DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin - December 13, 2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin
December 13, 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.

Check the Backcountry Information for the Adirondacks web pages for more detailed information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and conditions for those planning to recreate in the Adirondacks. This bulletin provides only the most recent notices.

Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.

Early winter is a great time to get outdoors. The cold, crisp air is exhilarating. There are no biting insects, and there are fewer people on the trails. The quiet and solitude are remarkable and most enjoyable. You can find more information on winter hiking safety and what to pack on our website.

Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips.

For more information on winter hiking safety, preparedness, trail conditions, and trip ideas, follow the NYSDEC Adventure Adirondacks group on Facebook.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

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.

  • Know your skill level and physical capabilities: Choose trails within your or your group’s ability. Remember, it takes more effort and energy to move through snow and ice.
  • Use trekking poles: Trekking poles provide added support and balance when traveling in deep snow or on icy trails and summits. Trekking poles are especially useful when descending elevation on slippery trails.
  • Bring a headlamp or flashlight: Snow covered trails are more difficult to travel on, making hike time longer. Snow covered trails can also be more difficult to navigate and stay on trail. Always bring a headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries on all hikes for your safety if dark falls before you are out of the woods.
  • Varying Temperatures: Prepare proper layers and equipment for temperature changes while hiking. Trailheads may be warmer, but higher elevations and summits will be frigid, windy, and could produce potentially volatile weather. Turn around if the weather becomes too extreme.

Practice Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

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

Did you know:

  • A “posthole” is a big hole in the snow created by boots sinking too deep into the snow. Postholes create hazardous trail conditions for other hikers but especially for snowshoers and skiers. Postholing is also a very inefficient use of energy out on the trail because of the effort it takes to move through deep snow. This is why snowshoes and skis are so important out on the trail. They allow you to float more on the surface of the snow, making it easier to travel and creating a smoother and safer surface for all.

Dispose of Waste Properly:

  • Food wrappers and other plastic-coated paper take up to five years to decompose. These items are shiny and often attract wildlife to humans. They also take away from the natural beauty of the wilderness. Always carry out what you carry in.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors:

  • Everyone is getting out to enjoy the snow. Be considerate of others by sharing the trail. When stopped, users should move off the trail. Snowshoers should avoid hiking on ski tracks on the trails. All users should remain alert when utilizing shared trails for safety.

General Conditions/Notices

Learn the conditions you will encounter from Adirondack Backcountry Information.


  • Road Conditions and Closures: Check before you travel at NY511.
  • Winter Weather: Snow, ice and below freezing temperatures are present throughout the Adirondacks.
    • Snow depths currently range from six to 15 inches throughout most of the Adirondacks.
    •  Snow depths are shallower in the southeastern region and along the northeastern and northwestern edges.
    • Snow is deeper in the higher elevations; snow is three to four feet deep above 3,000 feet in the High Peaks region.
    • The National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page provides maps depicting current snow depths and forecasts.
  • Be Prepared
    • The sun sets earlier – Always carry a flashlight or headlamp.
    • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing. 
    • Wear a hat and gloves.
    • Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips.
  • Ice on Waterbodies: Ice has formed on all waters, except fast flowing rivers and streams.
    • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it. 
    • Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlets and near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices. 
    • Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.
    • Be safe on the ice.
  • Seasonal Access Roads: Gates on seasonal access roads on forest preserve and conservation easement lands are closed and locked. 
    • Motor vehicle use on all seasonal access roads is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. 
    • DEC will reopen the roads after they have dried and any needed repairs and maintenance are completed.
  • Snowmobile Trails: Some designated snowmobile trails are open. 
    • Check with local snowmobile clubs to determine what trails are open and conditions on the trail. 
    • Watch for skiers and snowshoers using snowmobile trails.


  • First Day Hike: Kick off the new year by taking a hike. Sign up for a First Day Hike. The First Day Hike in the Adirondacks will be at Prospect Mountain and Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain.
  • Trail Conditions: Snow and ice are present on all trails.
    • Snow is six inches or deeper throughout most of the Adirondacks.
    • Use snowshoes on all trails where snow is 10 inches or deeper.
      • Snowshoes or skis are now required in the High Peaks Wilderness.
      • Using snowshoes eases travel on snow and prevents “post holing”, which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries.
      • Snowshoers and hikers should avoid walking on cross-country ski tracks wherever possible.
      • Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage.
      • Traveling in deep snow takes more energy and time – especially when traveling through freshly fallen snow – plan accordingly.
    • Trail crampons should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails including summits and other exposed areas.
  • Stream Crossings: Rocks will be icy along streams and in streams. Wear trail crampons and use hiking poles with steel or carbide tips when traversing ice covered rocks.
  • Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be much colder, winds will be stronger, ice will be present, and snow will be deeper. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Recent Notices

Notices below reflect recent changes in conditions and recreation infrastructure work that DEC and its partners completed. Check the Backcountry Information for the Adirondacks for ongoing issues and more detailed information.

  • Saranac Lake/Debar Mountain Wild Forests: 
    • Gates on the D&H rail bed (C-7B Snowmobile Route) have been opened. 
    • The C-7 Snowmobile Route has been groomed from Lake Clear to Loon Lake.
  • Santa Clara Tract/ Madawaska-Quebec Brook Primitive Area: The following gates are closed:
    • Pinnacle Road
    • Howe Access Road
    • Four Mile Road
    • Vanderwalker Road (East Branch St. Regis River)
    • Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook
  • Moose River Plains Complex: The Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road (aka the Moose River Plains Road) and other designated snowmobile trails are open for use. 
  • Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tract: Some snowmobile trails are open, however trails on the nearby Forest Preserve lands are not suitable for snowmobiling at this time.
  • Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor: Due to a large washout south of Lake Lila, the Department of Transportation has closed the C7 Snowmobile Trail between Beaver River and the Sabbattis Road until repairs are completed. 
  • High Peaks Wilderness: 
    • Lake Colden Caretaker reports 30 inches (75 cm) of snow at the stake (2,750 feet (838 m)) with three to four feet (91-122 cm) of snow above 3,000 feet (914 m).
    • The trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract – to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain – are open for public use. However, the Clear Pond Gate is closed for the winter. The Clear Pond Parking Area is two miles from the Elk Lake Trailhead - plan your travels accordingly. 
    • South Meadow Truck Trail, Avalanche Ski Trail, and Avalanche Pass Trail all have good snow conditions.
    • Snowshoes are required above Marcy Dam – 2,360 feet (719 m) elevation. 
    • Ice on Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake is thin or non-existent around inlets and outlets. Skis or snowshoes should be worn by those choosing to cross the ice. 
    • South Meadow Lane is closed to motor vehicle use. Do not block the opening when parking at the entrance. This is used by emergency response vehicles.
  • Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The trail to Spruce Mountain Fire Tower is open.
  • Saranac Lake Wild Forest: The gate on the Connery Pond Road is closed. Use the nearby trailhead parking area along State Route 86.

Highlighted Hike: Crane Mountain, Johnsburg, NY

Crane Mountain is part of the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest and is considered a jewel of the southern Adirondacks. It is the highest peak in the region, offering many expansive views and a spectacular open ridgeline.

The 1.75-mile Crane Mountain Trail begins at the parking lot at the end of Ski Hi Road. It travels nearly due north up a very steep section of the mountain and includes two ladders, one of which is 30 feet against a steep rock wall. Near the top, the trail intersects the Crane Mountain Crossover Trail which heads northwest. Shortly after this intersection, the Crane Mountain Trail veers sharply to the east into a switchback leading back to the summit and a relatively level ridge walk. Following the walk along the ridge, the trail descends to Crane Mountain Pond and ends at the intersection with the Crossover Trail and the Putnam Trail. From here, the Crossover trail returns to the Crane Mountain Trail to the southeast (0.4 miles), and the Putnam Trail continues around the shore of the pond, descending the steep mountainside for approximately 0.5 miles and turning southeast at the base of the slope to a level 1.0-mile section of trail heading southeast back towards the Ski Hi Road parking area and trailhead. You can hike the mountain in a loop using Crane Mountain Trail and Putnam Trail which is approximately 3.5 miles total.

Crane Mountain is part of the 92 total miles of trails in the wild forest. The primary trail network creates large loops and connects nearby communities via trail and town road, while retaining a large forest interior (greater than 26,000 acres) that does not contain formal trails. There are 34 named trails on the property, the most popular of which are those leading to the fire tower on Hadley Mountain and to the summit of Crane Mountain.

Crane Mountain Parking Area provides access to the Crane Mountain Trail and the campsites on Crane Mountain Pond. (43.53768°N, 73.96777°W).