Thursday, July 13, 2017

Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report (July 13)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is compiled each Thursday afternoon.

Contribute Your Knowledge: Send observations, corrections, updates, and suggestions to


PRACTICE LEAVE NO TRACE: Abide by the Leave No Trace Principles when recreating in the Adirondacks Park.

BUSY SEASON: This is the busiest time in the Adirondacks. Most popular interior campsites fill by Friday evening and popular trailhead parking lots reach capacity early on weekends. Expect to encounter many people on the trails and waterways. Seek out recreational opportunities in lesser used areas of the Adirondacks. Hikes Outside the High Peaks provides a list of alternative day hikes.

SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 5:26 am and sunset at 8:37 pm, providing 15 hours and 11 minutes of sunlight. On Saturday night, the Moon will rise at 12:14 am Sunday morning, and set at 1:07 pm Sunday. It will be about 54% illuminated.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK: Periods of showers and thunderstorms are likely Thursday through Friday, and there is a chance of thunderstorms Saturday through Tuesday, mainly during the afternoon and evening hours. There is the continued potential for heavy rainfall and localized flooding of urban, poor drainage and low lying areas with isolated
flash flooding as well. Follow National Weather Service local weather watches, warning and advisories here.

TRAIL CONDITIONS – WATERS HIGH: Most trails, but especially those in low-laying and poorly-drained areas, are wet and muddy and rain is expected to continue throughout the weekend. Many water crossings remain difficult, and some impassable. Swimmers, waders, novice paddlers, and tubers should avoid swift currents, especially near waterfalls and rapids. Expect temperatures to be cooler, in the 60s to lower 70s this weekend, 50s on summits. Remember to walk through, not around, mud to protect trails and sensitive vegetation.

LIGHTNING SAFETY REMINDER: There is a chance of encountering 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.

SWIMMING DANGERS IN RIVERS AND STREAMS: Use extreme caution at local swimming holes, and near raging rivers and streams. Fast moving rivers and streams can pose great dangers. Swimmers and waders should avoid swift currents, especially near waterfalls and rapids. Do not underestimate the force of moving water and strong currents. The high, fast water the Adirondacks is experiencing due to recent heavy rains has been the cause of several deaths in treacherous currents already this summer. More information and additional safety advice can be found here.

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 the woods. 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. Use caution with open fires. It is illegal to leave even a smoldering fire unattended.

BITING INSECTS: Ticks, black flies, and mosquitoes are present. 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.

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.

WATERS REMAIN HIGH: Water levels remain well above normal for this time of year. The water level of lakes and ponds is high, and some water stream crossings are difficult, if not treacherous and impassable Swimmers, waders, novice paddlers, and tubers should avoid swift currents, especially near waterfalls and rapids. 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 through Sunday.

Moose River at McKeever – 2.99 feet
Raquette River at Piercefield – 7.36 feet
AuSable River at Ausable Forks – 2.14 feet
Hudson River at North Creek – 4.05 feet
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 4.26 feet
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 97.95 feet

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures are mostly in the 60s, with some smaller, shallower waters in the lower 70s. PDFs are recommended for all persons in small boats, kayaks and canoes.

The following water temperatures were reported Thursday:

Ausable River (Wilmington) – mid-60s
Arbutus Lake in Newcomb – about 65 degrees
Lake Champlain (average) – about 66 degrees
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 75 degrees
Great Sacandaga Lake – about 70 degrees

DO NOT RELY ON TECHNOLOGY: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Plan and prepare carefully before entering the backcountry and always carry a map and compass – and know how to use them.

KEEP DOGS LEASHED: Dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks when on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, everywhere above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates. It is recommended dogs be kept leashed for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and rare plants, and out of courtesy to fellow hikers.

LEAVE NO TRACE / CARRY IN – CARRY OUT: Learn and practice the seven Leave No Trace principles. Carry out what you have carried in. Do not leave gear, food, or other unwanted or unneeded items at lean-tos and campsites. Do not litter. Take the free online Leave No Trace course here.

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

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


These are recent changes (within the last two weeks) to access roads, trails and facilities around the entire Adirondack Park.

** indicates new items this week.

Including Wilmington, Keene, Newcomb, Essex Chain

** Avalanche Lake Trail Closure: From August 15 through August 25, the trail along Avalanche Lake will be closed while repairs to the Hitch-Up Matildas are being made – hikers will not be able to pass along the elevated boardwalks (Hitch-Up Matildas) along Avalanche Lake. Access thru Avalanche Pass to the head of the lake and from Lake Colden to the outlet will be possible, but through passage will be inaccessible.

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.

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, but passable. Expect to get your boots wet.

** Mountain Bike Trails: Some mountain bike trails remain wet and muddy and trail stewards responsible for bike trails in the Wilmington-Lake Placid-Saranac Lake area are asking riders to abide by trail closures posted on TrailHUB.

** Chapel Pond Area Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl Cliffs are now 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.

