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Adirondack Explorer

Friday, May 25, 2018

DEC Outdoor Recreation Bulletin for Memorial Day Weekend

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). Stay warm and dry by separating yourself from the wet ground with a thicker layer such as your pack. Protect yourself from the elements by building a shelter with items around you and in your pack. Use a space blanket for extra warmth.

More information on hiking safety and what to pack.

Spring recreation tips: Learn more about safely and ethically recreating during the spring months.

Would you like your photo shared in our weekly bulletin? Send us your photos that represent current backcountry conditions in the Adirondacks. Send in your photos with your name and photo location/brief description to Info.R5@dec.ny.gov or simply tag #NYSDEC on Instagram.


Plan

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.

  • Temperature variances: Temperatures at the trail head will be significantly warmer than temperatures at the summit. Pack extra non-cotton, wind protectant layers and be sure to use them once exposed or feeling colder to help prevent hypothermia.Muddy Trails
  • Park in designated parking areas at trail heads:Memorial Day is Monday May 28th marking one of the busiest weekends in the Adirondacks. Plan for busy trailheads and limited parking. Parking areas fill up quickly and early. Please avoid parking on the shoulder of busy highway roads for safety purposes. Be aware of visitors crossing roads. Do not block driveways, roadways or roads from emergency vehicles or local residents.
  • Muddy Trail Advisory: Help avoid damage to hiking trails and sensitive high elevation vegetation by avoiding trails above 2,500 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, High Peaks, McKenzie Mountain, and Sentinel Range Wilderness areas in the northern Adirondacks. Avoiding these trails during the Muddy Trail Advisory helps to alleviate impacts to the trail tread and adjacent areas. Saturated, thin soils and steep grades combined with hikers trying to get traction lead to increased impacts to the trail corridors during the shoulder seasons. Snow and ice “monorails” are difficult to hike on, resulting in users widening trails.

Prepare

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

  • Bear Canisters: Bear resistant canisters are the most effective means for preventing bears from obtaining food while you are camping. Black Bears in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness have regularly defeated bear resistant canisters made of clear plastic. Choose a dark coated bear canister where food is not visible inside. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13). Vist DEC’s website to learn how to use a bear resistant canister.
    Larry Trexler, Fishing on Round Pond
  • Black Flies: The transition from spring to summer means black fly season. Wear clothing that fully covers your body, use bug spray where you are not protected, and bring/wear a bug net to protect yourself from black flies. Wear light-colored clothing. Flies are attracted to dark colors.
  • Water temperatures: Water temperatures are cold. A person in the water can quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water. Use caution entering and exiting your canoe or kayak. Wear a personal flotation device (aka PFD or life jacket). Expect high water levels and swift currents.

*Photo Credit: Larry Trexler, Fishing on Round Pond (May 9, 2018), Ferris Lake Wild Forest


Practice Leave No Trace

LNTFollow 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):
    • Planning what food you’re going to bring on your multi-day backcountry trip can be daunting. Repackaging your food can allow more space for the food you need as well as cut down on unnecessary waste that you will carry out with you. Here are simple tips on repackaging food from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
  • Travel on Durable Surfaces (Principle #2)
    • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats. Wear waterproof hiking boots and clothing that can withstand mud and water. Walk through – not around – mud and water on trails. Walk single file directly down the center of the muddy trail to protect the integrity of the trail.
  • Respect Wildlife (Principle #6):
    • If you care, leave it there! Do not disturb or feed fawns and other young wildlife. Feeding can create dependence on humans and increase disease in wildlife. This includes food scraps along trails such as orange peels and apple cores. Carry out all food scraps.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors (Principle #7)
    • Be courteous of others. Plan for busier trails this holiday weekend. Be courteous of others while recreating regardless of their activity, speed or skill level. Hike in single file, especially when approaching other hikers. Stay to the right and pass on the left when safe and appropriate. Allow faster hikers to pass. When approaching other hikers from behind, politely let them know of your presence and desire to pass.

