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Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Updated: December 14, 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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Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information for important general notices and information which apply across 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.

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC's website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Late Fall/Early Winter Conditions: Below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice are present throughout this region of the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 2-4 inches; deeper in the higher elevations and some additional snow accumulation forecast. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC's website) for current snow information. Be prepared for conditions:

  • Avoid hypothermia, stay dry and warm.
  • Be prepared for wet and cold conditions with:
    • Waterproof outer layer
    • Wear layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Carry extra wool socks
    • Hat and gloves or mittens

Short Days: Carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Trail Conditions: Snow and ice is present on trails at all elevations. Water and mud may also be present on lower elevation trails

  • Wear proper footwear including traction devices - especially in the higher elevations
  • Use caution on steep sections of trail and at water crossings where rocks may be covered with a layer of ice.
  • Due to recent high winds, expect to encounter blow down (fallen or hanging trees, limbs and branches) on trails.

Ice on Water: Ice is beginning or has formed on many waters. Ice will not bear the weight of a person at this time. Ice may be covered in snow and still will not hold the weight of a person.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, snow will be deeper, and ice will be present.

  • Wear a jacket or coat (outer shell) that blocks wind when on summits or other exposed areas.
  • Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing to wear on summits.
  • Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.

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 Debar Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Vanderwalker Rd (E. Branch St. Regis canoe launch)- Gate is closed
  • A crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program painted the Azure Mountain Fire Tower. (8/17)
  • The foot bridge on the access trail to Debar Pond has been removed. Debar Pond may now be accessed near the lodge building using the road beyond the gate at the parking area. A new gate will be installed that will allow easier passage of people with boats in the very near future. Trespassing in the lodge or any other building is prohibited. (2017)

Kushaqua Tract Easement

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The gate on the North Branch Road near the entrance is closed and all of the roads are closed to public motor vehicle access until the end of the spring mud season. (12/7)

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 Pinnacle- Gate is closed
  • A crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program painted the Azure Mountain Fire Tower. (8/17)
  • Vegetation along Vanderwalker Road, between State Route 458 and the East Branch St. Regis River, has been "brushed back" (trimmed), the road is now passable without scratching vehicles. (9/7)
  • Vegetation along Pinnacle Road has been "brushed back" (trimmed), the road is now passable without scratching vehicles. (9/7)
  • Blowdown is blocking the Pinnacle Trailhead and there is no register box or kiosk. (2017)

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

  • 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.
  • The Little Green Pond seasonal access road is open for public motor vehicle use. The road provides access to the campsites on Little Green Pond and the hand launch on Little Clear Pond. (2017)
  • Fishing is prohibited on Little Green Pond, Little Clear Pond and their tributaries to protect valuable hatchery brood stock and endangered round whitefish. (2017)
  • 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: