Friday, February 16, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (2/16): ADK Rail Trail gates closed between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake

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.


  • Snow Report (2/14): The following report describes conditions as of Wednesday, 2/14. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 67cm (26in) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin. Snow levels vary at higher elevations. Conditions now require snowshoes to be worn at Avalanche Pass. The lakes are still in.
  • Adirondack Rail Trail Closure to Snowmobiles: The gates are closed between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake on the Adirondack Rail Trail which is currently closed to snowmobiling due to a lack of snowpack. Like many trails in the Forest Preserve, current trail conditions are variable, consisting of snow, ice, and bare pavement/stone dust. Be cautious of frozen ruts and uneven terrain along the trail.


  • Closed Snowmobile Trails: As of 2/8, snowmobile trails in certain areas of the Adirondacks have been CLOSED due to inadequate trail conditions. Visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and state webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information. As always, snowmobile access is dependent on conditions and can change quickly!

Know Before You Go (as of 2/15):

Know Before You Go graphic

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

Weekend temperatures in the region are expected to produce highs in the upper-20s and lows in the single-digits. We’re back to winter!

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 have 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: With temperatures returning to below-freezing this weekend (following last weekend’s thaw/spring-like weather), trails will have a chance to start recovering. However, snowpack may still not be stable or present in certain areas as current trail conditions are highly variable. Nonetheless, the snow and ice present throughout much of the High Peaks Wilderness and surrounding areas can make steep slopes unstable and slippery. Hikers should bring microspikes or crampons when heading into the backcountry or above tree line.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:52 a.m.; Sunset = 5:26 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.

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 open 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 (finally) 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.

Snowmobiles: As of 2/8, snowmobile trails in certain areas of the Adirondacks have been CLOSED due to inadequate trail conditions; but visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and state webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information. As always, snowmobile access is dependent on conditions and can change quickly.

Trailhead Parking: Remember, many Adirondack trailhead parking areas are not maintained or plowed in winter. Please be prepared to encounter unplowed, snowy and icy conditions at parking areas, and anticipate possible snow accumulation around your vehicle.

Summer Employment Opportunities:

nys dec promotional set up

NYS DEC photo.

Would you like to work in New York State’s beautiful High Peaks Region of the Adirondack Forest Preserve this summer?

Environmental Educators Needed!

Join our Region 5 Outreach Team and become an integral part of the High Peaks Information Station Program this summer. Educators will spend the summer educating on safe and sustainable recreation in the High Peaks. Your role as an educator is vital in protecting the Adirondack’s natural resources while enhancing the safety, experience, and wellbeing of our communities and visitors. Positions are based out of the Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook, NY but educators will spend much of their time at their designated information station. The application period will open in April but you can send your resume anytime to

Summer Camps Staff Needed!

Would you like to gain job and life skills while backpacking, camping, and canoeing?

We’re seeking nature loving staff for the Summer Camps Program. Summer Camps combine environmental education, hunter education, and outdoor recreation to create an adventurous experience for campers 11-13 years old or 14-17 years old. Working at a NYSDEC camp is a great opportunity to gain practical outdoor, naturalist, teaching, leadership, and many other transferrable skills while living in a beautiful setting. Working with youth is an incomparable experience that will stick with you for a lifetime.

There are four camps:

  • Camps Colby—Adirondacks;
  • Pack Forest—Adirondacks;
  • Camp DeBruce—Catskills; and
  • Camp Rushford—Western NY.

Learn more about camp and employment. To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and unofficial transcript to

Safety and Education: Avalanche Defense:

10 hiking essentials graphic

NYS DEC photo.

As we discussed last week when talking about warning signs, February is the most avalanche-prone month of the year. In addition to knowing the warning signs, you should also be well-versed in what to do should you encounter an avalanche.

  1. When you see an avalanche coming, move to the side instead of trying to outrun it.
  2. If you are caught, first try to escape to the side, or grab onto a tree or rock.
  3. Be focused on “swimming” with the flow of the avalanche to keep your head above the surface and stay on top (this is key).
  4. If buried, consistently push snow out of your face as much as you can to create an air pocket for you to breathe from.

Lastly, you should always be equipped with an avalanche transceiver, aka beacon, when you are traversing through avalanche terrain. Beacons are electronic devices that allow rescuers to quickly locate buried victims by transmitting and receiving signals. Only 1 of 3 victims buried without a beacon survives, so it can be a truly amazing, lifesaving tool.

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 – Taking Care of Business:

A guide to pooping outdoors in the snow graphic.

Graphic courtesy of Leave No Trace.

The snow may be dwindling, but it’s still winter! With new snow this week, it’s time to talk about some serious business: taking care of your business, aka pooping in the snow.

It’s normally recommended to bury waste in a cathole, but snow and ice can prevent that from being possible. If you are unable to get 200 feet away from the trail and dig a 6-8-inch hole, then packing it out is the next best option.

If you’re an avid hiker, look into getting specialized bags that come with a powder inside. You can also use regular bags, like what you’d use to pick up after a canine companion, but make sure you avoid disposing of them in public trash cans as it’s not safe to do so without the specialized bags. Instead, pack it out and dispose of it at home.

Or best-case scenario, go before you go! Either way, just remember to Be Considerate Of Others and go responsibly (and far enough away from the trail/water sources/campsites).

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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