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Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Map of showing the Western Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: January 18, 2018

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!

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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.
  • Crampons should be carried and used on icy summits and other areas of thick ice build-up.

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.

Mountain Summits: Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead.

  • Temperatures will be colder
  • Winds will be stronger
  • Wind chill temperatures will be much lower
  • Snow will be deeper
  • Ice will be thicker

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.

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

Specific Notices

Aldrich Pond Wild Forest

  • The Aldrich Pond Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Powell Road leading to South Creek Lake often experiences flooded conditions due to beaver activity. Users should exercise caution and be aware of changing road conditions throughout the seasons. (2017)

Bog River Complex (Lows Lake, Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest & Big Tupper/Piercefield Tract Easement Lands)

  • The Bog River Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Due to maintenance work on the Low's Upper Dam water levels are slightly lower than normal in the Bog River and Hitchens Pond. (9/8)
    • Water levels at Low's Lower Dam and Hitchins Pond have risen several feet and are returning to normal levels.
    • Hazardous logs in the channel upstream of Low's Lower Dam have been removed
    • Paddlers should continue to use the designated portage around the dam between Hitchins Pond and Bog River Flow.
    • Stay within the designated traffic area delineated with orange construction fence when passing through the work area

Cranberry Lake Wild Forest

  • The Cranberry Lake Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The new Cranberry Lake 50 Western Connector Trail in the Conifer-Emporium Tract Easement extends from the first loop of the Peavine Swamp Trail east across the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest to the Conifer - Emporium Conservation Easement. This route travels slightly more than a mile over easement land to a NYS parking area on the Columbian Road. The new trail removes 2.24 miles of the Cranberry 50 from State Route 3. (2016)
  • The new Cranberry Lake 50 Eastern Connector Trail travels from the Gilbert Ski Tract parking area south 1.0 mile to the Campground Trail. Users may continue east on the Campground Trail to follow the Cranberry Lake 50, or may travel west to enter the DEC Cranberry Lake Campground or visit Bear Mountain. The new trail removes 1.9 miles of the Cranberry Lake 50 trail from NYS Route 3. (2016)

Five Ponds Wilderness

  • The Five Ponds Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • An 800-foot portion of the Plains Trail (part of the Cranberry 50) has been rerouted to avoid a dangerous log crossing of a beaver dam. The new route has been brushed out and marked with red trail markers. Some blowdown remains in the reroute but the trail is usable. DEC will remove the blowdown this fall. (7/13)
  • Frequent flooding from beaver activity occurs along the High Falls Trail between Wanakena and the Sand Lake Trail. The trail is an important part of both the High Falls Loop (approximately 14 miles), and the larger Cranberry Lake 50 mile trail. (2016)
  • A narrow log crossing of a beaver pond on the New Plains Trail is located approximately 0.7 mile north of the junction with the High Falls Trail. Users are cautioned that this may be a difficult crossing in wet or snowy conditions. The trail is part of the High Falls Loop and Cranberry Lake 50, and travels from the vicinity of High Falls to Sand Hill Junction. (2016)

Pepperbox Wilderness

  • The Pepperbox Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Nothing to report.

Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest (Croghan Tract & Oswegatchie Tract Easement Lands)

  • The Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Access to the Oswegatchie Tract Easement via the Bryant Bridge Road is limited to those paddling on the easement lands. All others should use the Bald Mountain Road. (2016)

William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness

  • The William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The gate on the Lake Lila Road is closed and the road is closed to public motor vehicle access until the end of the spring mud season. Hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers may use the road but are prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands. (12/7)
  • A beaver dam has caused flooding of the Lilypad Pond Trail about 1.5 miles from trailhead, just past campsite #5. (8/31)
  • The canoe carry from Hardigan Pond to Salmon Lake Outlet has been rerouted to avoid wetlands. The new take-out for the carry is located on the south side of Hardigan Pond, east of where the pond narrows, about 0.25 miles east of the old takeout. The new route is 0.5 miles long. (2016)
  • Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Please use caution if you choose to cross this area. (2010)