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Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Updated: April 27, 2017

Map of showing the Northern Region of the Adirondacks

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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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).

Seasonal Access Roads: Most all seasonal access roads are closed for the spring mud season. The roads will be reopened after they have dried, hardened, and any necessary maintenance. DEC plans to have all seasonal roads open before the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend. However, wet, cold weather and other factors could prevent the opening individual roads or sections of roads. Check the Specific Notices below for the status of individual roads or road systems.

Trail Conditions: Hard-packed snow and ice may be present on heavily used trails above 2,700 feet (St. Regis Mountain is 2,874 feet high and Debar Mountain 3,303 feet high) - carry microspikes and use them when warranted. Otherwise trails are wet and muddy, especially in low spots and along waterways.

Protect Trails & Trailside Vegetation: Stay on trails to protect vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails, especially in the higher elevations. Walk through mud and water, use microspikes to walk on hard-packed snow and ice, and use snowshoes to get through deep, soft snow. Do not walk on the vegetation growing beside trails.

Water Conditions: Water levels are at average spring-time high levels and water temperatures are reminded that until May 1 all persons on any boat, kayak, or canoe must be wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD aka). Anglers are encouraged to wear PFDs when wading or fishing from steep shorelines. A person submersed in cold water can lose consciousness in minutes, a PFD will keep their head above water and prevent drowning.

Water Crossings: High water levels will make crossings of some rivers and streams difficult, treacherous or even impossible.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will present on high elevation summits. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.

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

Specific Notices

Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Trail

  • The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) (leaves DEC website) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine.

DeBar Mountain Wild Forest

  • Debar Meadow Road is open for public motor vehicle use. (4/27)
  • Deep snow is present above 3,000 feet. Carry and use microspikes and snowshoes when climbing Debar Mountain. (4/27)
  • Debar Pond Access Road is open and accessible by motor vehicle. (4/20)
  • The foot bridge to Debar Pond is in disrepair, the pond should be accessed via road beyond locked gate near parking area. (4/20)
  • The Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use, however a logger will be utilizing a short stretch of the trail on Mullans Road. Only 1 or 2 loads a day will be hauled out by truck but hikers and skiers using the road should pay attention and yield to logging trucks. (3/3)

Kushaqua Tract Easement

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The main gate next to the parking area and register box on the North Branch Road is closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited on Hunter's Camp Road and Mountain Pond Road until the end of spring mud season. (2017)
  • A 115-foot path to a dock on the upper reaches of the North Branch of the Saranac River provides access for non-motorized watercraft to this trout stream. The path is located off the southern shoulder of the North Branch Road approximately 460 feet west of the North Branch Road Parking Area near intersection of Mountain Pond Road (44.5114°N, 74.1472°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website). (2016)

Paul Smith College Easement

Santa Clara Tract Easement (includes Madawaska Pond/Quebec Brook Primitive Area & Deer River Primitive Area)

  • The Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Madwaska Road is open to public motor vehicle use. (4/27)
  • Pinnacle Road is open to public motor vehicle use. (2017)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • The Lower Locks in the Saranac Chain remains closed for extensive repairs and rehabilitation. The locks will reopen by the end of June. (4/27)
  • Whiteface Landing Trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail. (2016)

St. Regis Canoe Area

  • The St. Regis Canoe Area web page provides information including a map about the unit, its recreational opportunities and how to access the lands and waters.
  • Deep snow is present above 3,000 feet. Carry and use microspikes and snowshoes when climbing St. Regis Mountain. (4/27)
  • The Little Green Pond seasonal access road is open for public motor vehicle use. The road provides access to the campsites on Little Green Pond and the hand launch on Little Clear Pond. (4/20)
  • Fishing is prohibited on Little Green Pond, Little Clear Pond and their tributaries to protect valuable hatchery brood stock and endangered round whitefish. (2016)
  • DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower have completed the restoration and rehabilitation of the St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower. (2016)
  • A section of the canoe carry about half way between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers. This will required a short paddle across the beaver pond. (2011)

More about Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks: