Cold weather and snow this week have generally improved trail conditions, at least for snowshoers and skiers. Most areas picked up at least a few inches of snow this week, and some considerably more, though it has been tempered by somewhat warmer weather.
The Sunday forecast is not yet firm, so be sure to check current weather reports before heading into the backcountry, and be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods. Expect to encounter blowdown from winter storms, especially on lesser used trails.
Ice conditions are very good, but avoid ice over running water, and near inlets and outlets. Lake George remains open north of Dome Island and at Hague. All ice climbing areas have routes open and good mid-season conditions prevail.
The region’s rivers and streams are currently running at normal levels for this time of year, but that may change if forecasts for warmer weather next week hold true.
Snow cover varies around the region. There is more than three feet of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Outpost and more at higher elevations of the High Peaks. Mid-elevations in the Eastern High Peaks have about 18-20 inches of snow increasing toward the Western slopes and on to Tug Hill which has about two feet. Inlet, Old Forge, and Speculator have picked up a foot or more of new snow over the past few days, but the eastern perimeter of the Adironacks, including much of the Northern, Eastern, and Southeastern Adirondacks, have about 6-8 inches – that includes Lake Placid, Eastern Essex County, Schroon Lake, and Lake George. There is more snow, abut 10-14 inches toward Newcomb, Indian Lake and Long Lake.
Downhill conditions this weekend will be very good with local ski resorts reporting nearly all their terrain open and granular and loose granular conditions. The continued exception is Hickory Mountain in Warrensburg, which has yet to open this season. All cross-country ski areas are open on a 4 to 6 inch base, bolstered everywhere by at least a few inches of fresh snow.
Backcountry ski conditions are generally good and have improved some since last week. Snow cover is thin but the trail is now skiable between the Adirondack Loj Trailhead and Marcy Dam, but the Marcy Dam Truck Trail remains the better bet. There are still some obstacles toward Avalanche Camp, but beyond conditions are considerably better. The Marcy Trail is skiable above the 50 meter bridge, but not below. Wright Peak is reported skiable only above the junction with the hiking trail. The Northside Trail to Johns Brook Lodge is reported passable on skis, but not recommended due to exposed obstacles. Smoother early season trails elsewhere remain in good shape, with the Newcomb area a best bet. The Whiteface Highway continues to be thin for about half its length due to the wind, especially above the Lake Placid Turn. The entire Jackrabbit Trail is skiable, with caution on steeper downhills where some hazards are not yet covered.
Looking at snowmobiling conditions, the best riding this weekend will be in Hamilton and Northern Herkimer counties, which have received about a foot of new snow over the past few days. Groomers in those areas are out, but trails remain a mixed bag of conditions after heavy use over the holiday weekend. Clubs in Warren, Washington, and Eastern Essex County have generally closed their trails, and have canceled events due to lack of snow. DEC has closed the gates to Prospect Mountain and the gates to the Warren County Bike trail are also closed.
Finally this week, the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew will be building new section of the Northville-Placid Trail this summer to avoid three miles of road walking along Benson Road.
Those are the local outdoor conditions in the Adirondacks for this weekend, for North Country Public Radio, this is John Warren from the Adirondack Explorer’s Adirondack Almanack, online at www.AdirondackAlmanack.com.