Friday, April 21, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (4/21): High Peaks hikers advised to avoid trails above 2,500 feet

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:

    • Mud Season: Hikers are advised to avoid trails above 2,500ft for the duration of the muddy trail advisory for several reasons:
      • sliding boots destroy trail tread, can damage surrounding vegetation, and erode thin soils causing washouts;
      • rotten snow and monorails are a safety hazard even with proper equipment; and
      • high elevation and alpine vegetation are extremely fragile in spring months as they start their regrowth after winter.

Until conditions improve, hikers are encouraged to responsibly explore low elevation trails or enjoy other forms of recreation

Adirondack Rail Trail: Phase 1 construction has begun between Station Street in Lake Placid and Broadway in Saranac Lake. This section of trail is currently closed to all users during construction.

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area: The gate on the access road into Ausable Marsh WMA is closed for spring flooding.

Know Before You Go Graphic

Know Before You Go:

Fire Danger:

  • Adirondack Park – MODERATE
  • Champlain Region – MODERATE
  • Check the fire rating map for daily updates.

Temperatures & Conditions: These are forecast temperatures for base elevations throughout the region.
Weekend temperatures kicking off on Friday in the 70’s and then dropping rapidly through Sunday back into the low 50’s with rain possible. Overnight temperatures throughout the weekend will be in the 40’s but expect colder temperatures near freezing in higher elevations. Pack the appropriate layers and gear in case your trip goes longer than planned or an unexpected overnight occurs.

Conditions: Conditions will be colder and windier on summits and at higher elevations. Carry extra layers 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.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:05 a.m.; Sunset = 7:47 p.m. Make a timeline and stick to it. Pack a headlamp even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset.

Bear Canister

Bear Canisters Required: NYSDEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. NYSDEC encourages campers to use bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack backcountry. Bear canisters should be used to store all food, food garbage, toiletries, and other items with a scent. Canisters should be stored a minimum of 100ft from tents, lean-tos, and cooking sites and kept closed whenever they are not being accessed. Learn more about bear canisters and avoiding human-bear conflicts.

Adirondack Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. For a full list of closures, visit Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information please contact the Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 623-1240

Cold Water Advisory: Water temperatures are freezing and falling in can lead to immediate hypothermia. Use caution when paddling and hiking. 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. Use extreme caution in areas of moving water, such as inlets, outlets, and streams. Banks will be icy and currents are swift.

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.

General Notices

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

No Overnight Camping at Trailheads: Overnight camping is not permitted at trailheads or other roadside locations where a camping disc is not present. This includes individuals sleeping in cars, vans, and campers. Campers should seek out designated roadside campsites marked with a “camp here” disc or campgrounds. When camping, always carry out what you carry in and dispose of trash properly. Use designated bathroom facilities, pack out human and pet waste, or dig a cat hole.

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 mud season. Check the Recent Notices for specific closure announcements and be prepared to turn around and take an alternate route.

Water & Ice Crossings: 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.

Ticks: Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily. Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors. Consider using insect repellent. Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails and walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. Additional tips for tick prevention.

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.

Hiking Essentials

Safety & Education

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.

Prepare for an Unexpected Overnight

Plans can change rapidly in the backcountry. Volatile weather, navigation mistakes, or otherwise unanticipated circumstances may often lead to an unexpected night in the woods. Use the following tips to help prepare yourself for that possibility before heading out on your next hike.

Bring Extra Food and Water – Pack an extra day’s worth of nutrition and water or water purification/filtration to allow you to hike out safely the following morning.

Monitor Conditions (Current and Future) – Check the weather and sunset time for both the day of your hike and the following day. Turn back if the conditions do not suit your hike or ability level.

Know Your Limits – Be aware of your skill level and choose a reasonable hike for you and your group.

Emergency Shelter – Bring a packable tent, tarp, or emergency space blanket to keep you warm and protected from the elements throughout the night.

Share the Great Outdoors

Leave No Trace™

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!

Educate With Kindness

Nature is for everyone, and we all must do our part to ensure an inclusive outdoor community. Small actions such as prioritizing compassion and understanding for others in the outdoors can go a long way. Leave no trace and environmental stewardship is a 24/7 job and nobody is perfect at it. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Challenge yourself to keep learning ways to better your skills and your community. We’re all in this together.


DEC Issues Annual Muddy Trails Advisory for Adirondacks

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urged hikers to postpone hikes on Adirondack trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. DEC advises hikers on how to reduce negative impacts on all trails and help protect the natural resources throughout the Adirondacks during this time.


High elevation trails: Despite recent warm weather, high elevation trails above 2,500 feet are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. These steep trails feature thin soils that become a mix of ice and mud as winter conditions melt and frost leaves the ground. The remaining compacted ice and snow on trails is rotten, slippery, and will not reliably support weight. “Monorails,” narrow strips of ice and compacted snow at the center of trails, are difficult to hike and the adjacent rotten snow is particularly prone to postholing.

Hikers are advised to avoid high elevation trails for the duration of the muddy trail advisory for several reasons: sliding boots destroy trail tread, can damage surrounding vegetation, and erode thin soils causing washouts; rotten snow and monorails are a safety hazard even with proper equipment; and high elevation and alpine vegetation are extremely fragile in spring months as they start their regrowth after winter.

Until conditions improve, hikers are encouraged to responsibly explore low elevation trails or enjoy other forms of recreation.

Low elevation and all other trails: Mud and variable conditions are prevalent across all trails in the Adirondacks. Hikers can encounter thick mud, flooding, ice, and deep slushy snow even on low elevation trails.  Hikers should be prepared to encounter these conditions and know how to reduce their impacts to protect the surrounding natural resources.

Hikers are advised to walk through the mud, slush, or water and down the center of the trail. This helps to reduce erosion and trail widening and minimizes damage to trailside vegetation. Waterproof boots, gators, and trekking poles are recommended to safely and comfortably traverse these variable trail conditions.

The muddy trail advisory for high elevation trails can last into June as it sometimes takes that long for trails to dry and harden, while in lower elevations. The advisory may be lifted as soon as May for lower elevation trails. Hikers are advised to check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for weekly updates on trail conditions, seasonal road closures, and general recreation information for the Adirondacks.

Visit the DEC website for a list of hikes found throughout the Adirondacks that are great alternatives to popular high elevation hikes during this time.

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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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