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.
Contribute Your Knowledge: Send observations, corrections, updates, and suggestions to [email protected]
SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 5:39 am and sunset at 8:06 pm, providing 14 hours and 27 minutes of sunlight. On Saturday, the Moon will rise at 3:56 pm and set at 4:24 am Sunday. It will be Waxing Gibbous, 87% illuminated.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK: A storm will bring heavy rain and strong winds across the Adirondacks Thursday night into Friday, with cold rain and possibly snow lingering into the weekend, especially at higher elevations. Given the recent wet weather, some minor flooding of small streams is possible. Summit temperatures will be in the 30s to near freezing this weekend with windchills in the 20s. 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 it’s recommended that hikers avoid areas over 3,000 feet to protect sensitive vegetation and higher elevation trails. Remember to wear appropriate footwear, stay on the trail, and walk through mud and water – not around. Many seasonal access roads remain closed for the spring mud season (see notice below about open gates). Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season will damage roads and result in road opening delays. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance. Obey closures and check below for a few roads that have opened.
TRAIL CONDITIONS – HIGH WATERS: Trailheads and lower elevation trails are very muddy, but expect to encounter snow and ice above about 2,500 feet; snow on trails will be soft making travel more difficult. Traction devices are highly recommended and snowshoes may be needed above 3,300 feet in some areas. Water levels are high especially in the afternoon when snow is rapidly melting and at times of local heavy rains expected this weekend. Water crossings may be difficult or treacherous. Easy water crossings in the morning may be difficult or impassable in the afternoon. Plan accordingly.
SNOW REMAINS: Expect to encounter deeper snow in sheltered valleys and along northern slopes. There remains more than a foot of snow off trail at higher elevations. Some light snow fell this week above about 3,000 feet and additional light snow is expected on Sunday at higher elevations. Expect to encounter snow and ice above about 2,500 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: 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.
The following gates were opened this week:
Connery Pond Road for access to Connery Pond, Whiteface Landing, and Whiteface Mountain
Madawaska Road for access to Madawaska Flow
Access road to Low’s Lower Dam for access to the Bog River, Hitchens Pond and Low’s Lake
Lake Lila Road for access to Lake Lila
Wolf Lake Landing Road for access to Remsen Falls and Woodhull Lake
Mill Creek Road for access to Gull Lake
Loop Road for access to North Lake
SOME STATE CAMPGROUNDS OPEN: DEC’s Fish Creek Campground is open. Wilmington Notch campground opens Friday, May 5. All other State campgrounds in the Adirondacks (with the exception of Caroga Lake) will open 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 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.
RIVERS AND STREAMS HIGH: Stream crossings are open and water levels will be at normal springtime highs, low water crossings will be difficult or treacherous, if not impassible – this will be exacerbated by sometimes heavy rain expected Thursday night into Saturday morning. Water levels are especially high in the afternoon when snow is rapidly melting. Easy water crossings in the morning may be impassible in the afternoon. Plan accordingly. 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 – 4.65 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 8.74 feet
Ausable River at AuSable Forks – 3.58 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 5.60 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 4.78 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 99.19 feet (Flood Stage is 100 Feet)
WATER TEMPERATURES COLD: Most 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 – 45 degrees
Ausable River- about 48 degrees
Lake Champlain (average) – 42 degrees
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 50 degrees
Mirror Lake – lower-50s
FISHING SEASONS OPEN: Trout season is open statewide. May 6th is the start of walleye, pike, pickerel, and tiger muskellunge seasons. DEC’s 2017 Warmwater Fishing Forecast can help guide anglers to recommended waters to fish for these species.
ADIRONDACK FISHING REGULATION CHANGES: 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.
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
** Mud Season – Avoid Areas Above 3,000 Feet: Wet and muddy conditions are prevalent at all elevations and it’s recommended that hikers avoid areas over 3,000 feet to protect sensitive vegetation and higher elevation trails. Remember to wear appropriate footwear, stay on the trail, and walk through mud and water – not around.
** Garden Parking Fee: Beginning Friday, May 12th, a fee of $10 (USD, $13 Canadian) per calendar day (12:01 AM to Midnight) will be 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.
** High Peaks: Trailheads and lower elevation trails are very muddy, but snow and the snow spine remains at higher elevations; snow on trails will be soft making travel more difficult. Traction devices are highly recommended. Water levels are high especially in the afternoon when snow is rapidly melting. Water crossing may be difficult or treacherous. Easy water crossings in the morning may not be so upon your return in the afternoon. Plan accordingly.
Mountain Bike Trails: Trails will be mostly wet and muddy this week. Riders are being asked by stewards to give the trails a break and avoid riding until things dry out. Some mountain bike trails in Wilmington, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake are closed. Closures include the use of fat bikes. Be Patient, Ride Smart and Respect Trail Closures. Even one rider on a muddy trail can cause irreversible damage. Check BETA trail conditions and closures on TrailHUB before planning your ride.
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.
Hurricane Mountain: The Friends of Hurricane Mountain are recruiting Volunteer Summit Stewards for weekends during the months of June and September and Memorial and Columbus Day weekends. Volunteers meet and greet hikers while discussing the history of the fire tower and explaining points of interest. Hurricane Mountain enjoys 360-degree views of the High Peaks, Lake Champlain, Vermont and Canada. Volunteers may enjoy hiking up any of the 3 distinct and diverse trails on the way to the summit. Volunteers are also needed for trail and tower maintenance. Training will be provided. If interested, contact Kathleen Blaisel at [email protected] or call 518-946-2622.
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.
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
** 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.
Moose River Plains: The Moose River Plains Road System is 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.
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 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: 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 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
Ausable Point Road Closure: A portion of the Ausable Point Road, which provides access to the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area and the Ausable Point Camp Campground, will be closed on May 2 and 3 while DEC repairs a culvert. The culvert is located approximately 100 feet before the entrance booth for the campground. Visitors will not be able to access the unopened campground area during the closure. Visitors will be able to access the launch site for small craft access to Lake Champlain, the accessible wildlife viewing platform, and the hand launch for paddlers into the Ausable Marsh – along with its parking area, during the road closure. Some equipment will be located in the parking area during the two-day replacement.
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 Road is open for public motor vehicle use. Dacy Clearing Road and all other DEC gates Lake George Wild Forest are closed. The roads 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.
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.
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
** 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.
DeBar Mountain Wild Forest: Debar Meadow Road and Debar Pond Access Road are open to motor vehicles. The foot bridge to Debar Pond is in disrepair, the pond should be accessed via road beyond locked gate near parking area.
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: 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.
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 & 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; active alerts are updated by noon Friday 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.