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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: January 12, 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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Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web page for important notices and information which apply broadly across the Adirondacks, and links to important information about hiking, camping and paddling in 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)

Snow: Snow is present at all elevations, ranging from 6 inches at low elevation trailheads to 5 feet or more on high elevation summits. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.

Snowshoes or Skis: Snowshoes or skies are required in the High Peaks Wilderness - and strongly encouraged elsewhere - wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. Due to the snow forecast, snowshoes should be carried on all hikes in the area and used when conditions require or warrant.

Post-holing makes snow-covered trails more difficult to use and more hazardous for others to use. The use of snowshoes:

  • Prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow),
  • Avoids injuries, and
  • Eases travel on snow-covered trails.

Crampons/foot spikes: Trails will be icy as rain and warm temperatures will be followed by below freezing temperatures. Crampons or other traction devices should be carried and worn when conditions warrant.

Ice on Water: Ice remains on high elevations ponds and lakes, including Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake - avoid areas around the inlets and outlets. Lower elevation lakes and ponds will likely have water on the surface or water below a layer of ice as temperatures drop below freezing.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper. Sight distance can be limited by clouds and snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.

Winter Conditions: Be prepared for snow, ice, cold temperatures, and short days

  • Wear water and wind resistant outer layers.
  • Wear layers of fleece, wool, and other non-cotton clothing.
  • Pack extra clothing including a fleece, wool or other non-cotton jacket or sweater.
  • Add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  • Wear a cold weather hat and gloves (or mittens).
  • Carry snowshoes and foot spikes, and wear when warranted.
  • Always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries.
  • Eat, drink, and rest often.
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. (2016)
  • Dogs are prohibited on the AMR. (2016)

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.
  • The lower gate on the Gulf Brook Road near the Blue Ridge Road is closed and lock. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season. (12/8)
  • The five exterior parking lots along Blue Ridge Road and Elk Lake Road will be plowed. (11/23)
  • Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract has been developed which identifies access and recreational opportunities (PDF 773 KB) including: (9/1)
    • Five year-round parking areas and three seasonal parking areas;
    • 3.2 miles of seasonal motor vehicle access on the Gulf Brook Road;
    • 6.7 miles of roadway open to bicycling from Blue Ridge Road to the Boreas Ponds Dam; and
    • Approximately 25 miles of seven roadways open to horse and horse drawn wagons.
    • DEC press release provides a summary.
  • The lands of this tract are unclassified at this time. The Interim Access Plan does not have any bearing on the future land classification of the tract currently in development and does not prejudge what access and uses will be allowed in the future. (9/1)
  • The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. (9/1)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and are required to be used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. Forest Rangers will be turning back hikers without snowshoes. (1/12)
  • Ski Conditions: (1/12)
    • South Meadow Lane - Good
    • Marcy Truck Trail - Good
    • Van Hovenburg Trail (Adirondak Loj Trailhead to Marcy Dam) - Good
    • VanHovenburg Trail (past Marcy Dam) - Excellent
    • Ski Trail - Excellent
    • Avalanche Pass - Excellent
  • The High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at Adirondak Loj remains closed until early February. Adirondack Mountain Club is operating out of a heated tent to snowshoe and microspike rentals, along with some retail merchandise. The flush toilet and shower facilities are not available, though there are porta-johns. Parking is still available. (1/12)
  • Corey's Road is open to the summer gate, however the town of Harrietstown does not plow the road beyond the bridge over Stony Creek. Plan accordingly. Do not park in the snowplow turnarounds. (12/9)
  • The trail from the Elk Lake Trailhead located on the privately-owned Elk Lake Easement Lands is open. Elk Lake Road is closed to public motor vehicle access beyond the Clear Pond Gate until the end of the spring mud season. Park in the parking area at the Clear Pond Gate and hike, ski, or snowshoe two (2) miles to Elk Lake Trailhead. (12/8)
  • South Meadow Lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of spring mud season. Vehicles may park at the barrier at the intersection with the Adirondak Loj Road but should not block the opening to ensure emergency vehicles may access the lane. (11/23)
  • The Lake Arnold/Feldspar Brook Trail is flooded and the bog bridging cannot be crossed. 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. (10/13)
  • The town of Keene operates the Garden Trailhead Parking Area and charges a $7/day fee for parking. Hikers should use an envelope and the collection slot to pay all other times. (2016)
  • The second bridge on the East River Trail to Allen Mountain and Hanging Spear Falls has been replaced by DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program. Please do not bounce on the bridge. (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 first 1,500 feet of Blueberry Hiking Trail has been closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail approximately 0.3 mile east of the previous location (0.8 mile from the Seward Trailhead). This reroute eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area and avoids hiking (and maintaining) more than 120 feet of bog bridging. (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.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. (1/12)
  • The trail from the Elk Lake Trailhead located on the privately-owned Elk Lake Easement Lands is open. Elk Lake Road is closed to public motor vehicle access beyond the Clear Pond Gate until the end of the spring mud season. Park in the parking area at the Clear Pond Gate and hike, ski, or snowshoe two (2) miles to Elk Lake Trailhead.(12/8)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The use of snowshoes or skies is strongly encouraged wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. (1/12)
  • Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to. (2011)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches(1/12)
  • Nothing to report.

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. (1/12)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. The use of snowshoes prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoid injuries, and ease travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use. (1/5)

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.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. (1/12)
  • Moose Creek Suspension Bridge between Shattuck Clearing and Cold River is now open. DEC and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Northeast have completed the repairs. (2016)
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook has collapsed into the brook. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible. (2016)
  • The trail has been rerouted around a beaver pond south of Plumley's Point on the shores of Long Lake. The reroute passes the beaver pond higher up the slope and eliminates having to cross the beaver dam and the wet feet obtained when the water levels were high. Follow the Blue NPT trail markers. (2016)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches. (1/12)
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail, check the ice before crossing. (12/29)

More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: