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Trail Information for the High Peaks

Image depicting the location of High Peaks region within the Adirondack Park

Updated: February 11, 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!

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Be Prepared for Winter Conditions

  • 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
    • Snow depths
    • Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Winter Boots
    • Waterproof Outer Wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Fleece or Wool Hat
    • Gloves or Mittens
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Snowshoes or skis
    • Crampons, spikes or traction devices
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Gaiters
    • 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. (for use in emergencies only in the Eastern High Peaks)
  • Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return

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

All links to regulations leave DEC website.

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.

Northville-Placid Trail Website: The Adirondack Mountain Club has created of a new web site devoted to the 133-mile Northville-Placid Trail. The new website provides information about planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike. It also provides information on the latest trail conditions. Use the link near the bottom of the right column. (2010)

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 High Peaks Wilderness (not including the Canoe Zone along the Raquette River), 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. 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.

Extreme Cold and Wind Chill Forecasted: The National Weather Service forecast indicates this weekend will be the coldest of the winter so far. High temperatures will be below zero and wind chills will make it feel even colder through Sunday night. Check the NWS Windchill Chart (leaves DEC's website). The National Weather Service forecast predicts the following conditions in the High Peaks region:

  • Saturday - High temperature: -7 F (-22 C); Winds 23 to 30 mph; Wind Chill -33 F (-36 C)
  • Saturday Night - Low temperature: -24 F (-31); Winds 18 to 23 mph (45 mph gusts);
    Wind Chill -55 F (-48 C) (-65 F in gusts (-54 C))
  • Sunday - High temperature: -3 F (-19 C); Winds 17 to 21 mph; Wind Chill -29 F (-34 C)
  • Sunday Night - High temperature: -10 F (-23 C); Winds 10 to 16 mph; Wind Chill -32 F (-36 C)

Exposed skin may experience frostbite within 30 minutes or sooner. Minimize skin exposure: wear appropriate footwear, waterproof & insulated outer layer, a hat, gloves or mittens and layers of non-cotton clothing. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and take off layers to keep comfortable. Avoid hypothermia by staying warm & dry, and resting, eating and hydrating often. (2/11)

Summit Information: Remember the temperature is colder, winds are stronger, and windchills are lower on summits. Bedrock and other exposed areas are icy and snow is deeper. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. 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. (2/11)

Ice on Water: The return of below freezing temperatures (and the extreme cold this weekend) has and will be making ice. Ice may be thin in some locations where there had been open water just days ago such as: along shorelines, over running water, near inlets & outlets, and near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices. Ice with snow on the surface, may not hold a person's weight. Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it. (2/11)

Snow Information: Snow depths range from 6 to 20 inches of light fluffy snow over frozen ground, ice, or hard snow. The deeper snow is found in the higher elevations. An additional 4 to 6 inches of snow is forecast through Friday night. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "NERFC Snow Information" for maps depicting current snow depths, daily snowfall amounts, snow forecasts and information about the snowpack. (2/11)

Trail Conditions: Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. Cross-country skiing conditions have improved lower elevation, flatter, smoother trails. Conditions are poor elsewhere. Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes planned for above 3,000 feet or if you plan to hike off trail, and worn when required to prevent post-holing. The use of snowshoes prevents injuries, eases travel through snow, and avoids "post-holing". Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use. Skiing conditions are poor or non-existent (2/11)

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) may be found on trails, especially on trails in the higher elevations and less used trails. (2/11)

Seasonal Access Roads: All seasonal access roads are closed to public motor vehicle access at this time. The roads will be reopened after the spring mud season. (2016)

Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) (aka Ausable Club): The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR the lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. (2016)

Dogs on Leash: Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks when on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, everywhere above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates. It is recommended dogs be kept leashed in most areas for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and as a courtesy to fellow hikers. (2016)

Specific Notices

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, including a map, is available.
  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)
  • The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 15 inches of snow at the stake (2,750 feet) five inches of which has fallen in the past two days. (2/11)
  • Cross-country skiing conditions are good on South Meadow Lane, Marcy Truck Trail and other lower elevation flatter, smoother trails.(2/11)
  • Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are once again being used by skiers and snowshoers. (2/11)
  • The last 3 miles of Corey's Road are closed to public motor vehicle traffic for the winter and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. (2016)
    • The gate at the Raquette Falls Trailhead is closed.
    • The town of Harrietstown plows the road to the bridge over Stoney Creek, it prohibits parking in the area around the bridge and the half mile of road prior to the bridge.
    • Skiers and snowshoers should park at the first pull-off after the end of the pavement and hike the remainder of the plowed road on foot.
    • Skiers and snowshoers will need to travel road three miles to reach the Seward Trailhead.
    • Logging operations will continue through the winter at Ampersand Park. Watch and listen for logging trucks, move to the side to allow trucks to pass safely.
  • The trail to Mt. Marcy that passes through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Land is open for public use. However the gate at Clear Pond on the Elk Lake Road is closed until after the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a round trip, plan accordingly. (2016)
  • The Town of North Elba has closed South Meadow Lane for the winter. Barriers have been placed across the road near the entrance off the Loj Road. Vehicles may park there for access to the Mt. VanHovenberg Trail, the Marcy Truck Trail and the Klondike Trail. (2016)
  • The start of the Tabletop Mountain Herd Path on the Van Hovenberg Trail to Mt. Marcy has been moved 150 feet closer to Indian Falls. (2016)
  • The Ward Brook Truck Trail is flooded due to beaver activity just north of the junction with the Northville-Placid Trail. There is no reroute around the water. Hikers will need to walk through shin to knee deep waters. (2016)
  • The High Water Bridge over Calamity Brook on the Calamity Brook Trail between the Upper Works and the Flowed Lands has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers. (2016)
  • The suspension bridge over the Opalescent River on the trail from Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers. (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 public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. (2016)
  • A 10-foot section of trail near Uphill Lean-to along the Opalescent River above Lake Colden was washed out during heavy rains. Hikers can get around it by going through the trees but should use caution when doing so. (2015)
  • 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)
  • The designated campsite on Big Slide Mountain Brook in Johns Brook Valley near the intersection with the Phelps Trail has been permanently closed due to site degradation. Other designated campsites are located across from the Howard Lean-to and just past Johns Brook Lodge. Signs on the hiking trail direct hikers to these sites. (2014)
  • 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)
  • The Northville-Placid Trail contains a large area of blowdown near the Seward Lean-to. A detour around the blowdown has been marked with pink flagging. (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 bridge on the road to the Garden Trailhead is restricted to 6000 pounds. (2011)
  • The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses. (2011)

Dix Mountain Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, including a map, is available.
  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)
  • The trail to Dix Mountain that passes through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Land is open for public use. However the gate at Clear Pond on the Elk Lake Road is closed until after the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a round trip, plan accordingly. (2016)
  • The Slide Brook Lean-to on the Dix Trail from Elk Lake has been relocated. It was taken apart and rebuilt by the Adirondack 46ers. (2014)
  • The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking, snowshoeing or skiing on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited. (2014)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)
  • Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to. (2011)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)
  • DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower have completed work to restore and rehabilitate the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower for this year. The fire tower remains closed to the public at this time. (2015)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)
  • The Connery Pond Road is closed to public motor vehicle traffic. The road will reopen to motor vehicles once the spring mud season ends. (2016)
  • Hikers, snowshoers and skiers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch Ausable River. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road. Hikers may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing. (2016)
  • Volunteers from Lean2Rescue and the Syracuse University Outing Club reroofed the Whiteface Brook Lean-to. (2015)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Sentinel Range Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)

Wilmington Wild Forest

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Wilmington Wild Forest, including a map, is available.
  • Trails have ice under light snow. Summit bedrock and other open areas are also icy. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. (2/11)
  • Snowshoes will be in the higher elevations. Snowshoes should be carried and worn when required to prevent post-holing. (2/11)
  • Gates have been opened on some snowmobile trails. Currently snowmobile trail conditions range from non-existent to poor. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out on trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (2/11)
  • The map of the Beaver Brook Trail system has been updated to include a new 3.0 mile trail on the east side of Hardy Road. See the Beaver Brook Trail System web page for more information and a link to the map. (2015)
  • The outlet of Cooper Kill Pond is flooded by beaver activity. (2009) Hiking Trails Outside the High Peaks provides a list of nearby alternative day hikes.

More about Trail Information for the High Peaks: