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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: May 25, 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).

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend: Due to the three-day holiday weekend, trailhead parking lots may reach capacity early in the day and interior campsites be filled by Friday evening. Trailheads, trails, and summits will likely be crowded. Visitors are encourage to explore other less used areas of the Adirondacks. Hikes Outside the High Peaks provides a list of alternative day hikes. (NOTE: This list include some hikes that should not be taken while the Muddy Trail Advisory is in effect.)

MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: Trails above 2,500 feet are a mix of mud, ice and snow as the ice melts and frost leaves the ground, making them slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers. Hikers can prevent damage to hiking trails and sensitive alpine vegetation by avoiding trails high elevation trails at this time. Hikers are advised to only use trails at lower elevations as these usually dry soon after snowmelt and are on less erosive soils than the higher peaks. The Muddy Trail Advisory provides additional information and a list of alternate hikes.

Trail Conditions: Trails are wet and muddy, especially in low spots and along waterways. Some trails along waterways may be covered by standing water.

Protect Trails and Trailside Vegetation: Stay on trails to protect vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails, especially in the higher elevations. Walk through mud and water and use microspikes to walk on hard-packed snow and ice. Do not walk on the vegetation growing beside trails.

Water Crossings: Water levels are high and water crossings may be difficult or treacherous especially after rains.

Bear Resistant Canisters: Overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness must store all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canisters. The use of bear resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Biting Insects: Black flies and Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow & ice will be present on the highest summits, north-facing slopes, and other shaded areas. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts 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

  • Boreas Ponds Tract web page provides information on access and outdoor recreation opportunities available on these lands and waters including links to maps.
  • An Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract identifies access and recreational opportunities (PDF 773 KB) that is available prior to the classification of the tract and development of a unit management plan.
  • The lower gate on the Gulf Brook Road will open to public motor vehicle use on Friday, May 26. Gulf Brook Road provide access to three interior parking areas along the road. The Gulf Brook Road Upper Parking Area is near a gate that bars public motor vehicles use beyond the parking area. LaBier Flow is 2.5 miles beyond the gate and Boreas Ponds is 3.5 miles. (5/25)
  • The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. (2017)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • DEC has issued the spring Muddy Trail Advisory for trails above 2,500 feet. Hikers should avoid high elevation trails and use lower elevations trails only. (5/25)
  • Overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks must store all food, toiletries, and garbage in a bear resistant canisters. (5/25)
  • Sections of the trail between Lake Arnold and the Feldspar Lean-to are underwater and impassable. Hikers should seek other routes. (5/25)
  • Corey's Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic to the summer parking lot. (2017)
  • South Meadow Lane is open to public motor vehicle traffic. (2017)
  • Elk Lake Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic. (2017)
  • The High Peaks Information Center (HPIC) at Adirondak Loj Trailhead is open. (2017)
  • The high water bridge on the Calamity Brook Trail is unsafe and unusable and should not be crossed. Crossing Calamity Brook, which is completely open at this time, without using the bridge will be difficult - especially with high water levels. On warm and rainy days water levels in the brook will be higher in the afternoon, plan accordingly. The East River Trail (aka the Opalescent River/Hanging Spear Falls Trail) can be used to access the Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. It is an additional 3.7 miles one-way to reach the Flowed Lands using this route. DEC will work to stabilize and repair the high water bridge in the spring. (3/9)
  • The top landing on the Mt. Adams Fire Tower has been damaged by ice wind. Fencing and railings were broken off and the tower stairs and landings are slippery. The top landing and the cab are closed to the public at this time. DEC plans to repair the tower this year. (3/9)
  • 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. (2017)
  • 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. (2017)
  • 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. (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.
  • DEC has issued the spring Muddy Trail Advisory for trails above 2,500 feet. Hikers should avoid high elevation trails and use lower elevations trails only. (5/25)
  • Elk Lake Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic. (2017)

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC has issued the spring Muddy Trail Advisory for trails above 2,500 feet. Hikers should avoid high elevation trails and use lower elevations trails only. (5/25)
  • All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl Cliffs remain closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest and raise their young. (5/11)
  • All rock climbing routes on Upper Washbowl Cliffs are open. (2017)
  • 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)
  • 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 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.
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail. (2017)

More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: