Friday, October 9, 2020

Outdoor Conditions (10/9): Recreate smart this Columbus Day weekend

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.

DEC anticipates high use in the Adirondacks this Columbus Day weekend. If you plan to visit the Adirondack region this weekend to hike, camp, or participate in other outdoor recreation activities, please be aware of the following:

Hiker Information Stations: DEC has extended coverage of the Hiker Information Stations through Monday, October 12. Stop by one of the following locations for information about parking, alternative hiking locations, local land use rules and regulations, safety and preparedness, and Leave No Trace. This is the last weekend of the Hiker Information Stations for the 2020 season.

  • Mid’s Park, Lake Placid: Friday, 1 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • High Peaks Rest Area, Northbound Route 87: Saturday-Monday, 6 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • Marcy Field, Keene: Friday-Monday, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Join us on Facebook Friday at 2 p.m. for a Live questions and answers session broadcast from the Hiker Information Station.

Be Prepared: Researching your hike, bringing the right gear, and wearing the right clothes and shoes will help you have a safe and enjoyable hike. Hikers should review Hike Smart NY’s list of 10 essentials, and bring those items on every hike. Prepare for your weekend adventure by doing the following:

  • Research Your Hike: Research a variety of hikes and pick one that is appropriate for the skill level and physical fitness of every person in your group. Estimate how long the hike will take and make a realistic timeline. Using reliable sources, research the route. Familiarize yourself with the route, including any trail junctions or other significant landmarks, and double check your route on a map. Bring a paper map with you on your hike. Research trailhead parking and find out how early you will need to arrive in order to get a spot. Make a plan and share it with a reliable friend or family member who will notice if you do not return on time.
     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. Many hikers will either begin before sunrise or finish after sunset. When you are unable to see clearly, you are more likely to get lost or injured. 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. 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 Sunrise: 7:05 a.m.
    • Approximate Time of Sunset: 6:20 p.m.
  • Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing and bringing the right clothes and shoes. Start with non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers. Wear or pack additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, and mittens. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that you have already broken in. Bring extra base layers and socks. Add or remove layers as needed and avoid sweating through your clothes. As sweaty clothes cool, they create ideal conditions for hypothermia.
  • Check the Weather: Check the weather before you leave for your hike and plan your clothes based on the daytime and nighttime temperatures for the place you will be visiting, not the place you are coming from.
    • High Peaks Region Daytime Temperatures ~ Mid-50s Friday, Sunday & Monday. Mid-60s Saturday
    • High Peaks Region Nighttime Temperature ~ High 30s to Low 40s
  • Have a Back-up Plan: The Adirondacks is a popular destination, and many of the well-known trails and destinations will likely be crowded. Parking is limited in most places, so spots will 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.

High Use Areas: Certain areas of the Adirondacks receive more visitors than others. If you are planning to visit any of the following destinations, be aware of these special notices:

  • Shelving Rock Area, Lake George Wild Forest: Parking is limited in the Shelving Rock Area. Roadside parking is prohibited and strongly enforced. Arrive early for a better chance of getting a spot and have several backup plans for other places to visit in the local area if parking is full.
  • Route 73 Corridor, High Peaks Region: Parking at popular trailheads along Route 73 between Exit 30 and Lake Placid has been filling up early – often by 5:30 a.m. or earlier in some places. Obey “No Parking” signs along Route 73 and Adirondack Loj Road. DEC Forest Rangers and law enforcement partners will have an early presence in this area to proactively prevent illegal parking and assist hikers in finding alternative destinations. A dedicated DEC Forest Ranger has been assigned to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday with an Assistant Forest Ranger assisting as needed. Check for parking availability along this route.
  • Fulton Chain Wild Forest: Obey “No Parking” signs on Rondaxe Road in the vicinity of the Rondaxe (aka Bald) Mountain Trailhead. DEC has issued numerous parking tickets in this area every weekend this year due to illegal parking.

Keep Our Environment Clean: Help preserve the beauty of the Adirondacks and protect our local wildlife by putting garbage in designated trash cans when available or taking your garbage 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 your name into rocks, trees, or backcountry structures like lean-tos or fire towers.

Drone Use: Drones are popular for capturing fall foliage photography, but they are not allowed in all areas of the Adirondacks. Drones are prohibited on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe Area. Before you launch your device, learn more about drone use on DEC lands.

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.

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: Water temperatures are very cool. Water levels in rivers in the northern and northeastern Adirondacks are in the average range while the water levels in most other rivers in other parts of the Adirondacks are below average or low. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.

Hunting Seasons: Most small game and some waterfowl 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 are still a concern this time of year, typically they become inactive when temperatures are below 35 degrees. 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.


Hiker standing on rock looking at mountain view

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.

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 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. 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. Approximate Time of Sunset: 6:20 p.m.

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. A new DEC Public Service Announcement reminds outdoor adventurers to follow the principles of Leave No Trace and keep New York’s environment clean by properly disposing of waste.

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The high-water crossing footbridge over Phelps Brook on the Van Ho 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 mile 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.

Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract: The 0.3-mile Mud Pond Trail has been completed by a crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program (SCA). The trail connects the public parking lot with a canoe put-in on the northeast shore of Mud Pond, providing a shorter route to the pond and easier access to three primitive campsites SCA crews established earlier this year.

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.

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 between the Outer Gooley Parking Area and the Cedar River remains closed due to damage from the 2019 Halloween Storm. DEC is working to repair the road and open it by the end of October.

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:

  • A new primitive tent site near the shore of Allen Pond is available for use. A Student Conservation Association crew constructed the site which includes an earthen tent pad, a stone fire ring, and a nearby box privy. The site can be accessed via the Allen Pond Trail.
  • 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.

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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.

2 Responses

  1. sandor says:

    Gulf Brook rd. has been temporarily fixed so why no access? We pay for a license to hunt so don’t be complete fools for king cuo.Nonsense at its best in NYS.

  2. Tom Vawter says:

    Many of us prefer Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

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