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Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Updated: January 12, 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. (link leaves DEC's website)

Snow: Current snow depths range from 4 to 12 inches. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.

Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoes or skies is strongly encouraged wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use.

Crampons/foot spikes: Trails will be icy as rain and warm temperatures will be followed by below freezing temperatures. Crampons or other traction devices should be carried and worn when conditions warrant.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper. Sight distance can be limited by clouds and snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

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

  • Wear water and wind resistant 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 a cold weather hat and gloves (or mittens).
  • Eat, drink, and rest often.
  • Carry snowshoes and foot spikes, and wear when warranted.
  • Always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.

Ice on Water: Ice has formed on lakes and ponds and the backwaters of rivers and streams.

  • Cross-country skiers and ice anglers have been seen on some lakes but not snowmobiles.
  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person
  • Avoid ice:
    • Near open water
    • Over running water
    • Near inlets and outlet
    • Near boathouses & docks
    • Near "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices

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

  • The Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use. (1/5)
  • The C8 Snowmobile Trail remains closed between State Route 30 and the Loon Lake Road - the Debar Trail. (12/30)
  • Gates on the C7B Snowmobile Trail (aka D&H) are open between Saranac Lake and Kushaqua. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out.

Kushaqua Tract Easement

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Loon Lake Mountain Trail is open for public use. (1/5)
  • 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. (12/9)
  • 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)

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 C8 Snowmobile Trail between State Route 30 and the Blue Mountain Road is open. (12/30)
  • The S81A Snowmobile Trail between Blue Mountain Road and the St. Lawrence County line is open. Snowmobilers should use caution as currently they will be sharing Alder Brook Road with logging trucks. (12/30)
  • The gate to the Pinnacle Road is closed and the public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. (12/22)
  • Madwaska Road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the end of the spring mud season. The road is a designated snowmobile trail but remains closed to snowmobiles until conditions improve. (12/22)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • Gates on the C7B Snowmobile Trail (aka D&H) are open between Saranac Lake and Kushaqua. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out.
  • 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)

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: