Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Backcountry Information for the Southern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Southern Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: January 18, 2018

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!

Sign up for DEC Delivers

Enter email address:

Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information for important general notices and information which apply across the Adirondacks.

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 current National Weather Service Forecast (leaves DEC website) and 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, forecasts, and live images of snow depth stakes.

Winter Conditions: (below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice) are present throughout the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 8 to 12 inches. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for current snow information. Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience.

Be prepared for cold weather and avoid hypothermia, wear:

  • Insulated, water and resistant upper and lower outer shell
  • Layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing
  • Warm socks and winter boots
  • Hat and gloves or mittens

Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience.

Trail Conditions: Snow and ice is present on all trails and at all elevations.

  • The use of snowshoes or skis is warranted throughout the Adirondacks.
  • Traction devices, such as microspikes, should be carried and used on icy, exposed areas.

Ice on River and Streams: Many rivers and streams lost ice during last weekend's rain.

  • Ice over moving water may have only recently formed and is thin.
  • Ice may be perched above the current water level of streams as ice formed when the water levels were higher.
  • Use caution at stream crossings.

Ice on Lakes and Ponds: Ice is present on the surface lakes and ponds. Layers of water, slush, and ice will likely be present under the snow and above the main surface of ice. Be safe on ice.

  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid ice:
    • Over running water
    • Near inlets & outlet
    • Near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices.
  • Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person or snowmobile.

Mountain Summits: Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead.

  • Temperatures will be colder
  • Winds will be stronger
  • Wind chill temperatures will be much lower
  • Snow will be deeper
  • Ice will be thicker

Short Days: Carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.

Specific Notices

Ferris Lake Wild Forest

  • The First Day Hike for the Willie Wildlife Marsh on the nearby Peck Hill State Forests has been cancelled due to extremely cold temperatures. (12/28)
  • Snowmobile trail conditions on designated roadways such as Powley Road are fair, but conditions are poor on wooded trails because of insufficient snow and lack of grooming. (12/28)
  • Billy Hamlin Trail is eroded rough and rocky and very wet in places. (10/13)
  • 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.

Northville-Placid Trail

  • 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 portion of the trail through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest may have trouble crossing West Stony Creek during high waters following rains. (2017)

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Shaker Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Hikers using the Northville-Placid Trail may have trouble crossing West Stony Creek during high waters following rains. (2017)

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 First Day Hike for Hadley Mountain has been cancelled due to extremely cold temperatures. (12/29)
  • Gates and designated snowmobile trails are open on the nearby conservation easements lands as follows: (12/29)
    • Edinburg Tract
    • Corinth Tract
    • Johnny Cake Lake Tract
    • Gordon's Creek Tract
    • Lake Desolation Tract
  • The Mulleyville Snowmobile Club Trail System is open. (12/29)
  • The Spruce Mountain Trail is open. The fire tower stairs may be climbed but the cab is locked. (12/28)
  • The cab of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and the observer's cabin are closed and locked for the season. (11/2)
  • 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)
  • 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 only.
    • Archer Vly can be accessed from a hand launch on its southern shore.
    • There are four designated primitive tent sites on Archer Vly.
      • Two can be accessed by trails from the parking area off Lake Desolation Road
      • Two can be accessed by boat
    • ATV use is not permitted. All non-motorized uses are permitted throughout the property.
    • No vehicles are permitted past gates or signs indicating no motorized use.
    • 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)
  • 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 and is flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake. (2004)Snowmobile Trails: (Some, more or most) snowmobile trails are open and the trails are in (fair, good, or excellent) condition. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out.
  • Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers.
    Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobile Trails: (Some, more or most) snowmobile trails are open and the trails are in (fair, good, or excellent) condition. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out.
  • Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers.
    Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles.