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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: December 14, 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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Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information for important general notices and information which apply across 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.

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

Late Fall/Early Winter Conditions: Below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice are present at all elevations. Snow depths range from 4-8 inches in the lower elevations to 8-12 inches in the higher elevations. See the NERFC Snow Page for current snow information. Be prepared for conditions:

  • Avoid hypothermia, stay dry and warm.
  • Be prepared for cold and snow:
    • Waterproof outer layer.
    • Wear layers of non-cotton clothing.
    • Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing.
    • Carry extra wool socks.
    • Hat and gloves or mittens.

Short Days: Carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Trail Conditions: Snow and ice are present on trails at all elevations. The recent snow storm brought nearly 10" to the High Peaks. The use of snowshoes is now required in the High Peaks Wilderness. Water and mud may also still be present on some lower elevation trails.

  • Wear proper footwear including traction devices - especially on steep sections of trail and at water crossings where rocks may be covered with a layer of ice.
  • Snowshoes or skis are strongly encouraged wherever snow depths exceed 8".
  • Due to recent high winds, expect to encounter blow down (fallen or hanging trees, limbs and branches) on trails.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow and ice will be present.

  • Wear a jacket or coat (outer shell), hat, gloves or mittens that block wind when on summits or other exposed locations. Avoid skin exposure on summits.
  • Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing to wear on the summits.
  • Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.
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. (2017)
  • Dogs are prohibited on the AMR. (2017)

Boreas Ponds Tract

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The trail through the Elk Lake Easement lands connecting to the High Peaks Wilderness is open for public use once again. However, the Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road will remain closed through the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a roundtrip hike, plan accordingly. (12/7)
  • The gate on Corey's Road will remain open until March 1, however the road and parking areas may not be plowed. If you don't' have a four-wheel drive vehicle and there is snow on the road, consider parking along the plowed section of road and walking. DO NOT BLOCK TRAFFIC. Have a shovel in your vehicle in case you need to dig out after a snowstorm. (12/7)
  • South Meadow Lane is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Vehicles can park at the barriers just off the Adirondac Loj Road. Do not block the opening as it used for emergency access. (12/7)
  • A large tree has fallen on the Mr. Van Lean-to on the Mr. Van Ski Trail causing severe damage and rendering the lean-to unsafe and unusable. DEC is working with partners to evaluate the extent of the damage and the requirements and timing of repairs. (11/6)
  • Several sections of the Phelps Trail in the Upper Johns Brook Valley contain extensive amount of blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches). Please use caution when hiking in and around this area. (11/6)
  • Blowdown has been cleared from the Blueberry Horse Trail between the Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Horse Trail in the Western High Peaks and the trail has been "brushed out" (trailside vegetation has been trimmed). The work was completed over the past two years with considerable effort from the DEC Ray Brook Trail Crew and the Student Conservation Association High Peaks Backcountry Stewards. The trail is once again 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. (11/6)
  • A new section of Bradley Pond Trail to Sanatanoni Mountain has been constructed near the beginning of the trail to avoid the two crossing which had unusable bridges. The new trail section leaves the old trail just as the trail leaves the gravel road and crosses Santanoni Brook on a newly constructed bridge, and then joins the old trail a short distance later. The project was a combined effort of NOLS Alumni Service, Student Conservation Association (SCA) Adirondack Program, SCA High Peaks Backcountry Stewards, DEC High Peaks Trail Crew, Adirondack 46ers Volunteer Trail Crew, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Moriah Shock Camp crews and DEC Lands & Forests staff. (11/2)
  • The high water bridge over Calamity Brook has been repaired. Although it leans slightly it is usable for crossing. The lean will be corrected at a later date. The repairs were completed by SCA High Peaks Backcountry Stewards, a DEC Forest Ranger and the DEC High Peaks Wilderness land manager. (11/2)
  • The high water bridge over Slide Mountain Brook on Phelps Trail between the Garden Trailhead Parking Area and Johns Brook Lodge has been replaced by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Professional Trail Crew under contract with DEC and ADK Volunteers. (10/19)
  • The trail across private lands to the summit of Owls Head is closed to public access on weekends, but remains open to the public use during the week. (10/19)
  • 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. (2017)
  • 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 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)
  • 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.
  • The trail through the Elk Lake Easement lands connecting to the Dix Mountain Wilderness is open for public use once again. However, the Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road will remain closed through the spring mud season. This will add four miles to a roundtrip hike, plan accordingly. (12/7)
  • The Boquet Lean-to on the Dix Mountain Round Pond Trail has been moved away from river and repaired by volunteers from the Adirondack 46ers (leaves DEC website). (2017)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • 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

Jay Mountain Wilderness

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

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

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. Due to low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible. (2017)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail. (2017)

More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: