Friday, December 2, 2022

Outdoor Conditions (12/2): Snowshoes suggested for high summits, trails messy & slippery due to thin ice coverage

outdoor conditions logoThe following are only the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry webpages for a full list of notices, including seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information


High Peaks Wilderness Snow Report (12/01): There is approximately 5 inches of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Higher summits have approximately a foot of snow – bring snowshoes. Ski trails are not in good condition at this time. Trails in general are messy and slippery due to thin ice coverage. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are not crossable.

William C. Whitney Wilderness: Public access to Lake Lila is closed for the winter season.

Moose River Plains Complex: Gates to the Moose River Plains Recreation Area will close to public motor vehicle traffic on Monday, Dec. 5 for the winter season.


Lake George Wild Forest: The Cat Mountain Red Trail from Edgecomb Pond Road to the summit is currently undermarked due to hikers taking trail markers as souvenirs. The trail is difficult to follow in winter conditions without proper marking. Please, leave trail markers where you find them for the safety of other hikers. The Blue Trail offers a well-marked alternate route to the summit.

Bog River Complex: The Low’s Lower Dam maintenance project has begun, and public access will be closed at Low’s Lower Dam starting December 6, 2022. No public launching of boats at Low’s Lower Dam will be allowed during construction, which is expected to last through late fall 2023. Access to Hitchens Pond and Low’s Lake during construction will require extensive portages, and users are advised to seek other areas to visit while the construction project is in progress. More information can be found in the full press release.

General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry page for more trip-planning resources.

Know Before You Go (12/01):

  • Temperatures: Temperatures in the region call for highs in the mid-30s to 40s and nighttime lows in the low-20s to 30 degrees throughout the weekend. These temperatures are estimates for base elevations. Always anticipate more extreme conditions at high elevations. Scattered showers are expected throughout the weekend with possible snow. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Carry extra layers, cold weather gear, and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Microspikes or crampons are recommended for anyone planning on hiking this weekend and are necessary at high elevations. As snow continues to fall, snowshoes may be necessary on some trails.
  • Water crossings: Never attempt to cross high, fast-moving water, especially following rain or storms. If there is rain forecast during the day, be mindful of how water crossings might swell between your first crossing and your return trip.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:13 a.m.; Sunset = 4:17 p.m. Make a timeline and stick to it. Pack a headlamp even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset.
  • Travel: Plan on arriving at your destination early and have several back-up plans in place in case parking at your desired location is full.

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.

Seasonal Roads: Due to recent snow, some seasonal access roads are beginning to close. Check the Recent Notices for closure announcements and be prepared to turn around and take an alternate route.

Snowmobiles: 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.

Water Conditions: Water levels throughout the Adirondack region are above average for this time of year. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended.

Safety & Education

Winter Hike Smart NY Poster

Whether you’re going for a hike, a ski, or out 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.

Safety on the Summit

As winter sets in over the Adirondacks, the weather on summits and higher elevation trails becomes increasingly dangerous. Conditions at the trailhead are not indicative of those towards the summit, and weather may change quickly. To stay safe this winter:

Expect Changing Conditions – Expect significant temperature drops, higher winds, and potentially whiteout conditions on exposed summits.

Pack the Essentials – Review the Hike Smart NY 10 Essentials. Pack headlamps, extra layers, traction devices, and snowshoes to prepare for winter conditions. Have an emergency shelter, and be prepared to stay the night in the event of an emergency.

Leave a Plan – Let someone know where you’re going, the route you’re taking, and when you plan to return.

Stick Together – Hiking alone in the winter is dangerous. Take a friend and stay within eyesight, especially above the tree line.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace 2021 Partner Logo

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!

Planning Your Route

Conditions in the winter can be unpredictable. Snowpack, frozen water crossings, and other obstacles may make your intended route impassable. Here are some tips for planning and preparing a safe winter hiking route:

  • Research your route: Be aware of potential obstacles such as water crossings, seasonal access issues, and areas that are exposed or at high elevations. Make note of potential alternate exits in case you need to turn around throughout the day.
  • Stay low: Trail conditions are more consistent at low elevations where tree cover is greater and the terrain is less technical.
  • Turn Around: Never be afraid to turn back and return to your hike another day. The mountains aren’t going anywhere. If conditions worsen or you feel unsafe, take advantage of your route research and take your emergency exit route.

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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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