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Backcountry Information for the Southwestern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Southwestern 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).

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

Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Trail

  • The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) (leaves DEC website) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine.

Black River Wild Forest (Flat Rock Mountain, John Brown & North Lake Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Black River Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Road and Trail Storm Damage (11/5)
    • Loop Road at North Lake has sustained storm damage from the October 31, 2019 storm. It is passable with high clearance, four wheel drive vehicles. Most of the damage occurred at the section of the Loop Road that passes through private lands. Loop Road continues to be closed past campsite #18 due to a washout at Golden Stair Creek.
    • Wolf Lake Landing Road in McKeever has sustained some erosion from the October 31, 2019 storm. It is passable with high clearance, four wheel drive vehicles. Access past the gate just before Woodhull Lake is limited to persons with disabilities who possess a valid Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit.
  • Beaver Lake flooded and damaged Wolf Lake Landing Road this spring. The roadway may still be soft in places, stay in the center of roadway surface. (2019)
  • The bridge across the inlet to Bear Lake on the Bear Lake Trail is currently out, all users should be prepared to ford the stream or cross elsewhere. (2019)
  • Stone Dam Trail north of Stone Dam Lake to its intersection with the Chub Pond Trail is overgrown and can be hard to find and follow. (2017)
  • The bridge across the inlet to Little Woodhull Lake on the Little Woodhull Lake Trail is out. The stream may not be passable in times of high water. (2016)
  • Nick's Lake Outlet Trail to Remsen Falls may be rough and grown in. (2016)
  • Watch for trains when crossing the rails to the Nelson Lake Access Hand Launch off State Route 28 on the banks of the Middle Branch Moose River. There is an active railroad present in the summer. Camping is prohibited in and around the hand launch site during June, July and August. (2016)
  • Gull Lake Road (the jeep road) is impassable to motor vehicles at this time because it is very rutty and rocky. ATVs use is prohibited. (2016)
  • Six of the ten water access sites on the east shore of North Lake are rarely used. Vegetation has begun to grow in on the six sites making them harder to find. (2016)
  • Haskell/West Creek Road is a rough road, and 4-wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high clearance vehicles are recommended. (2016)
    • Travel beyond Seabury Brook is challenging as road conditions are poor.
    • The road is closed beyond the Honnendaga Outlet Bridge because the bridge is in disrepair. Landowners of the private lands beyond may choose to use the bridge to access their lands.
  • Herkimer Landing Road is not open to public motor vehicles, however there are private rights to use motor vehicles on the road. (2016)
  • Flansburg/Black Creek Road is open to public motor vehicle use. However, travel beyond Mill Creek Lake will be limited by poor road conditions and snowmobile bridges not designed to support vehicles. (2016)

Fulton Chain Wild Forest

  • The Fulton Chain Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Safford Pond Snowmobile Trail has experienced a large beaver dam failure approximately one quarter mile north of Safford Pond Road, as the Safford Pond inlet. The trail is impassable at this time. (11/4)

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness

  • The Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Middle Settlement Lake Trail is flooded due to beaver activity between the Cedar Pond Trail and Middle Branch Lake. (2019)
  • Brown's Tract Trail has been flooded by beavers between Tamarack lake and Bare Mountain, the trail is difficult to traverse. (2016)
  • A culvert is washed out on the Big Otter Lake East Trail near Indian Brook. (2016)
  • Also Big Otter Lake East Trail is flooded at South Inlet Flow but the trail remains passable. (2016)
  • Moose River Mountain Trail has heavy blow down and is difficult to follow at times. (2016)

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Independence River Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • On the Big Moose Conservation Easement Tract, the Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower and the trail to the summit are closed to public use. The trail and summit will reopen on December 20. (10/24)
  • Big Otter Lake Road has been rehabilitated up to Tommy Roaring Brook. The road will be temporarily blocked beyond Tommy Roaring Brook until further rehabilitation occurs. (2018)
  • The Erie Canal Trail Bridge over Otter Creek has been damaged and is closed indefinitely. Horses may ford Otter Creek at the old bridge site. (2018)

Pigeon Lake Wilderness

  • The Pigeon Lake Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The bridge crossing over the Oswego Pond Outlet on the Twitchell Lake Trail has washed out. An old beaver den can be used to cross the outlet. (2016)
  • Cascade Lake Trail is wet and very muddy on the north-west section of the trail around Cascade Lake. Be alert of trail reroutes. (2016)