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Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Northern Adirondacks

Updated: May 5, 2016

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!

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Be Prepared for Conditions

  • 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
    • Snow depths
    • Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Boots
    • Gaiters
    • Waterproof Outer Wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Spikes or other traction devices
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Fleece or Wool Hat
      Gloves or Mittens
    • 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

Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.

All links to regulations leave DEC website.

Electronic Technology: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries can expire. Prepare before the trip and carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as backup. (5/28)

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. 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.

Fire Danger: Low. Never leave campfires unattended and be sure campfires are out and embers are cool. Current Fire Danger Map. (5/5)

Spring Conditions: Daytime temperatures for the weekend will be in the mid-50s with nighttime temperatures in the low 40s. Rain showers are forecast for both Saturday and Sunday. (5/5)

Muddy Trail Advisory: Hikers are advised to avoid trail above 2,500 feet due to wet, muddy & snowy conditions to avoid further eroding trails and destroying sensitive vegetation. Please use trails at lower elevations during the spring mud season. The Muddy Trail Advisory press release has additional information and a list of alternate trails. (5/5)

Mud & Water on Trails: All hikers should wear waterproof footwear and gaiters. Remain on trails; walk through mud & water to protect trails. Walking around erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation. (5/5)

Water Crossings: Water levels in rivers and streams are high and temperatures cold. Melt water is flowing in drainages. Crossings that are passable in the morning may not be in the afternoon. (5/5)

Ice on Water: Ice is out on all waters. (5/5)

Water Levels and Temps: Waters levels are high but below average for this time of year. Water temperatures are cold. A person falling into the water could quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water. People boating or paddling should wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. (5/5)

Bear-Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks. (5/5)

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) on trails, especially on trails in the higher elevations and less used trails. (5/5)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, bedrock and ice and snow will be present. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. 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. (5/5)

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates have been closed and seasonal access roads will remain closed through the spring mud season. DEC will reopen the roads once any needed maintenance is completed and the roads are dry enough to safely handle public motor vehicle traffic. Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season will damage roads and result in road opening delays. (5/5)

Access Road to Madawaska Pond: Public access to the Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands via the Madawaska Road between Madawaska Pond from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (2016)

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 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)

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 public motor vehicle traffic until the spring mud season ends. (2016)
  • There is an active logging operation taking place west of the double gates on the North Branch Road. The road is receiving a high use by logging trucks daily and is expected to continue through the winter. Users accessing the Kushaqua Tract using the North Branch Road are advised to exercise caution. Be prepared to encounter logging trucks & equipment and yield to them. Turn on their headlights to be more visible to log truck drivers. (2016)
  • The Kushaqua Tract road system is open for snowshoers and skiers. The public is prohibited from trespassing on the 1-acre parcels where lessees cabins are located. (2016)
  • 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 the Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands via the Madawaska Road between Madawaska Pond from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (2016)

Paul Smith College Conservation Easement Lands

Round Lake Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Round Lake Wilderness, including a map is available.
  • Nothing to report.

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 via the Madawaska Road between Madawaska Pond from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (2016)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • 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.
  • The Connery Pond Road is closed to public motor vehicle traffic. The road will reopen to motor vehicles once the spring mud season ends. (2016)
  • The Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp Road (aka the St. Germain Pond Road) is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the spring mud season ends. (2016)
  • The Lower Locks on the Saranac Lakes Chain are closed for the season. (2016)
  • 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. (2016)

St. Regis Canoe Area

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the St. Regis Canoe Area, including a map, is available.
  • 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 to restore and rehabilitate the St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower for this year. The fire tower remains closed to public use at this time. (2015)
  • 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

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the William C. Whitney Wilderness, including a map is available.
  • The Lake Lila Road is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season. Hikers may still use the road to access Lake Lila and Mt. Fredrica. However, the public must stay on the road and not trespass on adjacent lands. (2016)
  • Whitney Headquarters has shut down for the season. Callers will not be able to leave voice mail messages at the Forest Ranger office number (518-624-6686). Contact the local Forest Ranger at 518-505-4151 (2016)
  • 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: