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SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 5:11 am and sunset at 8:39 pm, providing 15 hours and 28 minutes of sunlight. On Saturday, the Moon will rise at 9:27 pm and set at 7:04 am Sunday. It will be Waning Gibbous, 99% illuminated.
MUD SEASON: Heavy and long-lasting rains over the past several weeks have made typical springtime muddiness worse at all elevations. The DEC Mud Season Advisory remains in effect. Hikers should avoid areas over 2,500 feet – especially in the High Peaks, Dix, and Giant Mountain Wilderness Areas – 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 also been asking members to avoid hiking at higher elevations. The Adirondack 46ers bylaws require members to follow DEC’s mud season recommendations. A map showing areas over 2,500 feet can be found here.
TRAIL CONDITIONS – VERY MUDDY, HIGH WATERS: Trails are very wet and muddy. Water levels are high and some water crossings will be difficult, if not impassable, this weekend. Expect temperatures to be seasonably warm, with a chance of an occasional shower or afternoon thunderstorm. The dry and warm weather expected latter this weekend into early next week will help rivers and streams return to normal levels and the ground to gradually dry out.
LIGHTNING SAFETY REMINDER: There is a chance of encountering afternoon thunderstorms this weekend. There is NO safe place outside in a thunderstorm, follow local weather closely and avoid storms. Hundreds of people are killed or permanently injured each year by being struck by lightning. If you can hear thunder, you are within striking distance and should seek safe shelter immediately. If you are caught outdoors away from the safety of cars or buildings, then avoid open fields, hill-tops, and isolated trees, and stay away from water. You should never be above treeline or on water when there is lightning.
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.
FIRE DANGER: The Fire Danger is LOW but could be raised to Moderate by the end of the weekend. Use caution with open fires. It is illegal to leave even a smoldering fire unattended.
BITING INSECTS: Ticks, black flies, and mosquitoes are out in the lower elevations. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants; Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; Pack a head net to wear when insects are abundant; and, use an insect repellent.
SEASONAL ACCESS ROADS: Gates to many seasonal access roads have reopened, although some remain closed. All access 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. Gates opened in the past two weeks are listed below.
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 high, well above normal, even for this time of year. Some water crossings will be difficult or dangerous and impassible. Scattered showers or thunderstorms are expected, but waters should continue to fall into the weekend. The dry and warm weather expected latter this weekend into early next week will help rivers and streams return to normal levels and the ground to gradually dry out. 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 fall through Sunday.
Moose River at McKeever – 5.28 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 7.10 feet
AuSable River at Ausable Forks – 3.19 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 5.76 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 4.62 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 97.56 feet
WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures are in the 50s and pose the threat of hypothermia. PDFs are recommended for all persons in small boats, kayaks and canoes.
The following water temperatures were reported Thursday:
Ausable River (Wilmington) – mid-50s
Mirror Lake – about 59 degrees
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – 53 degrees
Lake Champlain (average) – 51 degrees
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 57 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.
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 items this week.
HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including Wilmington, Keene, Newcomb, Essex Chain
** Owls Head Trail Closed: The trail to the summit of Owls Head in the town of Keene is closed to public access by the landowners between 4 pm Friday and 7 am Monday, effective immediately. The road to the trail, the trailhead, and all but the last 0.1 mile of the trail are located on private lands. The landowner has announced their intention to close the trail for public use at the end of the 2017 hiking season. More about this closure, and a map of the area can be found here.
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 from the Southwest corner of Marcy Field, off Route 73, to the Garden Parking Lot 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.
Lake Arnold and the Feldspar Lean-to: Sections of the trail between Lake Arnold and the Feldspar Lean-to are underwater and impassable. Hikers should seek other routes.
** Mountain Bike Trails: Trails remain wet and muddy. Riders should avoid riding muddy trails. 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 or The Flume trails 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 routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliffs remain closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting; climbing routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliffs are open.
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.
** NPT- Cold River Bridge: The suspension bridge over the Cold River on the Northville-Placid Trail has been repaired.
Boreas Ponds Tract: The state has reopened 3.2 miles of Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year. Hikers can walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds; paddlers can portage 2.5 miles to LaBier Flow to reach the ponds. Mountain bikers can ride up to the pond.
Long Lake, Indian Lake, Fulton Chain, Speculator, West Canada Lakes
** O’Neil Flow Road: Logging operations on the Township 19 Easement Lands will result in increased numbers of logging trucks on O’Neil Flow Road this summer. Roll down vehicle windows, travel slowly, listen for trucks, and move off the road to allow passage of logging trucks. Logging trucks have the right of way. Barker Pond Roadside Campsite will be closed for several weeks due to logging operations in the area. Access to Barker Pond will remain open. Do not block the road when parking. Be prepared to reverse back down Barker Pond Road if you encounter logging trucks.
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.
** Moose River Plains: The whole length of Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road (aka Moose River Plains Road) is open for public motor vehicle use. Otter Brook Road is open to the trailhead parking area near Squaw Lake for public motor vehicle use. Rock Dam Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use.
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.
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.
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.
** Perkins Clearing: The bridge on Long Level Road is open.
** Pigeon Lake Wilderness: Chub Lake Trail between Constable Pond and Queer Lake Trail was recently cleared of blowdown and brushed out by DEC Boonville Operations staff.
** Caroga Lake Campground: The Caroga Lake Campground remains closed. No date for reopening has been announced.
Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co
Essex Chain Lakes: All seasonal access roads are open to public motor vehicle use, including: Chain Lakes Rd South to the Outer Gooley Parking Area; Chain Lakes Road North to the Hudson River Parking Area; Cornell Road to the Deer Pond Parking Area.
Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower: A Fire Tower Steward, sponsored by the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, will be staffing the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower beginning Friday, June 2. The steward will be at the fire tower Thursday through Monday until the end of August.
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.
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: Lily Pond Road remains closed to public motor vehicle traffic while DEC, Student Conservation Association and the town of Horicon Highway Department crews complete maintenance work on the road. Long Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, and Bear Slides Road have reopened.
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
** Lows Upper Dam: A maintenance project is underway at Lows Upper Dam in the Bog River/Lows Lake area in southern St. Lawrence County. Construction activities will impact recreational users of the portage from Hitchins Pond to Lows Lake, as well as private landowners and users of the Sabattis Boy Scout Camp. Work is scheduled to occur Monday through Friday and is expected to last through November 2017. Members of the public wishing to access Hitchins Pond and Lows Lake will continue to launch at Low’s Lower Dam, located near the end of State Highway 421. Recreational users should continue to use the existing designated portage around Low’s Upper Dam. From Hitchins Pond travel northwest past the old homesite; stay within the designated traffic area (delineated with orange construction fence) as you make your way through the work area; and continue to the dock on the right side of the Bog River Flow. Stay within the designated travel corridor at all times while traveling through the work area. Construction activities will not affect vehicular traffic to private land on Lows Lake (Boy Scouts and others) on Saturday and Sunday, but will change traffic patterns during the work week. Authorized vehicles may access private property from NYS Route 421 when the Sabattis Road is not passable.
** Sable Highlands Easements: The D&H Road is open to public motor vehicle use. Barnes Pond Road is open to ATVs for people with a Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD). MAPPWD permit holders should contact the DEC Ray Brook Office at 518-897-1291 for information on how to access the road. The road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the 2017 Big Game Hunting Season. The public can access and use the six designated primitive campsites marked with “Camp Here” discs along the road by foot. Each site has privies, fire rings, and picnic tables. Camping is permitted at designated sites only. Here is a map of roads and campsites.
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.
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.
Kushaqua Tract Easement: Mountain Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle use to the old log landing at the northeastern end of the road. North Branch Road and Hunter’s Camp Road are open to public motor vehicle use.
Santa Clara Tract Easement: The gates to Madawaska Road and Pinnacle Road are open and the roads are accessible with motor vehicles. On Pinnacle Road brush has grown in from the sides of the road and there are number of trees leaning over the road. Blowdown is blocking the Pinnacle Trailhead and there is no register box or kiosk. Vanderwalker Road, between State Route 458 and the East Branch St. Regis River, is open to public motor vehicle use but brush has grown in from the sides of the road and there are number of trees leaning over the road.
Black River Wild Forest: The gate for the “Loop Road” on the North Lake Easement Tract remains 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.
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.