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Backcountry Information for the Southern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Southern Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: April 20, 2017

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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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).

Spring Conditions: Temperatures are warming, rain is falling, snow is melting and waters are rising. Spring has arrived, be prepared for a variety of conditions.

Seasonal Access Roads: All seasonal access roads are closed for the spring mud season. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance. DEC plans to have all seasonal roads open before the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend. However, wet, cold weather and other factors could prevent the opening individual roads or sections of roads. Check the Specific Notices for the status of individual roads or road systems.

Snow: Patches of snow may be present in the higher elevations mostly in in and along forests, on north facing slopes, and in other shaded areas.

Trail Conditions: Trails are wet and muddy conditions are prevalent. Remember to walk through mud and water - not around - to protect trailside vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails. Patches of ice or snow may be present on middle elevation trails in or along forests, on north facing slopes, or other shaded areas. Snow: There is little to no snow except in the higher elevations. Any snow present is mostly in patches in and along forests, on north facing slopes, and in other shaded areas.

Water Conditions: Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold. Boaters and paddlers are reminded that until May 1 all persons on any boat, kayak, or canoe must be wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD aka). Anglers are encouraged to wear PFDs when wading or fishing from steep shorelines. A person submersed in cold water can lose consciousness in minutes, a PFD will keep their head above water and prevent drowning.

Water Crossings: High water levels will make crossings of some rivers and streams difficult, treacherous or even impossible.

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

  • 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.

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 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

  • All rock climbing routes on Crane Mountain in The Amphitheater section of the Black Arches Wall and the climbing routes Hang Time and Black Arch Arête on the Main Wall will be closed to allow peregrine falcons to breed and choose a nesting site. (3/30)
  • 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)