Friday, March 31, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (3/31): Rain and snow, fluctuating temps predicted for 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 (03/30): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 03/30. Changing weather may affect conditions.
    • There is 49.2 inches (4.1 feet) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin and as much as 6 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. Water crossings may become impassable during and after this weekend’s forecasted heavy rain.
    • Be prepared to turn around if conditions prove too difficult to complete your hike.
  • The gate on Corey’s Road (by the Raquette Falls trailhead) is currently locked and will be throughout the duration of mud season.

Moose River Plains: Due to inadequate snowpack, the gates to Moose River Plains have been closed for the winter snowmobile season.

Franklin County Snowmobile Trails: The snowmobile trails in Franklin County have been closed. This includes the trails in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest and the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest.

Grass River Wild Forest, Raquette Boreal Complex and Cranberry Lake Wild Forest: As of Friday, March 31, snowmobile trails will be closed for the season. Gates will be shut and locked to ensure public safety and protect roads and trails during mud season.

Black River Wild Forest: Snowmobile gates are now closed

Know Before You Go Graphic

Know Before You Go:

Temperatures & Conditions: These are forecast temperatures for base elevations throughout the region.
Wintry mix expected Friday night, turning to rain on Saturday and then back to snow Saturday night with temperatures fluctuating in the low 30’s. High of 50’s with rain and wind on Saturday. Wind gusts of up to 30mph expected at times. Rain and wind expected to continue into Saturday night with temperatures dropping into the teens and turning to snow. Ongoing precipitation will make low elevations muddy, high elevations icy, and hiking conditions unstable.

Conditions: Conditions will be more severe (colder, windier) on summits and at higher elevations. Carry extra layers, cold weather gear, rain 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. Hike with a buddy or in a group and know the signs of hypothermia.

  • High Peaks Region: Deep snow exists across higher elevations of the High Peaks Wilderness. Many trail markers and some trail signs are buried beneath the snow and therefore aren’t visible or may be located close to ground level. Trails above treeline may be obscured by drifting snow. Hikers planning to access higher elevations within the High Peaks should carry a paper map, compass, and GPS, and possess excellent backcountry navigational ability. Know your route, including where you will encounter trail junctions and which turns you need to take. Groups should stick together.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:39 a.m.; Sunset = 7:21 p.m. Make a timeline and stick to it. Pack a headlamp even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset.

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.

General Notices

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

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

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 & 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.
  • 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.

Practice with Gear

Have you taken up a new winter activity recently? Finding new ways of getting outdoors is fantastic. Spending time outside is good for our physical and mental health. It allows us to disconnect from our devices, get closer to nature, and provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and family. With all these benefits come some risks, though. Doing your research and bringing the right gear will set you up for success, but in order to stay safe you need to know how to use that gear.

Snowshoes, microspikes, crampons, and skis. Avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels. Bivvys, space blankets, and first aid kits. Layers, headlamps, and backpacks. All of this gear can help keep you safe on the trail, but only if you know how to use it. If you are new to a winter activity, getting new gear can be a fun and exciting process. Before you take it on the trail or into the backcountry, practice using it in a safe and familiar location.

Test out your layering system by going for a walk in your neighborhood or a nearby park. Practice putting on and taking off traction devices and spend time walking in them – it will feel different than walking in bare boots and may affect your balance. If you buy a pre-made first aid kit, go through it and make sure you know what everything is and how to use it in an emergency. Taking classes or watching instructional videos can also be very helpful. While it’s tempting to hit the trail as soon as you get new gear, take the time to get comfortable with it first before you need to rely on it on trail.

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 to minimize impacts on trails this spring:

Muddy trails – Soil at high elevations and on steep sloping trails is thin and extremely susceptible to erosion. When boots slip and slide on wet trails it pushes soils off the trail, eroding that area significantly and compromising the stability of the trail. Trailside vegetation can be easily damaged or destroyed when boots erode the ground around or under them. The same goes for bike tires on mountain bike trails. Alpine vegetation is very fragile vegetation that is only found on the summits of high-elevation mountains. It is easily damaged or destroyed when walked on. Avoid sloping or high-elevation trails during this sensitive time. Find low-elevation trails or durable multi-use recreation trails to explore this spring.

Monorails – As snow next to trails melts, compacted ice in the center creates “monorails.” Use crampons and other traction devices for walking directly on the monorail to avoid post-holing in trailside snow or trampling vegetation. As the snowpack continues to melt it becomes soft and rotten. Carry and wear snowshoes to avoid sinking to your knees, thighs, or even hips on or off trails.

Wildlife – Spring brings wildlife back to life in nature. Bears come out of hibernation and are looking for food. Other animals are sourcing much needed fresh vegetation. This can sometimes mean wildlife ends up closer to trails. This can be a stressful time for animals after long frigid winters.

  • Keep your noise down while in the woods. Disturbances make animals stop eating and often go into flight mode.
  • Keep your pets on a leash to avoid startling newly awoken or hungry animals.
  • Don’t feed them! This is an especially important time for wildlife to reunite with their natural feeding habits. Feeding wildlife can create dependency on human food and end up starving that animal.
  • Give them space. If you encounter wildlife on the trail, consider taking an alternate route or give them time to move along without igniting their flight response.

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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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