Thursday, January 11, 2018

Current Adirondack Outdoor Conditions (Jan 11)

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

Contribute Your Knowledge: Add a comment below, or send your observations, corrections, updates, and suggestions to [email protected]

Practice Leave No Trace Principles when visiting the Adirondack Park.


SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 7:29 am and sunset at 4:40 pm, providing 9 hours and 11 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 2:30 am Saturday morning, and set at 1:05 pm, Saturday afternoon. It will be about 25% illuminated.

FLOODING – HAZARDOUS WEATHER: Continued thawing and rain has produced some isolated ice jams on rivers and streams, including flooding in some low-lying areas.  Several flood watches and warnings are in effect around the region. Follow the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here.

WINTER STORM: The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning from 7 pm Friday through 7 pm Saturday. A significant mix of sleet/snow/freezing rain is expected for Friday night, that will turn to heavy snowfall. Icy roads are expected this evening, and 6 to 12 inches of first sleet and then mostly snow across the Adirondacks through Saturday, including as much as a 1-2 feet of new snow at higher elevations. Follow the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here.

TRAIL CONDITIONS – ICE, SNOW, OPEN WATERS: Watch the weather closely. Continued thawing and light rain has produced some isolated ice jams on streams and rivers. Light rain Friday is expected to give way to a significant mix of freezing rain/sleet/snow Friday night into the early afternoon hours on Saturday, which could leave as much as two feet of new snow at higher elevations, and icy conditions everywhere. Winter preparation, traction devices, and snowshoes or skis are necessary for backcountry travel. Expect ice at all elevations and a 1 to 2 feet of snow around most of the region, with 4 to 6 feet above about 3,000 feet on Saturday. Beware of spruce traps, and deeper drifts on summits, and expect to encounter blow-down. Wind chills on summits are expected to in the 20s below zero Saturday and Sunday, near 30 below by early Sunday. Check Mountain Forecasts here and the latest advisories here.

THIN ICE WARNING: Four inches of solid ice is usually safe for accessing ice on foot. However, ice thickness can vary on waterbodies and even within the same waterbody, and recent warming has neagitively impacted ice, leaving puddled water and areas of layered ice. Larger lakes remain covered with only very thin ice – use extreme caution, and carry self-rescue equipment. Be particularly wary of areas of moving water or where bubblers are present. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Test the thickness of ice frequently with an ice spud while crossing.

SNOW COVER: Traction devices and snowshoes or skis are necessary for backcountry travel and the use of snowshoes is required in the High Peaks Wilderness. Expect about 1 to 2 feet of snow around most of the Adirondack region, with 3 to 6 feet at higher elevations. There is 3 feet at Lake Colden (2,750 feet). Beware of spruce traps, and deeper drifts on summits. Snow depths below (in inches) were reported Thursday. Expect additional 8 to 10 inches of snow through Friday afternoon, and through Saturday and early Sunday at higher elevations.

Tupper Lake – 17
Gabriels – 12
Saranac Lake – 15
Wilmington (elevation 2,020 feet)- 14
Whiteface Base – 11
Newcomb (1,647 feet) – 16
Lake Colden – 36 (2,750 feet)
Indian Lake – 15
Long Lake – 18
North Hudson – 12
North Creek – 13
Olmsteadville (1,415 feet) – 13
Essex – 10
Ticonderoga – 8
Chestertown – 12
Warrensburg – 11
Northville – 10
Piseco – 11
Speculator – 15 (estimate, no observation reported)
Inlet – 21
Old Forge – 21

Contribute your snow depth observations Thursday morning to [email protected] to be listed here.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Light rain falling Friday afternoon will turn to 8 to 10 inches of new snow by Sunday. Expect to encounter some icy areas. All downhill ski resorts are operating with most of their trails open. Hickory near Warrensburg, and Big Tupper remain closed. Big Tupper is not expected to open this year; Hickory hopes to return to operation this winter. The region’s town-operated ski and sledding hills will be open this weekend.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKI REPORT: Expect to encounter some icy areas, and possibly a frozen crust. Use caution on hills, and beware of obstacles that may not yet be fully covered. Despite the warm-up, rain and mixed precipitation, skiing should remain good at groomed facilities, golf courses and smoother back country roads after temperatures cool down on Saturday afternoon. Conditions will be good to very good at snowshoe and cross country ski facilities including the Tupper Lake Trails, Paul Smith’s VIC, Dewey Mountain, Whiteface, Cascade, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the North Creek Ski Bowl, Garnet Hill in North River, and Lapland Lake near Northville.

BACK-COUNTRY SKI REPORT: Expect to encounter some icy areas; and some waters could be high enough to make crossing difficult or impossible. Use caution on hills, which may have thinner/icer cover, and beware of obstacles that may not yet be fully covered. There is one to two feet of snow around the region, and most flatter and moderate terrain should remain in good condition for Sunday, with the possibility of some crust. Unplowed backcountry roads, the Whiteface Memorial Highway, and the Jackrabbitt Trail will all be skiable with good conditions Saturday. The Marcy Truck Trail is being skied. Conditions are reported mostly good (a few obstacles remain) to Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake, which are being crossed (there could be large wet areas on Saturday morning). Wright Peak and Mount Marcy are not yet recommended, but if the forecast is correct, could come into play Saturday afternoon or Sunday as temperatures fall precipitously. For now, skiing into Johns Brook Lodge is not yet recommended (that may change by Sunday). Lake Road to Lower Ausable Lake is reported to be “thin at the very beginning, but otherwise very skiable.” More detailed conditions in the Tri-Lakes area are available here.

SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Snowmobilers are encouraged to stay off the trails during the warm temperatures and rain to preserve the base. 8 to 10 inches of snow is expected by noon Saturday, with as much as a foot possible in some areas. Expect to encounter icy areas, and some open water in low-lying areas. All snowmobile trails in the region should be in fair to good condition by late morning Saturday, although well traveled and village trails will have deteriorated by Saturday afternoon. Stay off lakes! Ice that holds the weight of snow, may not hold the weight of a person. (See additional snowmobile related reports arranged by region below).

BE PREPARED! Start slow, gain experience. 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 a boat check the National Weather Service watches, warnings, and advisories here. Follow Adirondack weather forecasts at Burlington and Albany and consult the High Elevation, Recreation, or Lake Champlain forecasts.

AVOID MINES AND CAVES WHERE BATS ARE PRESENT: DEC has urged outdoor adventurers to suspend exploration of cave and mine sites that may serve as seasonal homes for hibernating bats. Human disturbances are especially 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 hibernation sites in New York. All posted notices restricting the use of caves and mines should be followed. If New Yorkers or visitors to the State encounter hibernating bats while underground, DEC encourages them to 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. Learn more 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 PETS LEASHED: Keep your pet under control. Restrain it on a leash when others approach. Collect and bury droppings away from water, trails and camp sites. Keep your pet away from drinking water sources. 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. Dogs should be kept leashed for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and rare plants, and out of courtesy to fellow hikers everywhere in the Adirondack Park.

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.


* indicates new or recent items.

Including Dix Mountain, Giant Mountain, Hurricane Mountain, Jay Mountain, McKenzie Mountain, Sentinel Range Wildernesses
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

* Boreas Ponds Tract: The lower gate on the Gulf Brook Road is closed until the end of the spring mud season.

The two trails through the Elk Lake Easement lands connecting to the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix Mountain Wilderness have reopened. The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road will remain closed through the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a round-trip hike, plan accordingly.

The gate on Corey’s Road will remain open until March 1, however the road and parking areas may not be plowed. If you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle and there is snow on the road, consider parking along the plowed section of road and walking. DO NOT BLOCK TRAFFIC. Have a shovel in your vehicle in case you need to dig out.

South Meadow Lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Vehicles can park at the barriers just off the Adirondac Loj Road. Do not block the opening as it used for emergency access. The closed gate adds nearly two miles to a round trip to the Marcy Truck Trail.

Mr. Van Ski Trail: A large tree has fallen on the Mr. Van Lean-to on the Mr. Van Ski Trail causing severe damage and rendering the lean-to unsafe and unusable. DEC is working with partners to evaluate the extent of the damage and the requirements and timing of repairs.

Upper Johns Brooks Valley: Several sections of the Phelps Trail in the Upper Johns Brook Valley contain extensive amount of blowdown. Use caution when hiking in and around this area.

Western High Peaks: Blowdown has been cleared from the Blueberry Horse Trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks and the trail has been “brushed out” (trailside vegetation has been trimmed).

Bradley Pond Trail: A new section of Bradley Pond Trail to Sanatanoni Mountain has been constructed near the beginning of the trail to avoid the two crossings which had unusable bridges. The new trail section crosses Santanoni Brook on a newly constructed bridge and then joins the old trail a short distance later.

Calamity Brook Trail: The high water bridge over Calamity Brook has been repaired. Although it leans slightly it is usable for crossing. The lean is expected to be corrected at a later date.

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 Fridays and 7 am Mondays. 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 – an actual closure date has not been announced. More about this closure, and a map of the area can be found here.

Fat Bike Trails: Trail stewards responsible for bike and fat bike trails in the Wilmington-Lake Placid-Saranac Lake ask riders to abide by trail closures posted on TrailHUB.

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.

Including Aldrich Pond Wild Forest, Bog River Complex, Cranberry Lake Wild Forest, Five Ponds & Pepperbox Wildernesses, Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest, William C. Whitney & Round Lake Wilderness
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

William C. Whitney Wilderness: The gate on the North Branch Road near the entrance is closed and all of the roads are closed to public motor vehicle access until the end of the spring mud season.

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.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: There is an area with significant blowdown on the Norridgewock Trail about 1.5 miles south of Beaver River Station. A rough and temporary reroute has been flagged with pink flagging. All users should exercise caution when traveling through this area.

Including Grass River Complex, Raquette Boreal Complex, Whitehill Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Tupper Lake Snowmobile Trails: The trails snowmobile trails at Tupper Lake area in good condition.

Including DeBar Mountain Wild Forest, Kushaqua Tract Easement, Paul Smiths College Easement, Santa Clara Tract Easement, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, St. Regis Canoe Area
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Santa Clara Tract: The Madawaska gate is open to allow snowmobile access along the C8 designated snowmobile trail. (12/28)

Debar Mountain Wild Forest: The Meacham Lake Campground and Debar Meadow gates are open to provide access to the C8 designated snowmobile trail. (12/28)

Debar Mountain Wild Forest: Vanderwalker Road gate for access to East Branch St. Regis Canoe Launch is closed and the road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the after the spring mud season. (12/21)

Santa Clara Tract: The Pinnacle Road gate is closed and the road is closed to public motor vehicle access until the end of the spring mud season. (12/21)

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.

Including Chazy Highlands Wild Forest, Lake Champlain Islands Complex, Sable Highlands Tract, Taylor Pond Complex, Wilmington Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

** Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails in Eastern Essex County are open and in mostly good condition.

Sable Highlands Tract: The gate on Barnes Pond Road is closed and road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the opening of next year’s big game season.

Fat Bike Trails: Trail stewards responsible for bike and fat bike trails in the Wilmington-Lake Placid-Saranac Lake ask riders to abide by trail closures posted on TrailHUB.

Including Black River Wild Forest, Fulton Chain Wild Forest, Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, Independence River Wild Forest, Pigeon Lake Wilderness

These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

St. Lawrence County: DEC has upgrades to two bridge projects critical to the St. Lawrence County snowmobile trail network. The Chap Hill Bridge, located in the town of Colton, on the Grass River Conservation Easement (CE), is part of a main snowmobile route. DEC determined the bridge to be structurally deficient for use as a public snowmobile bridge and replaced it with a stronger, portable bridge. The Morgan Road Bridge, located on the South Colton CE, was also deemed unsafe for public snowmobile use after it was destroyed by a contractor’s overweight vehicle. Plans are in the works to replace the bridge with a permanent one. In the meantime, DEC has installed a portable bridge at this site.

Black River Wild Forest: Stone Dam Trail north of Stone Dam Lake to its intersection with the Chub Pond Trail is overgrown and can be hard to find and follow.

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. 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. 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.

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: Moose River Mountain Trail has heavy blow down and is difficult to follow at times. 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.

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.

Including Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Township 19 Easement, Township 20 Easement, Blue Ridge Wilderness, Moose River Plains Complex, Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement, Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, West Canada Lakes Wilderness
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

* Perkins Clearing: The following trails have been closed for logging operations, the roads will be very active with log trucks and other logging related traffic: The south end of Perkins Clearing road between State Route 30 and Mud Lake Road (a bypass route has been created to allow snowmobiles to access Perkins Clearing from the south).; Mud Lake Road; Elm Lake Road is closed and plowed from the entrance of the Speculator Tree Farm to Long Level Road; Long Level Road is closed and plowed to Fly Creek Road; Fly Creek Road is closed and plowed from Long Level Road south to about Pine Mountain. (12/29)

Stillwater Fire Tower: Stillwater Fire Tower on the Big Moose Rd. between Stillwater and Big Moose Station has reopened.

Moose River Plains: The gates on the Moose River Plains Road (the Limekiln Lake / Cedar River Road) and the Seventh Lake Mountain snowmobile trail are open for snowmobiling. There are good to very good snowmobile trail conditions at Indian Lake, Raquette Lake, Inlet, Old Forge, and Big Moose.

** Snowmobile Trails: Gates to snowmobile trails are open in the Western and Central Adirondacks.

Perkins Clearing: The bridge over the Kunjamuk River on the Pine Lakes Road on the Speculator Tree Farm is closed for safety purposes. DEC is developing plans to repair the bridge.

** Webb-Inlet Trails: The Town of Webb Snowmobile Trail System has GOOD conditions.

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.

Including Camp Santanoni Historic Area,Essex Chain Lakes Complex, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, Hudson Gorge Wilderness, Jessup River Wild Forest, Siamese Ponds Wilderness Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

All gates to the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Area are closed for winter. This includes: Chain Lakes Road North, Cornell Road, and Chain Lakes Road South. The outermost parking areas will be used from now until after spring mud season. All other seasonal access roads remain open until conditions warrant their closing.

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.

Including Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Lake George Wild Forest, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Split Rock Wild Forest, Lake Champlain
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

* Lake George Wild Forest: DEC crews have dismantled and removed the Thomas Mountain Cabin. Crews will return in the spring to rake and complete clean up of the site. The cabin was removed because it did not comply with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and was not compatible with the Forest Preserve. Additionally, vandals had started misusing the cabin, such that it had become an attractive nuisance. (12/29)

** Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails in Warren and Eastern Essex Counties have opened and are in good condition.

Lake George Boat Launch: The boat launching ramp at Lake George Beach is 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.

Boquet River Nature Preserve: The Nature Conservancy and the Town of Willsboro have opened a new, 1.5-mile loop universal access trail at the Conservancy’s 110-acre Boquet River Nature Preserve. Access to the Uplands Trailhead is located behind the Paine Public Library, off Rt. 22/Main Street. This multi-use trail, which meets the Federal Trail Accessibility Guidelines, is one of the longest accessible forest trails in the Adirondacks.

Including Ferris Lake Wild Forest, Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Silver Lake Wilderness, Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Gates and designated snowmobile trails are open on the nearby conservation easements lands as follows: Edinburg Tract; Corinth Tract; Johnny Cake Lake Tract; Gordon’s Creek Tract; Lake Desolation Tract. (12/29)

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Mulleyville Snowmobile Club Trail System is open. (12/29)

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Spruce Mountain Trail is open. The fire tower stairs may be climbed but the cab is locked. (12/28)

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The cab of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and the observer’s cabin are closed and locked for the season.


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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