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Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Northern Adirondacks

Updated: December 18, 2014

General Notices

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.

Be Prepared in Autumn

  • Know
    • 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
  • Wear
    • Waterproof hiking boots and gaiters
    • Layers of wool, fleece or other non-cotton clothing
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
    • Snowshoes or skis
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Traction devices to prevent slips and falls on snow and ice
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Waterproof jacket and pants
    • Sunscreen
    • 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.

Seasonal Notice

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. (12/18)

Winter Conditions: Winter conditions are present throughout the area. Snow, ice and cold temperatures are present at all elevations. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and take off layers as needed to keep comfortable. Plan trips to be out of the backcountry before dark. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries just in case. (12/18)

Snow: Rain showers and warmer temperatures have decreased snow depths in the lower elevations, while the high elevations have received additional snow. 8 to 12 inches of snow is on the ground, with more in the high elevations mountains such near the summit of St Regis Mountain. Use the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" link near the bottom of the right column to check the snow depths in the area. The map is updated daily. (12/18)

Snowshoes & Skis: Snowshoes or skis should be worn on all trails in the Adirondacks. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing; eases travel and prevents injuries. (12/18)

Trail Conditions: Wet snow is forming a good base. Most trails are skiable but may contain a few obstacles such as rocks and roots. Use caution around stream crossings as snow may cover thin ice or open water. Drainages and trails along waters may be wet. Some lesser used, secondary trails may still be untraveled since last week's storm. Breaking trail takes more time and energy. (12/18)

Blowdown: Wet snow is increasing the weight on snow laden limbs and branches, many are breaking under the weight. This is adding to blowdown caused by last week's storm. Expect blowdown on trails, especially on lesser used, secondary trails. Some locations may have significant amounts of blowdown, especially in the lower elevations. (12/18)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger and snow will be deeper - especially where drifts have formed. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits or in heavy falling and/or blowing snow. 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. (12/18)

Ice on Water: Ice has only recently formed on lower elevation and larger waters. Always 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 will not hold the weight of a snowmobile at this time and may not hold the weight of a person. (12/18)

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates on seasonal access roads are closed. The roads will reopen after the spring mud season. Motor vehicles should not be driving on seasonal access roads that serve as snowmobile trails in the winter. (12/18)

Snowmobile Trails: Most gates and designated snowmobile trails are open. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (12/18)

Avoid Hypothermia: Stay dry and warm. Drink plenty of water, eat food and rest often. (12/18)

Hunting Seasons: Hunting seasons for small game and some waterfowl are open. 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. There is no record of a hunting related shooting incident in New York State involving a hiker. (12/18)

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. (12/18)

Specific Notices

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

  • 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)
  • All gates and designated snowmobile trails are open. (12/18)

Deer River Primitive Area

Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Mountain Pond Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. (12/11)
  • The Kushaqua Tract road system is open for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. The public is prohibited from trespassing on the 1-acre parcels where lessees cabins are located. (12/11)
  • 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)

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. (12/11)

Paul Smith College Conservation Easement Lands

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. (12/4)
  • All gates and designated snowmobile trails are open. (12/18)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • All gates and designated snowmobile trails are open. (12/18)
  • The Connery Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing. (12/11)
  • The Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road (aka the St. Germain Pond Road) and its gate are closed until the end of the spring mud season. (12/11)
  • 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. (2014)
  • 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).
  • 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 and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Snowshoers and skier may use the road but must not trespass on adjacent private lands. (12/11)
  • 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: