Friday, May 3, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (5/3): 13th annual “I Love My Park Day” set for May 4

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.


  • Clear Pond Gate Opening: The gate at Clear Pond is now open for the season. The public is allowed to drive to the Elk Lake parking lot and trailhead to park for access to the Hunters Pass Trail (to the Dix Mtns) and the Elk Lake Marcy Trail. Parking is limited to the capacity of the parking lot. No parking is permitted along the Elk Lake Road or in any other pull-offs. If the parking lot is full, hikers must park at the Upper Elk Lake Road parking lot on the west side of the Elk Lake Road approximately 2.3 miles south of the Elk Lake parking lot and trailhead. Please respect the parking rules to help ensure this access is maintained and there are no impacts to fire and rescue access.
  • Saranac Lakes Wild Forest Work Zone: The second pond boat launch area is an active work zone still. Boaters looking to use locks should expect substantial delays Monday through Saturdays, and are able to launch only on the upstream “left” side of the dock.

  • Essex Chain Lakes Complex Washout: The Cornell Road to Deer Pond Road gate will remain CLOSED. There is a substantial washout on the Cornell Road, prior to the new Gooley Club access gate. There is a smaller washout along the Deer Pond CP3 route. The Chain Lakes Road North is also closed for now.
  • Independence River Wild Forest Washout: A washout has occurred near the beginning of Big Otter Lake Road. The road is currently passable by high clearance/four-wheel drive vehicles only.

    • Several Mud Season Gates Opening: As of 4/25, DEC plans to open all mud season gates in Independence River Wild Forest by this Friday, April 26. Other mud season gates in the area are opening around this time as well. Check Adirondack Backcountry for weekly updates on other gates in the region
    • Grass River Wild Forest Access: There are several updates for this area.
      • Public motorized access to Allen Pond via the Allen Pond Road on the Tooley Pond Conservation Easement is open.
      • Access to the Forest Preserve River Corridor along the South Branch of the Grass River via the Spruce Mountain Road on the Tooley Pond Conservation Easement and via the Windfall Road or Buckhorn Road on the Cranberry Forest Conservation Easement is open.
      • Due to hazardous road conditions, public motorized access to Pleasant Lake via the Pleasant Lake Access Road on the Grass River Conservation Easement remains closed until improved.
    • Independence River Wild Forest Docks: All DEC docks in the Independence River Wild Forest have been installed for the season.
    • Register for I Love My Park Day, May 4, 2024: Gather your friends and family and join your community in helping to protect New York lands by registering for one of the Region 5 locations closest to you, at I Love My Park Day.
    • Now Hiring Summer Educators: The application period for summer Environmental Educators, described below in the Summer Employment Opportunities section, ends on May 2. Check out the job posting to apply.

Know Before You Go (as of 5/2):

Know Before You Go graphic

Fire Danger: Check the fire rating map for daily updates.

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

Weekend temperatures in the region are expected to produce lows in the mid-40s and highs in the upper-60s, with Sunday being cooler and rainy.

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: Expect trails to be variable with muddy conditions at lower elevations, and unstable snowpack and slowly melting ice and snow at higher elevations. With rain in the forecast, anticipate runoff that may make it difficult or unsafe to pass water crossings. It’s still winter conditions on some summits, so steep slopes may be dangerous and slippery due to the snow and ice present throughout the High Peaks Wilderness. Hikers should be prepared for these varying conditions by continuing to bring traction devices/snowshoes when heading into the backcountry or above tree line at high elevations. The muddy trail advisory is still in place and DEC recommends avoiding trails above 2,500 feet until trails have dried and hardened.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 5:41 a.m.; Sunset = 8:03 p.m. 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.

Statewide Burn Ban: DEC’s annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning began March 16 and runs through May 14, to help protect communities/wildland during heightened conditions for wildfires. This only refers to BRUSH burning, so backyard fire pits and backcountry campfires less than 3ft in height and 4ft in diameter are still allowed as usual with regular fire safety rules.

See below video for how to build a safe campfire:

YouTube video

Adirondack Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. For a full list of closures, visit Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information, please contact the Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 623-1250.

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.

Seasonal Road Closures: See DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information page for specific road conditions and information.

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 a little lower than 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.

Register now for “I Love My Park Day” Community Event:

Love the Eastern Adirondacks and want to firsthand help with some outdoor spring cleaning to preserve and beautify it?

DEC is partnering with Parks and Trails New York and New York State Parks to host the 13th annual “I Love My Park Day,” one of multiple year-round Love Our New York Lands Stewardship Day events, on Saturday, May 4, 2024.

Gather your friends and family and join your community in helping to protect New York lands by registering for one of the locations closest to you, at I Love My Park Day.

Summer Employment Opportunities:

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 ends on May 2 – check out the job posting to apply.

nys dec promotional set up

Safety and Education – Unexpected Overnights:

Hikers embarking on a shorter day hike may wonder if the 10 Hiking Essentials below are truly essential. The key is to remember that any day hike can unexpectedly turn into an overnight hike, so being prepared for that scenario is crucial.

That’s why a headlamp/flashlight/lantern is essential, along with extra batteries. Don’t rely on your phone flashlight, because the battery drains quickly when the flashlight feature is turned on and even quicker when temperatures drop as it gets dark out.

Headlamps are necessary for moments when you need maximum illumination like trail running, going through a more technical section of the trail, checking a map or looking for something in your pack, but your own night vision can be an incredible resource too and can help you preserve the battery of your headlamp. It can take up to 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

Fun fact: You can actually see better in the dark through your peripheral vision because the rods in your eyes for dim light are more numerous in the periphery!

Whichever form of outdoor recreation you are embarking on, 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

Leave No Trace – April Showers Bring May Flowers:

Happy May! Early May in the Adirondacks means mud season is not quite over, but mud season doesn’t have to be boring.

As they say, “April showers bring May flowers,” and although it may still be showering this week, plenty of beautiful wildflowers are in bloom throughout the Adirondacks! Early spring is when spring ephemerals take bloom, such as the iconic embodiment of spring, the Trout Lily, and Carolina Springbeauty. Then there are the mid- and late-spring bloomers, such as trilliums and Pink Lady’s Slippers.

Getting outside and spotting these wildflowers in the wild is sure to brighten up your day. Just make sure to protect all the Adirondack vegetation by walking straight through muddy sections of the trails rather than around them, as walking around them can cause erosion and widen the trails as well as cause damage to the vegetation.

Also, be sure to Leave What You Find. Some wildflowers, like the Pink Lady’s Slipper, have glandular hairs that can cause a rash similar to poison ivy, so it’s important for your own safety and the safety of the ecosystem. Wildflowers are a mainstay of life for pollinators, insects, birds, and other small animals!

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

Pink Lady's Slippers

Pink Lady’s Slippers. Photo courtesy of

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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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