Friday, December 15, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (12/15): Moose River Plains gates open for snowmobile season

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.


Bridge Closure: The bridge over Herbert Brook on the Calamity Brook Trail is out and will be out all winter. Please use caution; always assess conditions before considering a crossing.

Moose River Plains: Now that there is adequate snowpack, the Moose River Plains gates are open for snowmobile season. Beware of a couple of wet spots and some low hanging trees due to the last storm.


Seasonal Road Closures: Additional seasonal closures are now posted. See DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information page for specific road conditions and information.

Scarface Mountain Trail Closure: The bridge crossing Ray Brook on the Scarface Mountain Trail is currently closed over concerns of structural integrity. The bridge is located about 0.5 miles from the trailhead. The trail is closed at the bridge and beyond. The bridge will remain closed until it can be replaced.

Cascade Day Use Parking Closed: Motor vehicle access to the Cascade Day Use area is gated and closed for the winter. Parking remains available at any of the DOT pull offs along Rt 73 east or west of this location.

Fire Tower Closure: The Loon Lake Mountain Fire Tower is closed for public use. Please stay off the structure.

Skiff Pond Trail Closure: The trail is currently impassable due to washout a quarter mile south of the Debar Meadows parking area.

Know Before You Go (as of 12/14):

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.

Weekend temperatures in the region are expected to produce highs in the mid-40’s and lows in the upper-20’s. Saturday is expected to be the coldest, and PM showers are expected on Sunday. 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.

Even with sunny skies, inclement weather is always a possibility and can change very quickly. Remember – hypothermia is always a risk in wet conditions, even when it feels warm outside. Be prepared with extra dry layers and keep an eye on the weather.

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 = 7:23 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. However, bears can be active at any time of year. 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 Conditions: 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.

Safety and Education – Backcountry Buddy Systems:

Any time you travel in high consequence terrain like the backcountry in the winter, it’s important to have a partner that you trust.

Good partners should:

  • Be prepared with proper first aid and emergency kit.
  • Be knowledgeable about safe travel practices in the backcountry.
  • Be ready to act. In the event of an emergency, you and your partner are the first line of defense.
  • Stick together even in adverse conditions. Maintain visual contact with your partner.

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.

10 Hiking Essentials Graphic

Leave No Trace – Geotagging Responsibly:

Geotagging is the act of tagging the location of a photo on social media. It’s a great way to share the photo you took of an incredible hike, climb, or place you visited, but it’s important to be mindful of how sharing that location might impact its use.

When visiting high-traffic areas like popular summits or overlooks, it can be helpful to use a general location or the name of a wilderness area rather than the specific peak or trail. Often these locations are already very recognizable from photos.

Responsible geotagging allows other users to explore and discover unique views for themselves. General geotags can encourage appreciation for a natural area, while mitigating over-popularization of a specific trail, preventing damage to the surrounding ecosystem.

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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