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Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Map of showing the Western Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: March 23, 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).

Snow: Snow depths range from 4 to 15 inches as you move from west to east across this area. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.

Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow. Secondary, less used trails may have blowdown (fallen or leaning trees, limbs and branches) and may require "breaking trail". Snowbridges and ice on most stream crossings have only recently formed and may not hold the weight of a person.

Snowshoes or Skis: Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails covered in 8 inches or more of snow. The use of snowshoes prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use.

Snowmobiles: Some trails systems and gates on individual trails are closed. Contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) for information on opened trails and local trail conditions before going out.

Ice on Water: Ice had thinned, weakened, and receded from inlets, outlets and shorelines before the recent cold spell. Ice on rivers, streams, and most channels of moving water only recently formed during the very cold temperatures and is very thin even though it is covered with snow. Ice that can hold snow may not be able to hold the weight of a person. No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition first. Be safe on the ice.

Winter Conditions: Be prepared for snow, ice, cold temperatures and short days.

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.
  • Nothing to report.

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, including the Forest Ranger's office is closed for the winter. Contact the Forest Ranger at 518-505-4151. (2017)
  • The gate has been closed and locked on the Lake Lila Road. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. The public can hike, snowshoe, and ski 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)