Thursday, December 24, 2020

Outdoor conditions (12/24): First Day Hikes

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

DEC Reminds Hikers to Secure Vehicles and Stow Valuables: A series of vehicle break-ins occurred last weekend at trailhead parking areas along Route 73 in the High Peaks region. DEC and State Police are investigating. Trailhead parking lots are not monitored, and parking is at the user’s own risk. Remember to lock vehicles before leaving trailheads. To minimize risk, do not leave valuable items in your vehicle. If you must bring them, store them out of sight to avoid attracting attention. If hikers experience a break-in, report the incident to State Police by calling 518-873-2750.

First Day Hikes: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the First Day Hikes program. Spend time in the outdoors safely this holiday season and celebrate at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the Empire State on January 1, 2021. Find a hike near you by visiting DEC’s First Day Hikes webpage or the State Parks website.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: O’Neil Flow Road is now closed to public motor vehicle access and is open for snowmobiling.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement: Roads are closed to public motor vehicle traffic for the winter season. Perkins Clearing is open for snowmobiling, but conditions are currently poor. Speculator Tree Farm is not yet open for snowmobiling.

Independence River Wild Forest: The Stillwater Fire Tower Trail has re-opened following an annual closure in accordance with a Recreation Management Plan agreement with the private landowner.

Essex Chain Lakes Complex: All publicly drivable roads in the Essex Chain Complex are now closed for the winter season.

High Peaks Wilderness: A newly-installed gate at the entrance to the Cascade Lakes is now closed for the winter season. The steep roadway becomes dangerous in winter conditions, and there were several instances of cars getting stuck in past years.

Camp Santanoni Historic Area: To prevent the community spread of COVID-19, the 2021 Winter Weekend events at Camp Santanoni have been canceled. Organizers determined the indoor spaces used for the events are too small to safely accommodate typical attendance numbers under current health guidelines. DEC and its partners hope to resume these popular winter events in 2022.

Hiking Resources

Two hikers with masks on

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. Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry Information page for more information on planning ahead and preparing.

Bring Winter Gear: Winter conditions are present at all elevations, with deep snow and ice at higher elevations. Bring traction devices, such as microspikes or crampons, on all hikes. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are required where snow has accumulated to a depth of eight inches or more.

Winter Conditions: Rain, high winds, and snow melt are forecast across much of the Adirondacks this coming weekend. High Peaks travel is not recommended. Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits, with below freezing temperatures, snow, and strong winds possible. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Ice Safety: A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water. Learn more about ice safety.

Plan and Practice Navigation: Winter conditions can make navigating trails – especially lesser-used trails – more difficult. Plan and study your route using an up-to-date map published by a reliable source before you begin your hike. Take note of significant landmarks and trail intersections. Leave your planned route with a trusted friend or relative. While hiking, pay close attention to posted signage, and check your map at trail intersections to confirm you are on the correct path.

Avoid Hypothermia: Hypothermia is the result of your body losing heat faster than it can produce it. To prevent hypothermia, keep yourself dry and warm, drink plenty of water, and eat high-calorie, high-protein foods to help maintain your energy. Dress in layers and add and remove layers as necessary to keep yourself warm without sweating. As sweat dries it cools, creating ideal conditions for hypothermia.

Sunrise/Sunset (12/25-12/27):

  • Approximate Time of Sunrise: 7:30 a.m.
  • Approximate Time of Sunset: 4:25 p.m.

Prevent the Spread of COVID-19: New cases of COVID-19 are on the rise throughout New York State, including in the Adirondacks. Help prevent the spread and keep yourself safe by continuing to Play Smart, Play Safe, Play Local.

General Notices

Travel: Check 511NY for road closures and travel conditions, and 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: Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Ashes should be cool to the touch. Learn more about campfire safety.

Seasonal Access Roads: Many seasonal access roads have closed following the end of Northern Zone big game hunting season. Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information pages for updates on specific road closures. Some roads may remain open if conditions allow.

Snowmobiling: Some seasonal access roads will transition to snowmobile use once sufficient snowpack accumulates. Check local club, county, and state webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile Webmap, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

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.

Related Stories

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

One Response

  1. Chap says:

    Over crowding and overuse now people
    are breaking into vehicles. What a shame.
    Just like going to a Mall. So much for the
    wilderness experience, or maybe it is the
    wilderness experience.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox