DEC to Adirondack, Catskill winter adventures: Plan ahead

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Cascade Mountain

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding backcountry visitors to the Adirondacks and Catskills to prepare for winter conditions. Winter weather can make for a scenic hike, but it poses dangers.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said it’s a great time to explore New York’s state parks. He also spoke of the dangers that come with winter weather.

“While enjoying the outdoors this winter, remember that conditions can be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared,” Seggos said. “Visitors exploring the outdoors should dress for the cold and use proper traction devices and skis to navigate trails.”

Things to keep in mind

  • Snow depths can vary greatly in the Adirondacks with the deepest snow at higher elevations in the High Peaks region and mountains over 3,000 feet. The DEC recommends carrying snowshoes and trekking poles. Crampons or other traction devices should also be carried to use where trails are icy. DEC said an ice axe could be necessary above the tree line in the High Peaks. Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks region where snow depth is more than eight inches.
  • The DEC strongly recommends using a four-wheel-drive vehicle on seasonal roads that stay open. As many roads are open to snowmobile use, the DEC said the best thing to do is plan ahead by checking local clubs, county, and state webpages, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date trail information.
  • Not all ice is safe and should be tested by putting full weight on it. Ice is thinner where there are springs or moving water.
  • Check the weather before going into the woods and reschedule trips if poor weather is expected.
  • Dress in layers of clothing thats made from fleece, wool, or other moisture wicking capabilities. Gloves, mittens or hats should also be made from fleece or wool and outer wear should be rain/wind resistant. Winter boots should be waterproof.
  • Make sure to carry an ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sunglasses, sunblock protection, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets. 
  • Eat, drink and rest often. Hunger, dehydration, and being tired makes outdoor adventurers more likely to get hypothermia.
  • Know the terrain and what it will take to traverse it. Don’t travel alone and tell someone your intended route and when you’ll return.

The DEC said avalanches, snow squalls, frostbite, and thin ice can all complicate backcountry trips during the winter. To find more advice while planning an outing, visit the DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information or Catskill Backcountry Information guide.

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