Friday, February 17, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (2/17): Fluctuating temps lead to variable ice conditions on Adirondack waters

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 (02/16): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 02/16. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 27.6 inches (2.3 feet) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin and deeper accumulations at higher elevations. Snowshoes are required to be worn in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness when snow accumulations reach 8 inches. Microspikes and crampons are needed for traction on ice. The Marcy Dam Truck Trail is skiable. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden have variable ice conditions and crossings near inlets/outlets are dangerous – always exercise caution on or near ice. Camping adjacent to the Opalescent River at the south end of Lake Colden is discouraged due to recent flooding.

Grass River Wild Forest: Recent temperature fluctuations have affected snowmobiling opportunities in St. Lawrence County. Changing weather and surface conditions are creating some challenges – please check with local snowmobile clubs and other media/sources before heading out on the trails.

Raquette Boreal Complex: Recent temperature fluctuations have affected snowmobiling opportunities in St. Lawrence County. Changing weather and surface conditions are creating some challenges – please check with local snowmobile clubs and other media/sources before heading out on the trails.


Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract: The Loon Lake Mountains Saddle Trail is closed due to current logging operations.

General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

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

Know Before You Go (02/16):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: Rain and freezing rain this evening will give way to mixed precipitation and snow on Friday across much of the Adirondack region. Conditions are then expected to improve through the remainder of the holiday weekend. Highs in the High Peaks region are expected to climb from the low 30s on Friday and Saturday into the low 40s on Sunday and Monday. Lows are expected to vary from single digits on Friday night to the mid-20s and low 30s throughout the weekend. These are forecast temperatures for base elevations – conditions will be more severe (colder, windier) 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 & Ice Crossings: Recent warm weather and mixed precipitation has led to snowmelt and higher-than-average water levels. 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 = 6:49 a.m.; Sunset = 5:28 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.

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. Due to recent warm weather, some trail conditions have deteriorated. Use extreme caution on or near frozen waterways.

Water Conditions: Due to recent melting, water levels throughout the Adirondack region range from significantly 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

Following a stretch of warmer weather, ice conditions on many Adirondack bodies of water may be variable. Snowmobilers, ice anglers, and other recreationists that plan to head out onto or near frozen waterways should use extreme caution–falling through the ice can be deadly and shifting or heaving ice can create significant hazards. 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!

Don’t Let Spring Stink! Dispose of Waste Properly

As we near spring, temperatures begin to warm, snow and ice begin to thaw, and we start to get outside to explore the trails. The last thing we want as we breathe in the fresh spring air is to see and smell unburied waste! How can we help avoid this unpleasant experience? By disposing of our waste properly during the last of these winter months.

  • Pack It In, Pack It Out. Pack out everything you bring with you. Burying trash and litter in the snow or ground is not an acceptable practice any time of year.
  • Pack out solid human waste, including toilet paper and wipes. Remember, what is buried in snow will only thaw on the ground in the spring exposing unpleasant sights and smells.
  • If the ground is soft enough to bury your waste, dig a cathole at least 200 feet (approximately 70 adult steps) from trails and water sources.
  • If you bring your furry friend along with you, pack out their solid waste too. Do not leave doggy bags along the trails–bring everything out with you.

For instructions on how to dispose of waste in a cathole, watch DEC’s How To Poop In The Woods video on YouTube.

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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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