Friday, March 24, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (3/24): Spring conditions, variable weather this weekend

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 (03/23): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 03/23. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 50.4 inches (4.2 feet) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin and as much as 7 feet at higher elevations. There is considerable unconsolidated snow, especially off trail in wind deposited areas. Snowshoes or skis are required to be worn throughout the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, beginning immediately at trailheads. Snowshoes are recommended everywhere in the High Peaks region for safe and efficient travel. Bring microspikes and crampons for traction on ice. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen but use caution in areas of moving water such as inlets, outlets, and streams. Be prepared to turn around if conditions prove too difficult to complete your hike.


Lake George Wild Forest: Shelving Rock Road is closed for spring mud season. On 3/17 the Town of Fort Ann will close the mud gate on Shelving Rock Road, just North of the Hogtown Road intersection.

Town of Long Lake: Ice conditions in the Town of Long Lake (Long Lake, Forked Lake) continue to be variable and unreliable. Snowmobilers are advised to stay off the ice. More snowmobiles have broken through the ice in recent days and weeks.

General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

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

Know Before You Go (03/23):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: In true spring fashion, the forecast is calling for more variable weather this weekend. While Friday’s weather is looking pleasant with temperatures in the 30’s and sunshine, more snow is on the way for both Saturday and Sunday. 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: 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. While many bodies of water are frozen over, not all are safe to travel on. Use extreme caution in areas of moving water, such as inlets, outlets, and streams. Follow ice safety guidelines.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:48 a.m.; Sunset = 7:13 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.

Water Conditions: Water levels range from average to above average for this time of year in the eastern and central portions of the Adirondack region and below average in the western part of the region. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended.

Statewide Burn Ban in Effect: The annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning began March 16 and runs through May 14. The annual brush burning ban helps prevent wildfires and protects communities during heightened conditions for wildfires. Backyard fire pits and campfires less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in length, width, or diameter are allowed, as are small cooking fires. Only charcoal or dry, clean, untreated, or unpainted wood can be burned. People should never leave these fires unattended and must extinguish them. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC’s FIREWISE New York webpage.

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.

Prevent Snow Blindness

Bluebird days are becoming more frequent as we begin to transition from winter to spring. While blue sky days make for beautiful outdoor experiences, sun and snow can also be a dangerous combination.

Snow blindness, also known as arc eye or photokeratitis, occurs when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays hit the outer layers of your eye. Because snow has reflective qualities, it sends even more UV light into your eyes. Essentially, snow blindness is a sunburn for your cornea, and it can occur on cloudy days as well as clear ones. Snow blindness can cause eye pain, blurred vision, or even temporary vision loss. When snow blindness makes it difficult to see where you are going it in turn makes travel more dangerous. Symptoms will abate quickly once you remove yourself from the sun and rest your eyes, but it is best to prevent the situation entirely by wearing appropriate eye protection.

Sun protection is one of the 10 essentials listed by Hike Smart NY. No matter what the skies look like when you start your hike, bring eye protection in the form of sunglasses or goggles and cover exposed skin with clothing or sunscreen. Just like your eyes, your skin can also burn from winter sun exposure and UV rays reflected off snow.

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!

Respect Wildlife – Be Prepared for Bears

As bears begin to emerge from their dens, they use their sensitive noses to find food. Camp food and other human-related food sources such as bird feeders, pet food, and garbage can attract bears and lead to potential conflicts. Feeding bears (either intentionally or unintentionally) has consequences for entire communities, as well as the bears themselves.

To reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts at home, remove any attractants. Take down bird feeders and clean up any remaining bird seed by April 1, store garbage inside secure buildings, and feed pets indoors.

Campers should store food properly in bear canisters or other effective methods of bear-resistant storage and use the camping triangle to minimize food smell at tent and lean-to sites. The camping triangle refers to three points – one for sleeping, one for cooking and eating, and one for storing your food. These three points should all be about 100 yards away from each other to prevent attracting bears to your sleeping area or leading them to your food stores. Check out DEC’s how to video for setting up a camping triangle.

By taking these simple steps, you help ensure bears find food naturally, which in turn protects people, property, and bears. Learn more about reducing human-bear conflicts.

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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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