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Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks

Updated: April 12, 2018

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.

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

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the current National Weather Service Forecast (leaves DEC website) and be prepared for the forecasted conditions or to change your plans.
  • NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) has two dozen stations in and just outside of Adirondacks that provide real time weather data, forecasts, and snow depths.

Late Winter/Early Spring Conditions: Snow and ice remain present throughout most of the Adirondacks.

  • Expect to encounter 1-4 inches of recently fallen, wet snow in the lower elevations.
  • Woods, north facing slopes, and other shaded areas will have deeper snow
  • Snow remains deep in the highest elevations with fresh accumulations during the past week.
  • NERFC Snow Page provides current snow information.

Cool and Cold Temperatures:

  • In the lower elevations, daytime temperatures are forecast in the 40s and 50s this weekend
  • Night time and morning temperatures will be below freezing.
  • Temperatures will remain below freezing throughout the day in the higher elevations (above 3,000 feet)

Be Prepared for Conditions: Stay dry and warm to avoid hypothermia, bring/wear:

  • Water proof upper and lower outer shell
  • Waterproof footwear
  • Layers of synthetic or wool clothing (not cotton!)
  • Hat and gloves or mittens

Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. (link leaves DEC's website)

Low Elevation Trail Conditions:

  • Compacted snow has turned to ice on many lower elevation trails, creating "monorails" on the trails as surrounding snow melts.
  • Low elevation trails will be covered in mud, snow, and ice in various combinations.
  • Wear proper foot wear and carry trail crampons (microspikes) on all hikes.
  • Walk on monorails and through mud and water to avoid post-holing in trailside snow, trampling vegetation, and eroding trails.

High Elevation Trail Conditions:

  • Compacted snow has turned to ice which may be thick in some locations.
  • Deep snow is still present above 3,000 feet.
  • Carry crampons and snowshoes and use when warranted.
  • Climbing or mountaineering crampons may be required in some places.

Water Levels and Temperatures: Melting snow will raise water levels.

  • Rivers and streams will be flowing high and fast.
  • Stream crossings may be dangerous or impossible.
  • Water temperatures are very low.
  • People immersed in cold waters can lose the ability to think clearly and move quickly after only a short time in the water.
  • Anglers fishing from shore or wading should wear a personal flotation device.
  • Boaters and paddlers are required to wear personal flotation devices until May 1.

Blowdown: The Adirondacks have experienced heavy winds recently resulting in a significant amount of blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches). Plan for all hikes to take longer than usual and be prepared to turn back if blowdown is heavy.

Ice on Waterbodies: While most flowing waters are open, most ponds and lakes are still covered in ice - except around inlets and outlets. No ice should be considered safe at this time.

Seasonal Access Roads: All gates on seasonal access roads are closed for mud season. Seasonal access roads will remain closed until they have dried and hardened, and all needed repairs and maintenance are completed.

Mountain Summits: Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead.

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 Debar Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Lyme Adirondack Forest Company, the private landowner of the Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract, is conducting a timber harvest in the area of the Loon Lake Mountain Trail. Be prepared to encounter logging trucks and heavy equipment at any time on the trail and the easement lands in the area during this active harvest operation. Please contact the DEC Ray Brook Office at 518-897-1291 for questions regarding this harvest operation. (3/9)
  • Vanderwalker Road gate for access to East Branch St. Regis Canoe Launch is closed and the road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the after the spring mud season. (2018)
  • 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. (2017)
  • A crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program painted the Azure Mountain Fire Tower. (2017)
  • 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 Conservation Easement Tract

  • The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Tract web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Lyme Adirondack Forest Company, the private landowner of the Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract, is conducting a timber harvest in the area of the Loon Lake Mountain Trail. Be prepared to encounter logging trucks and heavy equipment at any time on the trail and the easement lands in the area during this active harvest operation. Please contact the DEC Ray Brook Office at 518-897-1291. (3/9)
  • 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. (2018)

Paul Smiths College Easement Tract

Santa Clara Conservation Easement Tract (includes Madawaska Pond/Quebec Brook Primitive Area & Deer River Primitive Area)

  • The Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Tract web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Pinnacle Road gate is closed and the road is closed to public motor vehicle access until the end of the spring mud season. (2018)
  • Vegetation along Pinnacle Road has been "brushed back" (trimmed), the road is now passable without scratching vehicles. (2017)
  • A crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program painted the Azure Mountain Fire Tower. (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: