Friday, May 13, 2022

Outdoor Conditions (5/13): Tips for hiking with dogs, being prepared for sudden inclement weather while hiking

outdoor conditions logoRecent Notices

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.


High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Snow Conditions, 05/12: There is persistent packed snow on trails above 4,000 feet, especially on north aspects. Trails are very muddy above 3,000 feet. There is high fire danger at the moment. Temperatures may reach hazardous highs this weekend, and thunderstorms are forecast. Please avoid all trails above 2,500 feet while DEC’s muddy trails advisory is in effect.
  • The gate on Corey’s Road is now open.
  • The gate at Clear Pond, on the Elk Lake Conservation Easement, is now open for the season. The public is allowed to drive to the Elk Lake parking lot and trailhead to park for access to the Slide Brook Trail (to the Dix Mtns) and the Elk Lake Marcy Trail. Parking is limited to the capacity of the parking lot. No parking is permitted along the Elk Lake Road or in any other pull-offs. If the parking lot is full, hikers must park at the Upper Elk Lake Road parking lot on the west side of the Elk Lake Road approximately 2.3 miles south of the Elk Lake parking lot and trailhead. Please respect the parking rules to help ensure this access is maintained and there are no impacts to fire and rescue access.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tracts:

  • Roads are currently closed for mud season.
  • The bridge at Old Route 8 by Christine Falls will be closed for repairs starting 5/16. Roads that will consequently close because of this are Fly Creek Road and Robbs Creek Road.

Lake George Wild Forest:

  • Jabe Pond Road is open.
  • Shelving Rock Brook trail bridges (all 3) are not safe for equestrian use. Please use Shelving Rock Mountain Trail to access the trail system. Shortway Trail bridges (3) are now open to equestrian use.

Essex Chain of Lakes Complex:

  • Cornell Road to the Deer Pond gate is open.
  • Chain Lakes Road North to Drakes Mill gate is open.
  • Blowdown remains on some trails. The Chain Lakes Road North to Sixth Lake horse trail has significant blowdown.
  • Please be aware of log truck traffic along Cornell Road.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Public access to the lock between Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes is tentatively set to close May 15 so work on the lock can begin. It is expected the work will be completed mid-June. There will be no boat access during this time. Canoes and kayaks can carry around the locks. DEC will continue to provide updates as they are available.

Santa Clara Conservation Easement Tract: Madawaska Road is open for public motor vehicle traffic. Drivers should exercise caution on backcountry roads due to varying surface conditions.

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.

Know Before You Go (05/12): Conditions in the Adirondacks range from hot and dry at low elevations to muddy at mid-range elevations and persistent compact snow at high elevations. DEC’s Muddy Trails Advisory encourages visitors to continue avoiding all trails above 2,500 feet, including all High Peaks, to help prevent trail damage and erosion as those trails continue to dry and harden. Temperatures may vary significantly depending on your location, the time of day and your elevation. Avoid hiking when thunderstorms are forecast. At the first sign of thunderstorms, seek shelter at low elevations. Despite warm air temperatures, water may still be extremely cold.

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.

Muddy Trails: Walk straight through mud rather than around it to prevent trail widening and vegetation damage. Opt for low elevation trails until high elevations have time to dry and harden. Follow the muddy trails advisory.

Seasonal Roads: Some seasonal access roads are still 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.

Fire Danger: Check the fire rating map.

Water Conditions: Water levels throughout the Adirondack region are largely below average for this time of year. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Water temperatures will be very cold. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn. Where bridges are not available, do not attempt stream crossings during periods of high, fast-moving water.

Hiking with Dogs: Every summer DEC Forest Rangers receive calls for dogs in distress, especially on hot days. Pet owners often overestimate how physically fit their dog is, how much water their dog will need, or how walking on scalding hot rock can negatively affect canines. DEC warns pet owners to avoid bringing their dogs hiking with them in the summer. Dogs hiking in warm temperatures are at risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and death. If your dog does collapse, quickly move to create shade for the dog and cool their feet and stomach – this is the most effective way to help an overheated dog. The best way to protect your pet is to leave them at home.

Ticks: 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.

Bear Canisters Required: NYSDEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. NYSDEC encourages campers to use bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack backcountry. Bear canisters should be used to store all food, food garbage, toiletries, and other items with a scent. Canisters should be stored a minimum of 100ft from tents, lean-tos and cooking sites and kept closed whenever they are not being accessed. Learn more about bear canisters and avoiding human-bear conflicts.

Adirondack Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. For a full list of closures, visit Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information please contact the Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 623-1240.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve: Parking reservations will be required May 1 through Oct. 31 for single-day and overnight access to the parking lot, trailheads, and trails located on the privately owned, 7,000-acre AMR property in the town of Keene in the High Peaks region. For a list of frequently asked questions and to register, visit AMR’s website.

Safety & Education

Spring is in full swing. Whether you’re going for a hike, a bike, a paddle, or fishing, 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.

Thunderstorm Safety

Before every hike you should check the weather for the location you will be visiting. If there are thunderstorms in the forecast for that day or night, change or delay your plans. Do not risk getting caught in a thunderstorm on a mountain trail.

Thunderstorms can bring heavy rain, decreased temperatures, strong winds, and lightning. These dangerous conditions are best avoided. That said, sometimes thunderstorms can develop unexpectedly and appear despite a clear forecast. Keep the following in mind to help you avoid pop-up thunderstorms and stay safe if you do get caught in one:

  • Watch for darkening skies, increased winds, lightning flashes, and listen for thunder.
  • As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm, move to lower elevations and seek shelter.
  • Avoid summits and other open areas during thunderstorms.
  • If you cannot take shelter indoors, find a low spot away from tall trees. Seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks.
  • Make yourself as short as possible by sitting on your backpack or sleeping pad with your knees flexed. Hug your knees and keep your feet together to minimize the ground effect of a nearby lightning strike.

Related Stories

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

5 Responses

  1. William J. Meyers says:

    I’m looking for information on the condition of Gulf Brook Road. Specifically if all repairs have been completed, and when the mud locks may come off.

  2. JohnL says:

    I agree 100% with the last sentence of the ‘Hiking with Dogs’ section. Leave ’em home!

  3. John Marona says:

    “Public access to the lock between Upper and Middle Saranac Lakes is tentatively set to close May 15 “. Interesting, I was unaware that there was ever a lock between Upper and Middle, there is the Bartlets Carry for paddlers. I believe this must be the Middle to Lowe Saranac lock that is being repaired.

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