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Trail Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Northeastern Adirondacks

Updated: March 26, 2015

General Notices

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!

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

Mountain Weather Forecast: Weather is an important factor in preparing for hiking or camping in the Adirondack backcountry. Often there is considerable difference in weather conditions at the trailhead and those experienced in the higher elevations. The National Weather Service in Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin County. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to access the forecast.

Lake Champlain Weather Forecast: Weather is also an important factor in preparing for paddling or boat particularly on large bodies of water such as Lake Champlain. 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.

Be Prepared in Winter

  • Know
    • 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
  • Wear
    • Waterproof hiking boots and gaiters
    • Layers of wool, fleece or other non-cotton clothing
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
    • Snowshoes or skis (when snow depths are 8 inches or more)
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Traction devices to prevent slips and falls on snow and ice
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Waterproof jacket and pants
    • Sunscreen
    • 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

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.

Seasonal Notices

Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. See the information under the "Be Prepared" heading above to ensure you are prepared. 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. (3/26)

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. (3/26)

Late Winter Conditions: Days are becoming longer and warmer. Snow and ice are present at all elevations. Daytime high temperatures are alternating above and below freezing, nighttime lows are below freezing for the most part in the lower to mid-elevations. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and remove layers as needed to keep comfortable. Dress and pack properly to avoid being cold & wet. Include an outer layer that is water & wind resistant. (3/26)

Snow: Snow depths range from 6 to 10 inches in the lower elevations of western Clinton County. The snow is deeper in the higher elevations. Open fields in the northern lower elevations may have little to no snow. In lower elevations of the Champlain Valley there is little to no snow. Use the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Maps" link near the bottom of the right column to check the snow depth and snow forecast for the area. Maps are updated daily. (3/26)

Crampons: Traction devices, such as crampons, should be carried and worn when trails are hard & icy. (3/26)

Trail Conditions: Trails are in good condition. Hard packed trails may be icy. A crust layer is present on the surface of deeper snow when temperatures are below freezing. Crusted snow may or may not hold a person on skis or snowshoes. Snow may be soft when temperatures are above freezing. On warm or sunny days watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas. (3/26)

Avoid Hypothermia: Stay dry and warm. Drink plenty of water, eat food and rest often. (3/26)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger and snow will be deeper - especially where drifts have formed. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits or in heavy falling and/or blowing snow. 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. (3/26)

Ice on Water: Water and slush is present on the surface of the ice on lower elevation waters. Ice has begun melting on streams and rivers but will refreeze along shorelines with the colder temperatures. Avoid ice over or near running water, near inlets & outlets and near boathouses & docks - especially those with bubblers or other ice prevention devices. (3/26)

Snowmobile Trails: Designated snowmobile trails are in poor condition. Check local trail conditions before heading out. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (3/26)

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season. (3/26)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. (3/26)

Specific Notices

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest

  • A group of volunteer stewards cleared five areas of blowdown on the Lyon Mountain Trail. (2014)

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • Crampons should be carried and worn when warranted on the ridge line trail of Jay Mountain. (2/19)
  • 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.
  • All designated snowmobile trails are open. Trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (3/20)
  • Barnes Pond Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the beginning of the 2015 hunting season. (2015)
  • The D&H Road and its gate are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. (2015)
  • The roadside sign at the Cold Brook PUA parking area on Standish road is missing and scheduled to be replaced. (2014)
  • 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

  • The Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • 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

  • Snowmobile trails are in poor condition. Most trails can not be safely traveled by snowmobiles. (3/26)