Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Map of showing the Western Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: April 20, 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!

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 snow depths.

Late Winter/Early Spring Conditions: Snow and ice remain present throughout most of the Adirondacks.

  • Expect to encounter 1-4 inches of recently fallen, wet snow in the lower elevations.
  • Woods, north facing slopes, and other shaded areas will have deeper snow
  • NERFC Snow Page provides current snow information.

Cool and Cold Temperatures:

  • In the lower elevations, daytime temperatures are forecast in the 40s and 50s this weekend
  • Night time and morning temperatures will be below freezing.
  • Temperatures will remain below freezing throughout the day in the higher elevations (above 3,000 feet)

Be Prepared for Conditions: Stay dry and warm to avoid hypothermia, bring/wear:

  • Water proof upper and lower outer shell
  • Waterproof footwear
  • Layers of synthetic or wool clothing (not cotton!)
  • Hat and gloves or mittens

Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. (link leaves DEC's website)

Trail Conditions:

  • Compacted snow has turned to ice on many lower elevation trails, creating "monorails" on the trails as surrounding snow melts.
  • Low elevation trails will be covered in mud, snow, and ice in various combinations.
  • Wear proper foot wear and carry trail crampons (microspikes) on all hikes.
  • Walk on monorails and through mud and water to avoid post-holing in trailside snow, trampling vegetation, and eroding trails.

Water Levels and Temperatures: Melting snow will raise water levels.

  • Rivers and streams will be flowing high and fast.
  • Stream crossings may be dangerous or impossible.
  • Water temperatures are very low.
  • People immersed in cold waters can lose the ability to think clearly and move quickly after only a short time in the water.
  • Anglers fishing from shore or wading should wear a personal flotation device.
  • Boaters and paddlers are required to wear personal flotation devices until May 1.

Blowdown: The Adirondacks have experienced heavy winds recently resulting in a significant amount of blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches). Plan for all hikes to take longer than usual and be prepared to turn back if blowdown is heavy.

Ice on Waterbodies: While most flowing waters are open, most ponds and lakes are still covered in ice - except around inlets and outlets. No ice should be considered safe at this time.

Seasonal Access Roads: All gates on seasonal access roads are closed for mud season. Seasonal access roads will remain closed until they have dried and hardened, and all needed repairs and maintenance are completed.

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

  • Temperatures will be colder
  • Winds will be stronger
  • Snow and ice will be present

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. (2018)

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.

Cranberry Lake Wild Forest

  • The Cranberry Lake Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Due to logging operations on the CL West Tract of the Conifer-Emporium Easement Land, DEC has closed the Cranberry Lake 50 Connector Trail and Lost Pond Trail to public use until further notice. The Cranberry Lake 50 trail has been temporarily re-routed to its former route State Route 3 during the closure. (3/1)
  • 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. (2017)
  • 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.
  • Gates on all seasonal access roads are closed. Roads will be reopened once they have dried and hardened, and needed repairs and maintenance are completed. (4/6)
  • 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. (2018)

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. (2018)
  • A beaver dam has caused flooding of the Lilypad Pond Trail about 1.5 miles from trailhead, just past campsite #5. (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)