With six-million acres to explore, recreation in the Adirondacks doesn’t stop when the snow flies. Instead, a new suite of activities beckons adventurers to snow-covered trails, frozen lakes, and frosted peaks. There is something for everyone to enjoy during the winter months. Whether you snowshoe, winter hike or camp, downhill ski, backcountry ski, ice fish, ice skate, ice climb, snowmobile, or fat tire bike, the Adirondacks welcome you to find ways to #LoveYourADK this winter season.
One of the easiest ways to care for the Adirondacks this winter is to take good care of yourself. Backcountry rescues aren’t just unfortunate for the person needing help; they can create dangerous situations for responders and have damaging impacts on the land itself. The best way to avoid emergencies is to properly plan and prepare for your trip. Help keep yourself, others, and our natural resources safe by following these tips:
Choose an appropriate activity
Choose a trail or activity suitable for the experience level and physical ability of everyone in your group. Hiking and other multi-season activities are more challenging in the winter, so remember to start small and work your way up to something more challenging.
do your research
Research your route and familiarize yourself with trail junctions and other significant landmarks. Check DEC’s Adirondack Backcountry Information pages for special notices, trail conditions, and updates. Don’t rely on social media or user-generated applications for all your information – cross-reference what you find on those sites with trusted sources.
Make an itinerary and share your plans, timelines, and route with a trusted friend or family member who will notice if you don’t return on time. Remember that snow or ice conditions can change rapidly and can drastically alter your planned travel time.
check the weather
Check the weather for the day of your trip, the night after (in case your trip runs long), and the day/night before to get an idea of what conditions you will encounter. Temperatures and conditions can vary dramatically, especially as you move into higher elevations. Check sunrise and sunset times as well, and plan to make the most of your daylight hours.
Pack the right gear
Review DEC’s Hike Smart NY webpage and bring the following items with you on every outing: a map and compass or GPS system; insulation and waterproof gear; microspikes or crampons for walking on ice and snowshoes or skis for traveling through deep snow; a headlamp or flashlight with backup batteries; first aid supplies; an emergency kit; a fire starting kit; insulated food and water; and an emergency shelter.
Dress in layers, starting with a non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layer. Bring extra base layers and socks. Wear waterproof and windproof outer layers and warm, waterproof boots. Add and remove layers as necessary to keep yourself warm without sweating. As sweat dries it cools, creating ideal conditions for hypothermia. Wet clothing will not keep you warm.
prepare mentally and physically
Winter conditions can be physically and mentally tiring. Get a good night’s rest before your hike, hydrate, and eat a good breakfast. Keep yourself hydrated and nourished throughout your hike. Pay attention to your body. If you become too cold or tired, turn back. You can always complete your hike another day.