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This weekend in the Adirondacks

John Warren from the Adirondack Almanack looks at outdoor recreation conditions around the Adirondacks each weekend.

Expect wet winter weather, and be prepared for snow, sleet, ice, and rain. A waterproof outer shell will be a necessity. Remember to always check the weather forecast before heading into the backcountry and always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods.

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John Warren
Adirondack Correspondent

Snow and ice are present at all elevations. There is 8 to 10 inches of snow in most lower elevation areas, but snow is a foot deep or more from trailheads to 3,000 feet and 18 inches to 2 feet deep at higher elevations. The Interior Caretaker reports 20 inches at Lake Colden. Snowshoes or skis are now required in the High Peaks Wilderness and recommended elsewhere; crampons should also be carried, you’ll likely need them this weekend.

The Northern half of the Park, especially at elevation, may see more snow today and tomorrow, while the Southern half of the Park will likely see the most damage to our snow pack from warmer temperatures and rain forecast for Sunday, which may also raise the level of rivers and streams.

The warmer wet weather will likely leave lake ice slushy, soft, and wet, but for now most waters have at least four to six inches of ice. Open water remains on Lake Champlain and Lake George. Remember to always check the depth of ice before and frequently when crossing.

There is not yet much of a base, but all of the early season backcountry ski routes are skiable including the Whiteface Highway. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length with caution; same with the Marcy Dam Truck Trail. The trail from Marcy Dam to Avalanche Camp is still too rough to recommend although Avalanche Pass is skiable and the ice on Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden is safe to cross. Backcountry trails are still thin, so use caution, and bring your beaters.

Nearly all terrain is open and being groomed at the region’s cross country facilities, with 4-6 inch base everywhere except Lapland Lake which has about twice that amount. The best bet this weekend would be to get out early Saturday in more Northerly facilities such as the Tupper Lake Trails, the Pauls Smith’s VIC, and Dewey, or in the higher elevation facilities in the central Adirondacks such as Mt Van Hovenburg and Cascade.

All of the region’s downhill ski areas will be open this weekend with the exception of Big Tupper. Even Hickory Mountain will open Saturday for the first time since 2012, although rain may end the weekend early there, so call ahead if you are planning on skiing Sunday in Warrensburg.

Snowmobile Trails around the region are open, although clubs are still working to clear blowdown. The best riding will be Saturday in the south central Adirondacks, in the lake effect snow areas since they’ve had a good deal more snow these last two weeks than eastern Essex, Warren, and Washington counties. Warmer weather this weekend may leave bare spots on trails that are more heavily used in those areas, and thinner cover means the greater possibility for damage, so use restraint.

Outdoor sports enthusiasts have been lucky so far this season. The warm-up Sunday may put a damper on things, but probably won’t destroy the base we have and a return to cold weather next week should leave us in good shape for the next round of snow. 

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