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DEC Advises Backcountry Visitors of Winter Conditions Throughout the Adirondacks

December 13th, 2017 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Winter Recreational Opportunities Available with Proper Preparation and Precautions

The recent snowstorm is providing good conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. Visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice, and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.

“Now that snow has arrived in the Adirondacks, visitors can take advantage of all the winter recreation opportunities in the park,” Commissioner Seggos said. “However, winter can also present dangerous – even perilous – conditions to the unprepared. Visitors exploring the backcountry should dress for cold weather and use snowshoes and skis to navigate trails where appropriate.”

Snow depths range from two to 18 inches with the deepest snows found in the western and central Adirondacks. Snow depths are thinner in the eastern and southern Adirondacks. Snow depths are much deeper in the higher elevations like the High Peaks and other mountains over 3,000 feet. Additional 3 to 9 inches of snow is forecasted during the next several days with the deeper snows forecasted in the western Adirondacks.

Ice Safety Chart

While snow is present throughout the Adirondacks, ice has only recently begun forming on waters and is not safe. Although the ice may have snow on the surface, it is not thick enough to hold the weight of anglers, snowshoers, skiers, skaters or snowmobiles. Ice will remain unsafe until temperatures fall below freezing for a significant continuous period. Avoid ice over running water, near inlets and outlets and near boathouses and docks – especially those with “bubblers” of other ice prevention devices. Learn more about safe practices for travel on ice.

All seasonal access roads are closed to public motor vehicles at this time. Use of these roads by motor vehicles can tear up and rut snowmobile trails and even the roads themselves.

Most gates and designated snowmobile trails in the western and central Adirondacks are or will be open by the weekend including the Moose River Plains and the Seventh Lake Mountain snowmobile trail, and Lake Pleasant. Other trail systems are being checked for blowdown, washouts and other problems, and additional snow before opening. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out.

Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers.

Adirondack Snow Conditions and Resources

With snow accumulations recorded at nearly 10″ for the High Peaks Region, the use of snow shoes is required in the High Peaks Wilderness. The use of snowshoes is recommended for those visiting any higher elevation trails or mountains over 3,000′ for personal safety and the safety of other backcountry users. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing”, which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Ice crampons and traction devices should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails including summits and other exposed areas.

In addition, backcountry visitors should follow these safety guidelines:

  • Dress properly with layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!) clothing: a wool or fleece hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots.
  • Carry a day pack with the following contents: Ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.
  • Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Check weather before entering the woods – if the weather is poor, postpone your trip.
  • Be aware of weather conditions at all times – if the weather worsens, head out of the woods.
  • Know the terrain and your physical capabilities – it takes more time and energy to travel through snow.
  • Never travel alone and always inform someone of your intended route and return time.

Traveling through snow takes more energy and time than hiking the same distance, especially in freshly fallen snow. Plan trips accordingly.

Call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518-891-0235 to report lost or injured people or other backcountry emergencies.

The DEC Adirondack Backcountry Information web page provides current trail condition information and links to current weather, snow cover and other important information to help ensure a safe and enjoyable Adirondack backcountry winter experience.

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Snow in the Adirondacks This Weekend

October 21st, 2016 · No Comments · Adirondack News

NYSDEC LogoWEEKEND SNOW FORECAST: Weather forecasts vary but some weather services forecast accumulations of snow ranging from three inches to a foot this weekend throughout most of the Adirondacks.

  • The deepest snows are forecast for the Northwestern Adirondacks and the High Peaks region.
  • Moderate to deeper snow depths are forecast for the Western, Central (West & East), Northern and Northeastern Adirondacks.
  • Little to no snow is forecast for the Eastern and Southern Adirondacks.
  • Snow depths will be deeper in higher elevations.
  • Hikers should plan and prepare accordingly.




Rain, Snow, and Wind: Significant amounts of rain are forecast through the weekend with rain mixing with snow before changing to all snow as described above. Winds will get stronger through the weekend. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC website) and the National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for the latest snow information.
Snow Adirondack High Peaks

High Elevation Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be present and deeper than depths at trailheads on summits. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. Check the Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC website) for selected summitsNational Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts.

Trail Conditions: Trails will be wet and muddy through midday Saturday and then become a mix of water, mud, ice, and snow before becoming snow covered as described above.

  • Wet leaves, snow and ice will make for slippery trails – wear proper footwear and traction devices.
  • Snowshoes will be warranted late Saturday and on Sunday in the areas forecast to have moderate to deep snow cover, and in higher elevations.
  • Remain on trails. Walk through mud & water and on snow & ice to prevent further eroding trails and damaging trailside vegetation.

Avoid Hypothermia: The forecasted wet and cold weather provides ideal conditions for hypothermia.

  • Wear waterproof outer layers.
  • Wear layers of fleece, wool, and other non-cotton clothing.
  • Pack extra clothing including a fleece, wool or other non-cotton jacket or sweater.
  • Add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  • Wear cold weather hat and gloves (or mittens).
  • Eat, drink and rest often.

Shorter Days: Autumn has arrived the sun sets earlier each day.

  • Sunset is around 6:00 pm, earlier in deep valleys and on northern and eastern facing slopes.
  • It will become darker sooner when skies are cloud covered.
  • Plan to return to the trailhead by sunset but
  • always carry a flashlight or headlamp just in case.

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails as winds strengthen, especially on trails in the higher elevations.

Courtesy of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

More info at Adirondack Snow Conditions and Resources

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Adirondack Forest Ranger Search And Rescue Highlights: 3/2-3/8/15

March 10th, 2015 · No Comments · Adirondack News

NYSDEC LogoNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the backcountry.

“DEC Forest Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation and technical rescue techniques are often critical to the success of their missions,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Search and rescue missions often require Rangers to function in remote wilderness areas from rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and through vast forest areas from spruce-fir thicket to open hardwoods.”


Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks include:

Essex County
High Peaks Wilderness – Town of Keene
Injured hiker: On March 8, 2015 at 12:40 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from the hiking companion of an injured man on Lower Wolfjaw. The 32-year-old Schenectady man slipped while descending the mountain, resulting in an injury to his ankle that left him unable to walk. DEC Forest Rangers responded and reached the injured man at 4:11 p.m. They put a splint around his ankle and transported him to the Lower Wolfjaw lean-to at approximately 7:00 p.m. to meet additional DEC Forest Rangers on snowmobiles. The Rangers placed the injured man on a litter and towed him by snowmobile through the south side of John’s Brook to Smith Way. At Smith Way, Keene Valley Fire and Rescue Ambulance met the party and transported the injured man to Elizabethtown Hospital for treatment at 9:16 p.m. The incident concluded at 10:20 p.m. Fifteen DEC Forest Rangers assisted in the rescue.

Franklin County
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest – Town of Harrieststown
Lost snowshoer: On March 7, 2015 at 8:00 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a snowshoer reporting he was lost on a trail near Saranac Inn. The 27-year-old man from Saranac Lake, NY did not have a map or compass. He found his way to the railroad tracks but could not determine which direction led back to his vehicle. One DEC Forest Ranger responded via snowmobile, locating the lost man and returning him to his vehicle at 9:10 p.m. in good condition.

St. Lawrence County
Grass River Conservation Easement – Town of Colton
Injured snowmobiler: On March 7, 2015 at 10:00 p.m., Franklin County 911 informed DEC Ray Brook Dispatch of a snowmobile accident in the Town of Colton, St. Lawrence County. The accident happened on the 7A trail about 6 miles south of the snowplow turnaround on Massawepie Rd. One DEC Forest Ranger and the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad responded. A 49-year-old man from Flanders, NY was with two friends headed to the Long Lake area when his snowmobile veered off the west side of the trail, traveled down an 8-foot embankment and hit a small spruce tree. A member of the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad was on scene tending to the injured man when a DEC Forest Ranger arrived. They placed him on a backboard and covered him with blankets and heat pads. A trail groomer responded to the scene to evacuate the man, who was brought to an awaiting ambulance in the Town of Conifer at about 2 a.m. and then transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. Crews cleared the incident by 2:30 a.m.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety and Adirondack Trail Information webpages for more information.

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