Backcountry Information for the Southern 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 4 to 12 inches in 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.
Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper on high elevation summits such as Hadley Mountain. Sight distance can be limited by blowing snow, sometimes significantly.
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
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.
Ferris Lake Wild Forest
- Morey Road Gate remains closed due to a dispute between the Town of Caroga and a private land owner. (2017)
- Beavers have caused flooding problems on two trails: (2014)
- The Fall Stream Trail from Piseco towards the Big Brook trail has one bridge flooded out.
- The Hurrell Vly Trail in Morehouse has a bridge flooded out.
- The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter (leaves DEC website) of the Adirondack Mountain Club provides the latest trail conditions and information for planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike.
- Hikers using the most recent reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest may cross West Stony Creek by rock hopping when water levels are low. Water levels can rise during and immediately after rain events, making the crossing impassable. (2016)
- An 8.6 mile reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail has been completed. A map of both reroutes (PDF, 286 KB) - the reroute in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest Reroute and the reroute in the Silver Lake Wilderness - is available. (2015)
- The trail traverses between trailheads on the Gifford Valley Road in the Town of Northampton and the Benson Road in the Town of Benson.
- The reroute eliminates 7.6 miles of walking along State Route 30 and the Benson Road.
- Hikers wishing to hike the whole length of the trail will still need to walk 3.5 miles between the Gifford Valley Road Trailhead to the official southern terminus trailhead in Waterfront Park. This section includes travel along South Main Street, Bridge Street, County Routes 152 & 152A, Mountain Road and Gifford Valley Road.
Shaker Mountain Wild Forest
- The Shaker Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Hikers using the most recent reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail may cross West Stony Creek by rock hopping when water levels are low. Water levels can rise during and immediately after rain events, making the crossing impassable. (2016)
Silver Lake Wilderness
- The Silver Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Nothing to report.
Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
- The Spruce Mountain Trail is open for public use. (2017)
- The cab of the Spruce Mountain Fire Tower is closed for the season. (2017)
- The cab of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and the Hadley Mountain Observer's Cabin are closed for the season. DEC appreciates the efforts of the volunteers from the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee who maintain the trail and undertake minor maintenance projects on the fire tower and the observer's cabin. The Committee also provides a summer summit steward to do maintenance work, monitor the trails and structures, and educate the public. Hikers may still climb the stairs of the Fire Tower and will be able to enter the cab. (2016)
- The following trails have been remarked with DEC trail markers: (2016)
- Oregon Trail from State Route 8 to Baldwin Springs is marked with red markers.
- Cod Pond Trail from the Oregon Trail to Cod Pond is marked with yellow markers.
- Lizard Pond Trail from Garnet Lake to the Bartman Trail is marked with yellow markers.
- Round Pond/Mud Pond Trail from Garnet Lake to Garnet Lake Road is marked with yellow markers.
- Bartman Trail from Bartman Road to Baldwin Springs is marked with blue markers.
- A section of the Round Pond Snowmobile Trail has been rerouted so that it no longer crosses Round Pond. (2016)
- A new trail has been built to Tenant Creek Falls from a new trailhead parking area on Hope Falls Road, 0.4 mile before the old trailhead. The old trail across private land is now closed. Hikers must use the new trail to Tenant Creek Falls and not trespass on private lands. The new trail is 0.9 mile from the new trailhead to the first falls, it is 2.1 miles to the second and third falls. The trail was constructed by an Adirondack Mountain Club Volunteer High School Group under DEC contract and direction. An ADA accessible outhouse at the new trailhead was constructed by DEC Northville Operations staff.Map (PDF 616 KB) (2016)
- Hikers using the East Stony Creek Trail must park at the new trailhead parking area on Hope Falls Road and walk the 0.4 mile on the road to reach the East Stony Creek Trailhead. It is 5.1 miles from the new trailhead to Wilcox Lake and 6.0 miles from the new trailhead to the Harrisburg Road Parking Area Map (PDF 616 KB) (2016)
- The North Bend Bridge on Oregon Trail is flooded but intact. Hikers will need to wade through water to enter and exit the bridge.(2016)
- A new lean-to has been constructed on the eastern shore of Wilcox Lake. Many of the logs used to build it were logs salvaged from the Wilcox Lake Leaning Lean-to. The new lean-to is located 0.5 mile north of the former leaning lean-to. DEC wants to express our appreciation to Lean2 Rescue for dismantling the old lean-to, assisting with the removal of garbage from the old lean-to site and constructing the new lean-to. (2016)
- The nearby Lake Desolation Road Conservation Easement Tract (Map PDF, 243 KB)), located in the town of Greenfield, is now open for non-motorized recreational uses including hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, etc. (2016)
- Access is from Lake Desolation Road; roads from the other side are very rough and impassible.
- Archer Vly can be accessed from a hand launch on its southern shore.
- Four primitive tent sites have been designated on Archer Vly.
- Two can be accessed by trails from the parking area off Plank Road
- Two can only be accessed by boat
- Public ATV use is not permitted.
- No vehicles are permitted past gates or signs.
- Please respect private property; several inholdings are throughout the property.
- A bridge on Bartman Trail just north of Fish Ponds is out. The small stream is crossable by rock hopping (2016)
- The bridge over Georgia Creek on Cotter Brook Trail is out due to beaver activity. (2016)
- The bridge over Dayton Creek between Hope Falls Road and Wilcox Lake on East Stony Creek Trail is out. The creek is crossable except during high water conditions. (2016)
- Mud Pond Road contains washouts, it is recommended that it be used by trucks only. (2011)
- There are multiple trees down on the Pumpkin Hollow Road at the Wilcox Lake Trailhead preventing access to the Wilcox Lake Trail, the Murphy Lake Trail and the Pine Orchard Trail. (2011)
- The Pine Orchard Trail is flooded due to beaver activity .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. (2010)
- The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet. (2004)
- Also the Murphy Lake Trail is flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake. (2004)