Friday, August 7, 2020

Outdoor conditions (8/7): Take care in the High Peaks

The Adirondacks contain some of New York’s rarest plants. They are found in tundra-like habitats resembling those of the Arctic. This condition is encountered on the State’s highest peaks and the total area covered by alpine vegetation approximates 40 acres on 19 peaks, 18 of which are in DEC’s High Peaks Wilderness. To protect this ecosystem, DEC reminds visitors to the High Peaks Wilderness of the rules and recommendations in place that include but are not limited to:

  • No campfires in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
  • Group Size Maximums: Day Trip maximums are 15 people. Overnight maximums are 8 people. Permits for oversized groups are not available in the High Peaks Wilderness
  • No camping on summits
  • No camping above 3,500 feet (except at lean-to)
  • No camping in areas with “No Camping” signs present

  • Whenever possible, camp in designated sites. If necessary, at-large camping is permitted as long as campsites are at least 150 feet from any road, trail, water body, or waterway. Place your tent on a durable surface, such as hardened soil, leaf litter, or pine duff. Do not place your tent on vegetation.
  • Bear canisters are required for all overnight campers in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
  • Carry out what you carry in. Properly dispose of waste and pack out all gear and garbage. Do not leave waste at trailheads.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and at trailheads, campsites and above 4,000 feet everywhere else. If accessing the High Peaks from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) trailheads, dogs are not allowed on AMR property.
  • Bikes are prohibited
  • Drones are prohibited
  • ATVs are prohibited
  • No fixed anchors for climbing on Forest Preserve at this time
  • Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR)-specific rules for this property include no camping, no dogs, no drones, and no off-trail travel.`

General Conditions

Travel: Check 511NY for road closures and travel conditions. If you plan on hiking in the High Peaks, use 511NY to check the status of parking lots along the busy Route 73 corridor. Have back-up plans in place and, if the parking lot at your desired destination is full, move on to your back-up plan. Status of parking lots is being updated throughout the day by patrolling DEC Forest Rangers and Forest Ranger Assistants.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate.

Warm Weather: Take precautions to prevent heat distress and dehydration. Carry plenty of water; stay in the shade as much as possible; drink and rest often. Eat high protein, high nutrient foods and make sure you are replacing salt output from sweat.

Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms can pop up even if they are not forecast. Watch for darkening skies, increased winds, lightning flashes, and the rumble of thunder. Avoid summits and other open areas during thunderstorms. As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm move to lower elevations and seek shelter (when boating or paddling get to shore). If caught outside in a thunderstorm find a low spot away from tall trees. Seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks. Make yourself as short as possible by sitting on your pack or sleeping pad with your knees flexed. Hug your knees and keep your feet together to minimize the ground effect of a nearby lightning strike.

Fire Danger: Low. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions.

Campfires: Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Stirring water or dirt into the remains of the fire can help. Learn more about campfire safety.

Water Conditions: Due to recent rains, water levels in most streams and rivers are above the seasonal average range or high. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.

Nuisance Bears: Due to dry conditions, nuisance bear activity is high in the front country and the backcountry. Please take steps to prevent attracting bears in the backcountry. The use of bear resistant canisters by overnight campers is required in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and recommended throughout the Adirondacks.

Biting Insects: Mosquitoes, deer flies, and ticks are present. Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants. Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks. Pack a head net to wear when insects are plentiful and use an insect repellant – follow label directions. Additional tips for tick prevention.

Clean, Drain, and Dry – Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and have your boat and trailer inspected and cleaned at one of the many boat inspection and wash stations across the Adirondacks, including the Adirondack Welcome Center’s boat wash, located between Exits 17 and 18 on the Northway, before entering the Adirondacks.


HikingHiker signing in at trail register

Before you hit the trail, check out DEC’s Hike Smart NY page to learn about safety, best practices, and preparedness. While recreating in the Adirondacks, please follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and avoid busy trailheads. Discover trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy.

Be Prepared. Due to recent rains, trails will be wet and muddy. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Temperatures will be lower on high summits, and many exposed summits will be windy. Pack extra layers of clothing. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

Use Caution. Many Adirondack trails encounter water crossings and not all of them have bridges. Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast flowing brooks and rivers.

Hiking with Dogs: DEC warns against bringing dogs hiking in the summer, especially in warm to hot temperatures and on bright sunny days. If you do bring your dog hiking, bring lots of water for them, give them frequent opportunities to rest and hydrate, monitor them closely, and turn around if they start to show signs of distress.


Recent Notices

Included here are notices reported in the past week. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

Trash in the Backcountry: DEC is receiving increased reports of visitors leaving trash behind after trips to State lands, waters, and facilities in the Adirondacks. Outdoor adventurers are reminded to follow the principles of Leave No Trace and keep New York’s environment clean by properly disposing of waste. See the Leave No Trace section below for more information.

Road Closure: Both lanes of state Route 73 will be closed between Route 9N and the southern end of Hulls Falls Road on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (8/11-13) while DOT replaces a culvert. Motorists coming up I-87 (Northway) seeking to access Keene, Lake Placid and beyond will need take Route 9 to Elizabethtown and then Route 9N back to Route 73.

High Peaks WildernessATIS Leach Bridge

  • ATIS has completed rebuilding Leach Bridge – the foot bridge below the Lower Ausable Lake dam – and it can once again be used by hikers.
  • The Trap Dike route up Mount Colden is not a trail, it is rock climbing route. DEC Forest Rangers have had to rescue numerous people in recent weeks that have become stuck on the climb.

Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tract: Repairs on the Long Level Bridge are complete and public motor vehicles may use it to travel between Long Level Road and Pine Lake Road.

Madawaska Pond/Quebec Brook Primitive Area: Only four-wheel drive pickups and SUVs or other high clearance vehicles should use the Madawaska Pond Road due to a significant washout. Pickups and SUVs should use caution when crossing the washout.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: A portion of the Jackrabbit Trail on private land between Whiteface Inn Lane and the intersection with the McKenzie Mountain Trail will be closed through August 20. The Placid Lean-to will still be accessible via the McKenzie Mountain Trail.

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NYS DEC

Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.




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