Friday, December 1, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (12/1): Use caution on Pharaoh Lake Trail/Outlet, bridge repair work limits access

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.


Seasonal Road Closures – Many roads in backcountry or remote areas are now closed for the winter, including but not limited to areas in Essex Chain, Boreas Ponds, Ferris Lake Wild Forest, and more. Please look carefully at the DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information page to learn about access changes to these and other areas for the winter season.

Bridge Repair on Pharaoh Lake Trail and Caution – The bridge over Pharaoh Lake outlet, on the Pharaoh Lake Trail is currently undergoing repairs through 2024. Use caution at this outlet at all times; all but especially winter users should be prepared to stop completely to assess conditions before attempting to cross.

Daniels Road Repair – Access road in Daniels Road State Forest was recently repaired, but may not be plowed during winter. Users on the road should travel carefully and at low speed.

Dennie Road Conservation Easement Access – The ski and snowshoe trails will be open on 12/3/23. If there is snow, please use skis or snowshoes. The trails are groomed periodically throughout the winter.


No Notices Last Week

Know Before You Go (as of 11/30):

Know Before You Go Graphic

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 are expected to be mostly above freezing throughout the weekend with highs in the low-40’s and lows in the low-30’s, and a high chance of rain and snow showers present each day. 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 = 7:11 a.m.; Sunset = 4:17 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: Motorists 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


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 – Don’t Taint the Tracks

Winter Hike Smart NY Poster

As the time comes to start heading into the backcountry on your skis or snowshoes, remember to be considerate of other user groups along the trail.

Keep snowshoe and ski tracks separate – When it’s possible, try to keep snowshoe tracks to one side of the trail and allow ski tracks to stay fresh on the other side. This allows for both types of users to travel faster and safer.

Yield to faster traffic – Allow faster groups to pass and maintain uphill momentum. Step out of the way for skiers coming downhill. Depending on the terrain, they may not be able to stop quickly.

Use skis/snowshoes whenever necessary – In the Adirondacks, it’s regulation to wear either skis or snowshoes wherever there is at least 8 inches of snow. Ignoring this can lead to dangerous post-holing for you and unsafe conditions for other users.

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™ – Safe Winter Backcountry Travel

Leave No Trace

It’s important to educate yourself about safe and responsible backcountry travel in the winter. What were once dirt trails and exposed rock ridges may now be host to deep snow, tree wells, thick alpine ice, and avalanche terrain.

Knowing safe travel etiquette such as staying on trail, avoiding wind-loaded slopes, deep snow, and using the proper equipment can make all the difference in the backcountry.

Take a winter backcountry travel course, know your map and compass skills, and be comfortable with your gear before you head into the mountains this season.

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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