Friday, April 1, 2022

Outdoor conditions (4/1): Even though it’s April Fool’s mud season is no joke

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:

  • Trails are a mix of ice, slush and mud. Higher elevations have 6-12 inches still on trail. Snowshoes are still required at high elevations. Crampons and gators should be carried and worn when needed.
  • Snow report as of 03/31: There is just over 2 feet of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden have spots of open water and slush and are considered unstable in parts. Rivers are crossable but hazardous.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: All snowmobile trails are closed.

Debar Mountain Wild Forest: All snowmobile trails are closed.

Wilmington Wild Forest: The Wilmington Snowmobile Trail is now closed.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: All snowmobile trails are closed.

Lake George Wild Forest:

  • Jabe Pond Road and Lily Pond Road are closed to vehicle traffic for spring mud season.
  • Dacy Clearing Road in Shelving Rock is closed to vehicle traffic for spring mud season.

Adirondack Rail Trail: The trail is now closed to snowmobile use for the season.

Region 6 is closing all mud gates to snowmobile trails and seasonal access roads on Forest Preserve, State Forest, and Conservation Easement lands due to spring thaw and muddy conditions.

Kushaqua and Sable Highlands Easements: Mud locks will be in place by April 1st to protect the integrity of the roads until further notice.

Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest (Croghan & Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Tracts): All mud gates in Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest as well as those on the Croghan Tract and Oswegatchie Conservation Easement will be shut starting the week of 3/21/2022.  Roads will be reopened when they are dry and firm enough to support motor vehicle traffic.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts): DEC staff will begin shutting mud gates in the Independence River Wild Forest the week of 3/28/2022.  Roads will be reopened when they are dry and firm enough to support motor vehicle traffic.

All snowmobile gates on Macomb State Forest, Taylor Pond Campground, and Taylor Pond Wild Forest have been closed for the season.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: Powley Road is closed for mud season until further notice.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest:

  • The entrance gates to the Moose River Plains are closed for mud season until further notice.
  • The seasonal portion of Cedar River Rd. which accesses the Wakely Mountain Trailhead is closed for mud season. The road is closed where the pavement ends, approx. 7 miles from Route 30.
  • A 200’ section of the West Mountain Trail is flooded due to beaver activity at the Beaver Brook crossing in Moose River Plains Wild Forest. Until the flooding is addressed, access the West Mountain summit from the Constable Pond trailhead off Higby Road (Pigeon Lake Wilderness).

Silver Lake Wilderness: West River Rd. that provides access to Whitehouse/Northville Placid Trail is closed for mud season until further notice.

All snowmobile trails in the town of Newcomb are closed (C8A & C7B)

Essex Chain Lakes: All mud gates are closed.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: The Campsite Road gate is closed for mud season.

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.

Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind

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.

Spring Conditions: Be prepared for a mix of winter and spring conditions. Snow and ice are still present throughout the region, but warmer temps have brought high waters and muddy trails in low elevations. 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 still required to be worn where snow depths exceed 8 inches. Remember that conditions will change as you gain elevation, and cold, wet weather poses a significant risk of hypothermia.

Avalanche Advisory: Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and all outdoor adventurers who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions. If you are planning a trip to avalanche-prone territory, research the route ahead of time and contact a local DEC Forest Ranger for specific safety and conditions information, or contact a local guide. Before going into the backcountry, be equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course. Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on DEC’s website.

Muddy Trails & Monorails: As snow begins to melt on lower elevation trails, be prepared for mud and monorails. Monorails are thin strips of hardpacked snow and ice in the center of trails, surrounded by minimal or no snow on the sides. Monorails can create difficult walking conditions. Microspikes and trekking poles can assist with traction and balance. Where trails are muddy, walk directly through mud instead of around it to help minimize trail widening and trailside damage.

Seasonal Roads: Most seasonal access roads are closed for spring mud season. Where seasonal access roads are open to public motor vehicles, the use of four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended.

Pack & Prepare: Spring hiking can be lots of fun, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not prepared. Preparation for a spring hike can look a lot like preparing for a winter hike. Take a moment to watch DEC’s How To Pack and Prepare for a Winter Hike video for a review of what gear to pack and the steps to take as you plan your hike.

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.

Leave No Trace

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks. Use proper trail etiquette to ensure an enjoyable experience for yourself and others and tread lightly!

Recreation tips to minimize impacts on trails this spring:

Muddy trails – Soil at high elevations and on steep sloping trails is thin and extremely susceptible to erosion. When boots slip and slide on wet trails it pushes soils off the trail, eroding that area significantly and compromising the stability of the trail. Trailside vegetation can be easily damaged or destroyed when boots erode the ground around or under them. Same goes with bike tires on mountain bike trails. Alpine vegetation is very fragile vegetation that is only found on the summits of high elevation mountains. It is easily damaged or destroyed when walked on. Avoid sloping or high elevation trails during this sensitive time. Find low elevation trails or durable multi-use recreation trails to explore this spring.

Monorails – As snow next to trails melts, compacted ice in the center creates “monorails.” Use crampons and other traction devices for walking directly on the monorail to avoid post-holing in trailside snow or trampling vegetation. As the snowpack continues to melt it becomes soft and rotten. Carry and wear snowshoes to avoid sinking to your knees, thighs, or even hips on or off trails.

Wildlife – Spring brings wildlife back to life in nature. Bears come out of hibernation and are looking for food. Other animals are sourcing much needed fresh vegetation. This can sometimes mean wildlife end up closer to trails. This can be a stressful time for animals after long frigid winters.

  • Keep your noise down while in the woods. Disturbances make animals stop eating and often go into flight mode.
  • Keep your pets on a leash to avoid startling newly awoken or hungry animals.
  • Don’t feed them! This is an especially important time for wildlife to reunite with their natural feeding habits. Feeding wildlife can create dependency on human food and end up starving that animal.
  • Give them space. If you encounter wildlife on the trail, consider taking an alternate route or give them time to move along without igniting their flight response.

Environmental Educators needed!

Join our Region 5 Outreach team in educating on safe and sustainable recreation in the High Peaks. Your role as an educator is vital in protecting the Adirondack’s natural resources while enhancing the safety, experience, and wellbeing of our communities and visitors.

Learn more and apply today!

Region 5 Seasonal Job Fair

Looking for a fulfilling seasonal position in the Adirondacks this summer? Region 5 is hiring many seasonal positions across all departments!

  • When: April 6, 2022, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Where: Ray Brook Headquarters – 1115 State Route 86. Ray Brook, NY 12977

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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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