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Adirondack High Peaks

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About the Adirondack High Peaks

The Adirondack High Peaks is a region in the northeastern portion of the Adirondacks in northern New York State, in which there is a high concentration of peaks reaching over 3,000 feet. This region includes the mid elevations, between about 1,500 and 2,800 feet in elevation. Higher elevations are considered part of the Upper Montane / Alpine Zone.

The climate is a humid continental climate, tending towards but not completely reaching an alpine climate; local microclimate is highly variable; as weather systems tend to move west-to-east bringing moisture-laden air from Lake Ontario, west-facing slopes have exceptionally high precipitation, but east-facing slopes are relatively drier. High elevations have heavy cloud cover, fog, high winds, and rime ice, direct condensation of ice onto plants and other surfaces. The frost-free season ranges from 60-120 days.

Natural forest cover here varies considerably with elevation. Below 2,500 feet it is a more conifer-rich variant of northern hardwood forest, with sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch mixed with some red spruce, eastern hemlock, and eastern white pine, with red spruce, yellow birch, and balsam fir becoming more common at higher elevations, transitioning to a spruce-fir forest at the top of this region. Common understory plants in this region include mountain ash, mountain holly, and creeping snowberry. Red spruce, although still common here, has been declining, possibly due to acid precipitation.

This area has little year-round population, with most of the use being tourism, recreation, and wildlife habitat. There is almost no agriculture. A significant portion of this area is preserved as public land.

Outside the high-elevation peaks, this region is bordered to the east by the lower-elevation Eastern Adirondack Foothills and to the west by the Central Adirondacks.

This photo was taken from Ampersand Mountain, and is typical of the Adirondacks High Peaks. Note the pool of water in the exposed rock, a sign that it rained recently, and the numerous glacial lakes in the distance. Photo © TheTurducken (Flickr), CC BY 2.0.

References

1. Bryce, S.A., Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Edinger, G., Indrick, S., Vargas, O., and Carlson, D. "Ecoregions of New York (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2010) Web.