Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks
Updated: January 12, 2016
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!
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. (link leaves DEC's website)
Snow: Current snow depths range from 2 to 10 inches, deeper in the higher elevations such as Pharaoh Mountain. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.
Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoes or skies is strongly encouraged wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use.
Crampons/foot spikes: Trails will be icy as rain and warm temperatures will be followed by below freezing temperatures. Crampons or other traction devices should be carried and worn when conditions warrant.
Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper. Sight distance can be limited by clouds and snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
Winter Conditions: Be prepared for snow, ice, cold temperatures and short days:
- Wear water and wind resistant outer layers.
- Wear layers of fleece, wool, and other non-cotton clothing.
- Pack extra clothing including a fleece, wool or other non-cotton jacket or sweater.
- Add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
- Wear a cold weather hat and gloves (or mittens).
- Eat, drink, and rest often.
- Carry snowshoes and foot spikes, and wear when warranted.
- Always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.
Ice on Water: Ice has formed on lakes and ponds and the backwaters of rivers and streams.
- Cross-country skiers and ice anglers have been seen on some lakes but not snowmobiles.
- Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
- Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person
- Avoid ice:
- Near open water
- Over running water
- Near inlets and outlet
- Near boathouses & docks
- Near "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices
Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.
Hammond Pond Wild Forest
- The bridge over Crowfoot Brook on the Crowfoot Trail has been replaced thanks to the efforts of volunteers from Champlain Area Trails. (11/23)
- The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity. (2007)
Lake George Wild Forest
- Dacy Clearing Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The road is a designated snowmobile trail (S49E) but remains closed to snowmobiles until conditions improve. (12/22)
- Camping is prohibited on Montcalm Point at the point of the Tongue Mountain Range on Lake George. (2016)
- Large camping groups (more than 8 people) must contact local Forest Ranger prior to leaving the trailhead and entering the Tongue Mountain Range trail system. Also campfires must be kept small and within a 3 foot fire ring. (2016)
- Gay Pond Road is heavily rutted from illegal use by 4-wheel drive vehicles during the snowmobile season. Only high clearance vehicles should be used to traverse the road and even those should be used with caution. (2016)
- Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic. (2016)
- Trails on Cat & Thomas Mountains are marked with Lake George Land Conservancy markers. Obtain a map from Conservancy before hiking this trail system. (2016)
- On the Tongue Mountain Range, signs at trail intersection of the Summit (red) Trail and Lake (blue) Trail coming from the Clay Meadow Trailhead are often stolen. Hikers are advised to carry maps. (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)
- Users of the Shelving Rock Day Use Area must park in designated parking areas, not on the side of Shelving Rock Road. Vehicles parked along the road block traffic including emergency vehicles. Vehicles parked along the road will be ticketed. (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.
- Members of the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program have cleared blowdown and installed turnpikes (trail hardening) on the Sucker Brook Horse Trail and removed blowdown from other trails in the wilderness. (2016)
- The newly constructed Berrymill Pond Lean-to is available for use. DEC Operations, Lands & Forests and Forest Ranger staff completed the construction of the new lean-to. (2016)
Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest
- The Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Nothing to report.
More about Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks:
- Shelving Rock Area of the Lake George Wild Forest - New camping sites, parking lots and management actions in the Shelving Rock Area of the Lake George Wild Forest