Friday, October 23, 2020

Outdoor Conditions (10/23): Layer up in the backcountry

Lake View with Snow Showers

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.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Fire Danger: Low. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Ashes should be cool to the touch. Learn more about campfire safety.

Water Conditions: Water temperatures are very cool. Water levels are at average throughout most of the Adirondacks with some waterways reaching above-average to high levels in the northern Adirondacks. There are pockets of below-average water levels. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.

Hunting Seasons: Many small game and big game 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.

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravel which can be rough. Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads. Roads may be narrow – use caution, drive slowly and watch for oncoming vehicles. Seasonal access roads typically remain open to public motor vehicle traffic through the end of the regular Northern Zone big game hunting season unless weather conditions require an earlier closing. In the winter many of these roads are snowmobile trails.

Ticks: Ticks will remain active until temperatures stay consistently below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Protect against ticks and tick-borne illnesses by dressing properly, using repellants when necessary, and checking yourself for ticks frequently during and after outdoor recreation. Additional tips for tick prevention.

Hiking ResourcesHiker Eating Snack in Lean-to

Be prepared, bring the right gear, and wear the right clothes and shoes to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. Review Hike Smart NY’s list of 10 essentials and bring those items on every hike. Prepare for your hike by doing the following:

Research Your Hike: Research a variety of hikes and pick one that is appropriate for the physical abilities and experience of every person in your group. Estimate how long the hike will take and make a realistic timeline. Using reliable sources, research the route, and familiarize yourself with trail junctions and other significant landmarks. Double-check your route on a map and bring a paper map with you. Research trailhead parking. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who will notice if you do not return on time.

Have a Back-up Plan: The Adirondacks is a popular destination and well-known trails get crowded. Parking is limited in most places, so spots fill up quickly and early. Have several backup plans in case you arrive at your desired location and cannot find parking. Do not park illegally. Instead, move on to a back-up location until you find a place with safe, legal parking.

Check the Weather: Check the weather for the place you will be visiting, not where you are coming from. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures. Seasonal temperatures are dropping and will be even lower on high summits. Exposed summits will be windy. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

  • High Peaks Region Daytime Highs ~ Mid-40s to Mid-50s
  • High Peaks Region Nighttime Lows ~ High 20s to Low 30s

Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day, and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers and wearing or bringing additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, mittens, and extra socks. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Add or remove layers as needed to keep you warm without sweating through clothes. As sweaty clothes cool, they create ideal conditions for hypothermia.

Manage Time Wisely: Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours and always bring a headlamp.

  • Approximate Time of Sunrise: 7:25 AM
  • Approximate Time of Sunset: 5:55 PM

Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp or flashlight on every hike, no matter how long the trail is or what time of day you are hiking. Bring extra batteries and a back-up source of light. You are more likely to get lost or injured hiking in the dark. Even if you plan to be done before sunset, bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Don’t rely on your phone’s flashlight. Using your phone’s flashlight will drain the battery quickly.

Keep Our Environment Clean: Help preserve the beauty of the Adirondacks and protect our local wildlife by putting garbage in designated trash cans or taking it home with you. Please do not leave trash, gear, or food scraps behind. Use designated toilets when available and visit to learn how you can Leave No Trace when going to the bathroom in the woods. Do not graffiti or carve rocks, trees, or backcountry structures like lean-tos or fire towers.

Stick to Designated Trails: Trails will be wet and muddy, especially in low lying areas and near water. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Trails and summits may be icy at high elevations. Bring and wear traction devices as needed.

Review Regulations: 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 natural resources. Hikers headed to the High Peaks should review the rules and regulations for the High Peaks Wilderness.

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

The following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. 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.

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The high-water crossing footbridge over Phelps Brook on the VanHo Trail to Mt. Marcy just above Marcy Dam came to the end of its service life and was removed by DEC. When Phelps Brook is running high and the low water crossing is unsafe, hikers can use the newly developed Phelps Brook Lean-to Trail between the South Meadow (aka Marcy Dam Truck) Trail (0.5 miles north of Marcy Dam) and the Van Ho Trail (above the crossing). The trail is marked with red Foot Trail markers.
  • The two trails on the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract which provide access to the Dix Mountain, Marcy Mountain, and the Colvin Range will close to public use on October 16 and will remain closed through Northern Zone Big Game Hunting Season.

Boreas Ponds Tract: Boreas Road – which DEC opens during hunting season – cannot be accessed during this year’s hunting season due to the damage and closure of the Gulf Brook Road.

Independence River Wild Forest: Water and restrooms at the Otter Creek Horse Trails have been shut down for the season. Camping is still permitted in the assembly area.

Essex Chain Lakes Complex

  • Camp Six Road is open to public motor vehicle use but is in rough shape and has not been brushed out. Use caution when driving on the road. The road will remain open until the end of the Northern Zone big game hunting season but may close sooner if conditions warrant.
  • Chain Lakes Road South is open for hunting season for 1.5 miles north of the Outer Gooley Parking Area. High clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement: Barnes Pond Road is open to public motor vehicle use. The road will remain open until the end of the Northern Zone big game hunting season but may close sooner if conditions warrant.

Tooley Pond Conservation Easement Tract: The landowner is conducting a timber harvest and logging equipment is crossing Spruce Mountain Road which is used to access the South Branch of the Grass River. Drivers must use caution and stay alert.

Big Moose Tract Conservation Easement: The annual closure of the Stillwater Fire Tower went into effect on October 13. The tower will remain closed to public access through December 20. The access across private land is closed to visitors each year according to a Recreation Management Plan agreed upon with the landowner. The lands on the Big Moose Tract are posted and patrolled during this time. Persons entering the property during this period could face prosecution for trespass.

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.

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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