Creek Trail between East Pond and the Big Otter Lake East Trail is rough, grown in and may contain blowdown. The trail is difficult to follow at times.

Independence River Wild Forest: Big Otter Lake Road is in very poor condition. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. Little Otter Lake Road is wet, muddy, and thickly vegetated. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. DEC plans to make improvements in November 2016. The southern half of McCarthy Road is rocky and muddy in some places. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. Florence Pond Road south of Little Otter Creek has some mud holes. Only 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should attempt to use the road. Access to Catspaw Lake Road and Catspaw Lake should be done from the Van Arnum Road not the Patridgeville Road as the road is wet and rutted on that side. There is a mud hole on the east end of the Mt. Tom Trail (old route of both snowmobile and foot trails) near intersect with Silvermine Dam Trail/10 mile Crossing Road. Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower on Big Moose Tract Easement is being renovated and is not open to the public. The fire tower and access trail will be open later in summer 2016. Summer public access on the Big Moose Tract Easement is restricted to the fire tower trail which will open later this summer.

Otter Creek Horse Trail System: Roads and trails in the Otter Creek Horse Trail System are in good condition. The Otter Creek Assembly Area is open for use and the water has been turned on. Some horses will not cross the bridge over Otter Creek on Erie Canal Trail – they may ford the stream parallel to the bridge. The foot trail to Old Hotel campsite along the west side of Big Otter Lake is rutted from illegal vehicle use.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: Approximately half of the Twitchell Lake Trail (7.5 miles to Beaver River Station) at the Twitchell Lake end has been cleared of blowdown. The bridge crossing over the Oswego Pond Outlet on the Twitchell Lake Trail has washed out. An old beaver den can be used to cross the outlet. Cascade Lake Trail is wet and very muddy on the north-west section of the trail around Cascade Lake. Be alert of trail reroutes. Chub Lake Trail between Constable Pond and Queer Lake Trail is rough and grown in.

Watson’s East: Bear Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle access as are all designated seasonal access road on the Croghan Tract and Oswegatchie Tract Easements. Access to the Oswegatchie Tract Easement via the Bryant Bridge Road is limited to those paddling on the easement lands. All others should use the Bald Mountain Road.

Mount Pisgah: Mountain bike trails at Mount Pisgah are open. Current trail conditions for trails at Mount Pisgah can be found here.

Dewey Mountain: Dewey Mountain mountain bike trails are open. Check the latest trail conditions for mountain bike trails at Dewey Mountain here.


Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. Check the Adirondack Almanack Outdoor Conditions Reports each Thursday afternoon. A map of the Adirondack Park can be found here.

The NYS 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 help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

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