Friday, January 21, 2022

Outdoor conditions (1/21): Snowshoes required in High Peaks Wilderness

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.

High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Snowshoes or skis are now required to be worn as snow depths exceed 8 inches.
  • Snow report as of 01/20: The Van Ho and South Meadows trails to Marcy Dam are skiable. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen, though there are soft spots on Lake Colden. There is approximately 25 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost and 3-4 feet of snow at higher elevations like Algonquin and Colden. Note: Conditions may have changed since the last report.

Grass River Wild Forest and Cranberry Lake Wild Forest: The recent snow event of January 16 resulted in enough snow to establish a base for grooming snowmobile trails in St. Lawrence County. Snow coverage is minimal in some areas and not all trails are suitable for riding at this point. Please check with the local snowmobile Clubs for the latest conditions and trail closures before heading out to ride.

Franklin County: The C7B and C8 snowmobile trails are now open.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: Snowmobile trail C7B through Grange Park is closed. Use Lake Eaton Campground/backside of Lake Eaton S86.

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 C7 snowmobile trail (known locally as the Pole Line) is open from Lake Clear to Mountain View.

Moose River Plains Complex: Snowmobiling gates are open.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest:

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

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 snowshoes, microspikes and crampons. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are now required to be worn as snow depths exceed 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.

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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