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Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Map of showing the Western Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: May 25, 2017

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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Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web page for important notices and information which apply broadly across the Adirondacks, and links to important information about hiking, camping and paddling in the Adirondacks.

Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. Being properly prepared for the weather and conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC's website).

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend: Due to the three-day holiday weekend, expect to see higher than usual numbers of people at trailheads and boat launches, and on trails and waterways, especially in typically popular areas. Visitors are encouraged to explore less used trails and waterways of the Adirondacks.

Seasonal Access Roads: All seasonal access roads are open to public motor vehicle use. Seasonal access roads consist of dirt, sand, gravel, and/or stone and typically have a rough surface. Four-wheel drive trucks, SUVs, or other high clearance vehicles are recommended for use on seasonal access roads.

Trail Conditions: Trails are wet and muddy, especially in low spots. Trails along waterways may be covered in standing water. Trail crossings of streams and rivers may be difficult, treacherous, or impossible due to high water levels.

Protect Trails and Trailside Vegetation: Stay on trails to protect vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails Walk through mud and water - do not walk on the vegetation growing beside trails.

Water Conditions: Water levels are around average spring-time high levels and will likely rise due to forecasted rain. Water temperatures are cold. Boaters, paddlers, and anglers wading in the water or fishing from steep or rocky shorelines should wear Personal Flotation Device (PFD aka life jacket). A person submersed in cold water can lose consciousness in minutes, a PFD will keep their head above water and prevent drowning.

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. (2016)

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.
  • The gate is open and public motor vehicle traffic is allowed on the road accessing Low's Lower Dam. Canoes and kayaks may be launched at Low's Lower Dam to access to Hitchins Pond and Low's Lake. (2017)

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.
  • 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.
  • The newly designated Gregg Lake Trail leaves the Tied Lake Primitive Corridor 0.3 miles south of the Tied Lake parking area off of the Bear Pond Road in Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest and extends 1.3 miles to the shores of Gregg Lake. (2015)

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.
  • Whitney Headquarters has reopened for the season. Contact the Forest Ranger office at 518-624-6686 or the Forest Ranger's cell phone at 518-505-4151. (2017)
  • The Lake Lila Road gate is open and public motor vehicle traffic is allowed. The public can hike on the road but is prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands. (2017)
  • 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)