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Welcome to the Adirondacks

accessible recreationhikingfiretowercamping back country camping paddlingboatingfishing rock and ice climbingbikinghorse trailsbird viewing areacross country skiing snow shoeing snowmobiling

Before you start your adventure, be sure to check the regularly updated conditions for the Adirondacks on the Adirondack Backcountry Recreation web pages. Subscribe to the Adirondack Weekly Bulletin on DEC Delivers for up-to-date information on conditions, general notices, closures and weekly highlights.

At six million acres, the Adirondack Forest Preserve, commonly referred to as the Adirondack Park, is the largest protected wilderness area in the eastern United States. In fact, it's larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier National Parks combined! This massive expanse of nature, divided into both public and private land, provides endless outdoor recreation opportunities for residents of New York State and visitors from all over the country and the world. Hiking, paddling, camping, fishing, hunting, climbing, skiing, snowmobiling - all of this and more is possible in the Adirondacks. From accessible nature trails to rugged mountains towering at over 5,000 feet, small ponds to the enormous Lake Champlain, there is a destination for every size and kind of adventure - and it is yours to explore. All that is asked of you in return is that you recreate safely and do your part to preserve this incredible place for generations to come.

Explore Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement Lands of the Adirondack Park

Forest Preserve

man sitting on a rocky mountain peak overlooking mountains in winter

Of the 4.8 million acres of land managed by DEC's Division of Lands and Forests, nearly 3 million acres, or 61%, are classified as Forest Preserve, 2.6 million of those acres are in the Adirondack Park. Protected as "forever wild" by Article XIV of the New York State Constitution, New York's Forest Preserve lands range from remote backcountry to DEC-operated campgrounds, and have exceptional scenic, recreational, and ecological value. Rugged mountain peaks, remote lakes and ponds, millions of acres of unfragmented forests and nearly 2,000 miles of trails provide ample opportunity for many types of recreation while also providing a variety of habitats for plants and wildlife. Striking a balance between recreational use and resource protection is achieved through a park-wide land classification system and individual unit management plans.

  • Forest Preserve Units (Regions 5 and 6) provide information on specific Adirondack forest preserve lands and their recreational opportunities (such as hiking, paddling, camping, etc.) and direct users to trailheads, parking areas, and nearby amenities.

Conservation Easements

DEC holds several conservation easements in the Adirondack region that allow for some level of public recreation. Every conservation easement is different regarding public access and recreation opportunities, so please be sure to read a property's individual webpage or contact the local DEC office for details.

  • Conservation Easement Tracts (Regions 5 and 6) provide detailed background information, regulations, and recreational opportunities pertaining to each tract of land.

Wildlife Management Areas

Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are lands owned by New York State under the control and management of the DEC's Bureau of Wildlife. These lands have been acquired primarily for the purposes of wildlife reproduction and survival. They provide great opportunities for wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, trapping, and fishing as well as areas for the public to interact with a wide variety of wildlife species through photography and bird watching. Several WMAs have accessible features, such as hunting blinds, fishing platforms, hand boat launches, trails, and kiosks. See the Accessible Recreation Destinations in the next section.

Find Your Adventure

a woman in a fire tower looking out at a sunset

The Adirondack Forest Preserve provides users with countless outdoor recreation opportunities. Find your adventure using the following resources:

Destinations

  • Accessible Recreation Destinations - List of accessible facilities and opportunities by county. Accessible features include ADA compliant parking, picnic pads, camping pads, fishing access, nature viewing, and water access.
  • Eastern Adirondacks/Lake Champlain - List of forest preserve units, state lands, wildlife management areas, state parks, public boat launches, and campgrounds by county in the Eastern Adirondacks and Lake Champlain Region.
  • Western Adirondacks - List of forest preserve units, state lands, wildlife management areas, state parks, public boat launches, and campgrounds by county in the Western Adirondacks.
  • DECinfo Locator - DECinfo Locator is an interactive map that lets users access information regarding DEC managed facilities and outdoor recreation opportunities across New York State.

Hiking

woman on a wooden bridge in a shady forest

Hiking is an excellent way to reconnect with the outdoors. The following resources will help guide you to your next hiking adventure. Always be safe, prepared, and practice Leave No Trace and learn more to ensure you have an enjoyable and sustainable outdoor experience.

  • Adirondack Hikes Under 2,500ft - A selection of hikes from each forest preserve unit that are great for beginners and families. These hikes are recommended during the spring mud season and early winter seasons when high elevation trails (trails above 2,500ft) are most susceptible to erosion and damage.
  • Hike with Us Adirondacks (Coming Soon) - A series of guided hikes throughout the summer months that provide opportunities for hikers of all experience levels, including families. Registration is free for all hikes.
  • Fire towers - Experience a piece of Adirondack history with a hike to one of the region's many fire towers. Most fire towers have open cabs that offer stunning vistas, and many are staffed in the summer by knowledgeable stewards who add historical reference to your trip.

Learn more:

Camping

  • Campgrounds & Day Use Areas - DEC operates 47 campgrounds in the Adirondack Park. Campgrounds provide a wide variety of experiences and amenities, including island camping, tent and trailer camping, boat launching facilities, hiking trails, beaches and day use areas with picnic tables and grills.
  • Primitive Camping - Looking for a more remote or backcountry experience? The Adirondacks provides all types of primitive experiences like roadside camping, canoe camping, hike-in sites and lean-tos. Primitive sites are available on a first come-first serve basis.
  • Camping Guide (leaves DEC website) - Interactive guide on NY state campgrounds.
  • First Time Camper Program - NYS provides FREE First -Time Camper weekends throughout the summer. New York families that have never camped before will have the opportunity to see if they enjoy the great outdoors before investing in their own gear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at a select NYS campground for a designated weekend.

Learn more:

Paddling & Boating

a man and a woman in a canoe on a pond with a hill of trees in the background

The Adirondacks consists of more than 3,400 lakes and ponds and approximately 856 miles of wild and scenic rivers. Paddle the ponds and rivers for a one day or multi-day excursion, or find a boat launch site on one of the many larger lakes to enjoy a relaxing day on the water.

Learn more:

Fishing

The Adirondacks offers diverse open water fishing experiences from early Spring to late Fall. Trout and salmon season opens on streams in early April and moves to the lakes and ponds as ice-out progresses through April and May. The month of May also sees the opening of the walleye and pike seasons. Summer brings the start of bass season and excellent fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. And of course, there are many opportunities to catch panfish such as perch and sunfish throughout the year. Fishing for brook trout on an Adirondack pond is the signature angling experience. The beautifully colored "Brookie" or "Speckled Trout" is the State Fish of New York and is highly prized. The experience of fishing for brookies on a small pond in a wild setting is largely unique to this area.

Learn more:

Rock Climbing

Home to world class climbing routes, the Adirondacks has something to offer for every climber. If you're a beginner and not sure where to start, use these resources to learn more, contact the DEC, or check out local guide shops.

  • Rock Climbing - Lists options for rock climbing opportunities on DEC lands in the Adirondacks as well as state land regulations. Learn how to protect yourself and protect the land while climbing.

Learn more:

Biking

two people mountain biking on a trail in a forest

The Adirondacks offers something for bikers of all experience. From downhill single track to biking along an old forest road, find the perfect path for you using these resources. Biking is allowed on all multiple use trails, roads open to public motorized vehicles, and other trails designated for bicycling on DEC lands.

  • Mountain Biking - Lists opportunities for off-road (double track) biking and mountain (single track) biking. Learn about biking trail etiquette and safety.

Learn more:

Other Recreation

Winter Recreation

Don't let snow keep you away from the Adirondacks this winter. Put on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes, hop on a snowmobile, or grab equipment for ice climbing or ice fishing and enjoy Adirondack recreation all winter long.

  • Skiing & Snowshoeing - The Eastern and Western Adirondacks and Lake Champlain Region lists options for great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities on both DEC lands and State Park properties.
  • Ice Climbing - Lists options for ice climbing opportunities on DEC lands and explains state land regulations and how to protect yourself and protect the land while climbing.
  • Snowmobiling - Learn about snowmobiling on Adirondack Lands.
  • Ice Fishing - Lists places to fish by county in the Adirondack regions of 5 and 6. Learn more about ice safety and ice fishing regulations. Check out the I FISH NY Guide to Ice Fishing (PDF).

Recreate Safely and Practice Leave No Trace

Safety and sustainability should be top of mind whenever you recreate outdoors. When safety isn't taken seriously, DEC's Forest Rangers are often called upon to provide lifesaving support to hikers in need. Their expertise and experiences led them to develop the HikeSmartNY program, which provides critical information on how to properly prepare for a hike, what to bring, and what actions you can take on the trail to increase your chances of a successful hike. To prepare for current trail conditions, visit Adirondack Backcountry Information.

In addition to keeping yourself safe, it is the responsibility of every visitor to properly care for Adirondack lands. You can do this by practicing the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, these guidelines for sustainable recreation will help you protect the land, wildlife, and the experience other visitors wherever you go. While it can be hard to leave absolutely no trace, reducing your impacts as much as possible will help to preserve the Adirondacks for generations to come.

Help Maintain Trails & Waterway Access

Volunteer to help preserve, maintain and enhance New York's outdoor recreation. Individuals or groups can enter into a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement to maintain trails, lean-tos, boat launches, or other recreation infrastructure.