Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks
Updated: October 21, 2016
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!
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 weather and other conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors.
WEEKEND SNOW FORECAST: Weather forecasts are variable but some weather services forecast accumulations of snow ranging from three inches to a foot this weekend in this region. Snow depths will be deeper in the northwestern portion of the region and less deep in southeastern portion of the region. Snow depths will be deeper in higher elevations. Hikers should plan and prepare accordingly.
Rain, Snow, and Wind: Significant amounts of rain are forecast through the weekend with rain mixing with snow then changing over to all snow. Winds will get stronger through the weekend. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC website) and the National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for the latest snow information.
High Elevation Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be present and deeper than depths at trailheads. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
Trail Conditions: Trails will be wet and muddy through midday Saturday and then become a mix of water, mud, ice, and snow before becoming snow covered.
- Wet leaves, snow and ice will make for slippery trails - wear proper footwear and traction devices.
- Snowshoes will be warranted late Saturday and on Sunday, especially in higher elevations such as St. Regis Mountain.
- Remain on trails. Walk through mud & water and on snow & ice to prevent further eroding trails and damaging trailside vegetation.
Avoid Hypothermia: The forecasted wet and cold weather provides ideal conditions for hypothermia.
- Wear waterproof outer layers.
- Wear layers of fleece, wool, and other non-cotton clothing.
- Pack extra clothing including a fleece, wool or other non-cotton jacket or sweater.
- Add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
- Wear cold weather hat and gloves (or mittens).
- Eat, drink and rest often.
Shorter Days: Autumn has arrived the sun sets earlier each day.
- Sunset is around 6:00 pm, earlier in deep valleys and on northern and eastern facing slopes.
- It will become darker sooner when skies are cloud covered.
- Plan to return to the trailhead by sunset but always carry a flashlight or headlamp just in case.
Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails as winds strengthen, especially on trails in the higher elevations.
Water Levels: Waters level are low but will rise with the forecasted precipitation. Use caution when traversing low water crossings and drainages.
Autumn Foliage: Track the changing colors of the leaves in the Adirondacks, view the New York Fall Foliage Report (leaves DEC website).
Hunting Seasons: The regular Northern Zone Big Game hunting season opens this weekend. Small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are also 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. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers can wear bright colors as an extra precaution if it makes them more comfortable.
Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.
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
- 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 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)
Kushaqua Tract Easement
- The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- 2.3 miles of Hunter's Camp Road is newly open for public motor vehicle use. The road provides public access to the southern-most reaches of the tract for outdoor recreation. A designated parking area (44.5021°N, 74.1829°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)has been constructed at the end of section of road. (9/29)
- 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)
- 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)
Paul Smith College Easement
- The Paul Smith College Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Nothing to report.
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.
- A new sign has been installed at the Madwaska Road entrance to the easement lands off State Route 458. Please respect the rights and privacy of lease camps, particularly when accessing Madawaska Pond via the canoe carry on the eastern shoreline of Madawaska Pond. (9/29)
- Madawaska Road to Madawaska Pond from State Route 458 is once again open to public use by motor vehicle and bicycles. The road provides access to Madwaska Pond, Quebec Brook and the thousands of acres of surrounding forest preserve and conservation easement lands. The entrance to the road is on the south side of State Route 458, 1.25 miles west of the intersection with State Route 30. (2016)
Saranac Lakes Wild Forest
- The Lower Lock in the Saranac Chain is closed for extensive repairs and rehabilitation. The lock will reopen in spring 2017. (10/13)
- 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)
- Construction is occurring on the State Route 86 Bridge over the West Branch Ausable River about three miles northeast of Lake Placid. (2016)
- Construction is expected to continue unit November 1st.
- Parking near the bridge will be restricted.
- Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are discouraged from using the parking areas near the bridge. Use the parking area along Route 86 near the Connery Pond Road.
- Paddlers using that section of the river are advised to find an alternate takeout. Paddlers are discouraged from paddling under the bridge during the construction period.
- Entering the construction site or staging area is prohibited.
- Anyone parking near the bridge should use caution when pulling out of the parking area.
- Pedestrians crossing the road should use the marked crosswalk.
St. Regis Canoe Area
- The St. Regis Canoe Area web page provides information about the unit 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).
- 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:
- 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