Temperatures can vary... a lot.
It’s a beautiful time of year. Sunlight is lasting longer into the evening, snow is melting, and buds are breaking. While it may look like spring is here, that’s not yet the case at higher elevations. While it is important to Plan Ahead and Prepare before your adventures all throughout the year, the warm weather of springtime is an easy trap to get caught in. On average, air temperatures drop by about 5 degrees for every thousand-foot increase in elevation. Here in the Adirondacks, this means that from the trailhead to the summit there could be a difference of as much as 20 degrees. And that isn’t even considering wind chill. Always bring extra layers and a warm coat even if it’s warm and sunny at the trailhead. Avoid cotton for base layers and stick to synthetic fabric or wool – their breathability will do a much better job at keeping you warm and dry.
There's still snow, even if you can't see it.
Colder temperatures at higher elevations also cause snow and ice to stick around significantly longer. In the High Peaks it’s not uncommon for a “snow spine” or monorail of packed down snow and ice in the middle of the trail to persist well into June. Traction devices such as microspikes or trail crampons are essential to keep your footing on icy trails. Keep in mind that snowshoes are required by law in the High Peaks Wilderness when snow depth meet or exceed 8 inches.
once the snow melts, prepare for mud.
Wherever the snow has recently receded you’ll find soft, wet ground. It is best to plan ahead and avoid the muddiest of trails as it causes undue erosion and trail degradation. Sturdy footwear (read hiking boots, not sneakers) is a must and if you do encounter mud it is best to make your way carefully through it and not walk around it.
Find out current conditions
If in doubt, give the High Peaks Information Center a call and they can let you know if current conditions warrant snowshoes.
Ready to hit the trail? Visit our hiking 101 page.