DEC warns of winter conditions

Some seasonal roads open for hunting season

Griffin Kelly hikes up a new trail to Mount Van Hoevenberg near Lake Placid in October. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding hikers that winter conditions have already begun in the High Peaks and that hikers should be prepared to meet hunters on the trail.

In its weekly Outdoor Recreation Bulletin, the DEC says that hikers and others venturing into the backcountry should be prepared for winter conditions.

“Late fall into early winter brings vastly changing weather conditions in the mountains. Warmer temperatures and possible rain at trailheads will quickly turn to freezing temperatures, hail, or snow as you gain elevation,” the bulletin says. “Plan for below freezing wind chills and heavier winds on exposed areas and summits. Bring warm, wind protectant layers to help prevent hypothermia.”

The DEC and State Police Aviation will drop large, white bags of rocks at the lookout on Mount Van Hoevenberg this fall. The stones will be used to harden trails and protect exposed areas, which will be worked on this fall and in the spring. The state recently opened a new trail from the ski center at the base of Van Ho to the top of the mountain, which offers views of the High Peaks.

In the Sable Highlands Easement in Franklin and Clinton counties, Barns Pond Road is open for the big-game hunting season while the southern half of Cave Hill Road in the Speculator Tree Farm Easement will be closed for the duration of hunting season.

The DEC has also completed work for the year on Gulf Brook Road to the Fly Pond Gate, which provides access to the interior of the Boreas Ponds Tract. The road will be open seven days a week until it is closed for the winter. There are still no designated campsites on these lands, and roadside or truck camping is prohibited.

DEC staffing of the Upper and Lower Locks on the Saranac Chain of Lakes has ended for the year, although the locks can be operated manually, following the on-site instructions.

The bulletin also reminds hikers that it is big-game hunting season, and that accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.

“Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails,” the bulletin says. “Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands.

“Hikers can wear bright colors if it makes them feel safer.”