DEC advises backcountry visitors of winter conditions in the Adirondacks

ALBANY, NY — The early snow and cold weather are providing good conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. Visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice, and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.

“Now that snow has arrived in the Adirondacks, visitors can take advantage of all the winter recreation opportunities in the park,” Commissioner Seggos said. “However, winter can also present dangerous – even perilous – conditions to the unprepared. Visitors exploring the backcountry should dress for cold weather and use snowshoes and skis to navigate trails where appropriate.”

Snow depths currently range from two to eight inches with the deeper snows found in the central and northeastern Adirondacks, with deepest snows in the higher elevations like the High Peaks region and other mountains over 3,000 feet. Snow depths are thinner in the southeastern and northwestern Adirondacks.

Additional snowfall ranging six to twelve inches is forecasted during the next several days Adirondacks.

DEC recommends visitors to the backcountry carry snowshoes and use them when snow depths warrant. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing,” which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Ice crampons and traction devices should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails including summits and other exposed areas.

Currently all seasonal access roads remain road open, however, they are covered in snow and may be muddy. DEC does not plow. The use of four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended.

Snowmobile trails are not open at this time. Additional snow is needed to provide a good base for snowmobile travel.

Ice has begun forming ponds, bays of lakes, slow moving streams, and backwaters of rivers. No ice is safe at this time. Although ice may have snow on the surface, it is not thick enough to hold the weight of a person. Ice will remain unsafe until temperatures fall below freezing for a significant continuous period.

In addition, backcountry visitors should follow these safety guidelines:

  • Check weather before entering the woods – if the weather is poor, postpone your trip.

  • Be aware of weather conditions at all times – if the weather worsens, head out of the woods.

  • Dress properly with layers of clothing of wool, fleece, and other materials that wick moisture (NOT COTTON!): a wool or fleece hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots.

  • Carry a day pack with the following contents: Ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

  • Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

  • Know the terrain and your physical capabilities – it takes more time and energy to travel through snow.

  • Never travel alone and always inform someone of your intended route and return time.

Traveling through snow takes more energy and time than hiking the same distance, especially in freshly fallen snow. Plan trips accordingly.

Call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518-891-0235 to report lost or injured people or other backcountry emergencies.

The DEC Adirondack Backcountry Information web page provides current trail condition information and links to current weather, snow cover and other important information to help ensure a safe and enjoyable Adirondack backcountry winter experience.