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Dix Mountain Wilderness

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Dix Mountain Wilderness locator map
View from Dix of Noonmark Mountain
View from Dix Mountain of Noonmark Mountain

The 45,208-acre Dix Mountain Wilderness is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The terrain in the wilderness is largely rough, rocky and mountainous. Nine peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation are found here including the wilderness's namesake 4,857-foot Dix Mountain.

Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region provides general information regarding backcountry and seasonal conditions; specific notices regarding closures and conditions of trails, roads, bridges and other infrastructure; and links to weather, state land use regulations, low impact recreation and more.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The Dix Mountain Wilderness contains 49 miles of marked and maintained trails and several miles of un-marked path. The trails provide hikers the opportunity to enjoy numerous mountains over 3,000 feet in elevation - nine of which have a summit elevation greater than 4,000 feet.

  • Dix Mountain (4,857 ft.)
    • The Northern Trail to the summit of Dix Mountain begins at the Round Pound Trailhead off of Route 73. A parking area is located 0.1 mile north of the trailhead. The 6.8-mile (13.6 miles round trip) trail ascends 3,200 feet to the summit.
    • The Southern Trails to the summit of Dix Mountain begin at the Elk Lake Trailhead and parking area and extend 6.0 miles to the summit. The nearly 4.3 mile hike to a fork in the trail just past Dix Pond only ascends 400 feet. Hikers have a choice of two routes to the summit: the 3.1 mile hike through Hunters Pass which includes 2,400 feet in ascents or the 2.3 mile hike over Beckhorn which includes 2,200 feet of ascents. Many hikers hike up one trail and hike down the other for a 14.1 mile round trip.
  • Dix Range Trailless Peaks include Macomb Mountain (4,405 ft.), South Dix (4,060 ft.), Hough Peak (4,400 ft.) and Grace Peak (4,012 ft.) (formerly East Dix). Climbs of the Dix Range Trailless Peaks begin at the Elk Lake Trailhead and parking area. While these peaks are trailless, public use has resulted in the creation of herd paths off the trail to Dix Mountain. Others use the unmarked Dix Range Crest Path to reach the summit of these four mountains. Herd paths are unmarked and may not be easy to follow, hikers should be prepared by carrying a map and a compass and know how to use them.

NOTE: The Elk Lake Trailhead and the first 2.3 miles of the trail accessing the Dix Mountain Wilderness are on private lands. The public has the right to use the trail but is prohibited from leaving the trail and trespassing on private lands. The trail is closed during big game hunting season. After big game hunting season, the trail reopens. However, beginning then, and through the winter and spring mud season, the public must park 2.0 miles back from the trailhead at the Clear Pond Parking Area.

  • Noonmark Mountain and Round Mountain are generally accessed from one of the two trailheads near the Ausable Club Road Parking Area, though they can also be accessed from the Round Pond Trailhead. Ambitious hikers can hike a 7.1-mile loop to the summit of both of these peaks.
    • Round Mountain (3,060 ft.) offers views of the cliffs and slides of Giant Mountain. The direct trail to the summit is 2.3 miles from the Lake Road Trailhead with a 1,800-feet ascent. Coming down the other side and looping back provides a nearly 5.1-mile round trip hike back to the parking area.
    • Noonmark Mountain (3,556 ft.) provides views of the East Branch Ausable River Valley and the surrounding mountains. The Burns Weston Trailhead is 0.4 mile uphill of the parking area on the south side of the Ausable Club Road. The trail to the summit is 2.1 miles in length with a 2,175-foot ascent. Like Round Mountain, hikers can continue down the other side and loop back for a 6.2-mile round trip hike from the parking area.
  • Bear Den Mountain (3,399 ft.), Dial Mountain (4,020 ft.) and Nippletop (4,620 ft.) can also be accessed from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trailhead (AMR) which is 0.5 mile up the road from the Ausable Club Road Parking Area. The trailhead for the Henry Goddard Leach Trail - the trail used to access these three mountains - is on Lake Road one mile from the AMR Trailhead. A conservation easement allows the public to hike, ski, and snowshoe on designated, marked roads and trails within the reserve. Lake Road, within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve Conservation Easement is open to the public for foot traffic only. Be sure to read the AMR Conservation Easement webpage to be aware of site-specific rules such as "no dogs." The trail provides a number of views of the surrounding area.
    • Bear Den Mountain is 2.5 miles and 2,280 feet of ascent beyond Lake Road,
    • Dial Mountain is 3.8 miles and 3,060 feet of ascent beyond the road and
    • Nippletop is 5.8 miles and 4,000 feet of ascent beyond the road. From the summit of Nippletop, hikers can return to Lake Road via the Elk Pass and Colvin Range/Gill Brook Trail for a 14.0-mile round trip hike back to the parking area that avoids climbing over Bear Den and Dial Mountains again.
      • Short side trips can be made to Fish Hawk Cliffs and Indian Head to take in the views from these two prominences and views of Fairy Fall Ladder near the top of the trail and Artists Falls near the Lake Road.
      • Nippletop can be climbed by this route without having to climb Bear Den and Dial Mountains at all. This hike covers 6.6 miles from the parking area and ascends 2,760 feet, a 13.2-mile round trip.
  • Mt. Colvin (4,057 ft.), Blake Mountain (3,980 ft.) and other peaks of the Colvin Range can also be accessed from the Ausable Club Road Parking Area via the Adirondack Mountain Reserve's Lake Road. Continue on the Lake Road 1.5 miles past the Henry Goddard Leach Trail to the Colvin Range/Gill Brook Trail.
    • The trail to the summit will take you 3.6 miles with a 2,330-foot ascent.
    • Hikers can continue another 1.4 miles to the summit of Blake Mountain, this hike includes a descent and then an ascent of 470 feet.

Camping

camping
lean-to

General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

There are 33 designated primitive campsites and 3 lean-tos within the Dix Mountain Wilderness. Most camp sites are located adjacent to streams or other water sources.

All designated primitive tents sites, campsites and lean-tos are available on a first come - first served basis and cannot be reserved. Designated campsites are marked with a yellow "Camp Here" disc. Designated tent sites are for tents only. Tents or small campers can use designated campsites. There are no hook-ups for water or electricity at campsites.

Seven primitive campsites are located on the north end of Chapel Pond. These can be reached using a seasonal access road just north of the Chapel Pond Parking Area.

Four primitive campsites are located around Round Pond and can be accessed from the Round Pond Parking Area.

Five primitive campsites can be found along or nearby a 1.5-mile herd path along the North Fork of the Bouquet River leading to Lilypad Pond. These can be accessed from informal parking areas near the Route 73 Bridge over the river.

Another primitive campsite can be found at the end of a 1.8-mile herd path along the South Fork of the Bouquet River. It can be accessed from an informal parking area near the Route 73 Crossing over the river.

Seven primitive tent sites can be found along the Colvin Range Trail or close by on trails connected to the trail.

Eight campsites and two lean-tos are located along the trail from the Elk Lake Parking Area to Dix Pond.

One designated campsite and one lean-to can be found on the trail from the Round Pond Trailhead to the summit of Dix Mountain approximately 4.2 miles from the trailhead.

Camping between 3,500 feet and 4,000 feet is limited to designated campsites. Camping above 4,000 feet is prohibited.

Campers and hikers who prefer more amenities may camp at nearby DEC Sharp Bridge Campground. A short ride from the campground to any of the trailheads will provide the opportunity for numerous day hikes in the Dix Mountain Wilderness.

Rock & Ice Climbing

rock and ice climbing

General information on rock and ice climbing includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations.

The Dix Mountain Wilderness provides a number of distinct areas for those seeking to rock or ice climb. Route 73 provides direct access to most of the areas which are in the vicinity of Chapel Pond.

Climbing routes around Chapel Pond can be accessed from the Chapel Pond Parking Area or the Giant Mountain Trailhead Parking Area (aka Zander Scott Trailhead).

The "Beer Walls" cliffs adjacent to Chapel Pond are the most used climbing area in the Adirondacks due to its ease of access from the highway and its diversity in climbing routes. The "Beer Walls" pull-off on Route 73.

Two other popular climbing areas are "King Phillip Wall" and "Another Roadside Distraction" located near the intersection of Route 9 and I-87. These can be accessed from King Phillips Parking Area. A short trail can be found leading to the cliffs.

All climbers should check guidebooks or other sources of information about climbing these cliffs. Inexperienced climbers should consider hiring a climbing guide.

Due to peregrine falcon nesting activity some climbing routes are closed during the nesting season. Learn more about Peregrine falcons and Adirondack rock climbing.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.

All waters within the Dix Mountain Wilderness are open to fishing. Anglers may use the same trailheads and trails as hikers, the same hand launches as paddlers, and the same camp sites as campers to access and fish these waters.

Chapel and Round Ponds are the most frequently fished waters in the wilderness, both of which offer camping and the opportunity for catching stocked brook trout. For a more remote trout fishing experience, individuals may wish to travel to one of the numerous small ponds in the interior, most notably, Cranberry, Lilypad and Rhododendron Ponds.

Adirondack/Lake Champlain Fishing provides information on fishing in the Adirondacks and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.

Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish; populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species have severely declined due to introduced fish.

Hunting & Trapping

Hunting
Trapping

General information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.

Hunters and trappers may use the parking areas, roads, seasonal access roads, trailheads, and trails used by hikers, and hand launches used by paddlers to access the lands and waters in this area. Hunters can park on the shoulders of seasonal access roads provided vehicles are out of the travel lane.

Hunting and trapping are allowed on all Forest Preserve lands. Hunters and trappers seeking solitude may find the southeastern area of the unit desirable because of its remoteness and lack of easy access. Popular areas of the unit for hunting include the West Mill, Lindsay and Niagara Brook drainages and the Bouquet River Area. Although popular due to its remoteness, it should be noted that the density of wildlife populations in this region of the Adirondacks is often considered relatively sparse. The remote southwestern portion of the wilderness can be accessed from Walker Brook and West Mill Brook Parking areas that can be accessed from Route 9.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing
snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

Lake Road, West River Trail and the East River Trail, all in the nearby Adirondack Mountain Reserve, are popular with cross country skiers in the winter.

Wildlife

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

The Adirondacks contain large tracts of wildlife habitat with some boreal, bog, alpine and other unique habitats. Many birds (Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon) and mammals (Moose, Black Bear) are unique to the Adirondacks or are mainly found here. More than 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.

Peregrine Falcons are known to nest in the area.

Paddling

paddling

General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

Chapel Pond is the only paddling opportunity within the wilderness. There is no formal hand launch site at this time, but DEC is planning to construct a universally accessible site for launching canoes and kayaks at the north end of the pond.

Small canoes and kayaks can be launched at a number of locations along the shoreline that are accessible from the Chapel Pond Parking Area.

Directions

parking and directions

There are 12 parking areas and a number of trailheads and access points with road side parking that can be used to access the Dix Mountain Wilderness.

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Trailheads and Parking Areas Accessed from Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87)

  • King Phillips Parking Area is along Route 9 in the town of North Hudson, 0.1 mile from Exit 30 of the Northway the exit on the left. (44.0780°N, 73.6648°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • South Fork of the Bouquet River Parking Area is along Route 73, 2.5 miles north of Exit 30, on the left. (44.1042°N, 73.6922°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • North Fork of the Bouquet River Parking Area is on Route 73, 3.5 miles north of Exit 30, on the left. (44.1132°N, 73.7092°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Round Pond Parking Area is along Route 73, 5.2 miles north of Exit 30. (44.1313°N, 73.7315°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Giant Mountain Trailhead Parking Area (aka Zander Scott Trailhead) is along Route 73, 6.0 miles north of Exit 30, on the left or right. (44.1373°N,73.7429°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Chapel Pond Parking Area is along Route 73, 6.2 miles north of Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87), on the left. (44.1404°N, 73.7479°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Beer Walls Parking Area is along Route 73, 6.7 miles north of Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87), on the left. (44.1449°N, 73.7539°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Ausable Club Road Parking Areas are two parking areas (aka Burns Weston Trailhead and aka Lake Road Parking Area) adjacent to each other on Ausable Club Road just off Route 73, 7.4 miles north of Exit 30. (44.1492°N, 73.7694°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website) The parking areas serve three trailheads:
    • Burns Weston Trailhead directly off the parking area
    • Stimson Trailhead (44.1492°N, 73.7756°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
    • Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trailhead (44.1503°N, 73.7795°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Trailheads and Parking Areas Accessed from Exit 29 of the Northway (I-87)

  • Elk Lake Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of Elk Lake Road. (44.0209°N, 73.8278°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Clear Pond Gate Parking Area is located on the Elk Lake Road, two miles south of the Elk Lake Trailhead. (43.9956°N, 73.8314°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website) Recreation on the Elk Lake Conservation Easement is limited to the parking area and trail only.
  • Walker Brook Parking Area is located at the end of a seasonal access road off Route 9. Walk across the Schroon River and under the Northway to access the wilderness. (43.9984°N, 73.7122°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • West Mill Brook Parking Area is located at the end of a seasonal access road off of Route 9. (44.0247°N, 73.7039°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Adirondacks to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts other backcountry users.

All users of the Dix Mountain Wilderness must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follows all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage the Dix Mountain Wilderness

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Dix Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

DEC Lands and Facilities

Gas may be obtained in the nearby communities of Keene and Elizabethtown.

Food and supplies may be obtained in the nearby communities of Keene Valley, Keene and Elizabethtown.

Dining is available in the nearby communities of Keene Valley, Keene and Elizabethtown.

Lodging is available in the nearby communities of Keene Valley, North Hudson, Keene, and Elizabethtown.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website) and Essex County/Lake Placid Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area. Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (Leaves DEC Website) for information on outdoor guides.


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