Friday, November 24, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (11/24): Tips for hikers on navigating snow/leaf-covered trails

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.

NEW THIS WEEK

No New Notices This Week

LAST WEEK

No Notices Last Week

Know Before You Go (as of 11/22):

Fire Danger: Due to current and expected weather patterns, the fire rating map forecast has concluded for the 2023 season. Unless conditions change, forecasting will resume in spring 2024.

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

Temperatures in the region call for lows in the low-20’s and highs in the mid-30’s throughout the weekend. We are expected to see mostly clear skies, with a higher chance of snow showers developing Sunday evening. Check the National Weather Service’s Mountain Point Forecast for more accurate forecasts at elevation on or near your intended route.

Reminder: These forecasts are for low elevations. Anticipate losing 5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Snow and ice has accumulated throughout the High Peaks, and will likely remain throughout the weekend.

Conditions: Trails are very wet and frozen. Snow and ice are now present throughout much of the High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas. These conditions on steep slopes can be unstable and slippery. Hikers should bring microspikes or crampons when heading into the backcountry or above tree line.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:03 a.m.; Sunset = 4:20 p.m. With shorter days this time of year, it’s crucial to pick 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.

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.

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 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

Grouse

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 HuntFishNY App. Many trails are also accessible to people with disabilities.


Safety and Education – Hidden Trails

Winter Hike Smart NY Poster

For winter recreators, fresh snow and fallen leaves are always a welcome sign, but they can also pose an issue for those navigating on-trail.

Untracked snow and leaves can obscure the path and make following the trail more difficult. Here are some helpful tips to make travelling in the backcountry a little easier during the shoulder season.

Keep your head up – Keep an eye out for trail markers on trees, not just the ground. Pause at each trail marker to assess the trail and where you’ll travel.

Bring a map – A paper map will help you identify rivers, mountains, and other landmarks to keep you oriented. If you get off trail, a map can be a lifesaving tool, helping you travel in the correct direction to get out of the woods.

Don’t cover your tracks – If you think you’ve gone off trail, take a minute and retrace your tracks to where you last knew that you were on the correct path. Avoid wandering, looking for the trail, as this can leave false tracks and prevent you from following your path back from where you came. (Tip: Avoid travelling in heavy snowfall or inclement weather. This can obscure the trail and fill in your tracks behind you.)

Whether you’re going for a snowshoe, ski, or out on the ice, 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.


Leave No Trace™ – Go Before You Go (And What to Do if You Don’t)

Leave No Trace

It’s always best to use the bathroom before you start your hike if possible. If for no other reason, it’s cold out there!

If you do have to go while you’re out on the trail, do it responsibly.

Make sure you travel at least 150 feet from trails or water.

Dig a cat hole at least 6 inches deep.

This depth should start below the snow.

If the ground is frozen, or you can’t reach that depth, pack it out.

It’s never sustainable to leave waste on the surface where it will wash away or be scavenged before it decomposes. This is especially true when temperatures drop below freezing. Go before you go, and if you can’t, do what you can to minimize the impact of your waste on the wilderness.

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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