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SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 5:23 am and sunset at 8:21 pm, providing 14 hours and 58 minutes of sunlight. On Saturday, the Moon will rise at 2:38 am and set at 2:09 pm. It will be Waning Gibbous, 35% illuminated.
BUSY HOLIDAY WEEKENDS: This weekend is Victoria Day Weekend and next weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. Expect parking areas, popular campsites, and lean-tos to fill early. This weekend through next weekend would be a good time to visit less popular areas of the Adirondack Park.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK:Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop late this Thursday afternoon and continue into the evening hours. A few of these storms may become strong to severe with and heavy downpours, hail, and strong winds as the primary threat. A wind advisory has been issued for the Adirondacks through 11 pm Thursday evening. Watch the weather closely and follow the latest NWS watches, warnings, and advisories here.
MUD SEASON: Wet and muddy conditions are prevalent at all elevations and DEC recommends that hikers avoid areas over 2,500 feet to protect sensitive vegetation and higher elevation trails. In keeping with the Leave No Trace principle of traveling and camping on durable surfaces, the Adirondack Mountain Club has been asking members to avoid hiking at higher elevations during mud season for several weeks. The Adirondack 46ers bylaws require members to follow DEC recommendations. A map showing areas over 2,500 feet can be found here.
TRAIL CONDITIONS – MUD, SNOW, ICE, HIGH WATERS: A cooler by mostly sunny weekend is on tap, but trails remain generally muddy, with some remaining ice and snow above about 4,000 feet, which in some places may make travel more difficult without traction devices devices there. Water levels remain at higher springtime levels and rapidly melting snow and expected rain (sometimes heavy) Thursday evening will make some water crossings difficult.
SNOW AND ICE REMAIN: There remains ice on trails, and deeper snow, especially off-trail, at higher elevations. Expect to encounter snow and ice above about 4,000 feet.
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.
SEASONAL ACCESS ROADS: Gates to many seasonal access roads remain closed for mud season. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance is performed. A complete list of currently open gates are updated by noon Friday at the Adirondack Atlas. New gates opened this week are listed below.
STATE CAMPGROUNDS OPEN: With the exception of Caroga Lake Campground, all New York State Campgrounds open Friday, May 19th. A date has not been announced yet for the opening of Caroga Lake Campground.
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 un-posted 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS HIGH: Water levels are at higher springtime levels (about normal for this time of year), but will be rising with the rain expected Thursday. Some water crossings will remain difficult. 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. These are expected to rise this weekend.
Moose River at McKeever – 3.78 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 8.07 feet
Ausable River at AuSable Forks – 2.56 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 4.55 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 4.37 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 98.53 feet
WATER TEMPERATURES COLD: Water temperatures are in the 40s. Cold water protection is recommended for all paddlers. PDFs are recommended for all persons in small boats, kayaks and canoes.
The following water temperatures were reported Thursday:
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – 55 degrees
Ausable River (Wilmington) – lower 50s
Lake Champlain (average) – 45 degrees
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 56 degrees
FISHING SEASONS OPEN: Trout, walleye, pike, pickerel, and tiger muskellunge seasons are open. DEC’s 2017 Warmwater Fishing Forecast can help guide anglers to recommended waters to fish for these species. New fishing regulations are in effect. 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.
RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY
These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to access roads, trails and facilities around the entire Adirondack Park.
** indicates new or recently revised items for this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including Wilmington, Keene, Newcomb, Essex Chain
** Upper Works: Upper Works Road is closed from May 22nd to May 25th.
Route 73 Bridge Work: Route 73 at the bridges over the West Branch of the AuSable River near the 1980 Olympic ski jumps in the town of North Elba, just south of Lake Placid, will be reduced to a single alternating lane controlled by flaggers during weekday daylight hours from Monday, May 15th through mid-June. A new bridge is being built to replace the “Ski Jump Bridges.” Cyclists will encounter uneven and gravel surfaces on segments of the road during weekdays — those portions are expected to be paved by Friday for the weekends. Two-way traffic is expected to be on the new bridge by the end of June.
