Thursday, January 18, 2018

Current Adirondack Outdoor Conditions (Jan 18)

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 adkalmanack@gmail.com.

Practice Leave No Trace Principles when visiting the Adirondack Park.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 7:26 am and sunset at 4:46 pm, providing 9 hours and 21 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 8:19 Saturday morning, and set at 6:27 pm, Saturday evening. It will be about 2% illuminated.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER:  Follow the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here.

TRAIL CONDITIONS – ICE, SNOW, OPEN WATERS: A major thawing and rain last week produced some ice jams on rivers and streams and flooded some low-lying areas. Although many have refrozen and/or receded, some of those areas remain flooded, and many water crossings have reopened. Another warm-up by Sunday will likely combine with rain Monday/Tuesday to make some trails impassible due to flooding on Monday or Tuesday. Unsettled, but warming, weather is expected this weekend – watch the weather closely as conditions are likely to change. Expect snow and ice at all elevations with 8 to 16 inches of snow around most of the region, and 3 to 4 feet above about 3,000 feet. Beware of spruce traps, and deeper drifts on summits, and expect to encounter blow-down. Summits temperatures will be mostly in the 20s with a southern breeze, despite wind blowing to the upper 40s mph on Saturday, wind chills will remain just above zero. 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 negatively impacted ice, leaving layered ice. Some 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 8 to 16 inches of snow around most of the Adirondack region, with 3 to 4 feet at higher elevations. There is 26 inches at Lake Colden (2,750 feet). Beware of spruce traps, and deeper drifts on summits. The following snow depths (in inches) were reported Thursday:

Tupper Lake – 10
Gabriels – 10
Saranac Lake – 10
Wilmington (elevation 2,020 feet)- 8
Newcomb (1,647 feet) – 10
Lake Colden – 26 (2,750 feet)
Indian Lake – 10
Long Lake – 10
North Hudson – 9
North Creek – 8
Olmsteadville (1,415 feet) – 10
Chestertown – 8
Warrensburg – 8
Northville – 09
Piseco – 8
Speculator – 13
Inlet – 15
Old Forge – 14

Contribute your snow depth observations Thursday morning to adkalmanack@gmail.com to be listed here.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: Expect to encounter some icy areas, but downhill conditions around the region are very good. 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: Conditions are cross-country ski facilities are generally very good, but fast. Conditions will be 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: Most flatter and moderate terrain in good to very good condition, but expect to encounter some icy areas on downhills, the occasional wet spot of slush or standing water, and waters have re-opened making some crossings difficult, or impassable. The Jackrabbit Ski Trail is being skied, and the bridge on the McKenzie Pond Road -McKenzie Pond section is no longer flooded and can be crossed on foot with caution. Backcountry roads around the region have very good ski conditions. Conditions have deteriorated at higher elevations and along popular multi-use trails. Although Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are being crossed and Marcy has been skied, more obstacles have been exposed with and cover is still too thin there to generally recommend; Wright Peak is also not recommended. South Meadow Lane and the Marcy Truck Trail are skiable but thin in some locations. The beaver dam on the outlet between Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden blew out during last weekend’s high water. Avoid ice around the inlets and outlets of both lakes. More detailed conditions in the Tri-Lakes and High Peaks area are available here.

SNOWMOBILE REPORT: With the exception of Eastern Essex and Warren County where the cover is icy and thin and some trails are closed, snowmobile trails are mostly in good condition, though expect to encounter icy areas, a few wet areas and some thin cover, especially on popular trails. The Brantingham Trail has been washed out in the Tug Hill section. Stay off lakes! Ice that holds the weight of snow, may not hold the weight of a person. (See additional reports by region below).

FREE SNOWMOBILE RIDE WEEKEND: On February 2-5, 2018 out-of-state and Canadian registered sleds are exempt from registering in NYS includes the Town of Webb permit. NYS registered sleds are still required to have a Town of Webb trails permit.

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.

RECENT CHANGES IN THE ADIRONDACK BACKCOUNTRY

* indicates new or recent items.

HIGH PEAKS REGION
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.

** Jackrabbit Ski Trail: The Jackrabbit Ski Trail is being skied, and the bridge on the McKenzie Pond Road -McKenzie Pond section is no longer flooded and can be crossed on foot with caution. The Old Mt. Road section is also now skiable (the washout has been shoveled in and the beaver ponds have refrozen). (1/22)

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

** Bennies Brook: Bennies Brook is reported unskiable, although there is some climbable ice. The trail to John Brook Lodge is reported to be mostly ice.

Elk Lake Trails: 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.

Corey’s Road: 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 – Marcy Truck Trail: South Meadow Lane and the Marcy Truck Trail are skiable but thin in some areas.

** Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden: The beaver dam on the outlet between Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden went out during last weekend’s high water. Avoid ice around the inlets and outlets of both lakes.

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.

Owls Head Trail: 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.

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.

WESTERN ADIRONDACKS
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.

NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
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 mostly fair condition, use caution.

** Grass River Complex: DEC Region 6 Operations staff and the St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association have replace the deficient Chap Hill Bridge on a snowmobile trail in the town of Colton with a stronger, portable bridge from the nearby Goldmine Tract Conservation Easement.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS
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.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
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.

** Sable Highlands Tract: Snowmobiling is allowed on Wolf Pond Road and Liberty Road only. All other roads in the easement are closed to snowmobile use. This includes Goat Path Road, Piney Ridge Road, and D&H Road which are being used by logging trucks.

** Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails in the Eastern Essex County mostly un-ridable and/or closed. C8 from Maplefields in Ticonderoga is open to Schroon Lake and Moriah. The new Valley Trail to Crown Point is also open, but there is currently no gas in Crown Point.

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.

SOUTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
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.

WEST CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
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.

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 Snowmobile Trails: The Town of Webb Snowmobile Trail System has GOOD conditions overall with up to 8″ of base. Trails #6 is repaired and groomed to McKeever. All wet areas on Trail #10 to Big Moose have been repaired. Brantingham Trail is Good in our trail system, washed out in the Tug Hill area.

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.

EAST CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
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.

** Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails in the Western Essex County are open and in fair to good condition, but use caution. Trails North from the Fish and Game Club in Schroon lake are flooded. Horseshoe Pond Road has ruts in the trail from truck traffic.

EASTERN ADIRONDACKS
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.

** Western Essex Co Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails in the Western Essex County are open and in fair to good condition, but use caution. Trails North from the Fish and Game Club in Schroon lake are flooded. Horseshoe Pond Road has ruts in the trail from truck traffic.

** Warren County Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails in Warren County are very thin and icy and in poor condition. Do not cross waterbodies.

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)

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.

SOUTHERN 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.

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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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Editorial Staff

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices. To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




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