** Mount Adams Fire Tower: The retaining rail on the top landing of the Mount Adams Fire Tower has been repaired.

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.

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

OK Slip Falls: The Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program recently completed building bog bridging on a muddy section near the beginning of the OK Slip Falls Trail.

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.

** Rock Dam Road / Moose River Plains: Rock Dam Road is open for public motor vehicle use.

Crane Mountain Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Crane Mountain are open.

** Wakely Mountain Fire Tower: remains closed until further notice due to safety concerns with the Wakely Mountain Fire Tower. The fire tower was closed to public access in December 2016 due to structural deficiencies. On June 30th, it was reported that the condition of the tower has worsened and it is possible the tower may collapse in heavy winds.

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.

Caroga Lake Campground: The Caroga Lake Campground in the town of Caroga in Fulton County is open for day use only, 8 am to 8 pm, every Saturday and Sunday through the remainder of the summer. Swimming will be available at the beach, unless a lifeguard is unavailable. Picnic tables are available near the beach. The boat launch can be used to launch row boats, canoes, and kayaks that are available to rent on-site. While a contractor is upgrading the waste water system at the campground, camping is not available. However, portable toilet units are available for day users. DEC plans to open the campground later this summer when the work is completed. The day use area will then also be open daily.

Sacandaga, Lake George, Champlain, Washington Co

** Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: The bridge over the Pharaoh Lake Outlet (and dam) will be replaced beginning Monday, July 17 by Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program Crews. The work is expected to be completed on Wednesday, July 26. The bridge will be closed and unavailable for use during this time. The shortest access to the western Pharaoh Lake Loop Trail and the western shore of the lake will be from the Sucker Lake Trailhead. The shortest access to the eastern Pharaoh Lake Loop Trail and the eastern shore of the lake will be from the Pharaoh Lake Road Trailhead. DEC staff are constructing a parking area near along Pharaoh Lake Road near the intersection with Beaver Pond Road.

Great Sacandaga Lake – Broadalbin Boat Launch Changes: Parking spots are striped in the main parking area for vehicles with trailers; Parking spots are striped in the auxiliary parking area for vehicles with canoes, kayaks, and other small boats on roof racks; Signs are installed identifying where parking is allowed and where parking is prohibited; An aquatic invasive species inspection site for boats and trailers is located at the access roadway to the auxiliary parking area; and a boat and trailer decontamination wash site will be located in the southwestern corner of the parking area. DEC plans to install bollards (posts) along the access road and on the periphery of the boat launch site to ensure vehicles travel and park within the boundaries of the boat launch site; bollards along the access roadway and on the periphery of the auxiliary parking area; and a trail between the auxiliary parking area and the boat launch ramp. Only vehicles with trailers may park in the main parking area of the boat launch and are restricted to parking in designated parking spots only. Vehicles carrying canoes, kayaks, and small boats on a roof rack or by other means must use the auxiliary parking area and are restricted to parking in designated parking spots. When the boat launch steward is present, all boats and trailers will be inspected. Due to the presence of spiny water flea in the lake, boaters leaving the lake that plan to boat on another lake within five days should have their boats decontaminated before leaving the boat launch. Boaters are encouraged to use other boat launches on the lake when parking is not available. A list of Great Sacandaga Lake boat launches is available on the DEC website at:

Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower: A Fire Tower Steward, sponsored by the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, is staffing the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower Thursday through Monday until the end of August.

** Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are open.

** Lake George Wild Forest: Dacy Clearing Road has reopened.

Lily Pond Road:  Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest has reopened; high axle four wheel drive vehicles are recommended.

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 nest.

** Rogers Rock Climbing Routes: All rock climbing routes on Rogers Rock are 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

** Meacham Lake Boat Launch: The new boat launch at Meacham Lake in Franklin County is complete and ready for use by boaters and anglers. The new launch is located within the Meacham Lake Campground and provides a much better trailer launching capability than the former shallow launch. The old launch will remain open as a hand launch and for ice fishing access.

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.

** Lower Locks Reopened – Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Repairs on the Lower Locks in the Saranac Chain have been completed and the locks are operational. DEC staff will be present to operate the locks from 9 am to 8 pm daily; boaters should remain in their boats while at locks. Repairs were also completed this spring on a broken swing arm on the Upper Locks.

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.

Santa Clara Tract Easement: Vanderwalker Road, between State Route 458 and the East Branch St. Regis River, has brush growing in from the sides of the road and there are number of trees leaning over the road. Pinnacle Road has brush growing 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.

** Five Ponds Wilderness: An 800-foot portion of the Plains Trail (part of the Cranberry 50) has been rerouted to avoid a dangerous log crossing of a beaver dam. The new route has been brushed out and marked with red trail markers. Some blowdown remains in the reroute but the trail is usable. DEC plans to remove the blowdown this fall.

** Kushaqua Tract Easement: There is a deep washout on the North Branch Road. The road remains passable to four wheel drive pickups, SUVs and other high clearance vehicles but not cars.


DEC Trail Supporter PatchBe 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.

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