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Trail Information for the High Peaks

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

Updated: April 11, 2014

General Notices

Former Finch Pruyn Lands: Last year Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens announced the commitment by New York State to acquire 69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn lands in the Adirondacks in phases over the next five years. See Governor Cuomo's press release on the planned acquisition.

This past year Governor Cuomo announced the closing on five tracts of land totaling 9,300 acres. Some of these tracts lie just outside the Adirondack Park. When combined with the previously purchased 18,318-acre Essex Chain of Lakes Tracts, the State has added 27,618 acres of new forest preserve and state forest lands. The remaining 41,382 acres will be purchased in phases over the next three years.

More information on the acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn Lands, including announcements regarding public access opportunities, can be found on the Acquisition of Former Finch Pruyn Lands web page.

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!

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

Mountain Forecast: Weather is an important factor in preparing for hiking or camping in the Adirondack backcountry. Often there is considerable difference in weather conditions at the trailhead and those experienced in the higher elevations. The National Weather Service in Burlington has a product that provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin County. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to access the forecast.

Be Prepared in the Winter

  • 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
    • Current weather conditions, snow depths and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Winter hiking boots
    • Cold weather outer wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothes
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Carry
    • Traction devices and crampons and use when warranted
    • Snowshoes or skis and use in snow depths of 8 inches or more
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Ensolite pad to rest on and insulate your body from cold surfaces
    • Bivy sack or space blankets for extra warmth
    • Fire starter supplies - waterproof matches, butane lighter, candles, starter material, etc. (NOTE: Fires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness)
  • Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return

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 eastern High Peaks Wilderness, 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

Early Spring Weather: Early Spring conditions are present on the ground though warm spring temperatures (high 50s) will continue through the weekend with rain showers forecast on Sunday. Snow and ice are present in the middle and higher elevations, while lower elevations are a mix of bare ground and snow patches.Water-proof footwear; cool weather, water-resistant outer wear; extra layers of non-cotton clothing; and hat & gloves are recommended for any outdoor recreation activities. 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 going into the backcountry. (4/11)

Trail Conditions: It is the time of year when you must be prepared for a variety of conditions.Trail conditions will vary with changes in elevation and the time of day. Low elevation trails, trailheads and parking areas may have mud, water, hard-packed snow and ice or a mix some or all of substances. Trails through wooded areas will have more snow and ice, while trails through open areas will be have more mud and water. Higher elevation trails have snow and ice, and, of course, there is a transition zone in between. Use the link in the right column to see the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" which is updated daily. (4/11)

Skis & Snowshoes: Skiing and snowshoeing opportunities are still present on trails. Snowshoes or skis are required in the High Peaks Wilderness and should be worn on all trails throughout the Adirondacks with 8 inches of snow or more. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for other users and makes them hazardous to travel. (4/11)

Mud & Water: Snowmelt and rain are creating muddy, wet trails in the lower elevations and raising water levels in rivers, streams and drainages at all elevations. Stream and drainage crossings may not be passable, especially in the afternoon. Trails adjacent to rivers, streams or low lying areas may be flooded. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and walk through wet and muddy areas on trails not around them so that you don't erode and widen trails. (4/11)

Crampons & Traction Devices: Traction devices should be carried and worn when in low elevation icy areas. Crampons should be carried and worn on summits and other open areas where significant ice has accumulated. (4/11)

Ice on Water: Ice is breaking up and going out on rivers and streams. Ice on ponds and lake is covered with water and slush and continue to thin and deteriorate. No ice should be considered safe at this time. (4/11)

Prevent Hypothermia: Dress properly, stay dry and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Traveling in snow takes more energy and more time than traveling the same trail on bare ground. (4/11)

Summits: Conditions on and near summits are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, snow and ice. 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. (4/11)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. Prepare accordingly. (4/11)

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. (4/11)

Specific Notices

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The Town of Keene have closed the road and the Garden parking area through the weekend due to the muddy and soft surface conditions. The Town will evaluate the parking area next week to determine if the surface is dry and firm enough to reopen. Hikers should use other trailheads this weekend - such as the Rooster Comb and Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trailheads - to access the High Peaks Wilderness. (4/11)
  • The Lake Colden Caretaker reports 35 inches of snow at the stake. (4/11)
  • Snows remain deep enough at this time that snowshoes or skis are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and necessary on all trails throughout the Adirondacks.The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous to travel. (4/11)
  • A foot of slush and water is present on Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake, passage is extremely hard and ice is thinning and deteriorating. (4/11)
  • Streams are loosing ice and waters are escaping their banks. Many stream crossings are impassable particularly in the after, those include but are not limited to:
    • Indian Pass Brook on the trail to Street and Nye Mountains;
    • the drainage on Mount Marshall;
    • stream crossing on the hike to Allen Mountain;
    • Uphill Brook on the hike up Redfield Mountain, especially in the afternoon; and
    • Marcy Brook above Indian Falls on the VanHovenberg Trail.
  • Skiing, snowshoeing and other travel is prohibited on Avalanche Pass Slide. (4/3)
  • The Raquette River Trailhead Gate and Corey's Road remain closed to public motorized use through spring mud season. It is nearly 3 miles from the gate to the Truck Trail Trailhead, plan trips accordingly. The road will reopen when it has dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/11)
  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed through mud season. The parking lot a Clear Pond is two miles from the trailhead, adding four miles to a round trip. The road will reopen when it has dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/11)
  • Blowdown has been cleared from the Marcy Ski Trail. (2/21)
  • 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. (1/2)
  • 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. (1/2)
  • The new bridge on the East River Trail over the Hudson River is complete and the trail is reopened.(11/20)
  • The bridge over South Meadow Brook on the Klondike Trail has been replaced. The trail can now be accessed directly from the end of South Meadow Road. (2013)
  • This past June the Adirondack Mountain Club's Professional Trail Crew built over 400 feet of bog-bridges on both sides of Boundary Peak to protect the alpine vegetation between Algonquin and Iroquois Peaks. (2013)
  • A new bridge has been constructed over Roaring Brook on the Duck Hole-Henderson Lake Trail by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program under DEC guidance and direction. (2013)
  • The first foot bridge on the Bradley Pond Trail has been dropped and is unusable. The stream can be forded /rock hopped most of time on the down stream side of the bridge site. (2013)
  • A new foundation has been built for the Orebed Lean-to by Lean2 Rescue who had previously made repairs on the lean-to. (2013)
  • The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows hiking on the designated trails and roads. Accessing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited. (2013)
  • 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)
  • The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John's Brook Outpost is closed and DEC is not maintaining it at this time. (2012)
  • The Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass is closed and DEC is not maintaining it at this time. (2012)
  • 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 low water route through the Deer Brook Flume on the Deer Brook Trail to Snow Mountain remains impassable due to severe erosion. (2011)
  • 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

  • Snows remain deep enough at this time that snowshoes or skis are necessary on all trail. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous. Snow remains deep enough at this time to travel. (4/3)
  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed for mud season. The parking lot a Clear Pond is two miles from the trailhead, adding four miles to a round trip. The road will reopen when it has dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/11)
  • 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. (2/6)
  • The Carry Trail from Adirondack Mountain Reserve to the Colvin Range Trail and the Colvin Range Trail have been cleared of blowdown by the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society and open to hikers. (2012)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • Snows remain deep enough at this time that snowshoes or skis are necessary on all trails.The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous to travel. (4/3)
  • Beginning April 1, all climbing routes on the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs near Chapel Pond are closed to allow Peregrine Falcons to choose nesting sites. Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures provides more details including the purpose of the closures. (4/3)
  • Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain from 9N just past the lean-to. (2011)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • Snows remain deep enough at this time that snowshoes or skis are necessary on all higher elevation trails .The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous to travel. (4/3)
  • The eastern trailhead to Hurricane Mountain is accessible via Hurricane Road in Elizabethtown. However, the road is not be plowed to the trailhead in the winter. (1/9)
  • A bridge on the Carlott Road, one of the roads to access the Jay Mountain Road from the southeast, is closed. (2012)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • Snows remain deep enough at this time that snowshoes or skis are necessary on all higher elevation trails throughout the Adirondacks.The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous to travel. (4/3)
  • Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road. (2013)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and necessary on all trails throughout the Adirondacks.The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous to travel. (4/3)

Wilmington Wild Forest

  • Snows remain deep enough at this time that snowshoes or skis are necessary on all higher elevation trails. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" (leaving deep foot prints in the snow) ruins the trails for others and makes trails dangerous to travel. (4/3)
  • 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. (2013)
  • A new trail segment has been completed connecting the hamlet of Wilmington's business district with a trail that leads to the remote and scenic Cooper Kiln Pond. The new three-mile trail segment will allow snowmobilers to travel from Wilmington, connect with the previously existing Cooper Kiln Pond Trail and travel another three miles to the pond. It creates a 12.6-mile round trip hiking opportunity. See the press release for more information. (2012)
  • The outlet of Cooper Kill Pond is flooded by beaver activity. (2009)

More about Trail Information for the High Peaks: