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For Release: Tuesday, November 22, 2016

DEC Advises Backcountry Visitors of Winter Conditions Throughout the Adirondacks

Winter Recreational Opportunities Available with Proper Preparation and Precautions

The recent snowstorm is 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.

"Snow has arrived in the Adirondacks in time for people to take advantage of all the winter recreation opportunities in the Park during the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend," Commissioner Seggos said. "Be aware that snow and cold temperatures can also present dangerous - even perilous - conditions to those who are unprepared. Visitors exploring the backcountry should dress for cold weather and use snowshoes and skis to navigate trails where appropriate."

Snow depths range from two to 18 inches, deeper in some local areas, with the deepest snows in the northern and western Adirondacks. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations such as the High Peaks and other mountains over 3,000 feet.
While snow is present throughout the Adirondacks, ice has not formed on any lakes and ponds. Seasonal access roads remain open to public motor vehicles, but are not plowed or otherwise maintained. These roads should be used with caution, if at all, based on the amount of snow and other conditions.

Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks and other mountains that exceed 3,500 feet should carry snowshoes for their safety and the safety of other backcountry users. 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.

In addition, backcountry visitors should follow these safety guidelines:

  • Dress properly with layers of wool and fleece (not cotton) clothing: 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, sunglasses, sun-block, 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.
  • Check weather before entering the woods - if the weather is poor, postpone the trip.
  • Be aware of weather conditions at all times - if the weather worsens, head out of the woods.
  • 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.

  • Contact for this Page
  • DEC Region 5 Office - David Winchell
    1115 NYS Rte. 86
    P.O. Box 296
    Ray Brook, NY 12977
    518-897-1200
    email us
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  • Page applies to Adirondacks region