Colder temperatures and occasional snows this week have left conditions variable around the region depending on location and elevation. There is light snow cover in lower elevations in the southern and eastern portions of the Adirondack Park, more toward the north with the most snow in St. Lawrence County and along the Western edge of the Adirondacks. Snow is deeper north and west of Keene Valley with 2-4 inches being reported in Lake Placid and at Paul Smiths. Marcy Dam has 4 inches of snow and there are 5-6 inches above 3,000 feet. Snowshoes won’t generally be necessary, but should be carried if you are headed to remote or higher elevations, just in case. Traction devices will be needed above 4,000 feet.
The Whiteface Mountain Toll Road will be plowed and salted during the next week or two to allow vehicles to access the summit of the road and complete necessary maintenance work. The road may only be ski-able on the shoulders during this period and users should be alert for snow plows and other vehicles.
There is not yet enough snow for backcountry skiing elsewhere, although the Town of North Elba has closed the South Meadow Road for the winter. Parking is available near the intersection with the Loj Road.
No cross-country ski areas have opened yet , but there is just enough snow for golf course skiing in Lake Placid, with the Whiteface Club your best bet there. Also, the smoother trails at the Paul Smiths VIC are thin, but skiable.
Whiteface and Gore, the only downhill mountains currently open, both have two lifts and about 10% of their trails open.
Water levels in streams and brooks are running well-below normal levels for this time of year, which is continuing to contribute to abnormally dry conditions according to the latest US Drought Monitor report.
Ponds, small lakes, bays and higher elevation waters are freezing over. Ice is also forming on backwaters of some rivers and streams. Ice is not yet safe to cross, and remember that ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.
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 currently closed but will be open to the public beginning Monday. The gate at Clear Pond will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season, however, which will add 2 miles to a round trip hike, so plan accordingly.
A couple of late trail reports this week. The trail to McKenzie Mountain from the Whiteface Inn Road has been cleared of blowdown to the summit of the mountain as has the herd path between McKenzie and Moose Mountain (at least to within about three-quarters of a mile of the summit of Moose Mountain).
And in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness, the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program completed a reroute of Hoffman Notch Trail this summer. Two new bridges were built and the bridge that was washed out has been replaced. So that quiet cross-country ski trail will be ready to go when there is enough snow.
With the possibility of warmer temperatures and rain early next week, conditions may change dramatically, so take advantage of the early season snow while you can.
Find the Adirondack Almanack online at www.AdirondackAlmanack.com.