Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks
Updated: March 30, 2017
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 (leaves DEC's website).
The National Weather Service has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING in effect from 5 am Friday (3/31) to 2 pm Saturday (4/1) for Western Essex County with 6 to 12 inches of heavy wet snow forecasted.
Snow accumulations will be deeper in the higher elevations. Expect WHITEOUT CONDITIONS due to clouds and blowing snow on summits during, and possibly after, the storm.
Snow: Snow depths range from 4 to 8 inches with an additional 4 to 12 inches forecasted. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.
Trail Conditions: Trails are or will be covered with snow. Secondary, less used trails may have blowdown (fallen or leaning trees, limbs and branches) and may require "breaking trail" after the storm where the deeper snows are forecast. Trails along water and in low areas will be a mix of snow, slush, mud, ice, and water. Trails may be icy where snow depths are a few inches or less.
Snowshoes or Skis: Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails covered in 8 inches or more of snow. The use of snowshoes prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use.
Ice on Trails: Rocks and bedrock along streams, in drainages, on open summits and other exposed locations are icy. Carry microspikes or other food traction devices and use when warranted.
Snowmobiles: Many trails systems and gates on individual trails are closed. Contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) for information on opened trails and local trail conditions before going out.
Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper on high elevation summits such as Pharaoh Mountain. Sight distance can be limited by blowing snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.
Ice on Water: Ice is thinning, weakening, and receding from inlets, outlets and shorelines. Snow, slush and water are present on the surface of the ice. Ice on rivers, streams, and most channels of moving water, if present, is breaking up or very thin. Ice that can hold snow may not be able to hold the weight of a person. No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition first. Be safe on the ice.
Winter Conditions: Be prepared for snow, ice, cold temperatures and short days.
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. (2016)
- The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity. (2007)
Lake George Wild Forest
- Gates on Notch Lane in the Mount Tom State Forest (town of White Creek, Washington County) have been reopened for snowmobiles. (3/16)
- Gates have been reopened and snowmobiles can use both Lily Pond Road and Long Pond Road. (3/16)
- Gates remain closed on Jabe Pond Road and Palmer Pond Road. (3/16)
- The gate on Prospect Mountain Veteran's Memorial Highway has been closed for the season. The highway will reopen for use for a fee in the spring. (3/9)
- Dacy Clearing Road and all other DEC gates in the Shelving Rock/Buck Mountain Area are closed. Dacy Clearing road is closed to snowmobiles and motor vehicles for the spring mud season. The road will be reopened when it has dried and hardened. (3/3)
- 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)
- 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