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Old 10-02-2021, 05:36 PM   #1
tenderfoot
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Avalanche Lake

Daughter wishes to try for Avalanche Lake Columbus Day weekend. Arriving Sunday. We may make other plan because I am intimidated by what I expect will be a crowded forest. But we've actually done peaks this weekend before.

Plan A would be ADK Loj, but finding any parking there might be tricky unless we wait for day hikers to emerge.

Plan B would be Meadows trail head. I have never used it before and am reading up. Is the road in open? Does it too fill up quickly.

Plan C under development. Possibly come at it from Upper works via Hanging Spear (longer than Calamity but less crowded?)

Thanks
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Old 10-02-2021, 09:32 PM   #2
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Loj parking will probably be full around sunrise, especially if the forecast calls for a nice day. You could wait until the afternoon and try to snag a spot when day hikers are starting to emerge from the backcountry... but it may not be as early as you'd like. In any case, if you decide to try the "show up in the afternoon" tactic, I'd carry headlamps and be prepared to use them. It's dark by 7pm this time of year.

South Meadows Road is open to motor vehicles up to the gate at the end of the road, approximately 1 mile from the junction with Adirondack Loj Road. It can and does fill up, although I believe overflow parking is permitted alongside the road here. Starting from this trailhead adds 2 miles round trip to your day vs. the Loj approach- but it's two fairly flat and easy miles.

Upper Works will also fill up early (especially if it is a nice day), but overflow parking is permitted on the roadside here provided that you're not blocking traffic. The approach you mention- by way of the East River Trail and Hanging Spear falls- is a long and wild one. The stretch between the turn off for the Allen herd path and the south end of Flowed Lands gets very, very little use and accordingly, very, very little maintenance. It is very brushy in spots. On the plus side, as you mention you'll find solitude along this stretch even on a holiday weekend (and Hanging Spear Falls is both spectacular and a spot that few visit in their onslaught of the most direct routes to High Peaks summits).

Also: Be aware that there is currently no bridge over the Opalescent River at either the outlet of Flowed Lands or the crossing on the East River Trail. Both spots force you to ford the river. It can be anywhere from ankle deep to a raging, unsafe torrent depending on how much rain has fallen in the days leading up to your visit.

Calamity Brook is a (relatively) shorter approach into Flowed Lands without the potentially dangerous crossings, but the trail itself is in rough shape especially as you get closer to Flowed Lands- rugged and muddy, and even rocky in spots. Once you get to Flowed Lands, you still have a bit of a rugged trek to Lake Colden, and from there more rugged hiking still to get to Avalanche Lake. Then more rugged hiking as you return back the way you came.

Honestly, regarding the southern approaches: even if I was making a loop out of the East River Trail and the Calamity Brook Trail to cut down on the distance somewhat, to combine that stretch with a side trek to Avalanche Lake would make me wary if I was looking for something short of a fairly long day. I'd be hiking no later than sunrise if this were my itinerary. I think if Avalanche Lake were my primary "must see" destination for the day and I wanted to do it from the south, I'd plan to go in and out via Calamity Brook and skip Hanging Spear and the East River Trail entirely. (And FWIW, Hanging Spear is probably worth a trip all to itself.)
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Old 10-03-2021, 09:54 AM   #3
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Thank you, after posting I was digging into the DEC update site and spotted one bridge out, Two bridges out would probably make that a non-starter. May try Meadows first, then Loj, then Noonmark Diner ;<) than back to Meadows and Loj. Comfortable hiking in night - plan on overnighting back country and possibly including a peak (trying to wean ourselves off of goal being peak; goal should be enjoyable trip).

Two mile addition on Marcy Dam truck route - not point two?
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Old 10-03-2021, 01:15 PM   #4
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There hasn't been a bridge over the outlet of Flowed Lands at least since the old dam there was dynamited decades ago- probably why the lack of one is not mentioned on the DEC's trail conditions page. Usually this crossing isn't as deep/challenging as the one much further downstream, but in the right conditions it can be nothing to shake a stick at.

It's possible to bushwhack through Flowed Lands from the Livingston Point Lean-to to the Opalescent Lean-to, but this is not a dry traverse even in the best of circumstances. But you'd avoid having to deal with potentially fast moving water on the Opalescent River that could sweep you off your feet by going this way.

And yes, going in by way of the Marcy Dam truck trail adds roughly 1 mile one way vs. going from the Loj, or 2 miles round trip.

Also, while it's already getting to be past peek leaf season in the High Peaks, there will no doubt be a number of leaf peepers out and about that weekend, all driving slow on the roads... in addition to the normal holiday weekend traffic. I would not expect a quick drive between Adirondack Loj Road and the Noonmark Diner.

Is your plan to camp out in the backcountry on Sunday evening? Keep in mind that in contrast with other holiday weekends that typically see the backcountry empty out on Sunday afternoon (Memorial Day, Labor Day), Columbus Day weekend tends to be a "long haul" holiday weekend for most backcountry overnighters- the majority stay until Monday. Columbus Day is not really a "backyard BBQ" weekend like the other holidays are... and accordingly, fewer backpackers have front country social gathering obligations to attend to come Monday as is common with the aforementioned other holiday weekends. I would not expect to have a very easy go of trying to find an open campsite in any backcountry unit on Sunday afternoon/evening of Columbus Day weekend.
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Old 10-04-2021, 10:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Is your plan to camp out in the backcountry on Sunday evening?
Yes, which is an interesting conundrum - avoid parking crowds but need large inventory of camping options. The Marcy Dam / Avalanch lake / lake Colden / Flowed Lands corridor has a large number of designated camping areas. We have done Columbus weekend before and have shared a site or camped 150' off. Although the DEC High Peaks info site still lists at-large 150' camping as a less desirable option. The plan is a camp-here site and our plans are flexible enough for the first day to try the different clusters.
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Old 10-08-2021, 07:46 AM   #6
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I thought that in the Avalanche lake / lake Colden / Flowed Lands corridor, at-large camping is not only less desirable, it's prohibited.
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Old 10-08-2021, 01:53 PM   #7
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I thought that in the Avalanche lake / lake Colden / Flowed Lands corridor, at-large camping is not only less desirable, it's prohibited.
So I have heard that as well. Something with the consolidation of the area designated as "High Peaks." But the DEC High Peaks information site with an Oct 7 date on it (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9198.html) still has this listed under High Peaks:

"Whenever possible, camp in designated sites. If necessary, at-large camping is permitted as long as campsites are at least 150 feet from any road, trail, water body, or waterway. Place your tent on a durable surface, such as hardened soil, leaf litter, or pine duff. Do not place your tent on vegetation."

So I am reading the letter of the law but am aware of the spirit of the law (and quite possibly the letter of the law not yet posted?) and wish to support it. Like, we shy away from the area we are looking at to avoid crowds, but since it is crowded we are looking for the capacity - highest number of camp here discs. Looking at area close to Cold Brook Pass or Livingston point. We also are hammock campers that use wag bags - we have a very soft foot print where we overnight.

But I am still having trouble with the idea of knowingly going into a situation that is more likely to push us to at large camping.

Luckily found a great opportunity - someone cancelled an ADK Loj Wilderness Campsite Sunday evening booking. We will go up Sun rather than Sat. Have a reserved campsite, designated parking spot and can crowd surf over to Avalanche Lake.
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Old 10-11-2021, 03:52 PM   #8
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The current regulation reads as such:

Quote:
(5) In the South Meadows-Flowed Lands Corridor, no person shall camp except at a primitive tent site, provided that this section shall not be effective until such time as the department completes its designation of such campsites within such corridor, and provided further that until such time as the department completes such designation no person shall fail to comply with the camping instructions contained on any sign posted by the department.
The DEC has never announced that it has "completed its designation of such campsites within such corridor," and accordingly, the regulation is not yet being enforced. As posted above, at large camping in compliance with the 150 foot rule is nevertheless strongly discouraged. Furthermore, as anyone who has ever tried to look for their own site will attest, it's nearly impossible to find your own campsite throughout much of this corridor due to the dense understory of the forest in the area.

However, it is also worth mentioning that the proposed High Peaks regs that are coming soon (in theory) will apparently have a different regulation that confines all camping within the new "Central High Peaks Zone" to lean-tos and designated tent sites only. (The new "Central High Peaks Zone" will be essentially the same as the current "Eastern High Peaks Zone" with a few small exceptions.)
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Old 10-14-2021, 11:27 AM   #9
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Thank you.

Yes, even if current regs are less than clear the intent certainly is. All went well - designated campsite in avalanche camp area, had the reserved ADK Loj Lean-To for the second night. I Will have the Trip report once we have photos worked out. Parking would have been bad, both ADK Loj and Meadows area overflowing.

Finding a tent site 150 off anywhere in the ADK's can be challenging. One of the main reasons we switched to hammocks. But we have adjusted our planning permanently for High Peaks - no more at large camping. Every lit'l bit helps
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