Compiled on Thursday April 20, 2017
Please be advised of the following conditions and prepare for them to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor recreational experience.
Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly. Check current weather conditions and short-term forecast before entering the backcountry at: NWS Forecast Office BTV.
Electronic Technology: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries can expire. Plan and prepare before entering the backcountry and carry a map & compass for navigation or at least as backup.
Early Spring Conditions: Temperatures are warming, rain is falling, waters are rising and snow is melting. Spring has arrived in the lower elevations while winter remains in the higher elevation. Be prepared for a variety of conditions.
Snow: There is patchy to 6 inches (15 cm) of snow between 2,300 feet (700 m) and 2,500 feet (760 m); a foot (30 cm) or more of snow at 2,600 feet (790 m); 2 feet (60 cm) at Lake Colden (2,775 feet (846 m)); and 3 feet (90 cm) or more in the higher elevations.
DEEP SNOW ON SUMMITS
- Although trailheads and lower elevation trails are without snow, DEEP SNOW is present in the higher elevations.
- If you plan to hike to the summit of one of the High Peaks or any other mountain higher than 2,600 feet, carry snowshoes and use them when snow is deeper than your lower shins.
- Snowshoes are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness (and encouraged elsewhere) where snow is deeper than 8 inches.
- Hikers report observing post-holers sinking to their knees, waist, and belly as they continued to climb to summits through deepening snow.
- DEC Forest Rangers have responded to several incidents of hikers who continued on to mountain summits despite deepening snow and lack of snowshoes, then sought assistance because they were wet, cold, tired, and running out of daylight.
- CARRY SNOWSHOES OR DO NOT CONTINUE UP TO HIGHER ELEVATIONS WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER SNOW.
Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be present and deep. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
Trail Conditions: Trails are wet and muddy in the lower and middle elevations. Remember to walk through mud and water – not around – to protect trailside vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails. Patches of snow or ice are present on middle elevations trails.
Ice on Trails: Ice is present in the higher elevations on trails that have recently loss or are losing snow, bedrock, summits and other exposed locations. Carry microspikes (foot traction devices) and use as warranted.
Water Crossings: Water levels are high especially in the afternoon when snow is rapidly melting. Water crossing may be difficult or treacherous. Easy water crossings in the morning may not be so upon your return in the afternoon. Plan accordingly.
Ice on Water: Avoid all ice on water surfaces. Where present, ice is thinning, breaking up, rotting, and/or covered with water.
NOTE: Fires are prohibited in Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Zone
NOTE: Group size regulations are in effect throughout the High Peaks Wilderness. Group size for overnight campers is 8 or less and for day use it is 15 or less.
Be Prepared Before Entering the Back Country:
Check (before entering the backcountry)
- Local Forest Ranger for current information.
- Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
- Appropriate outer wear and foot wear
- Layers of non-cotton clothes
- Map and compass and know how to use them and use them!
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Plenty of food and water
- Extra clothes and socks
- Rain gear
- Ensolite pad to rest on and insulate your body from cold surfaces
- Bivy sack or space blankets for extra warmth
Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return
Please be aware that accessing the Forest Preserve through the rest areas is prohibited. In accordance with New York State Regulation §156.3(d), vehicles may not be left unattended in the rest area, unless the operator or passenger is within the rest area. Also parking of vehicles for longer than three hours during the hours of darkness is not permitted in accordance with §156.3(c).
High Peaks Information Center: The High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead is closed at this time.
Elk Lake Road: The road is closed to public motor vehicle access beyond the Clear Pond Gate until the end of the spring mud season. Park in the parking area at the Clear Pond Gate and hike, ski, or snowshoe two (2) miles to Elk Lake Trailhead.
South Meadow Lane: The lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of spring mud season. Vehicles may park at the barrier at the intersection with the Adirondak Loj Road but should not block the opening to ensure emergency vehicles may access the lane.
Corey’s Road: The road remains closed beyond the Raquette River Trailhead. The gate and access to the summer parking lot will reopen on May 15 unless the weather prevents the road from drying and hardening.
Calamity Brook Trail: The high water bridge on the Calamity Trail is unsafe and unusable and should not be crossed. Crossing Calamity Brook, which is completely open at this time, without using the bridge will be difficult – especially with high water levels. On warm and rainy days water levels in the brook will be higher in the afternoon, plan accordingly. The East River Trail (aka the Opalescent River/Hanging Spear Falls Trail) can be used to access the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. It is an additional 3.7 miles one-way to reach the Flowed Lands using this route. DEC will work to stabilize and repair the high water bridge in the spring.
Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The top landing on the Mt. Adams Fire Tower has been damaged by ice wind. Fencing and railings were broken off and the tower stairs and landings are slippery. The top landing and the cab are closed to the public at this time. DEC plans to repair the tower this year.
Lake Arnold/Feldspar Brook Trail: The trail is flooded and the bog bridging cannot be crossed. Alternate routes using other trails in the area can be used to avoid the trail. DEC is working to find a permanent solution to this section of trail in the near future.
Blueberry Hiking Trail: The first 1,500 feet of this trail in the Western High Peaks has been closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail approximately 0.3 mile east of the previous location (0.8 mile from the Seward Trailhead). This reroute eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area and avoids hiking (and maintaining) more than 120 feet of bog bridging.
Blueberry Horse Trail: The trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation and is poorly marked. The trail is impassable to horses making it impossible to complete the Cold River Horse Trail Loop. DEC worked in the fall of 2016 to open up about 75% of the trail. During the spring of 2017 work will continue to open the trail back up.
Phelps Trail: The high water bridge over Slide Mountain Brook between the Garden Trailhead Parking Area and Johns Brook Lodge broke in spring of 2016 and the remains were removed. Materials were flown to the site so a new bridge can be built in 2017.
Whiteface Landing Trail: The trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail.
Bradley Pond Trail: The first and second foot bridges on the Bradley Pond Trail are damaged and unusable. The stream can be forded/rock hopped on the downstream side of the bridge sites.
Courtesy of DEC Region 5