** Mud Season – Avoid Areas Above 2,500 Feet: Wet and muddy conditions are prevalent at all elevations and the Adirondack Mountain Club and DEC are urging hikers avoid areas over 2,500 feet to protect sensitive vegetation and higher elevation trails in keeping with the Leave No Trace principle of traveling and camping on durable surfaces. The Adirondack 46ers bylaws require members to follow DEC recommendations. Especially avoid the following areas: In the High Peaks Wilderness Area – all trails above 2,500 feet; where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, specifically: Algonquin, Colden, Feldspar, Gothics, Indian Pass, Lake Arnold Cross-Over, Marcy, Marcy Dam – Avalanche – Lake Colden, which is extremely wet, Phelps Trail above John Brook Lodge, Range Trail, Skylight, Wright, and all “trail-less” peaks; in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Area – all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond; and in the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area – all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owls Head. Suggested alternative hikes can be found here. A map showing areas over 2,500 feet can be found here.
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 staying on trails and durable surfaces.
Bear Canisters Required: Overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks must store all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canister.
Garden Parking Fee: A fee of $10 (USD, $13 Canadian) per calendar day (12:01 AM to Midnight) is being assessed for parking at the Garden Lot. The daily fee will continue through the month of October. An attendant will be at the Garden Lot from 1:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Fridays and from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays during this period. Town Employees and DEC Rangers will monitor the lot during the week. The parking fees pay for attendants on weekends, maintenance and winter snowplowing of the Garden, Rooster Comb and Roaring Brook Parking Lots, portable toilets, information kiosks and donations of rescue equipment.
High Peaks Parking Shuttle: The shuttle will operate from the Southwest corner of Marcy Field, off Route 73, when the Garden Parking Lot is full, beginning with two Holiday Weekends in May, from 7 am to 7 pm, as follows: Victoria Day Weekend (May 20-22); Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-29); Shuttle operation will resume on Saturday, June 17th, operating on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Sunday, October 15th will be the last day of operation. A fee of $10 (USD, $13 Canadian) will be charged per person for a round trip.
** Johns Brook Lodge: Johns Brook Lodge opens for caretaker service Friday, May 19th.
High Peaks Information Center: The High Peaks Information Center at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead has reopened.
South Meadow Lane: South Meadow Lane is open to public motor vehicle traffic.
** Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway: The Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway opens Friday, May 12.
** Mountain Bike Trails: Trails will be mostly wet and muddy this week. Riders should avoid riding muddy trails until things dry out. Some mountain bike trails in Wilmington, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are closed, including those at Dewey Mountain and the Poor Mans Downhill area. Choose Hardy Road instead. Closures include the use of fat bikes. Be Patient, Ride Smart and Respect Trail Closures. Check BETA trail conditions and closures on TrailHUB before planning your ride.
** Chapel Pond Area Climbing Routes: All climbing routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliffs have reopened; all routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliffs remain 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.
** Corey’s Road: The Corey’s Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic to the summer parking lot.
Elk Lake Trails: The Clear Pond Gate on Elk Lake Road is open to public motor vehicle access to the Elk Lake Trailhead which provides access to the trails from the through the privately-owned Elk Lake Easement Lands to High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix Mountain Wilderness.
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.
Essex Chain: The Upper Hudson Loop Trail Parking Area is once again available to the public for parking.
Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes
** Northville -Placid Trail: Hikers using the portion of the trail through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest may have trouble crossing West Stony Creek during periods of high water.
** Black River Wild Forest: The gate for the “Loop Road” on the North Lake Easement Tract is open and public motor vehicle traffic is allowed. The gates on Mill Creek Road and Wolf Lake Landing Road are open and public motor vehicle traffic is allowed on the roads.
** Hinckley Reservoir will open to the public on May 27 and will close on September 4.
** Fourth Lake Picnic Area will open to the public on May 19 and will close on September 4.
** Moose River Plains: The Moose River Plains Road System remains closed to public motor vehicle use for the spring mud season. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance. The Town of Indian Lake has opened Cedar River Road to public motor vehicle use. The public can now access the Cedar River Flow by motor vehicle.
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: Jessup River Road/Old Military Road to Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead is open to public motor vehicle use. Jessup River Road, Perkins Clearing Road, Elm Lake Road, and Mud Road are open public motor vehicle use. Mud Lake Road.
Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Logging operations are taking place on the conservation easement lands around the Tirrell Pond Trail. Be alert for logging equipment crossing the trail.
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 in danger of collapse. DEC has closed the Wakely Mountain Trail until further notice due to safety concerns until further notice.
** Black River Wild forest: Haskell Road (aka West Creek Road) along West Canada Creek is open to public motor vehicle traffic.
