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Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Updated: February 16, 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. (link leaves DEC's website)

Busy Holiday Weekend: Due to the good amount of snow on the ground, the great weather forecast, and the three-day holiday weekend, expect to encounter larger than usual numbers of people on the trails.

Snow: Current snow depths range from 20 to 30 inches. 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 skis is strongly encouraged on all trails. 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.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper on high elevations summits such as St. Regis Mountain. Sight distance can be limited by clouds and snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Ice on Trails: Thick ice may be present at some locations on exposed bedrock on summits and other open areas. Carry crampons on all hikes and use when conditions warrant.

Ice on Water: Due to periods of thaw and the lack of extremely cold temperatures this winter, ice on ponds and lakes is thinner than usual. Slush or water may be present between the snow cover and the surface of the main layer of ice. Ice over moving water is thin and may have only recently formed. Be safe on the ice.

Ice on Lakes & Ponds: Many lakes and ponds have rivers or streams passing through them. Ice over the channels of rivers or streams in the lakes or ponds is much thinner than other ice on the lake or pond due to the current beneath the ice. Know the location of channels and avoid ice over channels.

Snowmobiles: Snowmobile trails are open and trail conditions are excellent. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out. Snowmobilers are urged to follow designated trails and avoid frozen bodies of water.

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.

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

  • The C8 Snowmobile Trail is open between State Route 30 and the Loon Lake Road - the Debar Trail. (2/9)
  • The Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use. (1/5)
  • Gates on the C7B Snowmobile Trail (aka D&H) are open between Saranac Lake and Kushaqua. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out.

Kushaqua Tract Easement

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use. (1/5)
  • 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. (12/9)
  • A newly opened 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). (9/29)

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.
  • The C8 Snowmobile Trail between State Route 30 and the Blue Mountain Road is open. (12/30)
  • The S81A Snowmobile Trail between Blue Mountain Road and the St. Lawrence County line is open. Snowmobilers should use caution as currently they will be sharing Alder Brook Road with logging trucks. (12/30)
  • The gate to the Pinnacle Road is closed and the public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. (12/22)
  • Madwaska Road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the end of the spring mud season. (12/22)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • Gates on the C7B Snowmobile Trail (aka D&H) are open between Saranac Lake and Kushaqua. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out.
  • The Lower Lock in the Saranac Chain is closed for extensive repairs and rehabilitation. The lock will reopen in spring 2017. (2017)
  • 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.
  • 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: