Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: August 9, 2018

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

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the current National Weather Service Forecast (leaves DEC website) and be prepared for the forecasted conditions or to change your plans.
  • NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) has two dozen stations in and just outside of Adirondacks that provide real time weather data and forecasts.

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information main web page for important general notices and information which applies across the Adirondacks.

Route 73 Corridor: DEC is undertaking a multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism, and address public safety in the Adirondacks focused on the State Route 73 Corridor between Exit 30 of the Northway (I87) and Lake Placid.

  • Hikes Outside the High Peaks provides a list of nearby trails which provide quality hiking and great scenic views, much like the High Peaks, but without the crowds!
  • Trailhead parking areas along Route 73 are now striped. Please park in the designated parking spots between the striped lines. Do not park in hash marked areas or where No Parking signs are posted.
  • DEC has installed portable toilets at four additional trailheads. Please use portable toilets before starting up a trail. Portable toilets can be found at these locations:
    • King Phillips Spring
    • Round Pond
    • Ridge Trail West
    • Chapel Pond
    • Beer Walls
    • Roaring Brook Falls
    • Cascade Outlet
    • Cascade Mountain (2)

Active Nuisance Bears: The warm dry weather has reduced the amount of berries and other natural foods available to bears. DEC has received reports of nuisance bears throughout the Adirondacks. Avoid negative encounters with bears in the backcountry.

Summer Weather: Stay cool and hydrated on hot and sunny days. Avoid heat exhaustion:

  • Slow your pace, rest often, and stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Carry plenty of water and drink often - even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Dogs, especially large dogs, are very susceptible to the heat.
    • Do not take them on strenuous hikes up mountains that expose them to the heat and sun.
    • Leave them home - not in your car, or
    • Take them to a lake or pond.

Thunderstorms: Check weather forecasts before and during all outdoor recreational activities.

  • Avoid summits, water surfaces, and other open areas during thunderstorms.
  • As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm move to lower elevations, head to shore or otherwise seek shelter.
  • If caught outside in a thunderstorm find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks.

Trail Conditions: Trails are mainly dry but expect to encounter wet and muddy conditions in low spots, along water bodies, and in drainages. Avoid damaging hiking trails, trail side vegetation and habitats:

  • Wear water-resistant hiking boots and let them get muddy.
  • Stay in the center of trail and walk through mud and water.

Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be cooler and winds will be stronger. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Biting Insects: Expect to encounter black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, and no-see-ums (biting midges) when outdoors. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects:

  • Wear light colored clothing.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts; tuck shirts into pants and button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist.
  • Wear long pants and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks.
  • Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick.
  • Use an insect repellant with DEET, follow label directions.

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 (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. (2018)
  • Dogs are prohibited on the AMR. (2018)

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 Boreas Ponds Tract is divided between the High Peaks Wildness and the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest. DEC is working to finalize the amendments to the management plans for those two units. The amendments will describe the management, access, and public recreational opportunities available for the lands and waters on this tract of land. (7/26)
  • Work has been completed on the Gulf Brook Road. The road is open to public motor vehicle use to the Fly Pond Parking Lot. (7/26)
  • The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. (2018)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • A black bear with no ear tags has been entering the leant-tos and tent sites in the Bushnell Falls area to obtain food from campers cooking later. Campers should prepare and eat meals and early to avoid attracting nuisance bears to their site. (8/10)
  • DEC has piled materials for improving campsites along South Meadow Lane in the Mt. VanHoevenberg Trailhead Parking Area. Vehicles should park in the nearby pulloffs along South Meadow Lane until the work is complete. (8/2)
  • A nuisance bear with an ear tag continues to be active in Eastern High Peaks. The bear has changed its pattern of behavior and is now approaching hikers and campers during the middle of day in attempt to obtain food. Pack all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canister as required by regulation. If approached by a bear: (8/2)
    • Do not throw your pack at them, if they are rewarded with food, they will continue this behavior.
    • Raise your arms over your head to look bigger, yell loudly at the bear as you slowly back way - do not run.
    • If available, bang rocks or metal objects together for noise.
    • Use bear spray if all else fails
    • Avoid negative encounters with bears.
  • Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters and other practices to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks. (2018)
  • Work has been completed on the Gulf Brook Road. The road is open to public motor vehicle use to the Fly Pond Parking Lot. (7/26)
  • 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. (7/26)
  • 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. (7/26)
  • Kagel Lean-to has been relocated and reroofed by the Adirondack 46er Volunteer Trail crew. The lean-to is located a few hundred feet away from its previous location on sustainable site away from the brook. (7/26)
  • Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail. (7/26)
  • Bradley Pond Lean-to has a 3ft by 6ft hole in the roof. The lean-to can still be used but should be avoided if it's raining. DEC is developing a temporary fix for the 2018 season and will fully repair the roof during the off season. (6/15)
  • 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. (2018)
  • Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on the Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends. (2018)
  • Now through the month of October parking at the Garden Parking Lot costs $10 ($13 Canadian) per day. A town of Keene attendant will be at the lot from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Paying the fee is a self-serve process during the week. (2018)
  • The town of Keene's shuttle between Marcy Field parking lot and the Garden Trailhead will be operating from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday this weekend. There is a $10 ($13 Canadian) round trip fee to use the shuttle. (2018)
  • 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. (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 Wilderness

  • The Dix Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Wilderness are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. (2018)
    • DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to eliminate the Dix Mountain Wilderness and transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • Group size regulations are now in effect on these and groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
    • Information about the former Dix Mountain Lands may be found in the High Peaks Wilderness section above.

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. The brook is passable during low water conditions. (2018)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • 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: