Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Backcountry Information for the Northwestern Adirondack

Updated: January 18, 2018

Map of showing the Northwestern Region of the Adirondacks

General Notices

WARNING: Backcountry conditions can change suddenly. All users should plan accordingly, including bringing flashlight, first aid equipment, extra food and clothing. Weather conditions may alter your plans; you should always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods before entering the back country. Back country hiking trails can be rugged and rough-they are not maintained as park walkways-wear proper footwear!

Sign up for DEC Delivers

Enter email address:

Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information for important general notices and information which apply across the Adirondacks.

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC's website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the current National Weather Service Forecast (leaves DEC website) and be prepared for the forecasted conditions or to change your plans.
  • NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) has two dozen stations in and just outside of Adirondacks that provide real time weather data, forecasts, and live images of snow depth stakes.

Winter Conditions: (below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice) are present throughout the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 10 to 15 inches. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for current snow information. Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience.

Be prepared for cold weather and avoid hypothermia, wear:

  • Insulated, water and resistant upper and lower outer shell
  • Layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing
  • Warm socks and winter boots
  • Hat and gloves or mittens

Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience.

Trail Conditions: Snow and ice is present on all trails and at all elevations.

  • The use of snowshoes or skis is warranted throughout the Adirondacks.
  • Traction devices, such as microspikes, should be carried and used on icy, exposed areas.

Ice on River and Streams: Many rivers and streams lost ice during last weekend's rain.

  • Ice over moving water may have only recently formed and is thin.
  • Ice may be perched above the current water level of streams as ice formed when the water levels were higher.
  • Use caution at stream crossings.

Ice on Lakes and Ponds: Ice is present on the surface lakes and ponds. Layers of water, slush, and ice will likely be present under the snow and above the main surface of ice. Be safe on ice.

  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid ice:
    • Over running water
    • Near inlets & outlet
    • Near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices.
  • Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person or snowmobile.

Short Days: Carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Snowmobile Trails: Gates are open and snowmobile trails are open for use. Trails are in good or excellent condition and many have been groomed. See the Specific Notices for the region of the Adirondacks you are interested in to find out if the trails you plan to ride are open. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out.

  • Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers.
  • Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles.

    Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.

Specific Notices

Grass River Complex (includes Grass River Tract, Long Pond Tract, Sevey's Tract and Tooley Pond Tract Easement Lands)

  • The Grass River Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC Region 6 Operations staff and the St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association worked together to replace the deficient Chap Hill Bridge on a snowmobile trail in the Grass River Tract Conservation Easement in the town of Colton with a stronger, portable bridge from the nearby Goldmine Tract Conservation Easement. (11/10).
  • Allen Pond Road on the Tooley Pond Tract Easement is open to public motor vehicle use. The two-mile seasonal access road off of Tooley Pond Road leads to a parking area and trail head. A 0.6 mile foot trail extends from a trailhead on the road to the shores of Allen Pond providing access for anglers and recreationists. (2017)

Raquette Boreal Complex (includes Raquette River Wild Forest, Raquette Jordan Boreal Primitive Area and nearby easement lands)

  • The Raquette Boreal Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Nothing to report.

Whitehill Wild Forest

  • The Raquette Boreal Complex web page provides information about the Whitehill Wild Forest and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC Region 6 Operations staff replaced the Morgan Road Bridge on a snowmobile trail in the nearby South Colton Tract Conservation Easement in the town of Colton with a portable bridge. The bridge had been damaged by an overweight vehicle. DEC plans to construct a permanent bridge in the future. (11/10)
  • A new bridge over Dead Creek is completed and Goldmine Road is once again open to public motor vehicle use. (10/19)
  • The snowmobile trail from Clear Pond to the Picketville Road crosses approximately 150 feet of wetland near the outlet of Rock Pond and may not be passable by hikers. (2016)