Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks
Updated: December 12, 2013
WARNING: Wilderness 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!
Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.
Mountain Forecast: Weather is an important factor in preparing for hiking or camping in the Adirondack backcountry. Often there is considerable difference in weather conditions at the trailhead and those experienced in the higher elevations. The National Weather Service in Burlington has a product that provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin County. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to access the forecast.
Be Prepared in the Winter
- Your own physical capabilities, knowledge of backcountry recreation and skill level
- The distance you plan to travel and the terrain and conditions you will encounter
- Check (before entering the backcountry)
- With the Local Forest Ranger for current information
- Current weather conditions, snow depths and short-term forecast
- Winter hiking boots
- Cold weather outer wear
- Layers of non-cotton clothes
- Hat and gloves or mittens
- Traction devices and crampons and use when warranted
- Snowshoes or skis and use in snow depths of 8 inches or more
- Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
- Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
- Plenty of food and water
- Extra clothes and socks
- Ensolite pad to rest on and insulate your body from cold surfaces
- Bivy sack or space blankets for extra warmth
- Fire starter supplies - waterproof matches, butane lighter, candles, starter material, etc.
- Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return
Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC has adopted a regulation prohibiting the use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected this new regulation. See Section 196.8 in the DEC Regulations.
Camping Group Sizes in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC regulation requires that groups of ten or more persons camping on state land obtain a permit from a forest ranger. DEC policy prohibits issuing group camping permits to groups wanting to camp on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks that are classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe area. This policy was developed to protect natural resources, the primeval character of the area and exceptional wilderness experiences for all recreationists, and follows Leave No Trace practices. Except for the eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness and the William C. Whitney Wilderness, where the group size is 8, camping groups in wilderness, primitive and canoe area lands are limited to 9 people or less.
Camping Permits: Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more in Wild Forest lands requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. The following information must be provided to the forest ranger to obtain a camping permit: Name, Address, City, State, Zip Code, Vehicle License Plate Number, Telephone Number, Date of Birth, Number in Group, Camping Dates, and Location of Campsite.
Backcountry Campsites: Camping at designated campsites in the backcountry is done on a first come, first served basis. There is no reservation system for these primitive campsites. Campsites in popular areas fill up quickly on weekends so plan accordingly.
Road & Traffic Information: Use the link in the right column to visit NYS Department of Transportation 511 New York for information on transportation services, traffic, and road conditions throughout New York State.
Trails Supporter Patch: The Trails 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.
Very Cold Winter Weather: Very cold temperatures and snow are in the forecast. Day time highs are forecasted to be in the single digits or low teens with night time lows in the single digits or below zero. Wind chills will be much lower. Plan accordingly! Cold weather outer garments, extra layers of non-cotton clothing and a winter hat & gloves are necessary for any outdoor recreation activities. Use the link near bottom of the right column to view the current National Weather Service "Weather Forecast". (12/12)
Snow and Ice: Snow and ice are present at all elevations. Currently there are 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground in southern Franklin County and 4 to 8 inches in northern Hamilton County. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations and more snow is in the forecast. Wear traction devices and carry snowshoes or skis to wear when warranted. Crampons should be carried and worn on exposed summits such as St. Regis Mountain. Use the link near the bottom right column to see the current National Weather Service "Snow Depth Map". (12/12)
Prevent Hypothermia: Dress properly and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Traveling in snow takes more energy and will take longer than traveling the same trail on bare ground. Plan accordingly! (12/12)
Snowshoes/Skis: Wear snowshoes or skis wherever the snow depth is 8 inches or more to prevent "post-holing", avoid injury and ease travel through snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse. (12/12)
Short Days: Days are short. Plan accordingly and always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra fresh batteries. (12/12)
Summits: Conditions on and near summits are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, deeper snow and ice. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "Mountain Forecasts" for selected summits in this area. (12/12)
Ice on Water: Ice has formed on most waters and is thickening on high elevation ponds & lakes and small to mid-size bodies of water. Check ice thickness before traveling across it. Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlet and near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. (12/12)
Hunting Seasons: Hunting seasons remain open for small game. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. (12/12)
Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails. Plan accordingly. (12/12)
Access Road to Madawaska Pond: Public access to the Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands and Madawaska Flow from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (12/12)
Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Trail (northern portion)
- The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine. Use the link near the bottom of the right column for more information.
- Ice has formed on backwaters, bays and stillwater stretches, along shorelines and on ponds & lakes. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1. (12/12)
DeBar Mountain Wild Forest/Kushuqua Conservation Easment Lands
- The Town of Franklin will plow the Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead parking area on County Route 26 to allow off-highway parking for winter recreation enthusiasts using the Loon Lake Mountain Trail and the conservation easement lands in that area. (12/12)
- A new trail has been built to the firetower on summit of 3,355-foot Loon Lake Mountain. A trailhead parking area is located on the west side of of County Route 26 in the Town of Franklin in Franklin County, approximately 4.7 miles north of the hamlet of Loon Lake. Trail map and press release with more information. (10/10)
- Campers using either of the two campsites on the Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area on the east side of County Route 26 in the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands are encouraged to park in the new Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead parking area. (10/10)
Deer River Primitive Area
- The Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the Deer River Primitive Area and its recreational opportunities.
