Friday, January 14, 2022

Outdoor conditions (1/14): Extreme winter weather in effect

outdoor conditions logoThe 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.

Extreme Weather Warning: Looking ahead to this weekend, the National Weather Service issued a wind chill watch in effect for northern New York, with dangerously cold wind chills as low as 30 to 40 below zero possibly.

High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Weekend forecasts are calling for daytime temperatures as low as -35 Fahrenheit with wind chill on High Peak summits. DEC Forest Rangers recommend avoiding the High Peaks this weekend and making alternate plans to avoid extreme conditions.
  • Snow report as of 01/07: The Van Ho trail has light snow coverage but is skiable. There is decent snow coverage for skiing on South Meadows. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen. The trail to Marcy Dam has roughly 3 inches of snow. There is approximately 19 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost. At higher elevations like Algonquin there is approximately 3 feet of snow. Note: Conditions may have changed since last report.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement, Barnes Pond Tract: The gate is closed for the season to all vehicle traffic. Hiking, snowshoeing and skiing in are allowed.

Silver Lake Wilderness: West River Road, which provides access to the Northville-Placid Trail in the Town of Wells, will remain unplowed and unmaintained for the duration of the winter. Seasonal access will re-open after spring mud season, typically late May.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: Powley Road is closed to all motor vehicles except snowmobiles for the duration of the winter. The road will re-open for motor vehicle access after spring mud season, typically late May.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest & Debar Mountain Wild Forest: The C-7 Trail (known locally as the Pole Line) is open from Lake Clear to Mountain View.

Moose River Plains Complex: Snowmobiling gates are open, though conditions are marginal.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest:

  • The Campsite Rd. gate providing access to the Santanoni to Lake Harris snowmobile trail is now open with 5-7 inches hard pack snow.
  • All other gates in the unit will remain closed until conditions are adequate
  • The gate on Newcomb Lake Road is closed.

Boreas Ponds Tract: Work on three bridges along Gulf Brook Road is complete. Due to weather conditions, the road is closed for the winter season to motor vehicles but skiing and snowshoeing is allowed. The road will be open to public motor vehicles as far as the Fly Pond Parking Area after the spring mud season, generally in late May.

Washington County Grasslands – Fort Edward, NY: Parking is limited in the winter. Users should avoid parking along roadways, parking in a way that blocks the roadway and parking in private driveways. Users can park in the designated parking area off Blackhouse Road.

Archer Vly/Lake Desolation Road Tract: Motor vehicle access is not open to passenger vehicles as there is snow and ice on the road. Snowmobile season will open in this area when sufficient snowpack accumulates.

Speculator Tree Farm/Perkins Clearing: Roads are closed to passenger vehicles as limited snowmobiling is now open.

Upper Hudson Woodlands Conservation Easement, Dennie Road Tract: Winter use ski and snowshoe trails are now open. Limited snow and no grooming at this time.

General Notices

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry Information page for more trip-planning resources, including travel information, weather resources, and seasonally-specific information about Adirondack recreation.

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for select summit forecasts. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures and remember that temperatures will drop as you gain elevation. Check wind chill temperatures and prepare for colder, windier summits.

Winter Conditions: Be prepared for winter conditions. Snow and ice are present throughout the region. Be prepared with warm, waterproof layers, extra layers, and proper gear for snow and ice, including microspikes and crampons. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are required where snow depth exceeds 8 inches. Remember that conditions will change as you gain elevation and cold, wet weather poses a significant risk of hypothermia.

Seasonal Roads: Although some seasonal access roads remain open, the use of four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended, and many seasonal access roads have transitioned to snowmobile use. Visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and State webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Snow Depths: Below is snow depth data from 01/04 and 01/05 at a variety of regional sample points. Find more data on snowfall and snow depth.

  • Northwoods Club Rd, Minerva: 5in
  • Goodnow Flow Road, Newcomb: 5.5in
  • Tahawus, Upper Works, Newcomb: 7.2in
  • Lake Colden Caretaker Cabin: 15.7in
  • Cedar River Road, Indian Lake: 5.2in
  • Sagamore Road, Long Lake: 5.2in
  • Haskell Road, Ohio: 2in
  • North Lake Road, Ohio: 3in

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. Remember that winter conditions will likely slow your travel. Using reliable sources, research the route. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who can report you missing if you do not return on time.

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, insulating layers, and waterproof, windproof outer layers. Wear a hat, mittens or gloves, and a buff. Gaiters can help keep your lower legs warm and prevent snow from getting in your boots. Bring additional layers. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Learn more about layering for cold weather by watching DEC’s How To video.

Manage Your 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. Set a turnaround time and stick to it.

Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp on every hike. Bring extra batteries and a back-up headlamp or alternate source of light. 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.

Share the Trails: Many multi-use trails are enjoyed by a variety of users in the winter. Be respectful of everyone’s experience by following winter trail etiquette. Wear snowshoes to prevent postholing and keep ski and snowshoe tracks separate when possible. Let faster users pass and yield to downhill skiers as they have built up momentum. Move to the side of the trail to let snowmobiles pass, and snowmobilers slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. Please pick up after yourself and pets.

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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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