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For Release: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DEC Advises Backcountry Visitors of Winter Conditions Throughout Most of the Adirondacks

Winter Recreational Opportunities Abound with Proper Preparation and Precautions

The recent snowstorm provided great conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reports today. Backcountry visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.

"Now that snows have arrived in the Adirondacks, winter recreationist can take advantage of all that the Park has to offer during the upcoming holiday vacation period," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "However, recreationist must be aware that winter can also present troublesome - even perilous - conditions to the unprepared. Visitors exploring the backcountry should dress for cold weather and use snowshoes and skis to navigate trails."

Snow depths range from 8 - 20 inches or more. The deepest snows are in the western and southwestern Adirondacks and the thinner depths in the northeastern section. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations like the High Peaks and other mountains over 3000 feet.

Most designated snowmobile trails are open as well. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers.

The roadways on the Essex Chain Lakes Tract in the towns of Newcomb and Minerva in Essex County provide new excellent cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. The Town of Newcomb will plow the Goodnow Road and parking areas along the road near the access points to the Essex Chain Tract. This is the first time the public will be able to access these lands in the winter in more than 100 years.

Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks are required to use snowshoes or cross-country skis for their safety and the safety of other backcountry users. It is strongly recommended that visitors to other parts of the Adirondacks do the same.

Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent "post holing", which can cause sudden falls and result in injuries. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy mountaintops 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Plan trips accordingly.

Ice has formed on most waters and is thickening on high elevation ponds and lakes and small to mid-size bodies of water. Check ice thickness before traveling across it. Avoid ice over running water, near inlets and outlet and near boathouses and docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.

Skiers and snowshoers are reminded that the Avalanche Pass Slide in the Eastern High Peaks is closed to public recreation of any type during the winter.

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

The DEC Adirondack Trail 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
  • David Winchell
    NYSDEC Region 5
    P.O. Box 296
    1115 NYS Route 86
    Ray Brook, NY 12977
    518-897-1248
    email us
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  • Page applies to Region 5