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Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Map of showing the Western Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: November 21, 2019

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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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 National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast (leaves DEC website) for updated notices and current conditions and forecasts. 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 and forecasts. Travel: Check NY511 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).

Travel: Check NY511 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for important general notices and information which applies across the Adirondacks.

Seasonal Access Roads:

  • Open seasonal access roads may have minor wash outs, use caution when using them.
  • Seasonal access roads typically remain open until the end of the Northern Zone Regular Big Game Hunting Season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
  • Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravel which can be rough.
  • Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads.
  • Roads may be narrow - use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.

Trail Conditions:

  • Trailheads will be icy, especially in the morning.
  • Trails will be covered in ice and snow.
  • Many bridges were washed out or damaged in the Oct. 31 storm leaving some streams impassable. Use caution and be prepared to turn around.
  • Expect to encounter heavy blow down in areas. Be cautious of hanging branches and unstable fallen trees.
  • Blow down may take considerably more time to hike around.
Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Ray Brook Dispatch at 518-891-0235.

Specific Notices

Aldrich Pond Wild Forest

  • The Aldrich Pond Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • 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. (2019)

Bog River Complex (Lows Lake, Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, and Big Tupper & Piercefield Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Bog River Complex webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • A major dam rehabilitation project is currently being planned for the Lows Lower Dam (aka Bog River Dam) - the paddlers access site for Hitchens Pond and Lows Lake. The project will likely begin in Spring of 2020. Possible impacts to public access include: (2019)
    • Temporary road and access closures;
    • Traffic controls including flag persons, construction fence, etc.
    • Shared road/parking areas with construction vehicles;
    • Different parking, drop-off, and launching schemes;
    • Increased informational signage.
    • More details will be provided as they become available.

Cranberry Lake Wild Forest

  • The Cranberry Lake Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

Five Ponds Wilderness

  • The Five Ponds Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • A ten-mile section of the Oswegatchie River from High Falls downstream to the Inlet Hand Launch (Inlet Road) has numerous fallen trees across the river which may make passage difficult. Paddlers should portage around downed trees whenever possible. (2019)
  • An 800-foot portion of the High Falls Loop (part of the Cranberry 50) has been rerouted to avoid a dangerous log crossing of a beaver dam. The new route has been signed and blowdown has been removed. It is located approximately 0.6 mile east of High Falls. (2019)
  • 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)

Pepperbox Wilderness

  • The Pepperbox Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest (Croghan & Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • 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. (2019)

William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness

  • The William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit, and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Due to snow and poor road conditions Lake Lila Road is closed for the season. (11/21)
  • A beaver dam has caused flooding of the Lilypad Pond Trail about 1.5 miles from trailhead, just past campsite #5. (2017)
  • 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)