Trail Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks
Updated: September 24, 2015
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!
- 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
- Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
- Hiking shoes or hiking boots
- Comfortable non-cotton clothing
- Hat to protect from sun or rain
- Sunglasses (if sunny)
- Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
- Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
- Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
- Plenty of food and water
- Extra clothes and socks
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Gaiters to wear on wet & muddy trails
- 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 expire quickly in cold temperatures. Prepare before the trip and carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as backup.
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.
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: MODERATE. Vegetation remains dry and leaves are beginning to fall, be careful with campfires, matches, lighters and other fire ignition sources. Never leave campfires unattended. Be sure campfires are completely out and embers are wet and cool. Check today's Fire Danger Rating Map. (9/24)
Fall Foliage: Leaves are changing color. See the I Love NY Fall Foliage Report (link leaves DEC website) for current information. (9/24)
Autumn Weather: Days are shorter and temperatures are cooler particularly in the morning and evening hours and at higher elevations. Plan hikes accordingly. Carry a flashlight or headlamp. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat, in addition to your usual equipment. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat. (9/24)
Trail Conditions: Trails are dry, but may be wet and muddy in low areas and along water. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters walk through - not around - mud and water on trails to avoid further eroding trails. Low water crossings are passable. (9/24)
Paddlers & Boaters: Water levels are below average for this time of year and continue to drop with the lack of rain. Rocks, logs and other obstacles normally below water levels will be exposed or just below the water surface. Rocky and shallow stretches of rivers may not be navigable. Use caution and stay observant when boating or paddling on waters. PFDs should be worn by all paddlers and boaters in small boats. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to check levels and flows of selected waters at the USGS Current Streamflow for New York Waters. (9/24)
Hunting Season: Many big game, small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are open or will open soon. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or other hunting implements while hiking on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution. (2015)
Summits: Temperatures will be cooler and winds will be stronger. 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. (2015)
Seasonal Access Roads: All seasonal access roads are open. Seasonal access roads are rough, dirt or gravel roads. Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. (2015)
Biting Insects: Mosquitos and No-see-ums (biting gnats) are still present in low numbers, mainly in the evening. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: (2015)
- Wear light colored clothing, long sleeve shirts, and long pants;
- Tuck shirts into pants, pant legs into socks and button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist;
- Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick;
- Use an insect repellant with DEET and follow the label directions.
Thunderstorm Safety: Avoid summits, water surfaces and other open areas during thunderstorms. As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm, move to lower elevations, head to shore or otherwise seek shelter. If caught outside in a thunderstorm, find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks. (2015)
Bear-Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks to avoid losing food to bears and to prevent creating nuisance bears. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (2015)
Chazy Highlands Wild Forest
- Restoration and rehabilitation of the Lyon Mountain Fire Tower has been completed by DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program. (9/24)
Jay Mountain Wilderness
- Information about the recreational opportunities in the Jay Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
- A 2.5-mile trail to the western end of the Jay Mountain Ridge starts at a trailhead at the intersection of Jay Mountain Road and Upland Meadows Road in the town of Jay. The trailhead is on Forest Preserve lands 300 feet downhill from the old herd path. Parking is available for 5 cars. At the end of the new trail, a short spur trail to the north leads to an overlook that provides a spectacular 360 degree scenic view. Hikers can continue along the ridge line, following rock cairns, for approximately 1.5 miles to the summit of Jay Mountain. (2014)
- A bridge on the Carlott Road, one of the roads to access the Jay Mountain Road from the southeast, is closed. (2012)
Lake Champlain Islands
- The Valcour Island Lighthouse (also known as the Bluff Point Lighthouse) is currently closed for restoration. (2015)
Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands
- The Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Barnes Pond Road is open to public motor vehicles through the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season. Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. (9/18)
- The D&H Road is open to motor vehicles. (2015)
- Campers using either of the two campsites on the Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area on the east side of County Route 26 are encouraged to park in the Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead parking area. (2013)
Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest
- Information about the recreational opportunities in the Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest, including a map, is available.
- The National Weather Service in Burlington provides a weather forecast for Lake Champlain. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to access the forecast. (2015)
Taylor Pond Wild Forest
- A summit steward may be present at the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower on weekends and holidays through Columbus Day. The stewards will provide local and natural history interpretation, environmental education, and assistance for hikers. While the steward is present the cab of the fire tower will be open to the public. The stewards are volunteers from the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine (leaving DEC website). (8/27)
- Crews are working on improvements to the Ranger Trail on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain for the next several weeks. Hikers may encounter work operations, especially during the week. Please be respectful of the crew's work and cooperate with directions given regarding safe passage through the work area. (8/13)