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Trail Information for the High Peaks

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

Updated: April 28, 2016

BOREAS PONDS TRACT: The State of New York has completed the purchase of the Boreas Ponds Tract. While DEC develops an interim recreation plan, access to the tract will be limited to foot traffic only beyond the closed gate. Motor vehicles, bikes and horses are prohibited. Additionally, the public is prohibited from trespassing in and around the lodge on Boreas Pond and the leased hunting camps.

General Notices

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!

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Be Prepared for Winter Conditions

  • 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
    • Snow depths
    • Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Boots
    • Gaiters
    • Waterproof Outer Wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Fleece or Wool Hat
    • Gloves or Mittens
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Snowshoes or skis
    • Spikes or traction devices
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Sunscreen
    • Bivy sack or space blankets in case you need to spend the night in woods
    • Fire starter supplies - waterproof matches, butane lighter, candles, starter material, etc. (for use in emergencies only in the Eastern High Peaks)
  • Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return

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

All links to regulations leave DEC website.

Electronic Technology: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Prepare before the trip and carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as backup.

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 High Peaks Wilderness (not including the Canoe Zone along the Raquette River), 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

Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. Being properly prepared for weather and other conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. 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 entering the backcountry.

Fire Danger: Low. Current Fire Danger Map. (4/28)

Early Spring Trail Conditions: Daytime temperatures are forecast to be in the 40s & 50s, nighttime temperatures will be below freezing. Snow and rain showers are forecasted for Sunday. Snow and ice are still present above 3,800 feet. (4/28)

Mud & Water on Trails: Middle elevation trails will be muddy and wet. All hikers should wear waterproof footwear and gaiters. Remain on the trails and walk through mud & water to protect trails. Walking around mud & water erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation. (4/28)

Ice on Trails: Trails are icy in the high elevations where snow was compacted through the winter. All hikers should carry micro-spikes and wear them when warranted. Remain on the trails and walk on ice to protect trails. Walking around ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation. (4/28)

Snow on Trails: A foot or more of snow is present above 3,800 feet up to the tree line. Snow is present at lower elevations on north facing slopes and wooded areas. There is little to no snow above tree line. Snow pack off trail is soft and hikers may encounter soft spots on the trails. Hikers should carry snowshoes as a precaution when hiking above 3,800 feet. (4/28)

Water Crossings: Water levels in rivers and streams are high but well below average for this time of year. Water temperatures are cold. Melt water is flowing in drainages. Low water crossings that are passable in the morning may not be in the afternoon. (4/28)

Ice on Water: Ice is out all waters. (4/28)

Water Levels & Temperatures: Waters levels are high but well below average for this time of year. Water temperatures are very cold. A person fell into the water could quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water. People boating or paddling should wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. PFDs are required to be worn by all people in watercraft less than 21 feet in length until May 1st. (4/28)

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) on trails, especially on trails in the higher elevations and less used trails. (4/28)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, bedrock and ice and snow will be present. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. (4/28)

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates have been closed and seasonal access roads will remain closed through the spring mud season. DEC will reopen the roads once any needed maintenance is completed and the roads are dry enough to safely handle public motor vehicle traffic. Motor vehicle use during the spring mud season will damage roads and result in road opening delays. (4/28)

Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) (aka Ausable Club): The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) 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 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. (2016)

Specific Notices

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The State of New York has completed the purchase of the tract. (4/15)
  • While DEC develops an interim recreation plan, access to the tract will be limited to foot traffic only beyond the closed gate. Motor vehicles, bikes and horses are prohibited. (4/15)
  • Additionally, the public is prohibited from trespassing in and around the lodge on Boreas Pond and the leased hunting camps. (4/15)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, including a map, is available.
  • The Clear Pond Gate on Elk Lake Road is open. The trailheads may be accessed by motor vehicles. (4/28)
  • Snow and ice are still present in the higher elevations. 1-3 feet of snow is present above 3,800 feet to tree line. Little to no snow above tree line. (4/28)
  • Microspikes or other traction devices should be carried on all hikes worn when warranted. (4/28)
  • Hikers planning hikes above 3,800 feet should bring snowshoes as a precaution. (4/28)
  • Stay on trails and bedrock! Walk through mud & water and on ice. Walking around mud, water or ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation - especially sensitive alpine vegetation. (4/28)
  • The last 3 miles of Corey's Road remain closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. The gate at the Raquette Falls Trailhead remains is closed. (3/10)
  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road remains closed until the end of spring mud season. This will add four miles of travel round trip, plan accordingly. (3/10)
  • South Meadow Lane remains closed until the end of the spring mud season. Vehicles may park at the barriers to access to the Mt. Van Hovenberg Trail, the Marcy Truck Trail and the Klondike Trail. Do not block the gap in the barrier, it is used by emergency vehicles. (3/10)
  • The start of the Tabletop Mountain Herd Path on the Van Hovenberg Trail to Mt. Marcy has been moved 150 feet closer to Indian Falls. (2016)
  • The Ward Brook Truck Trail is flooded due to beaver activity just north of the junction with the Northville-Placid Trail. There is no reroute around the water. Hikers will need to walk through shin to knee deep waters. (2016)
  • The High Water Bridge over Calamity Brook on the Calamity Brook Trail between the Upper Works and the Flowed Lands has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers. (2016)
  • The suspension bridge over the Opalescent River on the trail from Lake Colden to Mt. Marcy has been repaired by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and can be used by hikers. (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 public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. (2016)
  • A 10-foot section of trail near Uphill Lean-to along the Opalescent River above Lake Colden was washed out during heavy rains. Hikers can get around it by going through the trees but should use caution when doing so. (2015)
  • 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)
  • 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. (2014)
  • 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)
  • 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 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

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Dix Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, including a map, is available.
  • The Clear Pond Gate on Elk Lake Road is open. The trailheads may be accessed by motor vehicles. (4/28)
  • Snow and ice are still present in the higher elevations. 1-3 feet of snow is present above 3,800 feet to tree line. Little to no snow above tree line. (4/28)
  • Microspikes or other traction devices should be carried on all hikes worn when warranted. (4/28)
  • Hikers planning hikes above 3,800 feet should bring snowshoes as a precaution. (4/28)
  • Stay on trails and bedrock! Walk through mud & water and on ice. Walking around mud, water or ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation - especially sensitive alpine vegetation. (4/28)
  • The Slide Brook Lean-to on the Dix Trail from Elk Lake has been relocated. It was taken apart and rebuilt by the Adirondack 46ers. (2014)
  • 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. (2014)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Snow and ice are still present in the higher elevations. (4/21)
  • Microspikes or other traction devices should be carried on all hikes worn when warranted. (4/21)
  • Hikers planning hikes above 3,000 feet should bring snowshoes in case they are needed. (4/21)
  • Stay on trails! Walk through mud & water and on ice. Walking around mud, water or ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation - especially sensitive alpine vegetation. (4/21)
  • All rock climbing routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliffs and Lower Washbowl Cliffs in Chapel Pond Pass are closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest. (4/14)
  • Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to. (2011)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Snow and ice are still present in the higher elevations. 1-3 feet of snow is present above 3,800 feet to tree line. Little to no snow above tree line. (4/28)
  • Microspikes or other traction devices should be carried on all hikes worn when warranted. (4/28)
  • Hikers planning hikes above 3,800 feet should bring snowshoes as a precaution. (4/28)
  • Stay on trails and bedrock! Walk through mud & water and on ice. Walking around mud, water or ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation - especially sensitive alpine vegetation. (4/28)
  • DEC, Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program members and volunteers from the Friends of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower have completed work to restore and rehabilitate the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower for this year. The fire tower remains closed to the public at this time. (2015)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • Snow and ice are still present in the higher elevations. 1-3 feet of snow is present above 3,800 feet to tree line. Little to no snow above tree line. (4/28)
  • Microspikes or other traction devices should be carried on all hikes worn when warranted. (4/28)
  • Hikers planning hikes above 3,800 feet should bring snowshoes as a precaution. (4/28)
  • Stay on trails and bedrock! Walk through mud & water and on ice. Walking around mud, water or ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation - especially sensitive alpine vegetation. (4/28)
  • All rock climbing routes on the Labor Day Wall and Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch are closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest. (4/14)
  • Construction is occurring on the State Route 86 Bridge over the West Branch Ausable River about three miles northeast of Lake Placid. (2016)
    • Construction is expected to continue unit November 1st.
    • Parking near the bridge will be restricted.
    • Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are discouraged from using the parking areas near the bridge. Use the parking area along Route 86 near the Connery Pond Road.
    • Paddlers using that section of the river are advised to find an alternate takeout. Paddlers are discouraged from paddling under the bridge during the construction period.
    • Entering the construction site or staging area is prohibited.
    • Anyone parking near the bridge should use caution when pulling out of the parking area.
    • Pedestrians crossing the road should use the marked crosswalk.
  • The Connery Pond Road is closed to public motor vehicle traffic. The road will reopen to motor vehicles once the spring mud season ends. (2016)
  • Hikers, snowshoers and skiers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch Ausable River. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road. Hikers may use the road to access trails to Connery Pond, Lake Placid and Whiteface Landing. (2016)
  • Volunteers from Lean2Rescue and the Syracuse University Outing Club reroofed the Whiteface Brook Lean-to. (2015)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Sentinel Range Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Nothing to report.

Wilmington Wild Forest

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Wilmington Wild Forest, including a map, is available.
  • Snow and ice are still present in the higher elevations. 1-3 feet of snow is present above 3,800 feet to tree line. Little to no snow above tree line. (4/28)
  • Microspikes or other traction devices should be carried on all hikes worn when warranted. (4/28)
  • Hikers planning hikes above 3,800 feet should bring snowshoes as a precaution. (4/28)
  • Stay on trails and bedrock! Walk through mud & water and on ice. Walking around mud, water or ice erodes trails and damages trailside vegetation - especially sensitive alpine vegetation. (4/28)
  • 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. (2015)
  • The outlet of Cooper Kill Pond is flooded by beaver activity. (2009) Hiking Trails Outside the High Peaks provides a list of nearby alternative day hikes.

More about Trail Information for the High Peaks: