Thursday, August 23, 2018

Current Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Conditions (Aug 23)

CompassThis weekly report of outdoor recreation conditions in the Adirondacks is compiled each Thursday afternoon and fully updated by Friday afternoon.

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

Learn and practice the seven Leave No Trace principles. Carry out what you have carried in. Do not leave gear, food, or other items at lean-tos and campsites. Do not litter. Take the free online Leave No Trace course here.

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.


SUN AND MOON SATURDAY: Sunrise Saturday in Lake Placid will be at 6:10 am and sunset at 7:44 pm, providing 13 hours 34 minutes of sunlight. The Moon will rise at 7:36 pm Saturday night, and set at 6:06 am, Sunday morning. It will be about 99% illuminated.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER: Be prepared for nighttime and morning valley fog, and a slight chance of showers or thunderstorms this weekend, before the weather turns hot and humid next week. Summits will be breezy with winds 20-45 mph this weekend, with temperatures there dipping into the 50s. Before entering the back-country check the latest National Weather Service local weather watches, warnings and advisories here and Mountain Forecasts here.

HOT WEATHER PRECAUTIONS: Expect hot and humid weather next week beginning as early as Tuesday, August 28. Wear loose non-cotton clothing; carry and drink plenty of water; rest often; and protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses and sun block.

FIRE DANGER MODERATE: The fire danger for the Adirondacks remains MODERATE – use extreme care with open fires. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks. It is illegal to leave an even smoldering fire unattended. Consult the current New York State Fire Danger here.

INCREASED BEAR ENCOUNTERS: Bear encounters are getting more numerous as bears are learning how to get food from hikers and campers. All food, toiletries and garbage should be stored in bear-resistant canisters to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30 and recommended everywhere. Cook, wash, eat, and clean-up before dark. Protect garbage and other food sources in camp and at home from bears.


MODERATE DROUGHT CONDITIONS: The U.S. Drought Monitor is reporting nearly all of the Adirondack Park is experiencing Moderate Drought conditions, with the exception of the Southern Adirondacks and most of Warren County, which remains only Abnormally Dry.

WATERS REMAIN LOW: Most waters remain at seasonal summertime lows, with many below normal for this time of year. Boaters and paddlers should be on the look-out for obstacles exposed at lower water levels. Avoid propellers and lower units of boat motors being damaged from striking rocks, logs, stumps, or the bottom by stay within channels and clear of hazard buoys. Travel slow and trim motors up when traveling in shallow or unknown waters. Follow the latest river forecasts here and USGS streamgages here.

The following stream gage readings were observed on Thursday afternoon.

Moose River at McKeever – 1.75 ft (8/23): 1.71 ft (8/16)
Raquette River at Piercefield – 3.24 ft (8/23): 3.11 ft (8/16)
AuSable River at Ausable Forks – 1.46 ft (8/23): 1.29 ft (8/16)
Hudson River at North Creek – 2.39 ft (8/23): 2.40 ft (8/16)
Schroon River at Riverbank (Route 11) – 1.65 ft (8/23): 1.68 ft (8/16)
Lake Champlain at Whitehall – 94.21 ft (8/23): 94.63 ft (8/16)

WATER TEMPERATURES: Water temperatures are mostly in the mid to upper seventies, with some colder waters at higher elevation in the 60s. PFDs are recommended for all persons in small boats, kayaks and canoes. Water temperatures in the 60s can cause cold water shock and hypothermia which may result in death. The following water temperatures were reported Thursday:

Arbutus Lake, Newcomb (average) – about 61 degrees (8/23)
Lake Champlain (average) – about 72 degrees (8/23)
Lake George (Warner Bay) – 77 degrees (8/23)
Ausable River (Wilmington) – about 62 degrees (8/23)


BUSY SUMMER SEASON: This is the busiest time of year for the Adirondack backcountry, especially in the High Peaks. Trailhead parking areas and popular interior campsites are likely to reach capacity early. Consider visiting less popular areas of the Adirondack Park to avoid the crowds of this busy summer season. Avoid parking on the shoulder of busy highways. Be aware of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, and other roadway users. Do not block driveways, roadways or roads from emergency vehicles or local residents.

BUG SEASON: Black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies and/or midges are active, especially in the evening. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

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 you encounter hibernating bats while underground, DEC encourages you 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 everywhere in the Adirondack Park for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and rare plants, and out of courtesy to fellow recreationists.

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, Lake Placid, and Wilmington
These are recent changes, older changes for this area can be found here.

Mud: Be prepared to encounter mud. Avoid widening trails and damaging sensitive areas by traveling through – not around – mud on trails. Wear water-resistant hiking boots and expect them get dirty.

South Meadow Lane: DEC piled materials for improving campsites along South Meadow Lane in the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Trailhead Parking Area. Vehicles should park in the nearby pull-offs along South Meadow Lane until the work is complete. (8/2)

* Route 73: Parking areas along Route 73 are now striped. Park in the designated parking spots between the striped lines. Do not park in hash marked areas or where No Parking signs are posted. Try some of these less crowded hikes.

* Bear Nuisance – Canisters Required: Nuisance bears have been active in Eastern High Peaks recently and has been approaching hikers and campers in attempt to obtain food, especially in the Slant-Rock Lean-to and Bushnell Falls areas. The bear around Slant-Rock has changed its pattern of behavior and is now approaching hikers and campers during the middle of day in attempt to obtain food. Pack all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canister as required by regulation. If approached by a bear: Do not throw your pack at them, if they are rewarded with food, they will continue this behavior; Raise your arms over your head to look bigger, yell loudly at the bear as you slowly back away – do not run; If available, bang rocks or metal objects together for noise. Learn how to avoid negative encounters with bears. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters and other practices to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks. (8/10)

The Garden Trailhead: Through the month of October parking at the Garden Parking Lot costs $10 ($13 Canadian) per day. A town of Keene attendant will be at the lot from 7 am until 7 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Paying the fee is a self-serve process during the week. The town of Keene’s shuttle between Marcy Field parking lot and the Garden Trailhead will be operating from 7 am to 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. There is a $10 ($13 Canadian) round trip fee to use the shuttle.

Garden-Porter Mtn. Trail – Cascade Mtn.: The Porter and Little Porter Trail from the Garden in Keene are closed this 2018 hiking season due to the decision of a private landowner. A reroute is being planned, but will not be completed this hiking season. As this will limit access to Cascade via Porter – further crowding the Route 73 Cascade trailhead – approach Porter Mountain via the trail from Marcy Field until the reroute is complete.

Owls Head: Owls Head in Keene is open to hikers mid-week only again this 2018 hiking season. The public is prohibited from parking on the private road leading to the trailhead between 4 pm Friday and 7 am Monday. The trail to the summit of Owls Head is not an official DEC trail nor is there an easement for public use of the trail. Public use of the trail is at the landowner’s discretion.

* 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.

Cedar Point Lean-to: Cedar Point Lean-to has been repaired and relocated by Lean2Rescue volunteers. The lean-to is now located on southeastern shore of Lake Colden, off the trail about .2 miles from the Opalescent River. Camping is prohibited at the former lean-to site. (7/26)

Slide Brook: A primitive campsite with two tent pads has been developed in the Slide Brook Area south of Dix Mountain by volunteers from NOLS Northeast Adirondack Service Expedition. The site is west of the trail just before the crossing of slide brook. (7/26)

Kagel Lean-to: Kagel Lean-to has been relocated and reroofed by the Adirondack 46er Volunteer Trail crew. The lean-to is located a few hundred feet away from its previous location on sustainable site away from the brook. (7/26)

Boquet Lean-to: Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail. (7/26)

Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond Area are open. (7/13)

Gulf Brook Road: Gulf Brook Road into the Boreas Ponds is open to the Fly Pond Gate (Parking Lot #8 on Interim Access Plan Map) which is approximately 3.2 miles from Blue Ridge Road, 2.5 miles from LaBier Flow, and 3.5 miles from Boreas Ponds. (7/26)

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. (2018)

Bradley Pond: Bradley Pond Lean-to has a 3ft by 6ft hole in the roof. The lean-to can still be used but should be avoided if it’s raining. DEC is developing a temporary fix for the 2018 season and will fully repair the roof during the off season. (6/15)

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.

Lows Lake: DEC is overseeing a maintenance project on the Lows Upper Dam to bring the dam into compliance with New York Dam Safety Regulations. Work is scheduled to occur Monday through Friday and is expected to last through the summer of 2018. 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. 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) at all times as you make your way through the work area. Continue to the dock on the right side of the Bog River Flow.

Five Ponds Wilderness: A ten-mile section of the Oswegatchie River from High Falls downstream to the Inlet Hand Launch (Inlet Road) has numerous fallen trees across the river which may make passage difficult. Paddlers should portage around downed trees whenever possible. (5/31)

Five Ponds Wilderness: An 800-foot portion of the High Falls Loop (part of the Cranberry 50) has been rerouted to avoid a dangerous log crossing of a beaver dam. The new route has been signed and blowdown has been removed. It is located approximately 0.6 mile east of High Falls. (5/31)

Pepperbox Wilderness: Jakes Pond Trail has reopened. Logging on the private property the trail crosses has ended (7/2).

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 (7/5).

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

Raquette Boreal Complex: DEC has improved access and recreational opportunities at Jamestown Falls on the Raquette River along State Route 56. Improvements include: Rehabilitated access road, A hand launch on the river, Information kiosk, and ADA compliant primitive campsite with the following accessibly designed feature: hardened tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, and privy. (8/2)

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.

* Saranac Lakes Nuisance Bear Activity: Black bears have been active round campers in DEC Saranac Lake Islands Campground (which includes Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes). Bears have entered campsites while campers are present in an effort to steal food. All food, trash and toiletries should be kept in bear resistant containers. Cook, eat, and clean-up before dusk. Wash dishes away from camp. (8/23)

* Saranac Lake Wild Forest: Water levels are very low in the Saranac Chain of Lakes, the Saranac River, and connected waters. Numerous propellers and lower units of boat motors are being damaged when striking rocks, logs, stumps, or the bottom. Boaters should stay in the channel and clear of all hazard buoys. Travel slow and trim motors up when traveling in shallow or unknown waters. (8/23)

* Saranac Lake Chain: The Lower Lock in the Saranac Lakes Chain will only be staffed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the remainder of summer. DEC staff will operate the lock between 10 am and 6 pm. (8/9)

Debar Mountain Wild Forest: Student Conservation Association (SCA) Adirondack Program Crew Members installed drainage structures and repaired badly eroded sections of the Debar Meadows-Meacham Lake Trail. (7/5)

Lake Flower / Saranac Lake: The Lake Flower Boat Launch is open but due to a clean-up project removing contaminated sediments from Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay no parking is available on site. Parking for vehicles with boat trailers is available in the parking lot across the road from the boat launch through the 2018 boating season (at the former Nonna Fina’s restaurant), from 7 am to 9 pm. Limited parking has been designated for vehicles with boat trailers only, which must travel through the lot in one direction. Overnight parking is prohibited. Car top boats users can use the Ampersand Bay Hand Launch on Lower Saranac Lake or Lake Colby Hand Launch.

Loon Lake Mountain Trail: 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. Contact the DEC Ray Brook Office at 518-897-1291 for questions regarding this harvest operation.

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

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

Wilmington Wild Forest: An additional 0.5 mile of single track trail has recently been added to the Hardy Road (Beaver Brook) Bike Trails. (7/13)

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

* 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 the Old Forge Area, 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.

* Swimming Areas Closed: Beginning Wednesday, August 29, through Monday, September 3 (Labor Day), swimming will not be permitted at Nick’s Lake Campground and Day Use Area or at Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Swimming Area, due to the lack of lifeguards. The public may continue to use the beaches, but not swim. For more information on swimming at DEC campgrounds, click here. (8/16)

* Bald Mtn-Rondaxe Fire Tower: DEC is reminding people to practice Leave No Trace Principles when visiting Bald Mountain’s Rondaxe Fire Tower in near Old Forge. Leave No Trace Principles include: planning and being prepared for hiking; disposing of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out); leaving rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them; and respecting wildlife, flora and fauna. Bald Mountain’s easily accessible location draws roughly 1,000 visitors on a summer weekend. In an emergency or, to report vandalism of natural resources call DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch office at (518) 891-0235.

Black River Wild Forest: Loop Road at North Lake is open for public motor vehicle use to Campsite #18. The road remains closed beyond this point due to a major washout at Golden Stair Creek. (7/12)

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.

Independence River Wild Forest: The Erie Canal Trail Bridge over Otter Creek has been damaged and is closed indefinitely.

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.

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.

** Golden Beach Campground: A nuisance bear has been active around the Golden Beach Campground on Raquette Lake recently and has been approaching hikers and campers in attempt to obtain food. Forest Ranger patrols will continue to be assigned to Golden Beach Campground to monitor bear activity. Forest Rangers are also working with campground staff to ensure all campers and day use visitors are storing food securely and out of reach of all wildlife and that garbage is disposed of properly. (8/23)

Moose River Plains: Rock Dam Road is now open to public motor vehicle traffic. (8/2)

Blue Ridge Wilderness: DEC and others have completed a two-year project to address wet and muddy areas on the Sagamore Lake Trail within the Historic Great Camps Special Management Area adjacent to Great Camp Sagamore. DEC staff, Camp Sagamore Trail Stewards and volunteers: installed bog bridges, culverts, and puncheons; cleaned and rehabilitated drainage ditches; and reconfigured trails to shed water. (7/5)

O’ Neil Flow Road/ Blue Mountain Wild Forest: O’ Neil Flow Road is open for public motor vehicle use. Be on the lookout for logging operations (6/14).

Long Lake Village Paving: On June 25, 2018, the Long Lake Highway Department began a paving project along Dock Road, Keough Road and Becker Road. A gravel surfaced road will be in place until work is complete in 2019. This includes areas from the Long Lake Town Hall to the State Boat Launch. It also includes Dock Road along the stretch from the Long Lake Marina and Hardware Store to the NYS State Boat Launch and Keough Road. Note that cars parked illegally will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Wakely Mountain Fire Tower: Wakely Mountain Fire Tower has reopened. (7/10)

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.

** Essex Chain Lakes Complex: Three bridges have been replaced with improved bridges and public access to the western portion of the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, including the Deer Pond Parking Area, the Fifth Lake MAPPWD route, and the campsites along Cornell and Deer Pond Roads, are once again open. (8/23)

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.

Jessup River Wild Forest: The Oxbow Trail has reopened.

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.

Potash Mtn Climbing – All rock climbing routes on Potash Cliff on Potash Mountain are OPEN. All climbing advisories have been lifted. (8/7)

Shelving Rock Mountain: All climbing routes and access paths are now open. (7/27)

Sleeping Beauty Mountain: All climbing routes and access paths are now open. (7/27)

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.

Crane Mountain Climbing Routes: All climbing routes on Crane Mountain are open. (7/13)


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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