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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: September 22, 2017

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.

Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. Being properly prepared for the weather and conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC's website).

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

Fall Conditions: Fall has arrived and although days are warm and sunny, temperatures are cool in the morning and evening. Days are shortening as the sun sets earlier each day. Plan accordingly, wear or carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing and carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes. Be sure to have fresh batteries and to carry extras.

Fall Foliage: Leaves continue to change color in the Adirondacks (Leaves DEC website). Expect to encounter many people on trails and waters every weekend through the Columbus Day Holiday Weekend. Boat launches, trailhead parking lots, and interior campsites will fill early, especially if the weather is nice. There are many beautiful places to view the fall foliage in the Adirondacks, seek out backcountry recreation opportunities in some of the lesser used areas. Hikes Outside the High Peaks provides a list of alternative day hikes of various lengths and elevation increase, all with great views.

Hunting Season: Early Bear Hunting Season is 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.

Trail Conditions: Trails remain wet and muddy, especially along waterway, in low areas, and above 3,000 feet. Walk through mud and water - not around - to protect trailside vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails. It's not hiking (or fun) if your hiking shoes don't get muddy!!!

Summits: Temperatures will be cooler and winds will be stronger on high elevation summits. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

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.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) (aka Ausable Club)

  • The Adirondack Mountain Reserve (link leaves DEC's website) web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The public easement agreement only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. (2017)
  • Dogs are prohibited on the AMR. (2017)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • Boreas Ponds Tract web page provides information on access and outdoor recreation opportunities available on these lands and waters including links to maps.
  • An Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract identifies access and recreational opportunities (PDF 773 KB) that are available prior to the classification of the tract and development of a unit management plan.
  • The lower gate on the Gulf Brook Road is open to public motor vehicle use. Gulf Brook Road provide access to three interior parking areas along the road. The Gulf Brook Road Upper Parking Area is near a gate that bars public motor vehicles use beyond the parking area. LaBier Flow is 2.5 miles beyond the gate and Boreas Ponds is 3.5 miles. (2017)
  • The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. (2017)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and is not maintained. The trail has not been a designated trail since Tropical Storm Irene. (9/14)
  • A crew of Student Conservation Backcountry Stewards and the DEC High Peaks Trail Crew is working on dismantling Marcy Dam. The work, which will continue into mid-September, is in its third year of a five-year project to dismantle the dam in manner that minimizes the movement of sediments into Marcy Brook. The public is asked to stay out of the designated work areas and to no disturb equipment whether crews are there working or not. (9/14)
  • The trail across private lands to the summit of Owls Head is closed to public access on weekends. (2017)
  • Lake Arnold/Feldspar Brook Trail wet and muddy but passable. (8/31)
  • Store ALL food, toiletries, and garbage in bear resistant canisters. Bear resistant canisters are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and recommended throughout the Adirondacks. (2017)
  • DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Programs have replaced the "Hitch-up Matildas" - the bridging on the cliff face along the lake - and Avalanche Lake Trail is open. (8/31)
  • The high water bridge on the Calamity Brook Trail is unsafe and unusable and should not be crossed. Crossing Calamity Brook without using the bridge can be difficult - especially with high water levels. On rainy days water levels in the brook will be higher, plan accordingly. The East River Trail (aka the Opalescent River/Hanging Spear Falls Trail) can be used to access the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. It is an additional 3.7 miles one-way to reach the Flowed Lands using this route. DEC will work to stabilize and repair the high water bridge later this season. (2017)
  • Alternate routes using other trails in the area can be used to avoid the trail. DEC is working to find a permanent solution to this section of trail in the near future. (2016)
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible. (2016)
  • The Blueberry Horse Trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation and is poorly marked. The trail is impassable to horses making it impossible to complete the Cold River Horse Trail Loop. DEC intends to work on the trail this fall. (2016)
  • The high water bridge over Slide Mountain Brook on the Phelps Trail between the Garden and Johns Brook Lodge is broken and unusable. (2016)
  • The use of wood burning stoves is prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks. The ban on campfires applies to any type of use of wood as fuel to protect the trees and other vegetation from being damaged. (2016)
  • The first and second foot bridges on the Bradley Pond Trail has been damaged and are unusable. The stream can be forded /rock hopped most of time on the down stream side of the bridge sites. (2015)
  • Many of the herd paths found on Mount Marshall and some of the other trail-less peaks meander around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Those climbing these peaks should navigate with a map and compass rather than follow the paths created by others. (2013)
  • Fixed ropes, harnesses and other equipment are often abandoned in the Trap Dike. Due to the age, weatherizing and wearing of these materials they are unsafe and should never be used. (2012) The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses. (2011)

Dix Mountain Wilderness

  • The Dix Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Boquet Lean-to on the Dix Mountain Round Pond Trail has been moved away from river and repaired by volunteers from the Adirondack 46ers (leaves DEC website). (2017)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • A trail re-route has been constructed around the flooded area on the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to. (2017)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Nothing to report.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

Northville-Placid Trail

  • The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter (leaves DEC website) of the Adirondack Mountain Club provides the latest trail conditions and information for planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike.
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible. (2017)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail. (2017)

More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: