Friday, October 20, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (10/20): Tips for layering properly, storing food/water while hiking in cold temps

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.


  • Daniels Road State Forest – Work on the right of way and parking area begins next week. The road will be closed Monday, 10/23 – Tuesday, 10/24. Contractors are repairing the mile stretch of road and parking area along with putting down new stone


  • Elk Lake Lodge Road Closure – The Gate at Clear Pond will be closed to public vehicles from October 16, 2023 until late May 2024. From the evening of October 20 until the morning of December 4, no hikers may enter the Elk Lake Conservation Easement.
  • Reservations still Required at AMR – Parking reservations are required for the AMR hiker parking lot and entry through AMR trailheads from May 1 – October 31. Reservations can be made by visiting the AMR website. For more information, view a list of frequently asked questions (PDF).

Know Before You Go:

Know Before You Go Graphic

Fire Danger (as of 10/19):

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

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

Cloudy skies with periods of rain (heavy at times) and moderate temperatures are expected throughout the weekend. Temperatures in the valleys are forecasted with highs in the low-50’s. Nighttime lows are expected to be in the low-40’s or even high-30’s. Reminder: These forecasts are for low elevations. Anticipate losing 5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. There is already snow and ice on some peaks above 4,000 feet.

Conditions: Trails are still very wet and muddy. Muddy conditions on steep slopes can be unstable and slippery. The consistent wet weather has made rocks, boulders, and roots extremely slippery. Hikers should use caution on wet trails.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:14 a.m.; Sunset = 6:04 p.m. The days are getting shorter as we move into fall. 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. Phone batteries drain quickly and are discouraged.

Mount Colden Trapdike: The trapdike is considered a technical climb and not a hike. Climbers should be prepared with helmets, ropes, and climbing gear to ascend this route. Hikers looking to summit Mount Colden should do so via the hiking routes. Attempting to climb the trapdike unprepared can result in a rescue operation, serious injury, or death.

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 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.

General Notices

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

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.

Watch for Moose: Motorist should be aware that moose are rutting at this time of year. Moose will be wandering around looking for mates and walking into roads without paying attention to vehicles. Take precautions to avoid colliding with moose.

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.

Last Weekend of Hiker Information Stations: Environmental Educators will be stationed at the following locations this weekend to assist with planning, preparation, and answering questions.

Friday – October 207am-3pmMount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex
Saturday – October 217am-3pmMount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex
Sunday – October 227am-3pmMount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex

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. Check recent notices for road closure announcements.

Water Crossings: Water levels are above average for this time of year in the Adirondack region. Expect water levels to rise with new rainfall. 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: We do have ticks in the Adirondacks! 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.

Share the Woods: Both Hunters and Hikers Recreate on Public Lands


With hunting seasons underway and fall hiking still at its peak, DEC is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to follow safety precautions while recreating this fall and winter. Whether you are a hiker, a nature photographer, a leaf peeper, or a mountain biker, following a few simple safety measures can make your experience as safe as possible while hunters and trappers are afield.

Tips for both hikers and hunters afield this fall:

  1. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’re planning to return. If your plans change, notify them.
  2. Dress for the weather; account for both location and elevation changes.
  3. Become familiar with the trail you plan on hiking or the area you plan on hunting.
  4. Wear bright clothing; blaze orange or blaze pink. Bright colors allow others to see you more easily and from farther away.
  5. Make sure you pack your bag with the 10 Essentials, especially, a light source, map, and first aid kit.

For more tips on sharing the woods this fall, check out the recent video by DEC.

Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Hunters are fellow outdoor recreationists and hunting is permitted on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.

If you decide to adventure with your pet, make sure to keep them on a leash. Loose pets can cause problems with other recreators and can get into trouble with wild animals. Also, to make pets more identifiable in the woods, give them a brightly colored collar, leash or other covering. DEC maintains hiking trails and permits hunting in many areas of forest preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, as well as in state forests, wildlife management areas, and unique areas. Find a place near you by visiting our website, checking out DECinfo Locator, or downloading the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App. Many trails are also accessible to people with disabilities.

Safety & Education – Layering Properly

Winter Hike Smart NY Poster

The seasons are changing and so is the weather. Peaks above 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks are already seeing frost, snow, and ice overnight. This makes hiking more difficult and even dangerous if you forget to bring the proper equipment.

Even if the forecast at low elevations is well above freezing, overnight lows and high elevations may experience wintery conditions.

Prevent Hypothermia: Always wear proper layers to stay dry and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Pack extra layers and wool socks for a dry change of clothes. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

Layers: Cold-Weather Clothing consists of a base layer, middle layer, and outer layer. The base layer is considered the layer closest to your skin. Synthetic or Merino Wool is recommended (avoid cotton as much as possible). The middle layer is your insulating layer and will help to retain body heat. Consider microfleece shirts, pants, jackets. Thinner down jackets work also. The outer layer is your weatherproof shell. Waterproof, windproof, but breathable are recommended for this layer.

Always Pack Extra: Because of the ever-changing weather and near freezing nighttime temperatures, always pack extra layers, headlamps, food, and emergency supplies. Even if you plan a shorter day hike, you never know when you will find yourself in an emergency situation or stuck in the woods after dark.

Watch this video on layering for cold weather hikes!

Leave No Trace™ – Keep Your Food and Water from Freezing During the Colder Months


Water–Store your water upside down in your pack. Wrap bottles in wool socks, clothing, or use insulated carriers. Bladders will usually not freeze deep in your pack however the tubing will. Blow water back into the bladder after every drink. Use a hydration bladder tube insulator to keep water from freezing.

Food–Store small snacks close to your body. Choose food that is less likely to freeze like nuts, granola, etc. and break it into small pieces. You can also wrap your food in newspaper or extra clothing to help insulate it within your pack.

It is beneficial on very cold hikes to pack extra weight in calories. Bring a thermos of soup, coffee, hot chocolate, etc. for a quick warm up. A cookstove, cookware, and non-perishable food like soup, oatmeal, or freeze-dried meals will help pack more calories and offer a warm meal on long hikes.

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No TraceTM to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks.

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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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