Friday, May 26, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (5/26): Hikers encouraged to arrive at trailheads early, prepare for crowded trails 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

  • Per the conservation easement agreement with Elk Lake Lodge, the Gate at Clear Pond is now open to Public Motor Vehicles and will remain open until the start of Big Game season (in October). Parking at the Elk Lake Parking Lot Trailhead is limited and NO PARKING is allowed along the roadway. When the trailhead parking fills up, hikers will need to park at the Upper Elk Lake Road Parking Lot on the west side of the Elk Lake Road approximately 2.3 miles south of the Elk Lake Parking Lot Trailhead. While driving on Elk Lake Road, please respect posted lower speed limits. Please help ensure the Conservation Easement is respected and all users have a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • The Moose Pond Horse Trail has extensive blowdown and has grown in considerably north of Shaw Pond. Saddle horse use north of Shaw Pond to the Cold River Horse Trail Junction may be very difficult to navigate. The Moose Pond Horse Trail, which leaves the Newcomb Lake Road north of the Camp Santanoni Farm Complex, provides access into the High Peaks Wilderness, the areas west of the Santanoni Mountain Range, and the Cold River Horse Trail Network.
  • Multiple lean-tos in the Flowed Lands area and Marcy Brook are being repaired during the 2023 season. During the spring fly-in window, with the help of NY State Police Aviation, the DEC moved materials into the backcountry to support these projects. As volunteers and DEC Staff prepare for this work, the materials are moved and stored along the trail system or near lean-tos. Please respect the materials and avoid disturbing or moving any lumber materials you find during your adventure. The work of volunteers including Lean2Rescue and the Adirondack 46er Trail Crew are instrumental in helping DEC mange the High Peaks Wilderness Area, protect the natural resource, and preserve the wilderness experience of all users.
  • The gate on Corey’s Road (by the Raquette Falls trailhead) is open for the season. In addition to providing access to the Blueberry Trailhead and Assembly Area, there are 10 designated roadside campsites along the Corey’s Road. Please drive appropriately on this narrow gravel road and do not travel past the Blueberry Trailhead or block the roadway.

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds lean-to offers the only designated camping location on Boreas Ponds at this time. Prior to DEC’s construction of the 2 additional designated campsites on Boreas Ponds, primitive camping must be done at least 150’ from the shoreline.  Signage is installed, at impacted sites within 150’ of the shoreline, to remind campers not to use these areas and camp an appropriate distance. The 2018 High Peaks Wilderness Complex UMP Amendment allows for 2 designated waterway access sites to be built and the work planning for those projects is underway.

Debar Mountain Wild Forest

  • Debar Meadows Road is now open.

St. Regis Canoe Area

  • A section of the canoe carry between Floodwood Road, near Floodwood Pond, and Long Pond is flooded. Visitors may need to paddle across the flooded section.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • Connery Pond Road is now open.


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

  • The section of trail between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake is currently closed for construction. Use of this corridor during the construction period is prohibited.

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • Perkins Clearing Road, Military Road, and Jessup River Road have been opened for the season; this includes access to the Pillsbury Mountain trailhead.

Blue Ridge Wilderness

  • Cedar River Road is open, allowing access to Wakely Fire Tower parking and trailhead.
  • Waterway access to South Inlet and Raquette Lake from the Rt. 28 pull off may be limited due to bridge construction.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest

  • O’Neil Flow Easement: Township 19 Road is open for the season

Saranac Lake Wild Forest

  • Connery Pond Road and the Road to Saint Germain and Meadow Ponds are now open.

Know Before You Go:

Know Before You Go Graphic

Fire Danger (as of 5/25):

  • Adirondack Park – Low
  • Champlain Region – Low
  • Southern Tier – Low
  • Check the fire rating map for daily updates.

Temperatures & Conditions: These are forecast temperatures for base elevations throughout the region.

Temperatures in the region are rising steadily over the course of the weekend. Midday highs are expected to range from the mid-60’s, Friday, up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday. Nighttime lows range from the mid-40’s to mid-50’s. Anticipate colder temperatures near or below freezing in higher elevations. Pack the appropriate layers and gear in case your trip goes longer than planned or an unexpected overnight occurs.

Conditions: High Elevations continue to be a mix of mud and snow with some ice left over. Hikers should expect rotten snow spines with areas of deep snow above 3200’ in elevation, particularly on north-facing trails. River crossings will continue to be high due to recent rain and continued snowmelt and should be approached with caution. Snowshoes and microspikes are still needed for many 4000’ peaks.

*Trail conditions are wet and variable across the Adirondacks – even below 2500’. Take caution and choose your objectives carefully.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 5:17 a.m.; Sunset = 8:27 p.m. Make a timeline and stick to it. Pack at least one headlamp (two headlamps recommended) even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset.

Memorial Day Weekend:

  • Holiday weekends are busy in the Adirondacks. Parking at your desired trailhead may fill up. Arrive to the parking area early, have a backup plan, and don’t park along busy roadways. The mud-advisory is still in effect for trails above 2,500’. For more information see the Muddy Trails Advisory press release.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve: Parking reservations will be required May 1 through Oct. 31 for single-day and overnight access to the parking lot, trailheads, and trails located on the privately owned, 7,000-acre AMR property in the town of Keene in the High Peaks region. For a list of frequently asked questions and to register, visit AMR’s website.

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 Crossings: Water levels are below average for this time of year in the Adirondack 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.

Safety & Education

Hiking Essentials

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.

How Long Does a Rescue Take?

While we should all try to be prepared and stay safe in the backcountry, accidents happen. Search and rescue in a wildland setting is complicated, and it may take DEC Forest Rangers several hours to reach you. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and bring the proper equipment that would allow you to stay where you in case of an emergency.

Did you know that every mile into the backcountry adds around 2.5 hours to the total rescue time?

Infographic for Rescue Timeline

Adirondack trails usually do not support motorized equipment, and helicopters or other vehicles cannot always be deployed. This means that most rescues are performed by Forest Rangers on foot. Rangers carry each piece of rescue equipment into the backcountry – a difficult task on Adirondack trails.

By packing the Hike Smart NY 10 Essentials every time you go into the backcountry, you can be prepared for the unexpected. With extra insulation, emergency shelter, plenty of food, and water to last until help arrives.




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!

View from Mount Jo

Back to the Basics: The Seven Principles

Whether you’ve had years of Leave No Trace education, or have never heard of the Seven Principles, the start of the season is a great time to review. Below, we’ll outline the basic principles of Leave No Trace, as a reminder to enjoy the outdoors safely and sustainably.

The Seven Principles

1 – Plan Ahead and Prepare: Having proper plans and equipment makes the whole trip better. Not only will you have more fun, but you’ll do it safely and responsibly.

2 – Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: By sticking to durable surfaces, we can reduce our impact on the wilderness that we’re enjoying. Leaving it that way for others.

3 – Dispose of Waste Properly: If you pack it in, pack it out. Never leave trash or food scraps in the backcountry, and always dig a cat hole when you use the bathroom.

4 – Leave What You Find: Leave natural objects and artifacts for others to discover too. Picking plants, carving trees, and altering campsites leaves a scar on the area.

5 – Minimize Campfire Impact: Keep your fires small. Always check the fire danger and regulations of an area and use preexisting fire rings whenever you can.

6 – Respect Wildlife: Keep your distance and let the wildlife stay wild. Never feed or approach animals and store your food properly when camping to avoid encounters.

7 – Be Considerate of Others: Be courteous of others in the backcountry. Everyone is there to enjoy the outdoors in their own way, so be understanding and considerate.

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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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