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Trail Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Northeastern Adirondacks

Updated: April 17, 2014

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 the 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, snow depths and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Winter hiking boots
    • Cold weather outer wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothes
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Carry
    • Traction devices and crampons and use when warranted
    • Snowshoes or skis and use in snow depths of 8 inches or more
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Ensolite pad to rest on and insulate your body from cold surfaces
    • Bivy sack or space blankets for extra warmth
    • 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

Early Spring Weather: Recent very warm temperatures and heavy rains have been followed by a period of very cold weather. The weekend forecast is for daytime temperatures in the mid 40s to low 50s; nighttime temperatures around freezing; and chance of showers Saturday and clear Sunday. Snow and ice are present in the middle and higher elevations, while lower elevations have little to no snow. Water-proof footwear; cool weather, water-resistant outer wear; extra layers of non-cotton clothing; and hat & gloves are recommended for any outdoor recreation activities. 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 going into the backcountry. (4/17)

Trail Conditions: Trail conditions will vary with changes in elevation and the time of day. Low elevation trails, trailheads and parking areas may have mud, water, hard-packed snow and ice or a mix some or all of those. Middle & high elevation trails have hard-packed snow and ice in the morning which softens in later in the day as temperatures warm. DEC Forest Rangers report 18-24 inches of snow above 2000 feet in some locations. Water is present below the hard packed snow on many trails. Use the link in the right column to see the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" which is updated daily. (4/17)

Snowshoes: Snowshoes are necessary on any trails throughout the Adirondacks with 8 inches of snow or more. Snow may not be present at trailheads or on low elevation trails but snow will be present at 1800 feet and higher. Carry snowshoes on all hikes that will take you above this elevation. Trails with hard snow in the morning will soften later in the day. Even with snowshoes hikers are sinking knee deep in snow when they step off the trail. Wear snowshoes when warranted and don't posthole. If you don't have snowshoes, turn back when you encounter snow. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for other users and makes them hazardous to travel. (4/17)

Mud & Water: Snowmelt and rain are creating muddy, wet trails in the lower elevations and raising water levels in rivers, streams and drainages at all elevations. Stream and drainage crossings may not be passable, especially in the afternoon. Trails adjacent to rivers, streams or low lying areas may be flooded. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and walk through wet and muddy areas on trails not around them so that you don't erode and widen trails. (4/17)

Crampons & Traction Devices: Traction devices should be carried and worn when warranted on lower elevation icy areas. Crampons should be carried and worn on summits and other open areas where significant ice has accumulated. (4/17)

Ice on Water: Ice is breaking up and going out on rivers and streams. Ice on ponds and lake is thin and deteriorating, open water is present along shorelines and near inlets and outlets. No ice is considered safe at this time. (4/17)

Snowmobiles: Gates and trails are closed closed and the snowmobile season has ended. (4/17)

Access Roads: Gates have been closed on many access roads for the mud season. Roads will be reopened once they have dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)

Prevent Hypothermia: Dress properly, stay dry and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Traveling in snow takes more energy and more time than traveling the same trail on bare ground. (4/17)

Summits: Conditions on and near summits are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, snow and ice. 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. (4/17)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. Prepare accordingly. (4/17)

Specific Notices

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest

  • All trails and other recreational facilities are in satisfactory condition.

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • 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. DEC contracted with the Student Conservation Association's Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Mountain Club's (ADK) Professional Trail Crew to build the trail with DEC staff. The new trailhead was constructed by the Town of Jay Highway Department, with additional work by inmate crews from the Department of Correctional Services Moriah Shock Camp and DEC staff. There are some rough sections of trail that DEC will be working to improve in the future. See the press release for more details. (2012)
  • 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 lake is open at this time. Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold. (4/17)
  • Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1. (4/17)
  • The National Weather Service in Burlington provides a "Lake Champlain Forecast". Use the link near the bottom of the right column to access the forecast. (2012)

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands

  • The Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The D&H Road Linear Recreation Corridor is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The road will be opened when it has dried, firmed up and any needed maintenance is completed.(4/17)
  • The gate is closed and locked and the Barnes Pond Road is closed to public motorized traffic until next September, except for use by people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). (4/17)

Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • A 700-foot long accessible access trail provides scenic views of Webb Royce Swamp for birders, wildlife observers and outdoor photographers of all abilities. (2012)
    • The trailhead parking lot is located on the east side of Clark Road about 0.6 miles from Route 9/Lake Shore Road.
    • Leaving the parking lot, the hardened access trail travels through a field in the early stages of succession, then crosses a hedgerow into another field that is actively mowed before ending at a raised pad overlooking the swamp.
    • The pad provides unblocked views across a large expanse of the swamp and serves as a turn around spot for wheelchairs.
    • The variety of habitats that can be viewed from the access trail provides an opportunity to view a wide range of bird species and other wildlife.
  • 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. (2012)

Taylor Pond Wild Forest

  • All rock climbing routes on the Main Face of Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain are closed at this time to allow for Peregrine Falcons to choose nesting sites except for the climbing routes #1 thru #24 described on pages 38-45 of Adirondack Rock - A Rock Climber's Guide. Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures provides more details including the purpose of the closure. (4/11)
  • The Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower is closed until next summer. DEC thanks the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, their student steward and their volunteers who provided interpretation and public access to fire tower. (2013)