Friday, September 18, 2020

Outdoor Conditions (9/17): Layer up

This bulletin provides only the most recent notices. Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for more detailed information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and conditions.

Carry Extra Layers

Fall is here, which means it’s time to layer up. It’s getting colder in the mountains, and temperatures fluctuate depending on the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing and bringing the right clothes. Start with non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers. Wear or pack additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, and mittens. Bring extra base layers and socks. Add or remove layers as needed. Avoid sweating through your clothes. As sweaty clothes cool, they create ideal conditions for hypothermia. Learn more about layering and fall hiking preparedness on DEC’s Hike Smart NY webpages.

Daytime High Temps: 40s & 50s
Nightime Low Temps: Below Freezing

Hiker Information Stations

DEC encourages visitors to stop by a Hiker Information Station ahead of their weekend hiking trip. These stations, staffed by DEC and Town of Keene stewards, provide information about parking, alternative hiking locations, local land use rules and regulations, safety and preparedness, and Leave No Trace. Please visit us at the following locations:

  • Mid’s Park, Lake Placid: Friday, 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.*
  • High Peaks Rest Area, Northbound Route 87: Saturday & Sunday, 6 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • Marcy Field, Keene: Friday-Monday, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.

*This station will move inside the Lake Placid Visitors Bureau during inclement weather.

Remember a Headlamp

Hiker with headlamp

A headlamp or flashlight is one of the 10 essential items you should bring on every hike. DEC is seeing an increase in individuals without headlamps requiring rescue. Hiking in the dark can be dangerous. When you are unable to see where you are going, you are more likely to get lost or injured. A headlamp will help you hike out safely if you get caught in the woods after dark. Even if your planned hike should conclude before sunset, you should still bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Do not rely on your phone’s flashlight. Phones can die and using the flashlight will drain your battery quickly. Bring extra batteries and a back-up source of light as well.

Approximate Time of Sunset: 7 p.m.

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

Fire Danger: Moderate, except in the Eastern and Southeastern Adirondacks where it is 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: Water levels of most rivers are below average or low. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.

Nuisance Bears: 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.

Hunting Seasons: Some autumn hunting seasons are open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may wear bright colors as an extra precaution if it makes them feel more comfortable.

Ticks: Ticks are still a concern this time of year. Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily. Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors. Consider using insect repellent. Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails and walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. 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.


Mountains with fall foliage

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 (PDF) and avoid busy trailheads. Discover trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy.

Review Regulations. Before you head to your next hiking destination, take a moment to review the rules and regulations for the area you will be visiting. Each state land management unit has rules in place to help protect users and the natural resources. Hikers headed to the High Peaks should review the rules and regulations for the High Peaks Wilderness.

Be Prepared. Trails will be mostly dry with wet and muddy areas. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Seasonal temperatures are dropping, and temperatures will be even lower on high summits. Many exposed summits will be windy. Wear appropriate baselayers, bring waterproof and windproof outer layers, and pack extra baselayers and socks. 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.

Manage your time wisely. Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to ensure you will have enough sunlight to finish before dark, and always bring a headlamp.

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.

Recent Notices

Included here are notices reported in the past week. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages 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. DEC reminds outdoor adventurers 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.

Lake George Wild Forest: The summit of Prospect Mountain is open to pedestrians as is the hiking trail from the village of Lake George. COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain is currently closed to protect the bat population from potential harmful exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Saranac Lake Wild Forest:

  • The Upper Lock on the Saranac River between Lower and Middle Saranac Lakes is operating slowly. Plan for the additional time to pass through the lock.
  • DEC staff will be present from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at both the Upper and Lower Locks of the Saranac River on Friday thru Monday from now through Columbus Day Weekend.
  • The Lake Flower Boat Launch is once again open to trailered boats. Construction of the bathroom is complete, but the bathroom is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

High Peaks Wilderness: The sign on the Blue Ridge Road (aka Boreas Road) identifying the turn onto Tahawus Road and the southern entrances into the High Peaks Wilderness has been stolen.

  • If accessing the Blue Ridge Road from the west (Route 28N) watch for Tahawus Road on the left a short distance after the rail crossing.
  • If accessing the Blue Ridge Road from the east (I87) watch for Tahawus Road on the right a short distance after the rail crossing warning sign.

Boreas Ponds Tract: Gulf Brook Road, which provides access to the Boreas Ponds, remains closed to public motor vehicle use at this time due to washouts caused by the 2019 Halloween storm. Hikers, off-road bikers, and horse riders may still use the road to access ponds. DEC is working to repair the storm damage. Repairs to ditches and replacement of small culverts is underway. Additional work includes installing large culverts and bridges to ensure the road is resilient to damage from future storms. DEC is working to have the road open as early as possible, but likely not until the 2021 season.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks. Use proper trail etiquette to ensure an enjoyable experience for yourself and others, and tread lightly!

Leave No Trace and Social Media

How does social media intersect with your outdoor experiences? Do you discover new trails from other people’s posts? Do you document your own adventures or keep your mobile and outdoor lives separate? There is no right or wrong way to engage with social media in the outdoors, but there are ways we can use our social voices to encourage Leave No Trace.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recently updated their social media guidance, and it provides lots of food for thought. For each of their five guidelines, consider these Adirondack-specific tips for positive social media use.

  • Leave No Trace is Not Anti-Geotagging: Geotagging can be a controversial issue for outdoor enthusiasts on social media. Sharing where a photo or video was taken can have benefits or consequences depending on the content. If you’re not sure which way to lean, consider sharing your love for the Adirondacks by tagging “Adirondack Park” as the location instead of the specific lake or summit.
  • Consider What Your Images Portray: Post content that show you leaving no trace and recreating safely and responsibly. Your hiking clothes might not be the most photogenic, but they truthfully portray what it takes to be properly prepared and get to a destination safely. Consider how photos are taken as well as what they show. Drones are classified as motorized equipment, and therefore aren’t allowed in some wilderness areas. Check local regulations before you launch.
  • Encourage and Inspire Leave No Trace in Social Media Posts: Make Leave No Trace education part of your posting routine. The next time you share a photo of alpine vegetation on New York’s tallest peaks, remind people how important it is to travel and camp on durable surfaces in order to protect fragile summit vegetation. In short, be an influencer for positive outdoor activity.
  • Shaming Is Not the Answer: Publicly pointing out someone’s mistake in the comments can put them on the defense. Instead, consider sending the person a friendly, educational message on how to minimize impacts in the future. Share DEC and other local resources so the person can learn more on their own.
  • Give Back to Places You Love: In addition to sharing photos of the beautiful Adirondack scenery, post a picture of the trash you’ve picked up along the trail, or share a story about a day you spent volunteering. Lead by example, and show how you get involved with keeping the Adirondacks beautiful and unique.


Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured; keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call 911 or the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.

Hike Smart by packing the proper gear. See our recommended packing list and safety tips.

Welcome to the Adirondacks. The Welcome to the Adirondacks webpage is the place to go if you are interested in learning more about the Adirondacks. It provides information about the Forest Preserve, conservation easement lands, outdoor recreation, and Leave No Trace.

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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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