DEC report on High Peaks conditions

Following is the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s weekly update on conditions in the High Peaks.

Compiled on: March 21, 2013

See the High Peaks Trail Information web page (

Weather: The following forecast, provided by the National Weather Service (NWS), is based on conditions at low elevations. Hikers & campers entering the High Peaks Region should expect, and be prepared for, conditions which will likely be more severe than those expressed in a general NWS forecast. Check up-to-date forecasts before entering the back country, as weather forecasts can change.

  • Today Snow showers likely, mainly after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 21. Wind chill values as low as -2. West wind 6 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
  • Tonight A 50 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. West wind 7 to 9 mph. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
  • Friday Snow showers likely, mainly after 4pm. Cloudy, with a high near 20. Northwest wind 9 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
  • Friday Night Snow showers likely, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 14. Wind chill values as low as -5. Windy, with a northwest wind 17 to 22 mph increasing to 24 to 29 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 46 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.
  • Saturday A 30 percent chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 26. Windy, with a northwest wind 30 to 32 mph, with gusts as high as 50 mph. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
  • Saturday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 13. North wind 13 to 17 mph.
  • Sunday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. North wind 9 to 13 mph becoming northeast in the afternoon.
  • Sunday Night Cloudy, with a low around 12. Northeast wind around 7 mph becoming southeast in the evening.
  • Monday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 30. East wind 7 to 15 mph becoming north in the afternoon.
  • Monday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around 13. North wind around 9 mph.
  • Tuesday Mostly sunny, with a high near 30. North wind 9 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.
  • Tuesday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around 12. Northwest wind 9 to 13 mph.
  • Wednesday Partly sunny, with a high near 28. Blustery, with a northwest wind 9 to 14 mph increasing to 16 to 21 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 31 mph.

Backcountry Conditions

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Weather conditions may change at any time. All users should plan accordingly, including bringing flashlight, first aid equipment, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Weather conditions may alter your plans; always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

Late Winter Conditions: Temperatures have been below freezing most of the past week, but daytime temperatures are forecasted to rise above freezing in the lower and middle elevations. Water levels are rising as is usual for this time of year. Always check weather current weather conditions and forecasts before entering the backcountry.

Snow & Trail Conditions: Snow is present at all elevations. New snow and cold temperatures this past week as made for good trail conditions, particularly in the higher elevations. In the lower elevations trails may be icy or crusty in the morning and soft in the afternoon. Slush may be present in low areas and near water. There is 36 inches of snow at Lake Colden with approximately a foot of snow from the storm earlier this week.

Snowshoes and Skis: The use of snowshoes or skis is required on all trails and lands in the Eastern High Peaks and strongly encouraged elsewhere in the Adirondacks. The use of snowshoes prevents falls, avoids injuries and eases travel on snow. “Post-holing”, traveling through snow and leaving holes, takes much more energy, ruins trails and endangers other users.

Ice on Water: Lakes and ponds may have a slush and water between layers of ice. Longer days and warmer weather have cause ice conditions to deteriorate. Always check the depth and quality of ice before traveling on it. Avoid ice over running water, near outlets & inlets, along shorelines and near open water.

Snow on Slopes: The recent snowfall and high winds have significantly increase snow loads especially on leeward slopes. The High Peaks region has experienced a significant temperature gradient over the last couple of weeks producing faceted snow which present as potential weak layers. The recent snowfall has further stressed existing weak layers. If you are going to venture out into avalanche terrain: travel smart, carry shovel, probe and transceiver, have a plan, make YOUR OWN observations and decisions. Most importantly if you are unsure, don’t go or chose a location or activity that has a lower riskCold Weather: Dress in layers of non-cotton clothes and pack a non-cotton jacket or sweater. Wear winter boots, a winter hat, gloves or mittens and wind/water resistant outer shell.

Summits: Summits and other open areas may be icy. Carry and use crampons. Carry an ice axe to stop sliding if you fall on ice. Conditions on and near summits are more extreme – deeper snow, stronger winds and colder temperatures.

Avoid Hypothermia and Other Winter Dangers: Regulate body temperature to avoid being cold and overheating. Shed or add layers of clothing as needed. Rest often, eat high energy foods and drink plenty of water. Don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities. Remember you have to make the return trip. Keep safety in mind at all times, consider turning back and trying again another day.


Corey’s Road: The gate is closed for the spring mud season. It will reopen when the road has dried out and is suitable for motor vehicle traffic.

Marshall and Other Trail-less Peaks: Many of the herd paths found on Marshall and some of the other trail-less peaks meander around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Those climbing these peaks should navigate with a map and compass rather than follow the paths created by others.

Northville-Placid Trail: The trail contains a large area of blowdown near the Seward Lean-to. A detour around the blowdown has been marked with pink flagging.

South Meadow Road: The Town of North Elba has blocked the South Meadow Road for the winter. Cars may park in the area near the roads end at the intersection with the Loj Road.

Elk Lake Trails: The two trails that cross the Elk Lake Lodge Lands – Elk Lake Trail to the southern High Peaks Wilderness and Hunter Pass Trail to the southern Dix Mountain Wilderness – are open for public use. However, the gate a Clear Pond remains closed adding 2 miles to a round trip hike. Plan hikes accordingly.

Marcy Brook Foot Bridge: A new bridge has been constructed over Marcy Brook. It is located approximately 200 feet below Marcy Dam, upstream from the low water crossing that had been in use since Hurricane Irene washed away the old bridge over Marcy Dam.

East River Trail: The bridge over the Hudson River is out, use the nearby flagged ford (low water crossing). An ice bridge does not form at the ford, so crossing the river at this point will always entail wading through the water. Crossing when water levels are high or when water temperatures are cold can be risky.

Bradley Pond Trail: The first bridge on the Bradley Pond Trail is damaged and unsafe to use. The stream can be forded at that location. The second bridge, which crosses Santanoni Brook, is tilting. It can be used with caution.

Southside Trail: DEC has closed the Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost and is not maintaining it at this time.

Cold Brook Trail: DEC has closed the Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass and is not maintaining it at this time.

Trap Dike: Fixed ropes, harnesses and other equipment are often abandoned in the Trap Dike. Due to the age, weatherizing and wearing of these materials they are unsafe and should never be used.

Deer Brook Trail: The low water route through the Deer Brook Flume on this trail to Snow Mountain remains impassable due to severe erosion

Duck Hole-Henderson Lake Trail: The bridge over Roaring Brook Bridge near Duck Hole is out.

Klondike Trail: The bridge over South Meadow Brook is out. The Mr. Van Trail and the Marcy Dam Truck Trail can be used as a detour to reach South Meadow Road.

Calkins Creek Horse Trail: Two bridges are out – the trail is impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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