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
** Essex Chain Lakes: Gates remain closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited on all seasonal access roads until the end of the spring mud season.
** Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain Climbing Routes: The following routes located left and right of the nose on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, as described on Pages 45 – 69 in Adirondack Rock Volume 1, A Rock Climbers Guide (Second Edition), as routes 33 through 91 (from Garter to Son of Slime, are CLOSED. All other rock climbing routes on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain are now OPEN.
Ausable Point Road: Ausable Point Road, which provides access to the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area and the Ausable Point Camp Campground, has reopened.
** Prospect Mountain: Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway will open May 27 and remain open through October 22.
** Lake George Beach and the Battlefield Picnic Area: The Lake George Beach and the Battlefield Picnic Area will open to the public weekends only beginning May 27. Lake George Beach and the Battlefield Picnic Area will be open 7 days a week beginning on June 17and will close on September 4. The boat launching ramp at Lake George Beach will be operational year round with parking for vehicles with trailers limited to 26 parking spots. Access is free of charge beginning after Labor Day until the Friday before Memorial Day. From Memorial Day Weekend until Labor Day users will be required to pay a day-use fee.
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: Shelving Rock and Dacy Clearing Roads are now open. Gates are closed for the spring mud season on the following roads: Lily Pond Road, Long Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, and Bear Slides Road. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance.
Shelving Rock Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on the Carhartt Wall on Shelving Rock Mountain are closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest. All other rock climbing routes on Shelving Rock Mountain are now open.
Sleeping Beauty Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Sleeping Beauty Mountain are closed to allow peregrine falcons to breed and choose a nesting site.
Rogers Rock Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on the Campground Wall on Rogers Rock are closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest. This includes all routes on the Psycho Slab, Black Triangle Wall, and The Apron. All other rock climbing routes on Rogers Rock remain open.
** Lake George Wild Forest: Jabe Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle use.
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
Grass River Complex: Allen Pond Road on the Tooley Pond Tract Easement is open to public motor vehicle use. The two-mile seasonal access road off of Tooley Pond Road leads to a parking area and trail head. A 0.6 mile foot trail extends from a trailhead on the road to the shores of Allen Pond providing access for anglers and recreationists.
Connery Pond Road: The Connery Pond Road gate is open and public motor vehicle traffic is allowed.
Lower Locks Closed – Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Lower Locks in the Saranac Chain remain closed for extensive repairs and rehabilitation. The locks will reopen by the end of June. Meanwhile, boaters will need to launch their boats at the Second Pond Boat Launch along State Route 3 to access the waters upstream of the locks. While boaters seeking to access the waters downstream of the locks will need to launch their boats at the Lake Flower Boat Launch in Saranac Lake. Mooring boats at any time at the lower locks is prohibited. Boats violating the mooring restrictions will be towed away and the owners ticketed.
** Second Pond Boat Launch (Saranac Lake Wild Forest): Mooring boats overnight at docks and on the shoreline at Second Pond Boat Launch and at the lower locks is prohibited. Boats violating the mooring restrictions will be towed away and the owners ticketed.
** DeBar Mountain Wild Forest: The foot bridge on the access trail to Debar Pond has been removed. Debar Pond may now be accessed near the lodge building using the road beyond the gate at the parking area. A new gate is expected to be installed that will allow easier passage of people with boats in the very near future. Trespassing in the lodge or any other building is prohibited. Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use and logging operations have ended.
St. Regis Canoe Area: The Little Green Pond seasonal access road is open for public motor vehicle use. The road provides access to the campsites on Little Green Pond and the hand launch on Little Clear Pond.
** Kushaqua Tract Easement: North Branch Road and Hunter’s Camp Road are open to public motor vehicle use. Mountain Pond Road remains closed for spring mud season.
Santa Clara Tract Easement: The gates to Madawaska Road and Pinnacle Road are open and the roads are accessible with motor vehicles.
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) is no longer flooded by beaver activity. 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 and Round Lake Wilderness: The Whitney Headquarters Forest Ranger Outpost has reopened for the season. Contact the Forest Ranger office at 518-624-6686 or the Forest Ranger’s cell phone at 518-505-4151.
** Lake Lila Road: Lake Lila Road is open to public motor vehicle use. The public can hike 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; active alerts are updated by noon Friday here.
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.
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.