Thursday, March 8, 2018

Deep Snow: Current Adirondack Outdoor Conditions (Mar 8)

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 6:17 am and sunset at 5:55 pm, providing 11 hours and 39 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 2:00 am Saturday morning, and set at 11:33 am, Saturday morning. It will be about 40% illuminated.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER IN THE ADIRONDACKS:  A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the entire Adirondacks. Scattered snow showers are expected through the weekend.  Before entering the back-country check the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here and Mountain Forecasts here.

SUMMITS: Summit temperatures are expected to be in the teens this weekend, winds 30-35 mph Saturday (10-20 Sunday), and wind-chills in the single digits below zero. Be prepared for the possibility for whiteout conditions. Conditions are very icy – carry crampons. Consult the High Elevation forecast.

WINTER CONDITIONS, ICE, DEEP SNOW, OPEN WATERS: Winter conditions remain with deep snow, difficult ice, and summit temperatures only reaching into the teens this weekend. Snowshoes or skis will be needed for back-country travel, and traction devices are recommended everywhere, and those headed to summits and steeper terrain should carry crampons. Expect to encounter blowdown from recent storms and heavy snow. Water levels have been high and many stream crossings are open, though water levels are now near normal for this time of year.  Off trail there is still deep snow, especially in protected areas. Expect to encounter 6 to 12 inches of snow across most of the region, with 2 or 3 feet above about 2,500 feet, with some drifts and sheltered areas at higher elevations deeper still.

AVALANCHE ADVISORY: Recent thaws and snowstorms may have left a layered snowpack increasing the chance for avalanches. Use caution when traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 and 50 degrees and no vegetation. If you are going to travel into avalanche terrain be aware of the risk of avalanches: Have a basic knowledge of avalanche risk, prediction, avoidance and rescue; carry beacons, shovels and probes; and check for avalanche conditions before skiing. Always obtain your own data about avalanche risks, and remember that the presence of ski tracks on a slope doesn’t eliminate the risk of avalanche. Remember safe travel techniques, know how to self-rescue, and have a rescue plan. If you are unsure, don’t go. Avalanches occur in the Adirondacks and they can have deadly consequences.

ICE WARNING: Use extreme caution on ice this weekend; this is the time of year when many tragic accidents happen on ice.  Ice has gone out in some areas, especially near southern exposed shores, and where moving water is present. Temperatures have recently been in the 40s and 50s. Ice is covered in deep snow will make identifying unsafe situations difficult. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be particularly wary along shorelines, near channels and 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. Don’t add to the statistics this year.

ICE SHANTY REMOVAL: Ice Shanties Need To Be Removed By March 15. State regulations require all ice shanties be removed from the ice by March 15 to ensure that they do not fall through the ice and become potential navigation hazards. Owners who fail to remove their shanties by this date can be ticketed and fined up to $100.

DOWNHILL SKI REPORT: All downhill ski resorts will be open this weekend, and plenty of new snow and colder temperatures should make for some of the best downhill conditions of the year. The region’s town-operated ski and sledding hills are open.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKI REPORT: With the help of two Nor’easters, cross-country ski conditions have improved greatly, most terrain is open, snowmaking and grooming are underway, and conditions are excellent around the region.

BACK-COUNTRY SKI REPORT: The Northern Adirondacks picked up more snow than forecast last weekend, and the new snow brought back-country skiing back almost everywhere including the High Peaks. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its length, and skiing to Lake Colden is reported good, with some obstacles before Marcy Dam. There are also unusually good skiing conditions in the Southern Adirondacks, which received deeper new snow in both of the big storms over the last week.

SNOWMOBILE REPORT: Last Thursday, snowmobile trails across the region were closed, but two storms brought deep snow this week across the region, and trails systems are mostly open with good conditions, but a thin base.

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.

** Lake Colden Caretaker Report: Lake Colden Caretaker reports 45 inches (115 cm) of snow at the stake on the shores of Lake Colden (Elevation 2,750 ft./838 m) with up to 5 to 6 feet snow (120 to 180 cm) in the higher elevations. Snowshoes or skis are required above past Marcy Dam (2,360 ft/720 m) and wherever else snow depths exceed 8 inches. Thick ice is present on high elevation trails especially on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas. Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons and use when warranted – trail crampons are ineffective on hard ice. Avoid the inlets and outlets of Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake, snow is covering thin ice around the open water.

* Corey’s Road Closure: Corey’s Road in the Western High Peaks is closed beyond the Calkins Brook/Raquette River Trailhead Parking. Do not block the gate or park in the plow turn around area. It will remain closed through mud season. The road will reopen when it has dried and hardened, and all routine maintenance and repairs have been completed. (3/9)

* Cascade Day Use Area/ High Peaks Wilderness: The Cascade Day Use area, located off State Route 73 between Lower and Upper Cascade Lakes, is closed until further notice due to the icy condition of the un-maintained entry road. (2/22)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: A small section of the Whiteface Mountain Trail just above the junction with the Whiteface Highway (Wilmington Turn) has been rerouted to avoid the hazard created by variable ice conditions and the “rock cut” of the highway. (1/18)

Boreas Ponds Tract: The lower gate on the Gulf Brook Road is closed until the end of the spring mud season. The road is being skied. (2/8)

Elk Lake Trails – Clear Pond Gate: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed through the spring mud season. This adds four miles to a round-trip hike.

South Meadow Lane – Marcy Truck Trail: 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.

** Avoid the inlets and outlets of Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake, snow is covering thin ice around the open water. (3/9)

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

* 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.

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.

Including the Saranc Lake and Paul Smith’s Area, DeBar Mountain Wild Forest, Kushaqua Tract, Santa Clara Tract, Saranac Lakes and the St. Regis Canoe Area
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

* Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract: Lyme Adirondack Forest Company, the private landowner of the Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract, is conducting a timber harvest in the area of the Loon Lake Mountain Trail. Be prepared to encounter logging trucks and heavy equipment at any time on the trail and the easement lands in the area during this active harvest operation. (3/9)

* Paul Smith VIC: Excellent conditions system wide for skiers and snowshoers. All trails have great coverage. (Current Paul Smith’s Conditions) (3/8)

** The Lake Flower Boat Launch parking area will close from April to November 18. The Boat Launch is planned to remain open while DEC addresses contamination in Pontiac Bay. The public will need to find alternate parking after launching their boats or use the DEC Second Pond Boat Launch. Paddlers and others with car tops boats are encouraged to use the DEC Ampersand Bay Hand Launch.

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.

** Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area: The road under the train trestle has been closed due to flooding.

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. 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. (1/25)

* 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.

* Independence River Wild Forest: The 10 Mile Crossing Road gate at Otter Creek and the Mt. Tom Trail East gate are both closed. (3/9)

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.

* Jessup River Wild Forest: The Oxbow Trail is closed. (3/9)

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.

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: Good conditions overall, with 2” of new snow on up to 6” of base. Latest Webb Snowmobile Trail Conditions Here. (3/8)

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 North Creek, Indian Lake, Newcomb, Camp Santanoni, Essex Chain Lakes, Hoffman Notch, Hudson Gorge, Jessup River, Siamese Ponds and the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

* Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: Snowmobile trail gates have been closed at Scaroon Manor Campground and Camp Cayuga. (3/9)

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.

Eagle Cave -Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain is closed to the public to protect hibernating bats through April 30th.

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, the Lake George Valley, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Lake Champlain, Split Rock Wild Forest, and Champlain Area Trails Society Trails
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

* Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed Shelving Rock Road for mud season. Parking along the road before the gate is prohibited. During this period there is no access to Hogtown; Sleeping Beauty; Buck Mountain (east trail head); Shelving Rock; Dacy Clearing; Log Bay; Shelving Rock Day Use Area; and Shelving Rock Falls. Buck Mountain from Pilot Knob and Inman Pond are still open (3/9)

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.

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: The Mulleyville Snowmobile Trail System has reopened. (3/9)

** Lapland Lake Cross Country Ski Center: Five inches fresh powder on top of 19″ from last Friday. All XC trails will be open except the loop on frozen Woods Lake and the second and third upper Karhu expert loops. Surface is machine groomed powder. All snowshoe trails are open. Both junior tubing hills are open. Ice skating pond is closed. (Latest Conditions Here) (3/8)

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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One Response

  1. 12 to 14 inches of new snow in the Town of Franklin. Snowmobile trails have not been groomed (yet — as of Friday Morning).

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