Friday, May 20, 2022

Outdoor conditions (5/20): Muddy trails, warmer weather, cold water temps

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: Conditions, 05/19: Conditions are a mix of rotten snow and lots of mud. Dress in layers and bring extra so you can keep yourself dry. Ice may persist in places above 4,000 feet, so microspikes are still recommended. Recent rains may have swollen waterways making bridgeless water crossing difficult or even dangerous. Please avoid all trails above 2,500 feet while DEC’s muddy trails advisory is in effect.

Correction: Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: Public access to the lock between Middle and Lower 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.

Sable Highlands Easement: D&H Road and Piney Ridge Road gates have been open for the season for access by cars and trucks. Please note that public ATVs & UTVs are prohibited on the property with the exception of Wolf Pond Road, which is a Town road.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts):

  • Water has been turned on at the Otter Creek Assembly Area.
  • All mud gates have been opened.

William C. Whitney Wilderness: The Lake Lila Access Road is now open for public use.

Moose River Plains Complex: DEC anticipates opening the Moose River Plains gates the week prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Santa Clara Conservation Easement:

  • Public access roads are now open for public vehicles. This includes the Madawaska Road. Drivers should exercise caution on backcountry roads due to varying surface conditions.
  • A logging operation is occurring on the portion of the property south of Lake Ozonia (accessed by the Brown Track Road). Users accessing the easement should reduce speed and exercise caution both on the Brown Track Road and on the easement roads in that area. Anglers are advised not to use the northern of the 2 fishing sites on the CP3 route as trucks will soon be crossing that bridge regularly.

Speculator Tree Farm and Perkins Clearing:

  • High clearance vehicles are recommended for Jessup River Road.
  • Mud Lake Road is now open.

Township 19: O’Neil Flow and Barker Pond Road are open to the public.

Grass River Wild Forest: All seasonal access roads on Conservation Easement & Forest Preserve lands are now or will be opened in the near future. Please be aware of the recreational rights allowed on each individual property or at each area.

Raquette Boreal Complex: All seasonal access roads on Conservation Easement & Forest Preserve lands are now or will be opened in the near future. Please be aware of the recreational rights allowed on each individual property or at each area.

White Hill Wild Forest: All seasonal access roads on Conservation Easement & Forest Preserve lands are now or will be opened in the near future. Please be aware of the recreational rights allowed on each individual property or at each area.

Bog River Complex: All seasonal access roads on Conservation Easement & Forest Preserve lands are now or will be opened in the near future. Please be aware of the recreational rights allowed on each individual property or at each area.

Cranberry Lake Wild Forest: All seasonal access roads on Conservation Easement & Forest Preserve lands are now or will be opened in the near future. Please be aware of the recreational rights allowed on each individual property or at each area.


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 (05/19): After frequent storms and rain in the last week, trails are wet and muddy in places. 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. Waterways may be fast and swollen, making crossing difficult or dangerous. 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 mostly 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: 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.

 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.

Buy It Where You Burn It

Campfire season is upon us, which means it’s time to review best practices for sourcing our firewood.

While all firewood may seem safe, it’s important to remember that bugs, bacteria, and other organisms can be transported in, on, and around the logs we bring camping. These species can become invasive and are extremely harmful to our forests.

To have a safe and enjoyable fire this summer, remember to:

  • Buy it where you burn it: purchase or collect your firewood within 50 miles of where you plan to have your fire.
  • Purchase treated firewood: make sure that any firewood you purchase is treated to neutralize any dangerous plants, bugs, or pathogens.
  • Leave yours at home: save your own wood for a campfire at home. Even seasoned wood can be home to many invasive species.

Learn more about Firewood and Invasive Pests page on DEC’s website.


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!

Trash Timeline

We all know how important it is to keep our favorite outdoor places litter-free. We pack out what we bring in, minimize our impact, and pick up litter when we see it. Have you ever wondered how long that trash can remain in our ecosystem if it’s not picked up?

Many common items can take much longer than expected to decompose. Consider how long on average it takes these items to biodegrade:

  • Orange or Banana Peel – Up to 2 Years
  • Cigarette Butts – 1 to 5 years
  • Leather or wool – 1 to 5 years
  • Food wrappers – 5 years
  • Aluminum Cans – 80 to 100 years
  • Disposable Diapers – 450 years
  • Fishing Line – 600 years

All of this trash sticks around for quite some time. Even items that are often considered “natural” or “biodegradable” can impact the plants, animals, and people that use the land for several years. During that time, that waste is more than likely to find its way into the diet of an unsuspecting animal, provide abnormal nutrients to plants and water bodies, or impact the wilderness experience of a passing hiker.

Visit the Leave No TraceTM website for more information on how to minimize the impact of trash and other waste on our wild spaces.

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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.

2 Responses

  1. JB says:

    I don’t want to knock the DEC for trying to educate people, but “food wrappers” (presumbly plastic) take 5 years to decompose and “aluminum cans” decompose in 80 to 100 years?! I’ve found plastic bags from the 1960s (60 years) and steel cans that are even older out in the Adirondack woods that have barely decomposed at all!

    • Boreas says:

      And those darned stone tools randomly scattered about human habitations last hundreds of thousands of years!! Good thing the Plastic Age is relatively new. But it needs to go away.

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