Friday, December 30, 2022

Outdoor Conditions (12/30): Snowshoes, microspikes, and crampons needed for Eastern High Peaks Wilderness

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 (12/29): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 12/29. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 56cm of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Conditions now require snowshoes to be worn in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Microspikes and crampons are needed. Ski trails have fluffy snow from recent snowfall. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are unsafe due to thin ice and open areas from recent flooding.
  • Use caution at stream crossings. Due to recent flooding and subsequent cold temperatures, streams may have a deceptively thin covering of ice on top of deep water.

Clinton & Franklin County Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trail gates throughout the counties are open. Conditions will be variable.


Moose River Plains Complex: The Moose River Plains are open to snowmobiling. Public motor vehicle access is not permitted at this time. Camping at interior sites is permitted, but sites must be accessed via snowmobile or by snowshoeing or skiing in.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest:

  • No waterbodies are safe to cross.
  • The spur trail ESSE50 (Newcomb to Long Lake) remains closed due to ground conditions – a stretch of wet area has not frozen yet and is not rideable.
  • The Campsite Road gate (Santanoni Lake Harris Connector Trail) is open. Please note: there will be intermittent vehicle traffic and hazard tree removal in the campground. Riders should expect areas of active work. Stay on the north side of the road.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest:

  • No waterbodies are safe to cross.
  • Snowmobile trail C8A from Newcomb south to Indian Lake is open.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts): The Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower trail reopened Dec. 21.

Grass River Wild Forest (includes Grass River, Long Pond, Sevey’s and Tooley Pond Conservation Easement Tracts):

  • Recent snow has allowed some snowmobiling opportunities to open in St. Lawrence County. Changing weather and surface conditions are creating some challenges early in the season – please check with local snowmobile clubs and other media/sources before heading out on the trails.
  • Early winter logging operations are affecting snowmobile trails in St. Lawrence County.
    • There are active harvests on the Grass River and Tooley Pond CEs. Please be aware of operations and trail conditions and follow signage in these areas, including the Ticket Trail (S80B).
    • There are active harvests on the Seveys CE. Please be advised that all trails north of NYS Route 3 are closed.

Raquette Boreal Complex:

  • Recent snow has allowed some snowmobiling opportunities to open in St. Lawrence County. Changing weather and surface conditions are creating some challenges early in the season – please check with local snowmobile clubs and other media/sources before heading out on the trails.
  • Early winter logging operations are affecting snowmobile trails in St. Lawrence County.
    • Please be aware of operations and follow signage for ongoing harvests on the Conifer-Emporium CE.

Speculator Tree Farm Perkins Clearing: All roads within the unit are closed to public motor vehicles. Snowmobile trail openings will be weather dependent. The most up-to-date openings can be found on local club websites.

Corinth Edinburg Conservation Easement: Snowmobile trail openings will be weather dependent. The most up-to-date openings can be found on local club websites.

Lake Desolation Conservation Easement:

  • The road to Archer Vly is closed to motor vehicles for the season.
  • Snowmobiling update: S84B will be a shared-use route – expect to encounter log trucks. There is a 15mph limit. Please provide log trucks and equipment the right-of-way and space to maneuver. The most up-to-date snowmobile openings can be found on local club websites. Openings will be weather dependent.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The gate on Creek Road is open to allow for snowmobile access.

General NoticesKnow Before You Go Graphic

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

Know Before You Go (12/29):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: Warmer temperatures with highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid-20s to mid-30s will bring fog and rain to the region from Thursday through Sunday. As temperatures fall on Sunday, rain will transition back to snow. High elevation and summit conditions will be even more severe, with colder temperatures and more variable conditions. Cool or cold, wet conditions bring a high danger of hypothermia. Snow and ice conditions will be affected by rain and melting snow. Carry extra layers, cold weather gear, and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Bring microspikes or crampons and snowshoes. If you find yourself unprepared for the conditions, or weather worsens, turn back to the trailhead.
  • Water crossings: Never attempt to cross high, fast-moving water, especially following rain or significant snowmelt. If there is precipitation forecast during the day, be mindful of how water crossings might swell between your first crossing and your return trip. Do not trust ice to hold your weight, especially over moving water.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:32 a.m.; Sunset = 4:27 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. Some seasonal roads may be closed for the winter season and not all parking areas are plowed. Check recent notices for road closure announcements.

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: Many seasonal access roads are closed for the winter. Check the Recent Notices for specific 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 average or 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 & EducationWinter 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.

Three Videos for Your Winter Preparation

Winter hiking requires a lot of preparation. From researching your trip to packing your bags, there is a lot to know and learn in order to have a safe, successful hike. DEC’s Love Our NY Lands campaign is here to help with that learning by providing a series of videos on preparing for and staying safe on winter hikes.

How to: Layer for a Cold Weather Hike – This video will walk you through the layers you should wear and bring for a winter hike, as well as some tips and tricks for managing your layers.

How to: Pack and Prepare for a Winter Hike – You’ve got the layers, but what else do you need to bring? And what do you need to research before you head out? This quick video provides an overview to help you plan and prepare.

How to: Recognize and Avoid Hypothermia – Hypothermia is a serious risk in any cold, wet weather. Learn how to recognize it in yourself or your hiking partners, and what to do if you start to see the signs.

Leave No TraceLeave 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!

Leave What (Signage) You Find

Trail signs might seem like a nice art piece for your wall at home, but they have a critical job to do on the trail. Moving, removing, or tampering with trail signs can lead to people getting lost, which is dangerous in any season and especially so in the winter. Instead of taking trail signs or markers, consider alternate ways of collecting adventure memorabilia:

  • Take a photo: Print it, frame it, and hang it at home.
  • Sketch a picture: This is a fun way of capturing a moment or view without technology.
  • Write it down: Describe the scene in a field notebook. Looking back on your words will remind you not just of what you saw, but how you felt about it too.
  • Make a mindful mental note: Sometimes taking a quiet moment to soak in your surroundings is enough to create a lasting memory.
  • Purchase a keepsake: Lots of non-profits and outfitters sell fun souvenirs, some of which might even look like the sign or marker you saw.

Recreation Highlight: Celebrate the New Year with an Adirondack First Day HikeProspect Mountain Hike Group Photo

The New Year is right around the corner. Celebrate it with a First Day Hike! DEC Region 5 staff and partners will lead five hikes in the Adirondacks for New Yorkers to connect with nature and enjoy safe, responsible recreation on the first day of the New Year. The family-friendly walks and hikes range from 1.5 to 5.5 miles round trip.

Hikers should come prepared with warm layered clothing, extra layers, water, snacks, sunglasses, hats, gloves and insulated, waterproof footwear. Depending on conditions, snowshoes and other traction devices may also be necessary. Participants should contact their trip leader or host for more information on required gear. All Region 5 hikes are guided. To prepare, learn more about winter hiking.

DEC Guided Hike Up Prospect Mountain
January 1, 2023, 9:00am
Details: Hike 1.5-miles and climb 1,630 feet to the summit of Prospect Mountain to enjoy a spectacular 360-degree view. Parking at the trailhead is limited. If parking along Smith Street is full, find parking along nearby roads and walk to the trailhead. Dogs must be leashed. Please note that the pedestrian bridge over the Northway is metal grating and may be rough on dogs’ feet. The trail typically has snow and ice at steep angles. Hikers must bring appropriate footwear and traction devices such as microspikes or snowshoes with crampons. Wear and bring warm winter clothing and layers as well as water and food. Cameras are recommended.
Prospect Mountain: Trailhead on Smith Street, Village of Lake George (43.4254°N, 73.7197°W)
Registration Required: Registration is limited to 20 participants. For more information and to register, contact Ben Thomas at (reference ‘First Day Hike’ in the subject line) or call (518) 623-1268.

Glens Falls-Saratoga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club Guided Hike up Moxham Mountain
January 1, 2023, 9:00am
Details: This 5.5-mile round trip hike gains approximately 1,500 feet of elevation and is considered moderately easy. The mountain offers great views from its rocky summit, as well as many along the way. Extra layers are strongly recommended so the group can stay on the summit for a snack or lunch. Participants should bring microspikes and snowshoes or contact the trip leader about borrowing gear. The group will meet at the “park and ride” off of exit 21 on the Northway, at the corner of Routes 9 & 9N.
Registration Required: Group size is limited to 14 participants. For more information and to register, contact or call (518) 338-8173.

Glens Falls-Saratoga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club Guided Hike up Hadley Mountain
January 1, 2023, 9:45am
Details: This will be an easy to moderate-paced hike covering 3.5 miles round trip. Beginners are welcome. Snowshoes should be worn if conditions warrant it. Interested participants that do not have snowshoes should inquire with the trip leader as to the availability of extra snowshoes to borrow. The hike will begin from Tower Road in Hadley.
Registration Required: Group size is limited to 13 participants. For more information and to register, contact Megan at

Paul Smith’s Visitor’s Interpretive Center (VIC) Guided Hike on Heron Marsh Trail
January 1, 2023, 10:00am-12:00pm
Details: Start the New Year with a spin around Heron Marsh (an almost 3-mile loop). You may catch glimpses of otters at play, birds checking back for the stash of seeds they carefully left behind last summer and/or tracks from other critters who have been out and about. This event is free and snowshoes are required. Call in advance if you need to rent a pair.
Paul Smith VIC: 8023 NY-30, Paul Smiths, NY 12970.
Registration Required: Registration is limited to 20 participants. Visit Paul Smith’s website to register.

SUNY ESF Adirondack Interpretive Center Guided Hike to the Farm Complex at the Camp Santanoni Historic Area
January 1, 2023, 9:00am
Details: Enjoy a first day hike or snowshoe from the SUNY ESF Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb to the Farm Complex at the Camp Santanoni Historic Area and learn about natural and cultural history along the way. Please arrive at the AIC between 9:00 and 9:30am there will be coffee available. The hike is approximately five miles round trip. No pets allowed.
SUNY ESF AIC: 5922 NY-28N, Newcomb, NY 12852.
Registration Required: Registration available for up to 50 participants. Email to register.

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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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