Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks
Updated: September 19, 2014
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 3,000 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.
- 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 and short-term forecast
- Hiking boots
- Light, light-colored breathable non-cotton clothing
- Hat to protect from sun, rain & biting insects
- Sunglasses & sunscreen
- Insect repellent
- Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
- Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
- Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
- Plenty of food and water
- Extra clothes and socks
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Sunscreen & insect repellent
- Bivy sack or space blankets in case you need to spend the night in woods
- Fire starter supplies - waterproof matches, butane lighter, candles, starter material, etc.
- Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return
Organized Events on State Lands: DEC regulation (190.8(cc)) prohibits any person from sponsoring, conducting or participating in any organized event of more than twenty people unless authorized by DEC under a temporary revocable permit (TRP). DEC seeks to ensure that large groups recreate on forest preserve lands 1) at locations, 2) during certain periods and 3) following practices that minimize their impacts on trails, vegetation, wildlife and other users.
Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC has adopted a regulation (Section 196.8)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 in the DEC Regulations.
Camping Group Sizes in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC regulation (Section 190.4) 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.
Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. See the information under the "Be Prepared" heading above to ensure you are prepared. Being properly prepared for weather and other conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. Weather forecasts can and do change, use the National Weather Service "NWS Weather Forecast" link near the bottom of the right column to check the current weather forecast before entering the backcountry. (9/18)
Watch for Moose When Driving: Moose are active at this time of year, especially around dawn and dusk when visibility can be limited. Reduce your speed, stay alert and watch the roadsides at this time of year. See the full press release for more information. (9/19)
Trail Conditions: Trails are mainly dry but wet and muddy conditions may be encountered in low areas, drainages and trails along waters. Wear gaiters and appropriate footwear. Walk through - not around - wet and muddy areas to avoid further eroding and widening trails. (9/18)
Cooler Temperatures & Shorter Days: Though technically still summer, early fall conditions are present in the Adirondacks. Temperatures are cooler, be sure to carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and take off layers as needed to keep comfortable. The sun is rising later and setting earlier. Plan your trips to ensure you are out of the backcountry before dark. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries just in case. (9/18)
Hunting Seasons: hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game are open or will open shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking 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. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution. (9/18)
Paddlers & Boaters: Water levels are a below average for this time of year. Although Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) are not required at his time, paddlers and boaters are strongly encouraged to wear PFDs at all times while on the water. Children under age 12 are required to wear a PFD at all times while on the water. Strong currents and cold water can quickly cause a person without a PFD to lose their ability to keep their head above water. Use the "USGS Current Streamflow for NY Waters" link near the bottom right column to check water levels and flows in select waters. (9/18)
Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are typically dirt or gravel roads that often are rough and muddy with rocks sticking up in locations. Shoulders are soft, ditched or even non existent. Drivers should always drive slowly and use caution when operating on these roads. Pickup trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended - four wheel drive vehicles will serve even better. (9/18)
- Store food, toiletries & garbage in a bear resistant canister away from the campsite or lean-to;
- If you don't use a bear resistant canister hang your food, toiletries and garbage at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from any trees;
- Prepare food away from the campsite or lean-to, and prepare and eat food well before dark;
- Take food out immediately before preparation and/or eating;
- Take out only as much food as will be eaten; and
- If approached by a bear make noise and make all reasonable efforts to keep bears from obtaining food, but do not risk physical contact. Back away from the bear, but never run.
Summits: Conditions on and near summits of high elevation mountains are more extreme - stronger winds and cooler temperatures. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "NWS Mountain Forecasts" for selected summits in this area. (9/18)
Blowdown: Due to recent storms blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. (9/18)
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. (9/18)
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.
DeBar Mountain Wild Forest/Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands
- Roads on the Kushaqua Tract CEL remain closed to public motor vehicles, however, the public can hike and ride bicycles on the roads. (2014)
- Hikers & bikers accessing the Kushaqua Tract may use the parking area off of the North Branch Road which is off of the Kushaqua-Mud Pond Road north of the community of Onchiota in the Town of Franklin. (2014)
- The public is prohibited from trespassing on the 1-acre parcels where lessees cabins are located. (2014)
- A trail has been built to the fire tower 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. (2013)
- 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. (2013)
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.
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 from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (9/18)
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. (2014)
Round Lake Wilderness
- 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. (9/18)
- 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 Upper Saranac Lake Boat Launch is closed for major reconstruction. It is scheduled to reopen before Memorial Day Weekend 2015. See press release for more information. (9/18)
- 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. (2014)
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. (2014)
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 prevailing winds and shallowness of Little Tupper Lake often results in large waves. During periods of strong westerly winds and other rough weather canoeists are advised to stay near shore. (2014)
- 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. (2013)
- 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 & Judgment (PDF, 168 KB). (2013)
- 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