Friday, January 20, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (1/20): Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden have poor 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 (01/19): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 01/19. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 13.8in. of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin and several feet of snow at higher elevations. Conditions now require snowshoes to be worn in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Microspikes and crampons are also needed for traction on ice. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden have low quality ice coverage, with soft sections and areas of running water. Conditions on ski trails range from moderate to poor.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts): The Three Lakes Trail (Pollack Swamp Road) has been temporarily rerouted near Big Moose Road to avoid timber harvesting.  Please follow reroute signage.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tracts: The Village ski trail beginning at the ballpark has experienced some flooding due to unusually high water and beaver activity. A good amount of the trail is accessible, but suggested parking is now on Elm Lake Road, near the gate into the Speculator Tree Farm Tract.


Kushaqua Conservation Easement: Logging is in progress in the vicinity of the Mountain Pond Road. The road is being used as a haul road and is closed to ALL motorized use for the duration of the operation. Non-motorized users of the road should use extreme caution and expect to encounter log trucks.

Lake George Wild Forest: Tails in the Bolton Area including Cat Mountain and Tongue Mountain have blowdown from recent storms. The bridge across Northwest Bay Swamp on the Tongue Mountain Blue Trail is damaged but can be used with caution. Trails continue to have mixed conditions.

Town of Newcomb: The Goodnow Mountain Trail will be closed from January 10, 2023, through March 15, 2023 (subject to change) to accommodate an on-going timber harvest taking place in the vicinity. During that time, the public will not be allowed to access the Goodnow Mountain trailhead, trail or fire tower.

General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

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

Know Before You Go (01/19):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: A Winter Weather Advisory begins for northern New York on Thursday and continues through Friday, calling for snowfall accumulations of 4-8 inches at lower elevations and additional accumulation at higher elevations. Clearer conditions on Saturday are expected to give way to snow showers again on Sunday. Base temperatures in the High Peaks region are forecast to fluctuate from lows in the mid-teens to highs in the low-30’s throughout the weekend. Remember that conditions will be more severe on summits and at higher elevations. 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. Follow ice safety guidelines.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:24 a.m.; Sunset = 4:47 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.
    • The FISU World University Games are underway. The competition is taking place for 11 days across multiple north country locations. Various road and facility closures will affect the area for the duration of the games. This includes the closure of Lake Placid’s main street to motor vehicles.

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.

Be Safe in Avalanche Terrain: Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and all outdoor adventurers who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions. If you are planning a trip to avalanche-prone territory, research the route ahead of time and contact a local DEC Forest Ranger for specific safety and conditions information, or contact a local guide. Before going into the backcountry, be equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course. Learn more about avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions.

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 above average to high 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.

Ice Safety Tips

Much of New York is experiencing a milder than usual winter, leading to unsafe ice conditions on many waters. Whether you’re headed out ice fishing, enjoying skating on an Adirondack pond, or crossing a water body while skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, it’s important to be extremely cautious when venturing out on ice. Follow these ice safety tips:

  • Four inches of solid, clear ice is generally considered a safe thickness if you’re venturing out on foot. Five inches is considered safe for snowmobiles. Check the thickness periodically as you move further out.
  • Avoid ice near open water or around docks. Private dock owners may use bubblers to prevent thick ice from forming and damaging docks.
  • Changes in the color and texture of ice can indicate weak spots. Use extra caution on ice covered in snow.
  • Carry ice safety picks. They can help you pull yourself out of the water should you break through the ice. You can buy them in a store or make your own.
  • Always travel with a buddy and let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Bring a change of clothes so you can quickly change into dry clothes if you do fall in. This will help prevent hypothermia.

For more tips and information on ice safety, watch DEC’s How To Stay Safe on Ice video.

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!

Tips for Leave No Trace Winter Camping

Principle 2 reminds us to camp on durable surfaces. Luckily for winter campers, snow is considered a durable surface once it is at least 6-8 inches deep. But there is more to minimum impact camping than the surface where we set our tent, so follow these additional tips for Leave No Trace winter camping:

Stick to designated campsites – It’s not just about the impact of your tent’s footprint. Activity around your tent site can affect vegetation, nearby water sources, and animal behavior. The smaller our footprint, the smaller our impact on the ecosystems we’re staying in.

Take down all snow structures – Digging snow caves and making snowmen is fun, but for some people, evidence of previous campers can detract from their wilderness experience. Taking down any snow structures you’ve built will leave your site as you found it for the next visitors to enjoy.

Minimize your cooking and campfire impact – Just like in warmer months, using stoves and packing out our food waste helps minimize our campfire and our cooking impacts. Be sure to pack out your food scraps, too. Food scraps added to an animal’s stores could end up spoiling their stash, leaving them to fend for food in harsh winter conditions

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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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