Backcountry Information for the Southwestern Adirondacks
Updated: March 23, 2017
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!
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 6 to12 inches. 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 has 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.
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 Tract, John Brown Tract & North Lake Tract Easement Lands)
- The Black River Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- The gate for the "Loop Road" on the North Lake Easement Tract has been closed for the spring mud season. The road is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until it has dried and hardened. (3/9)
- 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)
- The third bridge on the Otter Lake - Brandy Lake Trail (approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead on State Route 28) has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge and the trail on either side of it are under nearly two feet of water. (2016)
- Nick's Lake Outlet Trail to Remsen Falls may be rough and grown in. (2016)
- The gate at the end of the Wolf Lake Landing Road has been vandalized. Motor vehicle access beyond the gate is prohibited except by people with a valid Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit. (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)
- A new access road has been constructed to the Middle Branch Moose River Canoe Take-out Parking Area and register booth at McKeever Bridge. (2016)
- The seasonal access Mill Creek Road has been resurfaced and now provides excellent access to the two-car parking area west of Gull Lake. (2016)
- Gull Lake Road (the jeep road) impassable to motor vehicles at this time because it is very rutty and rocky. ATVs use is prohibited. (2016)
- Twenty-two drive up campsites at North Lake are open for public use and have been only 30% occupied on weekends. (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)
- No summer logging operations are planned on the North Lake Tract Easement Lands. (2016)
- Haskell/West Creek Road is a rough road, and 4-wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high clearance vehicles are recommended. (2016)
- Seabury Brook Bridge has been replaced and construction is complete. 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 web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Safford Pond Trail is flooded by beaver activity near the Safford Pond Inlet. (2016)
- The Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- East Pond-Lost Creek Trail has been cleared of blowdown and vegetation has been cut back. (2016)
- Blackfoot Pond Trail off of the East-Pond Lost Creek Trail is rough, grown in and may contain blowdown. The trail is difficult to follow at times. The sign at the junction of the trails is missing, the turn off to Blackfoot Pond is not readily marked or noticeable. DEC will be replace the sign soon. (2016)
- 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)
- Middle Settlement Lake Trail is flooded due to beaver activity between the Cedar Pond Trail and Middle Settlement Lake. (2016)
Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose Tract Easement, & Three Lakes Tract Easement)
- The Independence River Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- A temporary bridge as been installed over Fourth Creek on the C8 Snowmobile Corridor in Three Lakes Conservation Easement in Herkimer County. (2016)
- On the Big Moose Tract Easement, the Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower and the trail to the summit of Stillwater Mountain are open for public use. DEC thanks the Friends of Stillwater Fire Tower (leaves DEC website) for their hard work to restore the fire tower. (2016)
- The water is shut off at the Otter Creek Horse Trails Assembly Area. (2016)
- Construction of the new 120-foot West Bridge has been completed. The bridge provides foot access from the Fish Trail to the Beach Mill Trail on the north side of the river. Work was completed by the DEC Operations staff in Lowville. (2016)
- Some horses will not cross the bridge over Otter Creek on Erie Canal Trail - they may ford the stream parallel to the bridge. (2016)
- The foot trail to Old Hotel campsite along the west side of Big Otter Lake is muddy and rutted from illegal vehicle use. (2016)
- There is a mud hole on the east end of the Mt. Tom Trail (old route of both snowmobile and foot trails) near intersect with Silvermine Dam Trail/10 Mile Crossing Road. (5/19)
Pigeon Lake Wilderness
- The Pigeon Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Approximately half of the Twitchell Lake Trail (7.5 miles to Beaver River Station) at the Twitchell Lake end has been cleared of blowdown. (2016)
- 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)
- Chub Lake Trail between Constable Pond and Queer Lake Trail is rough and grown in. (2016)