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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 (leaves DEC website). 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.

Play Smart * Play Safe * Play Local

New York State's PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL campaign encourages residents to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. New York State DEC and State Parks recommendations for getting outside safely incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases. This guidance urges New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Take the Pledge to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Enjoy the Outdoors Safely and Responsibly

  1. I pledge to respect the rules and do my part to keep parks, beaches, trails, boat launches, and other public spaces safe for everyone.
  2. I will stay local and close to home.
  3. I will maintain a safe distance from others outside of my household.
  4. I will wear a mask when I cannot maintain social distancing.
  5. I accept that this summer, I may have to adjust how I enjoy the outdoors to help keep myself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing my plans to visit a public space.
  6. I will be respectful of others by letting them pass by me if needed on a trail and keeping my blanket ten feet apart from others on the beach.
  7. I will move quickly through shared areas like parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas to avoid crowding.
  8. If I'm not feeling well, I will stay home.

Use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how you get outside safely, responsibly, and locally.

What's Local? Consistent with the NYForward (leaves DEC website) phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region (leaves DEC website). Each of the state's 10 REDC regions (leaves DEC website)have a wide variety of recreational opportunities. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities and remember that public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available.

Use DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures.

Social Distancing Guidelines

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

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.

DEC Campgrounds

Updated: All DEC Campgrounds and Day Use Areas in the Adirondacks are open except for the Hinkley Reservoir Day Use Area. All Campgrounds and Day Use Areas have restrictions and rules to protect visitors and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DEC has opened reservations for the 2020 season. Campsites may be reserved for July 10 and after. Due to expected volume, we encourage customers to book reservations online. Walk-in camping is not permitted at this time.

Backcountry Camping

DEC is issuing permits for groups of fewer than 10 people who plan to stay for more than 3 nights at a primitive campsite. DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more. Use of lean-tos should be restricted to members of a single household at a time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

DEC Boat Launches

All DEC boat launches are open. Boaters should continue to social distance on the water and on shore and avoid crowded sites or wear a face mask.

Fire Towers

DEC-controlled fire towers are open to visitors. Only one household group should be in the fire tower cab, groups should social distance on the summit while waiting to climb to the cab, sanitize hands before and after being on the fire tower, and wear masks.

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 guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus when using trailhead registers.

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.

Outdoor Recreation in the Adirondacks

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.

Sign up for DEC Delivers

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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 (July 9, 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 511NY (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions.

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

Hot Weather: The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory for much of the Northeastern, Eastern, and Southern Adirondacks through 7 pm Friday 7/10. Take precautions to avoid heat illness. Limit strenuous activity to early morning and evening; carry plenty of water; stay in the shade as much as possible; drink and rest often. Lower, but very warm temperatures are forecast for the weekend.

Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms can pop up even if they are not forecast. Watch for darkening skies, increased winds, lightning flashes, and the rumble of thunder. Avoid summits and other open areas during thunderstorms. As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm move to lower elevations and seek shelter (when boating or paddling get to shore). If caught outside in a thunderstorm find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks. Make yourself as short as possible by sitting on your pack or sleeping pad with your knees flexed, and hugging your knees to keep your feet together to minimize the ground effect of a near-by lightning strike

Fire Danger: MODERATE. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Be careful with campfires. DEC Forest Rangers continue to deal with wildfires started by unattended and improperly extinguished campfires.

Nuisance Bears: Due to dry conditions, nuisance bear activity is high in the front country and the backcountry. Please take steps to prevent attracting bears in the backcountry. The use of bear resistant canisters by overnight campers is required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and recommended throughout the Adirondacks.

Biting Insects: Black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, biting gnats (no-see-ums), 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 (leaves DEC website).

Water Conditions: Water levels have once again dropped to below average or low in many waters. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters.

Clean, Drain, and Dry - Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and have your boat and trailer inspected and cleaned at one of the many boat inspection and wash stations across the Adirondacks, including the Adirondack Welcome Center's boat wash, located between Exits 17 and 18 on the Northway, before entering the Adirondacks.

Seasonal Access Roads: 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.

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.

Be Prepared. Trails are mainly dry but muddy spots may be present in low areas, along waterways, and after rains. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Temperatures will be lower on high summits, and many exposed summits will be windy. Pack extra layers of clothing. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) 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.

Hiking with Dogs: DEC warns against bringing dogs hiking in the summer, especially in warm to hot temperatures and on bright sunny days. Dogs hiking in warm temperatures are at risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and death - especially older, larger, and overweight dogs and dogs who are unused to strenuous physical activity. In addition to air temperature, scalding rocks on exposed hikes can quickly raise a dog's body temperature. If your dog does collapse, quickly move to create shade for the dog, cool their feet and stomach, and give them time to rest and rehydrate. If you do bring your dog hiking, bring lots of water for them, give them frequent opportunities to rest and hydrate, monitor them closely, and turn around if they start to show signs of distress.

Specific 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.