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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: October 18, 2018

General Notices

Check out hikes outside the Adirondack High Peaks for a hiking experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, but with fewer people.

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.

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

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the current National Weather Service Forecast (leaves DEC website) and be prepared for the forecasted conditions or to change your plans.
  • NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) has two dozen stations in and just outside of Adirondacks that provide real time weather data and forecasts.

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information main web page for important general notices and information which applies across the Adirondacks.

Route 73 Corridor: DEC is undertaking a multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism, and address public safety in the Adirondacks focused on the State Route 73 Corridor between Exit 30 of the Northway (I87) and Lake Placid.

  • Hikes Outside the High Peaks provides a list of nearby trails which provide quality hiking and great scenic views, much like the High Peaks, but without the crowds!
  • Trailhead parking areas along Route 73 are now striped. Please park in the designated parking spots between the striped lines. Do not park in hash marked areas or where No Parking signs are posted.
  • No parking zones have been established between the Round Pond Parking Area and the Round Pond Trailhead and between the Cascade East Parking Area and the westernmost pull-off along Cascade Lake.
  • DEC has installed portable toilets at four additional trailheads. Please use portable toilets before starting up a trail. Portable toilets can be found at these locations:
    • King Phillips Spring
    • Round Pond
    • Ridge Trail West
    • Chapel Pond
    • Beer Walls
    • Roaring Brook Falls
    • Cascade Outlet
    • Cascade Mountain (2)

Changes to Parking on State Route 73: Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south) starting Friday, Sept. 21. The parking prohibition supports DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.

Fall Foliage: Leaf colors are past peak in the High Peaks region.

Fall Weather: Temperatures are cooler and days are shorter.

  • The sun sets earlier - carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries.
  • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric and pack extra clothing.
  • Those hiking to the higher summits should also pack a winter hat, gloves, and traction device.

Hunting Seasons: Some big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are open and others will open soon.

  • 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 Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands.
  • Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.
  • Hikers can wear bright colors if it makes them feel safer.

Trail Conditions: Trails are very wet and muddy - especially in higher elevations, low spots, drainages, and along water bodies. Avoid damaging hiking trails, trail side vegetation and habitats:

  • Wear water-resistant hiking boots and let them get muddy.
  • Stay in the center of trail and walk through mud and water.

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails. Be prepared for hikes to take longer than planned and to bushwhack around blowdown or turn back if blowdown is heavy.

Stream Crossings: Use caution around steep, shallow, rocky streams and rivers. These are considered "flashy", meaning water levels can rise quickly after heavy rainfall. Water levels will also drop quickly after the rains have stopped.

Nuisance Bears: Nuisance bear activity has lessened. DEC still recommends following practices to avoid negative encounters with bears in the backcountry and storing all food, toiletries, and garbage in bear-resistant canisters.

Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be much colder and winds will be stronger. 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 Ray Brook Dispatch 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 web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead. (10/11)
  • The easement agreement provides for public hiking only on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. (2018)
  • Dogs are prohibited. (2018)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds Tract web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Currently there are no designated tent sites on these lands - roadside or truck camping is not available at this time. (10/11)
  • Gulf Brook Road is closed during the week while DEC completes ditching and repair work on the portion of the road between the Fly Pond Gate and the Four Corners. The road will be open to public motor vehicle access each weekend from 5 p.m. Friday through sundown on Sunday. (10/4)
  • The Boreas Ponds Tract is divided between the High Peaks Wildness and the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest. DEC is working to finalize the amendments to the management plans for those two units. The amendments will describe the management, access, and public recreational opportunities available for the lands and waters on this tract of land. (7/26)
  • Motorized access and recreational activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddling, fishing, hunting and trapping will continue as described in the Interim Access Plan. (2018)
  • The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. (2018)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The town of Keene's shuttle between Marcy Field parking lot and the Garden Trailhead will not be operating this weekend and has closed for the season. (10/18)
  • The town of Keene will continue to staff the Garden Parking Lot from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays through the last weekend of October. (10/18)
    • Costs is $10 ($13 Canadian) a day.
    • Use the self-serve process to pay when the attendant is not present.
  • The trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract - to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain - will be closed to public use for the duration of the big game hunting season beginning this Saturday, October 20. The trails will reopen for public use on December 3. (10/18)
  • The new, sustainably designed and built, Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail is open for public use. The 1.7-mile trail climbs 920 feet from the trailhead in the Olympic Sports Complex to the 2,940-feet summit of the mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness. (10/5)
  • Gulf Brook Road is closed during the week while DEC completes ditching and repair work on the portion of the road between the Fly Pond Gate and the Four Corners. The road will be open to public motor vehicle access each weekend from 5 p.m. Friday through sundown on Sunday. (10/4)
  • Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south). The parking prohibition supports DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks. (10/4)
  • Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps recently replaced ladders, a small bridge, and bog bridging along on the Avalanche Pass-Lake Colden Trail along Avalanche Lake. (9/27)
  • DEC has piled materials for improving campsites along South Meadow Lane in the Mt. VanHoevenberg Trailhead Parking Area. Vehicles should park in the nearby pulloffs along South Meadow Lane until the work is complete. (8/2)
  • The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters and other practices to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks. (2018)
  • Cedar Point Lean-to has been repaired and relocated by Lean2Rescue volunteers. The lean-to is now located on southeastern shore of Lake Colden, off the trail about .2 miles from the Opalescent River. Camping is prohibited at the former lean-to site. (2018)
  • A primitive campsite with two tent pads has been developed in the Slide Brook Area south of Dix Mountain by volunteers from NOLS Northeast Adirondack Service Expedition. The site is west of the trail just before the crossing of slide brook. (2018)
  • Kagel Lean-to has been relocated and reroofed by the Adirondack 46er Volunteer Trail crew. The lean-to is located a few hundred feet away from its previous location on sustainable site away from the brook. (2018)
  • Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail. (2018)
  • Bradley Pond Lean-to has a 3ft by 6ft hole in the roof. The lean-to can still be used but should be avoided if it's raining. DEC is developing a temporary fix for the 2018 season and will fully repair the roof during the off season. (2018)
  • The trail to Little Porter Mountain from the Garden Trailhead is closed. The portion of the trail crossing private land has been closed to public use by the landowner. Trespassing on those lands is now prohibited. The summit of Little Porter Mountain can still be accessed from the Marcy Field Trailhead or the Cascade Mountain Trailhead. (2018)
  • Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on the Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends. (2018)
  • 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. (2018)
  • Blueberry Horse Trail is passable to horses and riders, however, riders should take care near drainages and several stream crossings that will be muddy. DEC plans to improve the trail tread of this route in the future. (2018)
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. During low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible. (2016)
  • 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 and a map of the unit. This will be incorporated into the High Peaks Wilderness web page in the near future.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Wilderness are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. (2018)
    • DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to eliminate the Dix Mountain Wilderness and transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • Group size regulations are now in effect on these and groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
    • Information about the former Dix Mountain Lands may be found in the High Peaks Wilderness section above.

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south) starting Friday, Sept. 21. The parking prohibition supports DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks. (10/4)
  • 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

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report

Jay Mountain Wilderness

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

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

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. The brook is passable during low water conditions. (2018)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • Several sections of the Pitchoff Mountain Trail, including the segment to "Balanced Rocks", are severely eroded. These areas are challenging to navigate. Please use caution and turn back if it is too difficult for your party to safely cross. (2018)
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail. (2017)

More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: