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Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Eastern Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: February 15, 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!

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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 snow depths.

Holiday Weekend: Due to the three day Presidents' Day holiday weekend expect to encounter more vehicles at trailheads and more people and snowmobiles on the trails.

Winter Conditions: Below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice are present throughout the Adirondacks.

  • Snow depths range from 8 to 15 inches.
  • Snow is deeper in some localities and in higher elevations
  • See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for current snow information.
  • Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. (link leaves DEC's website)
  • Be prepared for cold weather and avoid hypothermia, wear:
    • Water proof upper and lower outer shell
    • Waterproof footwear
    • Layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing (not cotton!)
    • Hat and gloves or mittens

Trail Conditions: Trails are covered in 8 to 15 inches of snow. Trails may have ice on the surface of the snow due to recent and forecasted warm weather and rain. Thick ice is present on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas.

  • Snow shoes or skis are should be worn on all trails.
  • Trail crampons and other traction devices should be carried during outings on low elevation and less steep trails and used when warranted.
  • Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons during outings on steep slopes in the high elevations and use when warranted.

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

Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leave DEC website) for selected summits.

Ice on Water Surfaces: Ice has formed and thickened on most waterbodies. Ice on rivers and streams is less thick. 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.

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.

Snowmobile Trails: Snowmobile trails systems throughout the Adirondacks are open. Check local conditions before going out. Be safe when snowmobiling. (link leaves DEC's website)

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

Specific Notices

Hammond Pond Wild Forest

  • The Hammond Pond Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC and the town of Horicon have completed paving the Brant Lake Boat Launch. (2017)

Lake George Wild Forest

  • Gates are open on snowmobile trails. Check conditions local conditions before going out. (2018)
  • DEC crews have dismantled and removed the Thomas Mountain Cabin. Crews will return in the spring to rake and complete clean up of the site. The cabin was removed because it did not comply with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and was not compatible with the Forest Preserve. Additionally, vandals had started misusing the cabin, such that it had become an attractive nuisance. (2018)
  • Cross-country skiing trails at Rogers Rock are opened and groomed. (2018)
  • Trails on Cat & Thomas Mountains are marked with Lake George Land Conservancy markers. Obtain a map from Conservancy before hiking this trail system. (2016)
  • Heavy blowdown is present above 1,200 feet on Erebus Mountain Trail, Fishbrook Pond to Lake George Trail and other lesser used trails in the area. (2015)
  • Deer Leap Trail on Tongue Mountain is washed out and heavily cobbled with boulders from the trail head to the spur to Deer Leap, but is passable on foot. (2014)
  • Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. (2010)
  • The Hudson River Special Management Area contains campsites, trails and day use areas., including ADA accessible facilities.
  • The Shelving Rock Area contains campsites, trails, and day use areas.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

  • The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC staff have completed construction of a 15-vehicle parking area near along Pharaoh Lake Road near the intersection with Beaver Pond Road. (2017)
  • A new bridge over the Pharaoh Lake Outlet (and dam) was installed by Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program crews. (2017)

Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest


More about Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks: