Trail Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks
Updated: December 5, 2013
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.
- 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
- Shoes or boots specifically designed for hiking
- Layers of non-cotton clothes
- Hat for protection from sun and rain
- Shoes or boots specifically designed for hiking
- Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
- Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
- Plenty of food and water
- Insect repellent and sunblock
- Extra clothes and socks
- Hat and gloves or mittens
- 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
Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC has adopted a regulation 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 is not affected by this new regulation. See Section 196.8 in the DEC Regulations.
Camping Group Sizes in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC regulation 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.
Cold Weather: The short current recent warm spell will be followed by a return to below freezing temperatures. Day time highs are forecasted to be in the 20s & 30s with night time lows in the teens. Cold weather outer garments, extra layers of non-cotton clothing and a winter hat & gloves are necessary for any outdoor recreation activities. Use the link near bottom of the right column to view the current National Weather Service "Weather Forecast". (12/5)
Snow and Ice: Last week's storm did not result in the snow depths that were forecasted. Much of the snow present is melting during the current warm spell. As temperatures fall below the freezing mark snow will harden. Snowshoes are not required at this time, but boots and traction devices are recommended. Crampons may be warranted on summits and bedrock slopes. (12/5)
Trail Conditions: In the lower elevations trails should harden up by the weekend and may be icy in certain areas. Hard snow and ice can be expected in the higher elevations. (12/5)
Shorter Days: Days are shorter. Plan accordingly and always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra fresh batteries. (12/5)
Summits: Conditions on and near summits are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, ice and snow. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "Mountain Forecasts" for selected summits in this area. (12/5)
Ice on Water: Ice has formed on most waters. Waters may have opened up during the warm spell and refroze with the return of the cold weather. No ice is safe to travel on at this time. Ice that holds snow will not hold the weight of a person at this time of year. (12/5)
Cold Water: Water temperatures are mostly in the 30s. PFDs must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1. (12/5)
Hunting Seasons: Autumn hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game are open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment 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. (12/5)
Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails. Plan accordingly. (12/5)
Chazy Highlands Wild Forest
- The re-route of the top section of the Lyon Mountain Trail is complete and the trail is clearly signed and marked. Thanks to the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail crew there is now a completely new trail from the trailhead to the summit. Hikers should use the new trail and avoid the old trail which is not maintained and is in poor condition due to erosion. (2011)
- The Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass. (2009)
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 ridgeline, 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
- Water temperatures are cold and ice has begun forming in bays and backwaters. 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. (12/5)
- The National Weather Service in Burlington provides a forecast for Lake Champlain. 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.
- A number of roads and campsites have been opened for motorized access until the end of the hunting season. See the press release for details and the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands web page for more information and maps depicting the location of parking areas, designated campsites, the road open to motorized access and the areas where timber has recently been harvested. (11/14)
- Campers using either of the two campsites in the Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area are encouraged to park in the new Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead parking area on the other side of County Route 26. (10/10)
- Public highways and roads designated for use by to people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD) are open to public motor vehicle use. As explained on the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands web page other roads are open to the public for hiking and biking but will not be open to motor vehicle usage until some time in the future. MAPPWD holders must check with the DEC Ray Brook Land & Forests office (518-897-1291) for information about motor vehicle access on the designated roads.(2012)
- Accessible campsites #1-3 on the Barnes Pond Road are available to for use and the privy on campsite #2 has been repaired. (2012)
- People with disabilities with a MAPPWD permit can used motorized vehicles to access the accessible campsite on the North Branch Saranac River, north of the Goldsmith Road. (2011)
- Fishing/waterway access sites are available on Fishhole Pond and Grass Pond. The facility is compliant with the American Disabilities Act and provides outdoor recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. The features that provide accessibility for people with disabilities include: universally accessible parking area designed to accommodate up to five vehicles; ADA compliant access ramp; and universally accessible platform designed for getting in and out of boats, canoes and kayaks. Contact the Region 5 Lands & Forests Office (518-897-1291) for more information and directions to these facilities. (2011)
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
- 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. (10/31)