Thursday, July 4, 2024

Outdoor Conditions (7/4): Seek less popular trails this holiday weekend, pack hiking essentials

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.

Follow @NYSDECAlerts on X for updates about DEC-managed lands across New York State! The @NYSDECAlerts X feed provides real-time info on the most crowded places, especially when those places and parking areas are at capacity.

NEW THIS WEEK

  • Independence River Wild Forest: The Florence Pond Road bridge at Little Otter Creek near the Aspen Trail intersection has been flooded by a beaver dam. Crossing at this location may be hazardous.

LAST WEEK

  • Nothing to report.

Know Before You Go (as of 7/3):

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 highs in the low-80s and lows in the high-50s, with scattered thunderstorms Saturday.

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.

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: Conditions are typical for this time of year in the Adirondacks, although water levels are higher than average and may rise with the thunderstorms forecast for this Saturday. Expect sections of trails to be extra soft or muddy with potential runoff. The wet conditions make trails more vulnerable to erosion; this along with the influx of visitors to the Adirondacks due to the holiday puts them at extra risk — please take care to follow Leave No Trace principles.

Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 5:19 a.m.; Sunset = 8:40 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.

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.

Water Crossings: Water levels are higher 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.

Getting ready to spend time outdoors? Be sure to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast to plan your daily activities. If the AQI is forecast to exceed 100, DEC and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will issue an Air Quality Health Advisory with precautionary recommendations for affected areas. View DEC’s current AQI forecasts and real-time air pollution data from DEC’s monitoring network.

General Notices:

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry page for more trip-planning resources.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve: From May 1 through Oct. 31 (2024), reservations are required to access the parking lot, trailheads, and trails located on the privately owned 7,000-acre AMR property in the town of Keene in the Adirondack High Peaks region. For a list of frequently asked questions, visit AMR’s website

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.

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.

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.

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 – Get Muddy:

Happy 4th of July! Any time there’s a holiday, the Adirondacks sees an influx of visitors. This can lead to a naturally higher rate of Ranger rescues/injured hikers by default. It can also lead to a higher chance of negative impact to the trails.

This is not to discourage you from celebrating the holiday with a beautiful hike, but just remember that many other people probably have the same thought. With water levels higher than average across the region this week, and a stormy weekend forecasted, trails are already extra vulnerable to erosion due to being wet.

However, there’s a simple way to prevent erosion, damage to vegetation, and widening of the trails:

  • Walk through the mud rather than around it!

You’ve probably heard it a million times if you’re living here, but if you have friends or family coming up for the holiday, let them know about this cardinal rule, too!

This keeps the trails safe, but how do you keep you and your shoes safe? Well, you can’t quite prevent your shoes from changing into a nice shade of coffee-brown, but you can wear water-resistant ones and pack an extra pair of thick wool socks or two.

There are certainly bigger threats to your safety when hiking than wet socks, but wet clothes = lower body temperature = potential for hypothermia, so keeping your feet warm and dry is key to keeping you safe while you do your part in keeping the trails safe! So pack extra socks, and get muddy!

Whether you are hiking, mountain biking or paddling, 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 – Hidden Gem Hikes:

Another way to protect the trails from being overwhelmed by extra human impact this holiday weekend is to choose your hike wisely.

Keep in mind which trails are the most popular and seek out the somewhat lesser-used, hidden gems instead. Parking at Cascade is stressful anyway!

The Adirondacks has over a hundred public hiking trails, so there are plenty of options to choose from. You will likely find that some of the less popular hikes are severely underrated. Plus, you get the benefits of a more peaceful hiking experience, and less witnesses to see you decked out in mud, in case that’s not quite your style.

If you have loved ones visiting who are experiencing the Adirondacks for the first time, treat them to a hidden gem hike for a truly unique, memorable experience where they can see the beauty of the Adirondacks and feel good about leaving a lower impact on it at the same time.

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

Hiking trail in the Adirondacks.

NYS DEC photo.

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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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