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Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Updated: March 23, 2017

Map of showing the Northern Region of the Adirondacks

General Notices

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!

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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 the weather and conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC's website).

Snow: Snow depths range between 12 and 20 inches. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.

Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow. Secondary, less used trails may have blowdown (fallen or leaning trees, limbs and branches) and may require "breaking trail". Snowbridges and ice on most stream crossings have only recently formed and may not hold the weight of a person.

Snowshoes or Skis: Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails covered in 8 inches or more of snow. The use of snowshoes prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper on high elevation summits such as St. Regis Mountain. Sight distance can be limited by blowing snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.

Snowmobiles: The D&H (C7B) between Route 86 and Buck Pond is open. Contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) for information on opened trails and local trail conditions before going out.

Ice on Water: Ice had thinned, weakened, and receded from inlets, outlets and shorelines before the recent cold spell. Ice on rivers, streams, and most channels of moving water only recently formed during the very cold temperatures and is very thin even though it is covered with snow. Ice that can hold snow may not be able to hold the weight of a person. No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition first. Be safe on the ice.

Winter Conditions: Be prepared for snow, ice, cold temperatures and short days.

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

Specific Notices

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

  • DEC and the Franklin County Snowmobilers are working to open some gates and snowmobile trails, contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) to obtain local trail conditions before going out. (3/16)
  • The Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use, however a logger will be utilizing a short stretch of the trail on Mullans Road. Only 1 or 2 loads a day will be hauled out by truck but hikers and skiers using the road should pay attention and yield to logging trucks. (3/3)

Kushaqua Tract Easement

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The main gate next to the parking area and register box on the North Branch Road is closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited on Hunter's Camp Road and Mountain Pond Road until the end of spring mud season. (2017)
  • 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). (2016)

Paul Smith College Easement

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.
  • The D&H (C7B) Snowmobile Trail between Route 86 and Buck Pond is open. Contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) for information on opened trails and local trail conditions before going out. , contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) to obtain local trail conditions before going out. (3/23)
  • The gate to the Pinnacle Road is closed and the public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. (2017)
  • Madwaska Road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the end of the spring mud season. (2017)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • DEC and the Franklin County Snowmobilers are working to open some gates and snowmobile trails, contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) to obtain local trail conditions before going out. (3/16)
  • The Lower Lock in the Saranac Chain is closed for extensive repairs and rehabilitation. The lock will reopen in spring 2017. (2017)
  • 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)

St. Regis Canoe Area

  • The St. Regis Canoe Area web page provides information including a map about the unit, its recreational opportunities and how to access the lands and waters.
  • 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: