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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: October 17, 2019

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 Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Parking Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73:

  • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket.
  • Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
  • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
  • Hikers planning to use the AMR parking lots and hike any of the nearby trails are recommended to identify alternate hikes before arriving as the lots fill quickly.
  • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
  • The DEC webpage Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes.

Travel: Check NY511 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).

Watch for Moose and Deer:

  • Motorist should be alert for moose deer on and along roads. (leaves DEC website)
  • Moose and deer actively seek mates in autumn.
  • Moose-vehicle collisions are troublesome-two have occurred already this fall.
    • Moose are much larger and taller than deer.
    • Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle.
    • Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height-which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.
    • Use the moose sighting form to report all moose sightings.

Fall Foliage: See the Fall Foliage Report to learn the location and the extent of the colors across the Adirondacks.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service (leaves DEC website) or NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) for updated hazardous weather notices and current conditions and forecasts for the location where you plan to recreate.

Autumn Conditions have Arrived in the Adirondacks - Be Prepared:

  • Snow and ice are present in the highest elevations.
  • Ice will likely be present in the morning throughout the Adirondacks.
  • The sun sets earlier - always pack or carry a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Those hiking to the higher summits should also pack a winter hat, gloves, and trail crampons (foot traction devices).
  • Always carry the following items on any hike or paddle:
    • Water
    • Working headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
    • Map of the area
    • Food or snack
    • Trail crampons (foot traction devices)

Drones: Drones are motorized equipment and the operation of drones on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe is prohibited.

Ticks:Follow these steps to protect against ticks and prevent disease:

  • Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants.
  • Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks.
  • Use an insect repellant and follow label directions.
  • Additional tips from NYS Department of Health. (leaves DEC website)

Fire Danger:

  • Fire Danger Rating is Low.
  • Check the Fire Danger Rating Map to view Fire Danger Rating Areas, Fire Danger Rating definitions, and the current Fire Danger Ratings.

Hunting Seasons: Big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are open or 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.

Seasonal Access Roads:

  • Seasonal access roads typically remain open until the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
  • Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravels roads that can be rough.
  • Roads may be narrow - use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.
  • Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads.

Hikers & Campers

General Information: Hiking and Camping

Trail Conditions:

  • Due to recent heavy rains, low elevation trails are wet and muddy.
  • Due to high water levels, low water crossings may be difficult to cross.
  • Trailheads and trails in the northern Adirondacks may be icy - especially in the morning.
  • Snow and ice are present on trails above 3,000 feet elevation.
  • A mix of water, mud, and slush will likely be present on trails between 2,500 and 3,000 feet elevation.

Wear Proper Footwear:

  • Wear footwear suitable for hiking in these conditions and stay in the center of the trail and walk through mud and water, not around it, to protect trails and trailside vegetation.
  • Trail crampons (foot traction devices) should be carried on all hikes and used when warranted.

Mountain Summits:

Paddlers and Anglers

General Information

Conditions:

  • Due to recent heavy rains, water levels in rivers and streams are high.
  • Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters.
  • Water temperatures continue to cool.
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters, and paddlers.
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 Conservation Easement Tract (AMR/Ausable Club)

  • The Adirondack Mountain Reserve webpage 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. Illegally parked vehicles will be towed. (2019)
  • Parking Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73 (2019)
    • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket. Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
    • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
    • Hikers planning to use the AMR parking lots and hike any of the nearby trails are recommended to identify alternate hikes before arriving as the lots fill quickly.
    • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
    • The DEC webpage Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes.
  • 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. (2019)
  • Dogs are prohibited. (2019)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds Tract webpage provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area.
  • A new ADA accessible leant-to has been constructed on a site overlooking Boreas Ponds. This was a combined effort of DEC Staff, DOCCS Moriah Shock Camp Crew, and members of Lean2Rescue. (10/10)
  • A 1.3-mile section of the Boreas Road, between the Four Corners Parking Lot and the Brace Brook Parking Lot, is open. (10/03)
    • Parking is limited to the four number parking spaces in the parking lot.
    • Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of the road.
    • There are no developed trails or campsites.
      • Access to the surrounding lands is via bushwhack only.
      • Campers can camp at large provided they are more than 150 feet from any road, trail, or surface water.
    • The road and parking lot will remain open until the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
  • Gulf Brook Road is open to motor vehicle use to the Four Corners Parking Lot. (2019)
    • Hikers and horseback riders may travel one mile between the parking lot to the Boreas Ponds dam.
    • Hikers and horseback riders may also travel on any of the approximately 6.8 miles of "woods roads" in the area.
    • Bicyclists may ride on Gulf Brook Road and the roadway to Boreas Ponds as far as the gate which is located 500 feet from the Boreas Ponds dam.
    • Paddlers may carry 0.75 mile to access the water near the Boreas Ponds dam or
    • Drop off canoes/kayaks, and equipment at a waterway access site on LaBier Flow, 0.1 mile away from the Four Corners Parking Lot before parking.
    • Paddlers may paddle halfway down LaBier Flow and carry 0.5 mile to access the water near Boreas Ponds dam.
    • Campers can camp at large provided they are more than 150 feet from any road, trail, or surface water.
    • The road and parking lot will remain open until the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
  • Management of the Boreas Ponds Tract is defined by the 2018 High Peaks Wilderness UMP Amendment and the 2018 Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest UMP Amendment. The amendments describe the management, access, and public recreational opportunities available for the lands and waters on this tract of land. (2018)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road will be closed on Monday. (1017)
    • This will add four (4) miles round trip to hikes in the Dix Mountain Range or Panther Gorge from the southern trailhead.
    • On Saturday 10/26 the trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement to the Dix Mountain Range and Panther Gorge will be closed to public use. The trails will open December 9 at the end of the Northern Zone Regular Big Game Season.
  • The Garden Trailhead Parking Lot is open. The Town of Keene's Garden Hiker Shuttle has ceased operation for the season. (10/17)
  • Parking Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73 (2019)
    • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket. Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
    • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
    • Hikers planning to use the AMR parking lots and hike any of the nearby trails are recommended to identify alternate hikes before arriving as the lots fill quickly.
    • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
    • The DEC webpage Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes
  • Hikers seeking to use the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail, which opened last fall, will be re-routed around the construction underway to make significant improvements to Olympic Sports Complex facilities. (2019)
    • Hikers can park at the Biathlon Facility parking area in the Complex and use a marked 1.0-mile detour bypassing the construction zone using roads, ski trails, and a temporary trail to reach the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail.
    • It is a 3.8-mile round-trip hike from the parking area to the summit and back.
    • Expect to encounter trail workers along the trail to the summit of the mountain as they complete the final touches on the sustainably designed and recently opened trail.
    • Hikers may also reach the summit using the traditional 2.2-mile (4.4-mile roundtrip) Mt. Van Hoevenberg West Trail which begins at the trailhead on Meadows Lane. The roof of the Bradley Pond Lean-to was repaired by volunteers from the Adirondack 46ers. (8/22)
  • The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. (2019)
    • All food, toiletries, and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13)
    • DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.
  • The roadway on the Bradley Pond Trail has been washed out by the Harkness Lake Outlet approximately a half mile from the parking lot. Hikers will be unable to cross the outlet when water levels are high. (2019)
  • Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends. (2019)
  • Marcy Dam #4 Lean-to has been removed. (2019)
    • A new Phelps Brook Lean-to has been installed off the Marcy Truck Trail.
    • The lean-to was built by students from the Franklin-Essex-Clinton Counties BOCES Natural Resource Science Program.
    • The students and volunteers from Lean2Rescue assembled the new lean-to.
    • Follows signs from the bridge below Marcy Dam to the new lean-to.
  • Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and is not maintained. The trail has not been maintained since Tropical Storm Irene. (2019)
  • 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. (2019)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 Area

  • The Dix Mountain Area webpage provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area. This will be incorporated into the High Peaks Wilderness webpage in the near future.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Area are now part of the Eastern Zone of High Peaks Wilderness. (2019)
    • DEC will be changing signs, webpages, and regulations to transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • All regulations applicable to the Eastern Zone are now in effect including but not limited to:
      • Group size: Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
      • Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13)
      • Glass Containers: Glass containers are prohibited.
    • Information about the former Dix Mountain Lands may be found in the High Peaks Wilderness section above.

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Parking is Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73 (2019)
    • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket. Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
    • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
    • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
    • The DEC webpage Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness webpage 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 webpage 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 webpage 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 webpage 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: