This weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is compiled by Adirondack Almanack founder and editor John Warren for publication each Thursday afternoon. John’s condensed version for radio can be heard Friday mornings on WSLP Lake Placid, and the stations of North Country Public Radio.
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SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 6:11 am and sunset at 7:40 pm, providing 13 hours and 28 minutes of sunlight. On Saturday, the Moon will rise at 11:53 pm and set at 9:39 am Sunday. It will be Waning Gibbous, 85% illuminated.
FLOOD WARNING: The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning in effect until late Saturday night for the Schroon River At Riverbank. At noon on Thursday the stage was 7.7 feet; flood stage is 7.0 feet. Minor flooding is occurring in nearby lowlands and minor flooding is forecast to continue. The river is forecast to continue to fall to below flood stage after 8 PM Saturday. See the announcements below regarding high waters and impassible stream crossings in the backcountry of the Adirondacks. See the latest NWS watches, warnings, and advisories here.
HIGH WATERS – WINTER CONDITIONS: Be prepared for a variety of conditions. There is little snow at trailheads, where mostly mud, pooled water, and ice will be present, but there is still several feet of snow at higher elevations. Stream crossings are open and water levels will be high, low water crossings will be difficult, if not impassible – this will be exacerbated by extremely warm temperatures, especially Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Avoid snow bridges and any remaining ice on lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Snowshoes or skis will be required in the High Peaks were snow depths exceed eight inches, including areas above Marcy Dam, and traction devices are recommended for those traveling to mid-elevation areas or higher. Expect to encounter blowdown from recent storms and icy conditions on exposed higher elevation areas. Lows tonight near 20 will give way to a warming period through the weekend that will include the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms. Saturday will be mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and afternoon thunderstorms, highs in the lower 60s, and wind gusts to 30 mph (higher on summits, where temperatures will remain in the 30s and 40s). Saturday night lows will be in the mid 40s. Sunday will also see a good chance of showers and afternoon thunderstorms and a high in the upper 60s to near 70 in the mountains. Sunday will see summit temperatures near 50, with winds 45-55 mph.
DEEP SNOW REMAINS: Expect to encounter little or no snow, with some patchy areas of a several inches in sheltered valleys and northern slopes at the periphery of the Adirondack Park. There is about 4 to 6 inches of patchy snow at lower elevations in the Central Adirondacks and High Peaks regions. There remains about 30-36 inches of snow at Lake Colden (2,775 feet); and about 5 at higher elevations. Rain and warm temperatures are forecast for all elevations.
SNOWSHOES OR SKIS REQUIRED: Snowshoes or skis are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness beyond Marcy Dam and are recommended for other higher elevation areas. The use of snowshoes prevents “post-holing” (leaving deep footprints in the snow), avoid injuries, and ease travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use.
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 below freezing temperatures in an emergency. 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. See the latest NWS watches, warnings, and advisories here.
DOWNHILL SKIING LAST WEEKEND: Whiteface and Gore will both be open for one last weekend with limited terrain and spring conditions. Skiing has ended at all other downhill facilities.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING SEASON OVER: Skiing has ended at all cross-country ski facilities in the Adirondacks.
BACK-COUNTRY SKIING REPORT: Back-country skiing is limited to the mid and higher elevation areas of High Peaks where conditions are good except at stream crossings. There remains plenty of cover at the highest elevations and Marcy will be skied for some time to come, although there are some obstacles to avoid at middle elevation trails, and walking will be required at lower elevations.
SNOWMOBILING SEASON HAS ENDED: Snowmobiling has ended for the season. All snowmobile trails systems are closed. DEC gates on snowmobile trails are closed for the season.
SEASONAL ACCESS ROADS CLOSED: All seasonal access roads are closed for the spring mud season. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance.
AVOID CAVES WHERE BATS ARE PRESENT: DEC is urging the suspension of cave and mine sites that may serve as homes for bat hibernations at this time of year. Human disturbances are harmful to the State’s bat population since the arrival of the disease known as white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than 90 percent of bats at most hibernation sites in New York. All posted notices restricting the use of caves and mines should be followed. You encounter hibernating bats while underground at unposted sites, leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible. Anyone entering a northern long-eared bat hibernation site from October 1 through April 30, the typical period of hibernation for bats, may be subject to prosecution.
ICE ON WATERS UNSAFE: Avoid all ice. Where ice is present, it is thinning, breaking up, rotting, and/or covered with water. Lake George and Lake Champlain did not completely freeze this year. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are no longer safe to cross.
RIVERS AND STREAMS HIGH: Stream crossings are open and water levels will be high, low water crossings will be difficult, if not impassible – this will be exacerbated by extremely warm temperatures, especially Saturday afternoon and Sunday (see Flood Warning above for the Schroon River). Avoid snow bridges and any remaining ice on lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Before heading out check the streamgages on the USGS website for waters where you intend to recreate.
The following stream gage readings were observed on Thursday afternoon.
Moose River at McKeever – 6.83 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 9.23 feet
Ausable River at AuSable Forks – 4.37 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 7.84 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 7.70 feet (MINOR FLOODING)
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 99.62 feet (Flood Stage 100 Feet)
ADIRONDACK FISHING REGULATION CHANGES: New fishing regulations went into effect on April 1, the start of the trout season statewide. Mike Lynch has written about the numerous changes that will impact Adirondack waters and anglers here.
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.
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.
BURN BAN IN EFFECT THROUGH MAY 14: Residential brush burning is prohibited through May 14 across New York State. Due to the lack of snow cover over much of the state and with rising temperatures forecast for the coming weeks, conditions for wildfires could be heightened and a wildfire has already occurred in Washington County this spring. Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation. In the seven-year period since the ban was established, the average number of spring fires per year decreased by 35.5 percent, from 2,925 in 2009 to 1,886 in 2016. Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round. Towns in and around the Adirondack Park are designated “fire towns”. Open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities without a written permit from DEC. To obtain a permit, contact the appropriate DEC regional office.
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, Newcomb, Essex Chain
** High Peaks Information Center: The High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead is being reported closed by DEC.
** Bear Canisters Required: Overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks must store all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canister.
** Protect Sensitive and Rare Alpine Vegetation: Alpine vegetation becomes exposed as the snow pack melts and consolidates above the tree line. Protect sensitive and rare alpine vegetation by wearing snowshoes and skis above the summits and staying on the packed trails. Carry and wear crampons when trails are icy and conditions warrant. Stay on the trail.
** Snowshoes Or Skis Required: Snowshoes or skies are required in the High Peaks Wilderness where snow depths exceed eight inches, including areas above Marcy Dam. The use of snowshoes prevents “post-holing” (leaving deep footprints in the snow), avoid injuries, and ease travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use.
** Lake Colden – Avalanche Lake: Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are no longer considered safe to cross.
** Chapel Pond Area Climbing Routes: All climbing routes on the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting.
** Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain Climbing Routes: All routes on the Main Face are closed except the routes between Opposition and Womb with a View, as described on pages 39-45 of Adirondack Rock – A Rock Climber’s Guide has closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting.
Lake Colden – Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and the Indian Pass Trail is impassable due to blowdown.
** Calamity Brook Trail: The high water bridge on the Calamity Trail is unsafe and unusable and should not be crossed. Crossing Calamity Brook, which is completely open at this time, without using the bridge will be difficult especially during high water. On warm and rainy days water levels in the brook will be higher in the afternoon, plan accordingly. The East River Trail (aka the Opalescent River/Hanging Spear Falls Trail) can be used to access the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. It is an additional 3.7 miles one-way to reach the Flowed Lands using this route. DEC will work to stabilize and repair the high water bridge in the spring.
South Meadow Lane: The lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of spring mud season. Vehicles may park at the barrier at the intersection with the Adirondak Loj Road but should not block the opening to ensure emergency vehicles may access the lane. Respect other users and do not bare-boot / post-hole on this traditional ski route.
Garden Trailhead Parking Area: The town of Keene operates the Garden Parking Area and charges a $7/day fee for parking. The attendant is not present at the parking area. Hikers should use an envelope and the collection slot to pay.
Corey’s Road: The gate on Corey’s Road has been closed for the mud season. The gate and access to the summer parking lot will reopen on May 15th unless the weather prevents the road from drying and hardening.
Elk Lake Trails: The trails from the Elk Lake Trailhead through the privately-owned Elk Lake Easement Lands to High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix Mountain Wilderness are open but the Elk Lake Road is closed to public motor vehicle access beyond the Clear Pond Gate. The public may park in the parking area at the Clear Pond Gate and hike, ski, or snowshoe two miles to Elk Lake Trailhead.
Mount Adams Fire Tower: The retaining rail has been blown off the top landing of the Mount Adams Fire Tower – use extreme caution if proceeding above the third landing. Work will be planned to fix this in 2017.
Ouluska Brook Bridge: The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Crossing the brook is possible only during low water conditions.
Cold River Bridge: Some boards are broken on the suspension bridge over the Cold River on the Northville-Placid Trail. Use caution when crossing.
Boreas Ponds Tract: The lower gate on the Gulf Brook Road near the Blue Ridge Road is closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season.
Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes
** Crane Mountain Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Crane Mountain in The Amphitheater section of the Black Arches Wall and the climbing routes Hang Time and Black Arch Arête on the Main Wall are closed to allow peregrine falcons to breed and choose a nesting site.
** Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Road/Snowmobile Trail System is closed for the spring mud season. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance.
** Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract & Township 20 Tract Easement Lands: Gates are closed and public motor vehicle use is prohibited on O’Neil Flow, Pickwickett Pond, and Minerva Club Roads.
Wakely Mountain Fire Tower: Wakely Mountain Fire Tower has been found to be structurally unsound and has been closed to the public until further notice.
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 remains 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 replacing the sign soon.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Spruce Mountain Trail is open for public use. The cab of the Spruce Mountain Fire Tower is closed for the season as is the cab of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and the Hadley Mountain Observer’s Cabin.
Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co
** Lake George Wild Forest Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on the Main Wall on Shelving Rock Mountain and on Sleeping Beauty Mountain are closed to allow peregrine falcons to breed and choose a nesting site.
** Lake George Wild Forest: Dacy Clearing Road and all other DEC gates in the Shelving Rock/Buck Mountain Area are closed. Dacy Clearing road is closed to snowmobiles and motor vehicles for the spring mud season. The road will be reopened when it has dried and hardened. Gates are also closed on Notch Lane in the Mount Tom State Forest (town of White Creek, Washington County) for mud season. The road will be reopened when it has dried and hardened.
Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Two foot bridges have collapsed. The 55-foot bridge over the East Branch Sacandaga River on the Botheration Pond Loop Trail has collapsed and cannot be crossed. Do not attempt to scramble over it. During low water, rock hopping is possible. A 30-foot bridge on the Puffer Pond Trail over a tributary to the Thirteenth Lake south of the lake collapsed earlier this year and cannot be crossed.
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila
** St. Regis Mountain: Snowshoes will be necessary in the higher elevations of St. Regis Mountain.
** DEC Region 6 Road and Snowmobile Trail Closures: DEC Region 6 has close mud gates to trails and seasonal access roads on Forest Preserve, State Forest, and Conservation Easement Lands due to spring thaw. Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season will damage roads and result in road opening delays. DEC will reopen the roads once any necessary maintenance is completed and the roads are dry enough to safely handle motor vehicle traffic. Region 6 is comprised of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Oneida Counties.
** Current list of gate closures:
Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest
Oswegatchie Conservation Easement
Croghan Conservation Easement
Independence River Wild Forest
Bear Pond Road
Bald Mountain Road
Bryants Bridge Canoe Access
All Croghan Tract Easement gates, including Main Haul Road
Boonville – Sand Flats State Forest
Beech Flats snowmobile trail
South end of Loop Road
Pine Lakes Trail
All St. Lawrence County Trails
** New Gate closures: All state land gates in 6C Oneida and Herkimer counties; Haskell Road in the Black River Wild Forest; All gates in central portion of Black River Wild Forest; Loop Road at North Lake, Wolf Lake Landing Road at McKeever, and Mill Brook Road at Bear Creek trail head.
Kushaqua Tract Easement: The main gate next to the parking area and register box on the North Branch Road is closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited on Hunter’s Camp Road and Mountain Pond Road until the end of spring mud season.
Madawaska Road – Santa Clara Tract Easement: Gates on Madawaska Road and Pinnacle Road are closed until the end of the spring mud season.
Black River Wild Forest: The gate for the “Loop Road” on the North Lake Easement Tract has been closed for the spring mud season. The road is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until it has dried and hardened.
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.
Pigeon Lake Wilderness: 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.
William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness: Whitney Headquarters, including the Forest Ranger’s office is closed for the winter. Contact the Forest Ranger at 518-505-4151.
Lake Lila Road: The gate has been closed and locked on the Lake Lila Road. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. The public can hike, snowshoe, and ski on the road but is prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands.
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.