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Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Northern Adirondacks

Updated: April 17, 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 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

  • 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, snow depths and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Winter hiking boots
    • Cold weather outer wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothes
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Carry
    • 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
  • Pack
    • 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

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

Early Spring Weather: Recent very warm temperatures and heavy rains have been followed by a period of very cold weather. The weekend forecast is for daytime temperatures in the mid 40s to low 50s; nighttime temperatures around freezing; and chance of rain & snow Saturday and clear Sunday. Snow and ice are present in the middle and higher elevations, while lower elevations have little to no snow. Water-proof footwear; cool weather, water-resistant outer wear; extra layers of non-cotton clothing; and hat & gloves are recommended for any outdoor recreation activities. 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 going into the backcountry. (4/17)

Trail Conditions: Trail conditions will vary with changes in elevation and the time of day. Low elevation trails, trailheads and parking areas may have mud, water, hard-packed snow and ice or a mix some or all of those. Middle & high elevation trails have hard-packed snow and ice in the morning which softens in later in the day as temperatures warm. DEC Forest Rangers report 18-24 inches of snow above 2000 feet in some locations. Water is present below the hard packed snow on many trails. Use the link in the right column to see the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" which is updated daily. (4/17)

Snowshoes: Snowshoes are necessary on any trails throughout the Adirondacks with 8 inches of snow or more. Snow may not be present at trailheads or on low elevation trails but snow will be present at 1800 feet and higher. Carry snowshoes on all hikes that will take you above this elevation. Trails with hard snow in the morning will soften later in the day. Even with snowshoes hikers are sinking knee deep in snow when they step off the trail. Wear snowshoes when warranted and don't posthole. If you don't have snowshoes, turn back when you encounter snow. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for other users and makes them hazardous to travel. (4/17)

Mud & Water: Snowmelt and rain are creating muddy, wet trails in the lower elevations and raising water levels in rivers, streams and drainages at all elevations. Stream and drainage crossings may not be passable, especially in the afternoon. Trails adjacent to rivers, streams or low lying areas may be flooded. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and walk through wet and muddy areas on trails not around them so that you don't erode and widen trails. (4/17)

Crampons & Traction Devices: Traction devices should be carried and worn when warranted on lower elevation icy areas. Crampons should be carried and worn on summits and other open areas where significant ice has accumulated. (4/17)

Ice on Water: Ice is breaking up and going out on rivers and streams. Ice on ponds and lake is thin and deteriorating, open water is present along shorelines and near inlets and outlets. No ice is considered safe at this time. (4/17)

Snowmobiles: Gates and trails are closed closed and the snowmobile season has ended. (4/17)

Access Roads: Gates have been closed on many access roads for the mud season. Roads will be reopened once they have dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)

Prevent Hypothermia: Dress properly, stay dry 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 more time than traveling the same trail on bare ground. (4/17)

Summits: Conditions on and near summits are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, snow and ice. 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. (4/17)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. Prepare accordingly. (4/17)

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 - except for snowmobilers on the designated snowmobile trail. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (4/17)

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.
  • Rivers and streams are open and ice on lakes and ponds is thinning and deteriorating. (4/17)
  • Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold. (4/17)
  • 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. (4/17)

DeBar Mountain Wild Forest/Kushuqua Conservation Easement Lands

  • Snowmobile trails are closed, gates are closed and locked. (4/17)
  • 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 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

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. (4/3)

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.
  • Snowmobile trails are closed, gates are closed and locked. (4/17)
  • 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. (4/11)
  • 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

  • Snowmobile trails are closed, gates are closed and locked. (4/17)
  • All climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch are closed at this time to allow Peregrine Falcons to choose nesting sites. Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures provides more details including the purpose of the closures. (4/17)
  • 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. (2013)
  • 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. (2013)

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 is closed to public motor vehicle traffic for mud season. The road will be open for public use when the road has dried, firmed up and any needed maintenance is completed. Hikers 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. (4/17)
  • 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: