Friday, March 3, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (3/3): Long Lake ice conditions variable, unreliable; use caution

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 (03/02): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 03/02. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 45.3 inches (3.8 feet) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin and likely 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. Avalanche Pass ski trail is in good condition. The trail to Indian Falls is skiable with some sections affected by drainages. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen but use caution in areas of moving water such as inlets, outlets, and streams–they are not as frozen over as you may expect.

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 (03/02):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: More snow is headed to the Adirondacks this weekend. In the High Peaks Region, snow is expected to start Friday night and continue through Saturday night. Heavy, wet snow following several warmer days could lead to avalanche-prone conditions. Forecast daytime highs in the low to mid-30s are expected to give way to nighttime lows in the 20s. 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. Follow ice safety guidelines.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:26 a.m.; Sunset = 5:47 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.

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 range from average to 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.

Traction is your friend!

Traction is an essential piece of safety equipment on any winter hike. Traction equipment comes in many forms like snowshoes, ice crampons and micro spikes.

  • Snowshoes- Recommended in deep snow. Snowshoes help you to float on the snow and not create deep holes with your boots, also known as post holes. Snowshoes are required in the High Peaks Wilderness when snow depths are 8” or greater.
  • Ice Crampons – Recommended for thick ice, typically found in higher elevations and on exposed rock faces.
  • Micro Spikes – Recommended for lower elevation trails and all trails during transition seasons like winter to spring when warming temperatures create very icy trails.

Knowing the trail and weather conditions before your trip allows you to pack the proper traction devices needed to accomplish your hike safely. If you’re not sure which traction you’ll need, pack them all! Hiking poles also come in handy when wearing traction devices because they help you to balance on unstable trail conditions.

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!

Plan and Prepare Ahead – Know what to do in an emergency

No matter how prepared we are for a hike, emergencies can still happen. In winter, variable trail conditions and inclement weather can raise the risk of emergency situations occurring. Knowing what to do if this happens can save your life or someone else’s.

If You Are Lost or Injured:

If, despite your best efforts, you become lost or injured while in the woods, it is important to stay calm. Rash actions might worsen your situation. If you have cell service, call DEC Dispatch at 1-833-NYS-RANGERS (1-833-697-7264) and “STOP“:

  • Sit Down: This is the first and most important step in staying calm.
  • Think: Ask yourself questions to assess your situation, such as “How did I get here?” and “How much time is left before it gets dark?”
  • Observe: Try to identify landmarks, such as mountains that can help you figure out your position. Listen for sounds, like traffic, running water or noise from nearby recreators that can help you find your way back to safety. Look around for firewood and shelter.
  • Plan: Decide if you should try to make it out of the woods or stay put until morning. If you decide to stay, begin gathering firewood, building a shelter, and preparing to spend the night while you still have daylight.

Whatever you do, try not to panic. Panic leads to wasted time, poor decisions, and often, an unnecessary worsening of your predicament.

And remember by taking a few precautions before entering the woods, you can make your trip safer and reduce your chances of an emergency.

For more information visit DEC’s “Lost in the Woods” Webpage.

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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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