DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Weekly Bulletin - 2/8/18

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Current Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Information

Compiled on February 8, 2018 

Have a safe and enjoyable outdoor recreational experience on the lands and waters of the Adirondacks. Properly plan and prepare for your outdoor adventure. Minimize the impact on the mountains and forests, rivers and brooks, ponds and lakes, and the wildlife of the Adirondacks.

Backcountry Information for the Adirondacks web pages provide information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and current conditions for those planning to recreate in the Adirondacks.


Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly. Check the current National Weather Service Forecast and be prepared for the forecasted conditions or change your plans.

  • Bring snowshoes or skis for use in deep snow to reduce injuries and ease travel. Breaking TrailTheir use also prevents “post-holing”—leaving deep footprints in the snow – which makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use. Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks Wilderness and recommended wherever snow depths exceed 8".
  • Breaking trail. The recent snow has covered even well-traveled trails. Plan for more time during your trip. Breaking trail can exhaust more energy than regular hiking. Gaiters can protect your lower legs from the wet, cold elements of deep snow.
  • Carry crampons. Most trails are now covered in snow, however trails on bedrock summits and other exposed areas in the higher elevations still have thick, hard ice where crampons are necessary. Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you plan to encounter these conditions and use when warranted.
  • Unexpected weather is likely at high elevations. Be prepared to encounter unexpected weather such as heavy snow and high winds on exposed trails and summits. Bring extra layers and be prepared to turn around if the weather becomes too dangerous.


Properly prepare to better ensure a safe and enjoyable winter recreation experience.

  • Bring a trail map with you. Be prepared when breaking trail to ensure you are staying on the correct trail and remaining aware of junctions and trail markers. It is easy to miss a sign or junction and get off trail in the winter, so familiarize yourself ahead of time.
  • Be aware of spruce traps. After a large accumulation of fresh snow, spruce traps can occur. A spruce trap is when deep snow hides a cavity between buried branches. This happens more frequently at higher elevations where the trees grow shorter but the snow piles higher. A misstep off the broken trail even in snowshoes can mean finding yourself waist deep in a trap. When breaking trail, be cautious of buried branches and take your time to find the safest path. Educate yourself on spruce traps before your winter hike.
  • Avalanche Awareness. Avalanche conditions may exist on slides and other exposed slopes after significant snowfalls. Learn more about how to recognize avalanche conditions, avoid triggering an avalanche, and the necessary rescue equipment to carry when backcountry skiing in the Adirondacks.
  • Prepare for unexpected overnight stays. There are many dangerous variables when recreating in the winter. If you find yourself injured or lost, rescuers may have a more difficult and longer time reaching you, and you have to spend the night. Being prepared is essential. Always carry a headlamp, space blanket and/or sleeping bag, tent or other form of shelter, hand and feet warmers, emergency whistle, first aid kit, pocket knife, fire making tools, extra snacks and water, dry layers and socks. It may seem like a lot of extra weight to your pack but you will be safer and happier if the unexpected occurs.


Leave No TraceFollow proper trail etiquette to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks as well as ensuring an enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors by following the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare (Principle #1)
    Below freezing temperatures can mean frozen snacks and water. Prepare snack bars ahead of time by cutting them into chunks for easy consumption if frozen. Pack Nalgene bottle in a thermal case to avoid freezing. Water in tubes of Hydration bladders can freeze quickly, keep the valve tucked in to your jacket, insulate the tubing, and bring an empty water bottle as a failsafe.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly (Principle #3)
    Pack it in, pack it out. Pack out everything you brought in with you. Trash and litter should not be buried in the snow. Be sure and pick up all food scraps, wax shavings, and other litter. Bring along an extra trash bag to pack out litter left behind by others. Solid human waste should be packed out. If packing human waste out is not an option, it should be disguised in deep snow well away from travel routes and at least 200 feet from water sources. Snow makes a great natural alternative to toilet paper. If you do use toilet paper, be sure to use it sparingly and pack it out.
  • Respect Wildlife (Principle #6)
    Winter is an especially vulnerable time for wildlife. Flushing wildlife will lead to stress, deplete stored energy, and cause death or decreased reproduction. Respect an animal’s space, properly secure your food and trash, and observe wildlife from a distance.


Learn the conditions you will encounter from Adirondack Backcountry Information.

  • Winter Conditions (below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice) are present throughout the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 1-2 feet with deeper snows in some localities. See the NERFC Snow Page for current snow information. Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience.
  • Snow on Trails: Trails are covered in 1-2 feet of snow, including 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow, more in some locations. Snow shoes or skis are recommended and should be worn on all trails. Many trails will not have been used since the snowfall, but especially less popular, secondary trails. Breaking trail will take more time and energy, plan accordingly.
  • Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trail systems throughout the Adirondacks are open thanks to the 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow from the recent snowstorm. This includes all previously closed snowmobile trails. Check local trail conditions before going out. Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable snowmobile trip.
  • Ice on Trails: Thick ice is present on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas. Thick ice is also present under snow, especially in windblown sections of trail. Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you plan to encounter these conditions and use when warranted – trail crampons are ineffective.
  • Mountain Summit Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead. Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, wind chill temperatures will be much lower, and snow will be deeper. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
  • Avalanche Conditions: Due to the significant amount of recent fresh snow, avalanche conditions may exist on slides and other exposed slopes in the High Peaks and other high elevation regions, especially on the leeward side of mountains and ridges. Learn more about how to recognized avalanche conditions, avoid triggering an avalanche, and the necessary rescue equipment to carry when backcountry skiing in the Adirondacks
  • Ice on Water Surface: Ice has formed and thickened on most water bodies. Ice on rivers and streams is less thick. Be safe on ice.
    • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
    • Avoid ice:
      • Over running water 
      • Near inlets & outlet 
      • Near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices


Notices below reflect recent changes in conditions and recreation infrastructure work completed by DEC and its partners.

  • High Peaks Wilderness:
    • Due to the significant amount of recent fresh snow, avalanche conditions may exist on slides and other exposed slopes in the High Peaks and surrounding mountains. Backcountry skiers and those planning on traveling off trails should take basic safety precautions:
      • Alert friends or relatives of your travel plans and activities, and never travel alone;
      • Be aware of the terrain you are traversing, and also the degree of slope and snow depth;
      • Recognize that snow on the leeward side of mountains and ridges can be deeper and more unstable;
      • Check the recent, current and forecasted weather conditions;
      • Know what constitutes a "safe" route and avoid potentially dangerous slopes;
      • Carry essential equipment including an avalanche transceiver (or beacon), a shovel, and a collapsible or ski-pole probe;
      • Learn basic avalanche rescue techniques;
      • Sign in at all trail registration boxes; and
      • Use common sense during outdoor recreational activities
      • Be Prepared for Avalanches in the Adirondacks.
    • Lake Colden Caretaker reports 37 inches (95 cm) of snow at the stake on the shores of Lake Colden (Elevation 2,750 ft./838 m) with up to 5 to 6 feet snow (120 to 180 cm) in the higher elevations.
      • Snowshoes or skis are required wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches, essentially all trails.
      • There is good snow coverage on all trails.
      • Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are crossable but ice around the inlets and outlets of both lakes should be avoided
    • The Cascade Lakes Day Use area, located off State Route 73 between Lower and Upper Cascade Lakes, is closed until further notice due to the icy condition of the unmaintained entry road.

HIGHLIGHTED TRAIL- Snowshoe/XC to Whiteface Landing- Wilmington, NY

Whiteface Landing is located at the northeast end of Lake Placid lake. With only 200 feet of elevation gain to the lake, this 7.2 mile out-and-back trip is suitable for all levels of skiers and snowshoers.

Trailhead Location: From the intersection of SkiingRoute 86 and Route 73 in Lake Placid, follow Route 86 toward Wilmington. Continue for 3.1 miles to the winter parking area for Connery Pond and Whiteface Mountain on the left. This is just prior to Riverside Drive which comes in on the right. 

The Trip: From the parking lot, go back 50 yards to a small sign marking a short connector trail that brings you to Connery Pond Road. Once on Connery Pond Road, take a right and ski this wide, easy road to the summer trailhead.

At the summer trailhead near Connery Pond, the route now goes left and up to avoid the private camps on the shore of the pond. The descent back to the pond is a bit more challenging than any other section of this ski, but it's still doable by even low- to intermediate-level skiers. 

At 0.4 miles from the summer trailhead you will be back to the level of the pond. The route is now flat near the north shore of the pond before swinging left to the gate that marks the entrance onto state land. You will then climb in gradual stages to the high point at 2 miles from the highway. After some flat skiing the trail descends gently to a four-way intersection near the landing, where you will have to take a left and continue 0.1 mile to the lake. A dock is located at this point making for an excellent resting area. The ride out is much nicer and a couple of steeper and longer hills make for a fast trip back out to the trailhead

Note: If snowshoeing, avoid hiking on ski tracks whenever possible.