Friday, December 9, 2022

Outdoor Conditions (12/9): Minimal snow coverage in High Peaks, microspikes recommended

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 (12/08): There is minimal snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Higher summits also have minimal snow coverage – snowshoes may not be needed, but microspikes are highly recommended. Ski trails are not in good condition at this time. Trails in general are messy and slippery due to thin ice coverage. Lakes have thin ice and are not currently crossable.

Pine Lake Primitive Area: Seasonal gates on Chain of Lakes Rd. have been closed for the season

O’Neil Flow Easement: Township 19 Rd. has been closed for the season
Speculator Tree Farm Perkins Clearing: All conservation easement roads are very icy. Please use a 4-wheel drive vehicle and caution.

Essex Chain Lakes Complex: The gates are now closed on Chain Lakes Road South for the winter season.


William C. Whitney Wilderness: Public motor vehicle 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.

General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

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

Know Before You Go (12/08):

  • Temperatures: Temperatures in the High Peaks region call for highs in the low-30’s and nighttime lows in the high-teens to low-20’s throughout the weekend. These temperatures are estimates for base elevations. Always anticipate more extreme conditions at high elevations. Scattered snow showers are expected throughout the weekend. 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 = 7:20 a.m.; Sunset = 4:16 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 webmap (for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Water Conditions: Water levels throughout the Adirondack region are significantly 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.

How to Use Mountain Point Forecasts

Before you head into the backcountry it’s important to check the weather and know how conditions might change as you ascend peaks. Most weather services can give you a reasonable forecast for base elevations in the nearest town or at the trailhead. But how do you find out what’s happening at the summit?

The National Weather Service’s Mountain Point Forecasts offer just that. Taking elevation, aspect, and location into account, the mountain point forecasts provide hourly estimates for temperature, wind direction and speed, cloud coverage, precipitation, and more on select summits. Mountain Point Forecasts are available for a number of Adirondack summits and offer a more accurate representation of the weather at elevation. If your destination is not listed, look at the closest mountain that is forecast or a nearby summit with a similar elevation.

Forecasts begin with a short summary of what to expect at different times, followed by graphs of the temperature before and after windchill, the chance of precipitation, including snowfall, and the wind speed on the summit. With these data points at your disposal, you can plan your activity around the weather. Remember, however, that even the best forecast weather can change quickly, so always pack the 10 Essentials and be prepared to change plans if conditions worsen.

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!

Freeze and Thaw

Early in the winter, conditions can vary drastically. Rapid freeze and thaw cycles, rain and snow, and the occasional sunny day can leave trails and the plants around them in a fragile state. It’s important during this time to be mindful of where we step and to try our best to travel on durable surfaces.

Trailside plants and small trees are especially sensitive to erosion caused by social paths that form as hikers try to avoid mud, snow, or some other obstacle in the trail. Avoidance of on-trail conditions also causes trail widening, which increases our impact on the ecosystems we recreate in.

To help protect trailside vegetation and avoid trail widening, be prepared with gear that will enable you to stay on the trail despite seasonal conditions. Waterproof boots, gaiters, traction devices, and snowshoes may be essential depending on the location and elevation of your hike. Check local trail conditions and weather before you head out to maximize your planning.

For information on Adirondack trails, visit the Adirondack Backcountry page.

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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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