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Adirondack Backcountry Information

Lightly snow covered mountains beyond a pond

Welcome to the Adirondacks

The Welcome to the Adirondacks webpage is the place to go if you are interested in learning more about the Adirondacks. It provides information about the Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands, outdoor recreation opportunities, and Leave No Trace. Be sure to check out the links to additional information and tips for recreating safely and minimizing your impacts on natural resources, recreational infrastructure, and other backcountry users in the Adirondacks.

Recreate Local - Safely and Responsibly

DEC encourages responsible recreation during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases, DEC and State Parks encourages New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. Use DECinfo Locator to find DEC-managed lands near you and use #RecreateLocal to share your outdoor experiences in open spaces and parks close to home.

What's Local? New York is focused on getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering the further spread of COVID-19. Responsible, respectful, local recreation is a crucial part of continuing to help New Yorkers stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety. Consistent with the NYForward phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region (PDF) (leaves DEC's website). Each of the state's 10 REDC regions have a wide variety of recreational opportunities available within them for the public to explore and enjoy. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities because public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available.

Social Distancing Guidelines

Follow DEC's guidelines for social distancing (PDF) while recreating outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home. Keep visits short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.
  • Be Safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Recreate only with members of your immediate household. Keep a distance of 6 feet or more from others. Alert others as you're about to pass or step aside to let people pass. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing.
  • Be Ready: Move quickly through parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit.
  • Stay Home: If you're not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their visit.

Pack A Mask

New Yorkers are required to wear masks in public when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained, including on trails and in the backcountry. No matter how or where you plan to recreate, pack a mask and wear it in parking lots, on crowded summits, and anywhere else you meet people along the trail or in the outdoors.

Camping

DEC campgrounds and pavilions are closed to overnight visitation through June 18 (UPDATED). DEC has suspended all new camping reservations for the 2020 season until further notice. We are assessing campground status on a daily basis. Visitors who wish to cancel an existing reservation may do so and receive a full refund or can transfer the reservation to the 2021 season. Thank you for your patience as we work to protect the safety of our visitors and staff.

Water-access campsites at DEC campgrounds remain closed to overnight camping until DEC's campgrounds reopen. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Saranac Lake Islands Campground;
  • Indian Lake Campground;
  • Lake George Islands Campground;
  • Tioga Point Campground;
  • Forked Lake Campground; and
  • Alger Island Campground.

Use of lean-tos should be restricted to members of a single household at a time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Primitive camping is permitted with some adjustments:

  • DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more.
  • DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for more than 3 days at one location on state lands.

DEC Boat Launches

DEC boat launches not located within DEC campgrounds are open for recreational use by individuals and households that adhere to guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Try to keep at least six feet of distance between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands.
  • Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as rails, posts, and tie off cleats.
  • Wear a mask when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained.

Boaters and other day users should continue to social distance on the water and on shore and avoid crowded sites. Boaters and day use visitors should use mainland bathroom facilities before going out on the water, as outhouse facilities at DEC day use sites and campsites are not currently maintained or sanitized.

The Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program will begin this weekend. Stewards will be present at public boat launches throughout the Adirondacks to check for invasive species on water vessels and educate users about proper clean, drain, and dry techniques and other methods of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Trailhead Registers

Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, special precautions should be taken while using trailhead registers to minimize spread of the virus through commonly touched surfaces, such as pencils and the registers themselves. Follow these guidelines when using trailhead registers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • Only one person per group should register. Others in the group should stay away from the register.
  • If someone is at a register when you approach, stand at least six feet away and wait for them to leave before you approach.
  • Bring your own pencil or pen.
  • Minimize touching surfaces.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it immediately before and after using the register.
  • Don't cough or sneeze while at the register. If you must cough or sneeze, move away from the register and hand sanitize before returning.

Fire Towers

DEC-controlled fire towers are closed until further notice. Trails and the summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails.

Limit Parking

Please avoid visiting crowded areas. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas. If parking lots are full, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.

Hike within the Limits of Your Physical Abilities and Experience

Adirondack lands and forests are monitored by Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance (PDF) will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

General Information

Looking for a great seasonal hike in the Adirondacks? How about an easy, family-friendly hike? Maybe you prefer a quiet paddle in a canoe or an exhilarating kayaking adventure. The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website) provides directions and trail descriptions for hundreds of hikes (leaves DEC website) through the woods and up mountains; and directions and descriptions of routes for hundreds of paddles (leaves DEC website) on the lakes, ponds and rivers of the Adirondacks.

The more than 2,300 miles of trails on the New York's Forest Preserve provide hikes of various distances, levels of challenge and types of scenery. All trails are available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and some trails are available for biking or horseback riding. The more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams in the Adirondacks provide for a variety of boating, paddling and fishing opportunities. Find a trail, boat launch or hand launch for your backcountry adventure using the DECinfo Locator or DEC Google Data.

Check out hikes outside the Adirondack High Peaks for a hiking experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, but with fewer people.

Watch clips about hiking in the Adirondacks and other outdoor topics on DEC's YouTube Channel.
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Help Maintain Trails & Waterway Access

The Trail Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

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 recreational infrastructure.

Stay Safe, Respect Others and Protect the Environment

Back country hiking trails can be rugged and rough - they are not maintained as park walkways - and wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Properly prepare to ensure a safe outdoor experience. Follow all state land use rules for hiking and primitive camping and Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) to minimize your impacts on the natural resources and others users.

Be aware that you may encounter black bears and other wildlife while hiking, paddling and camping in the Adirondacks. Enjoy viewing and photographing wildlife, but do not feed or harass wildlife.

General Conditions (June 5, 2020)

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

DEC Adventure Adirondacks: Visit the DEC Facebook page (leaves DEC website) to follow the DEC Adventure Adirondacks Group for more information on winter hiking safety, preparedness, trail conditions, and trip ideas. Login to join the group.

Travel: Check NY511 (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate.

Seasonal Access Roads: Most seasonal access roads are open. Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravel which can be rough. Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads. Roads may be narrow - use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.

Water Conditions: While water levels have risen due to recent rains, water levels remain lower than typical for this season of the year. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Water temperatures are colder than is typical for this time of year. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters, and paddlers.

Biting Insects: Black flies, mosquitoes, and ticks are present. Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants; tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; pack a head net to wear when insects are plentiful; and use an insect repellant - follow label directions. Additional tips for tick prevention.

Fire Danger: Low. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Be careful with campfires.

Hiking

Before you hit the trail, check out DEC's Hike Smart NY page to learn about safety, best practices, and preparedness. While recreating in the Adirondacks, please follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and avoid busy trailheads. Discover trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy.

Muddy Trails Advisory

DEC has issued a Muddy Trails Advisory for trails above 2,500 feet in the Adirondacks. Trails are a mixture of mud and ice as late season ice and snow melt and frost leaves the ground. Trails are particularly dangerous to hikers and susceptible to damage at this time. Help protect high elevation trails by choosing hikes in the Adirondacks below 2,500 feet until conditions improve.

Be Prepared. Trails will be muddy in middle elevation ranges and in some locations at lower elevations. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Dress in layers and be prepared for conditions to change. Temperatures will be lower on summits than at trailheads, and many exposed summits will be windy. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

Use Caution. Many Adirondack trails encounter water crossings, and not all of them have bridges. Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast flowing brooks and rivers. Water is cold and moving swiftly this time of year due to spring snowmelt and recent rains.

Recent Notices

Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages for the most up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

Check the map and then link to the area of Adirondacks you plan to visit. Use the Adirondack Forest Preserve Map and Guide to help you determine the area you plan to visit. The information is provided by DEC Forest Rangers and Foresters based on their knowledge and observations and is updated weekly.

The information provided may not reflect current specific conditions. Contact the local Forest Ranger for more current and specific information by calling 518-897-1300 or check the list of Region 5 Forest Rangers or Region 6 Forest Rangers for direct contact information.



Northeastern Eastern High Peaks East Central Southern West Central Northern Southwestern Western Northwestern
Legend:

Green - Forest Preserve Lands
Tan - Conservation Easement Lands
Gray - Private Lands

More about Adirondack Backcountry Information :

  • Backcountry Information for the Northwestern Adirondack - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Northwestern Adirondack Backcountry for Grass River Complex, Raquette Boreal Complex, and Whitehill Wild Forest
  • Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Northern Adirondack Backcountry for the DeBar Mountain Wild Forest, Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract, Paul Smiths College Conservation Easement Tract, Santa Clara Conservation Easement Tract, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, and St. Regis Canoe Area
  • Backcountry Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Northern Adirondack Backcountry for the Chazy Highlands Wild Forest, Lake Champlain Islands Complex, Sable Highlands Tract, Taylor Pond Complex, and Wilmington Wild Forest.
  • Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the backcountry of the High Peaks Region for the High Peaks Wilderness, Dix Mountain Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness, Hurricane Mountain Wilderness, Jay Mountain Wilderness, McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, and Sentinel Range Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Western Adirondack Backcountry for the Aldrich Pond Wild Forest, Bog River Complex, Cranberry Lake Wild Forest, Five Ponds & Pepperbox Wildernesses, Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest, and William C. Whitney & Round Lake Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the West Central Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the West Central Adirondack Backcountry for the Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Township 19 Conservation Easement Tract, Township 20 Conservation Easement Tract, Blue Ridge Wilderness, Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract, Jessup River Wild Forest, Moose River Plains Complex, Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement, Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, West Canada Lakes Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the East Central Adirondack Backcountry for the Camp Santanoni Historic Area,Essex Chain Lakes Complex, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, Hudson Gorge Wilderness, Jessup River Wild Forest, Siamese Ponds Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
  • Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Eastern Adirondack Backcountry for the Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Lake George Wild Forest, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, and Split Rock Wild Forest
  • Backcountry Information for the Southwestern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Southwestern Adirondack Backcountry for the Black River Wild Forest, Fulton Chain Wild Forest, Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, Independence River Wild Forest, and Pigeon Lake Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the Southern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Southern Adirondack Backcountry for the Ferris Lake Wild Forest, Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Silver Lake Wilderness, and Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
  • North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) - The DEC has completed a Draft Plan/GEIS for the North Country National Scenic Trail Adirondack Park section. This plan describes a proposed route across the central region of the Adirondack Park. The route assessment presented in this plan will be integrated into the unit management plans (ump's) for each respective unit traversed by the trail.