- All trails and facilities are open and in satisfactory condition. (2013)
Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area
- The Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area and its recreational opportunities.
- Public access to these lands and waters from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (12/12)
Paul Smith College Conservation Easement Lands
- The Paul Smith College Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- All trails and facilities are open and in satisfactory condition. (2013)
Round Lake Wilderness
- All trails and facilities are open and in satisfactory condition. (2013)
- Snow depths of 8 inches or more can be expected by the weekend. Wear snowshoes or skis wherever the snow depth is 8 inches or more to prevent "post-holing", avoid injury and ease travel through snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse. (12/12)
- State boundary lines are not yet marked, use a map and be aware of your location at all times.
- Special fishing regulations apply, check your fishing guide for details.
Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands (former Champion Lands)
- The Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Public access to the Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands and Madawaska Flow from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (12/12)
- The public can now access and enjoy a broad range of recreational activities all year long on the easement Lands. The public can recreate on all the lands except those immediately surrounding the leased hunting camps. Previously these lands were closed to hunting from September 1 to December 31 and closed to all public recreation during the big game hunting season. Under the conservation easement agreement the private leased hunting and recreational camps can post and enforce against trespass on one acre areas around the camp buildings. Also, in addition to roads open to public motor vehicle access, members of the leased camps have the right to use motor vehicles to access their camps and other areas not open to public motor vehicle access. Respect the rights of the private camps and the camp members. (2012)
- Leasing of hunting and recreational camps on these conservation easement lands will continue under a new agreement between DEC and the landowner. See press release for more information. (2012)
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest
- The typical location for roadside parking for access to the McKenzie Pond Boulder Field has been posted with no parking signs by the Essex County Highway Department. A location a short distance away on the other side of the road now is designated with signs for roadside parking. DEC plans to develop a parking area for the McKenzie Pond Boulder Field after the Saranac Lake Wild Forest UMP is finalized, until then boulderers should use the designated roadside parking. (10/24)
- Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road. (6/6)
St. Regis Canoe Area
- The St. Regis Canoe Area web page provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities.
- Maps depicting the current location of campsites can be viewed by using the links in the left column. Maps in PDF can be downloaded also be view and downloaded Map 1 - Long Pond region (PDF 166 kb) and Map 2 - St Regis Pond region (PDF 181 kb) (2011)
- 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)
William C. Whitney Wilderness
- The William C. Whitney Wilderness web page provides information about the wilderness and its recreational opportunities.
- The Lake Lila Road gate has been locked and the road will be closed to public motor vehicle traffic through the winter and until the end of mud season. Hikers, skiers and snowshoers may still use the road, but are prohibited from trespassing on adjacent private lands. Park along the Sabattis Road and do not block the gate. (12/12)
- Snow depths of 10 inches or more can be expected by the weekend. Wear snowshoes or skis wherever the snow depth is 8 inches or more to prevent "post-holing", avoid injury and ease travel through snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse. (12/12)
- The Rock Pond/Hardigan Pond Portage Trail (aka Canoe Carry) has been rerouted to avoid a wetland on the shore of Rock Pond. The new take-out on Rock Pond is located about 650 feet northeast of the old take-out. The reroute adds about 0.2 mile to the carry between Rock and Hardigan Ponds. (7/25)
- A State Supreme Court Justice has ruled on the navigability of the waterway that flows through privately owned land between Lilypad Pond and the boundary of State lands on Shingle Shanty Brook. These include Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and Shingle Shanty Brook downstream from Mud Pond Outlet to the boundary of State lands. The court held that the waterway is navigable-in-fact and thus subject to the right of public navigation, meaning that members of the public may travel through the waterway. The right of navigation also includes the right to portage around obstacles, such as the shallow rapids flowing out of Mud Pond. The right of public navigation does not allow use of the private lands for other purposes, such as hiking, picnicking, or camping. Hamilton County Supreme Court Judge's Decision (PDF 116 kb) and Order & Judgement (PDF 168 kb). (6/6)
- Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Please use caution if you choose to cross this area. (2010)
More about Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks:
- Loon Lake Mountain Trail Map - Map of the trail to the fire tower on the summmit of Loon Lake Mountain
- St Regis Canoe Area Campsite Map 1 - Map depicting the current location of campsites in the Long Pond region of the St. Regis Canoe Area
- St Regis Canoe Area Campsite Map 2 - Map depicting the current location of campsites in the St. Regis Pond region of the St. Regis Canoe Area