General Conditions/Notices

Learn the conditions you will encounter from Adirondack Backcountry Information.

  • Winter and Spring Conditions: Be prepared for spring conditions in the lower and middle elevations and winter conditions in the high elevations.
  • Winter Conditions in the High and Highest Elevations
    • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are present and melting on these high elevation trails. The trails have thin soils, are dangerous for hiking, and susceptible to erosion. Sensitive trailside alpine vegetation is easily damaged.
    • Outside the High Peaks Region, trails above 3,000 feet may have snow and ice, especially on north facing slopes and other areas with little exposure to the sun.
    • Patches of snow and ice may be present between 2,500 and 3,000 feet elevation, especially in wooded areas, on north facing slopes, ravines, and other areas with little exposure to sun and wind.
  • Spring Conditions in the Middle and Lower Elevations
    • Little snow and ice remains present between 2,000 and 2,500 feet elevation. Mainly in patches in wooded areas, on north facing slopes, ravines, and other areas with little exposure to sun and wind.
    • Snow and ice are gone below 2,000 feet elevation, mud may be present in low spots, drainages, and along waterways.
  • Fire Danger Rating: MODERATE. Check the current fire danger mapBe safe with campfires (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7827.html).

Hikers and Campers

  • Trail Conditions:
    • Ice and snow are present on high elevation trails (above 3,000 feet), especially in wooded areas, on north facing slopes, ravines, and other areas with little exposure to sun and wind. Carry crampons and use when warranted.
    • Patches of snow and ice may be present along with mud on moderately high elevation (2,500 to 3,000 feet). Ice “monorails”, created from melting compacted snow may be found on some trails. Snow and ice are most likely to be found in wooded areas, on north facing slopes, ravines, and other areas with little exposure to sun and wind. Carry crampons and use when warranted.
    • Middle elevation and lower elevation (below 2,500 feet) trails may be wet and muddy in places, especially in low spots, drainages, and sections of trails by water.
    • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats.
      • Wear waterproof hiking boots and let them get dirty.
      • Stay in the center of trails.
      • Walk through mud and water.
      • Due to heavy winter snow and recent storms with strong winds, expect to find blowdown (trees, limbs, and branches) on portions of many trails. Blowdown may be heavy in some areas.
  • Mountain Summits: Avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region. Elsewhere, remember conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead. Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, ice and snow may be present. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
  • Stream Crossings: Due to high swift waters, crossing may be treacherous or impossible, especially in the afternoon in areas with snow covered peaks as snow melt increases with warming temperatures. Streams and drainages that are passable in the morning may not be in the afternoon.
  • Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters and other practices to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks.

Boaters, Paddlers and Anglers

  • Water Levels: Water levels remain within the average spring time ranges which are higher than mid-summer water levels. Rivers and streams still have strong flows. Boaters and paddlers should use caution and beware of obstacles and debris on or just below the surface. See the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.
  • Cold Water: Water temperatures are COLD. Paddlers and boaters should wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD, aka Life Jacket)! People immersed in cold waters can lose the ability to think clearly and move quickly after only a short time in the water. Anglers fishing from shore or wading should wear a personal flotation device.

Rock Climbers

  • Rock Climbing Route Closures: A number of rock climbing cliffs and routes in the eastern Adirondacks are closed climbers to allow peregrine falcons to mate and select nesting sites.
    • Once nest sites are identified DEC will reopen routes that will not interfere with nesting activities.
    • Rock climbers are urged to be cautious and observant while climbing in other locations and report any aggressive or agitated peregrine falcon behavior to the DEC Wildlife Office at 518-897-1291 or info.R5@dec.ny.gov.
    • DEC appreciates the continued cooperation of the climbing community for avoiding closed routes, volunteering to observe nest sites, and reporting peregrine falcon activity.

All

  • Memorial Day Weekend: Due to the holiday weekend, trailheads parking areas and campsite will fill early. Expect to encounter many people on trails and waterways. Plan accordingly and seek outdoor recreational opportunities in other less used areas of the Adirondacks.
  • Biting Insects: The Adirondack Bug Season has begun. Black flies and mosquitoes are active. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects:
    • Wear light colored clothing.
    • Wear long sleeve shirts; tuck shirts into pants and button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist.
    • Wear long pants and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks.
    • Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick.
    • Use an insect repellant with DEET, follow label directions.
  • Seasonal Access Roads: Although many seasonal access roads will be open this weekend, some seasonal access roads remain closed for mud season.
    • See the list of closed roads in the Specific Notices.
    • Seasonal access roads will remain closed until they have dried and hardened, and all needed repairs and maintenance are completed.
    • Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravels roads that can be rough.
    • Four wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads.

Specific Notices

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

  • High Peaks Wilderness:
    • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet trails until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are currently melting on these high elevation trails. The steep trails with thin soils are dangerous for hiking and susceptible to erosion, and sensitive alpine vegetation is easily damaged.
    • Middle elevation and lower elevation (below 2,500 feet) trails may be wet and muddy in places, especially low spots, drainages, and sections of trails by water. Walk through – not around – mud and water to avoid eroding and widening trails and trampling vegetation.
    • South Meadow Lane is open to public motor vehicle use.
    • Corey’s Road is to public motor vehicle use.
    • The Clear Pond Gate is open and public motor vehicles can access the trailheads on Elk Lake Road.
    • Gulf Brook Road (Boreas Ponds Tract) is closed to public motor vehicle use.
  • Closed Seasonal Access Roads: Due to winter weather and conditions lasting into late April and early May, many seasonal access roads in the Adirondacks which are typically open by the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend will remain closed. DEC closes seasonal access roads each spring for mud season. The roads are opened to public motor vehicle use only after they dry and harden, and all necessary maintenance and repairs are completed. Closed seasonal access roads include:
    • O’Neill Flow Road in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest (Township 19 Conservation Easement Tract)
    • Main Haul Road in the Five Mile Conservation Easement Tract
    • Gold Mine Road in the Gold Mine Conservation Easement Tract
    • Main Haul Road and Gulf Brook Road in the Long Pond Conservation Easement Tract
    • North Branch Road and Mud Pond Road in the Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract
    • In the Moose River Plains Complex:
      • Limekiln Lake – Cedar River Road (aka Moose River Plains Road) between the Cedar River Gate (Indian Lake side) and Lost Pond Road
      • Otter Brook Road beyond the bridge over the South Branch Moose River
      • Rock Dam Road

Highlighted Trail – The Crows and Nun-da-ga-o Ridge Trail, Keene, NY

The Crows Trail in Hurricane Mountain Wilderness ascends 845 feet and 0.9 mile from the Hurricane Road Trailhead to the summit (2,535 ft.). The trail contains moderate climbs with a few steep sections with a number of scenic views from ledges along the way. Climb another 280 feet and another 0.6 mile to reach the summit of Big Crow Mountain. Many scenic views of the surrounding peaks can be found along the way and on the summit. Big Crow Mountain can be reached from the Crow’s Clearing Trailhead hiking a 0.6-mile trail that ascends approximately 300 feet – most of the ascent is in the last half of the trail. Using the trail, Hurricane Road and O’Toole Road provides a 3.5-mile loop trail from either of the trailheads.

Soda Range – The Nun-da-ga-o Ridge Trail extends 3.0 miles across the Soda Range connecting Big Crow Mountain and Weston Mountain. A 6.0-mile loop begins at the Crow’s Clearing Trailhead and ascends a total of 1,600 feet. Hikers can travel on the loop in a clockwise direction by first ascending Big Crow Mountain and turning right onto the Nun-da-ga-o Ridge Trail to Weston Mountain, or in a counterclockwise direction by first ascending to Weston Mountain. A number of ledges along the ridge provide stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Hurricane Road Trailhead Parking Area is located along Hurricane Road in Keene. (N 44.2582°, W 73.7529°)
Crow’s Clearing Trailhead Parking Area is located off of O’Toole Road in Keene. (N 44.2609°, W 73.7330°)

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