The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is alerting those planning to hike in the Catskills and Adirondacks be prepared. Safety and preparedness are extremely important for winter conditions and are essential for a more enjoyable and safer experience. DEC encourages hikers to be prepared when entering trails in the backcountry and be sure to have proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice, and cold.
DEC recommends visitors to the backcountry carry snowshoes and use them when snow depths warrant. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing,” which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Snowshoes (or skis) are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and should be used on all trails in the surrounding wildernesses. Ice crampons and traction devices should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails including summits and other exposed areas.
Blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on the trails in some locations. Deep snow may also cause hikers to lose the trail. Be prepared to turn back if blowdown and deep snow are extensive.
Traveling through snow takes more energy and time than hiking the same distance, especially in freshly fallen snow. Plan trips accordingly. Avalanche danger also increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws.
DEC reminds backcountry winter recreationists to take the following precautions when traveling in avalanche-prone terrain:
- Stay on trails and avoid steep slopes on summits;
- Know the terrain, weather, and snow conditions;
- Dig multiple snow pits to conduct stability tests – do not rely on other people’s data;
- Practice safe route finding and safe travel techniques;
- Never ski, board, or climb with someone above or below you – only one person on the slope at a time;
- Ski and ride near trees – not in the center of slides or other open areas;
- Always carry shovel, probes, and transceiver with fresh batteries;
- Ensure all members of the group know avalanche rescue techniques;
- Never travel alone; and
- Notify someone about where you are going.
The DEC Adirondack Backcountry 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.
Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions and hiking safety.