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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: December 13, 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.

Road Conditions and Closures: Check before you travel at NY511 (leaves DEC website).

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.

Changes to Parking on State Route 73: Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south) starting Friday, Sept. 21. The parking prohibition supports DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.

Winter Weather: Snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures are present throughout the Adirondacks.

  • Snow depths currently range from 10 to 15 inches (30-50 cm) in the lower elevations
  • There is 3-4 feet (91-122 cm) of snow above 3,000 feet (914 m).
  • The National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) provides maps depicting current snow depths, forecasts, and other snow information.

Be Prepared for Winter Conditions:

  • The sun sets early - ALWAYS carry a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing.
  • Wear hat and gloves.
  • Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips. (leaves DEC website)

Ice on Waterbodies: Ice has formed on all waters, except fast flowing rivers and streams.

  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlet and near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices.
  • Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.
  • Be safe on the ice.

Hikers and Campers

Trail Conditions: Snow and ice are present on all trails.

  • Snow depths range from 10 inches or deeper throughout the region.
  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and recommended on all trails throughout the region.
  • Using snowshoes eases travel on snow and prevents "post holing", which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries.
  • Snowshoers and hikers should avoid walking on cross-country ski tracks wherever possible and are prohibited on designated ski trails.
  • Trail crampons should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails including summits and other exposed areas.
  • Traveling in deep snow takes more energy and time - especially when traveling through freshly fallen snow - plan accordingly.

Stream Crossings: Rocks will be icy along streams and in streams. Wear trail crampons and use hiking poles with steel or carbide tips when traversing ice covered rocks.

Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be much colder, winds will be stronger, ice will be present, and snow will be deeper. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC website) for selected summits.

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 web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead. (2018)
  • The easement agreement provides for public hiking only on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. (2018)
  • Dogs are prohibited. (2018)

Boreas Ponds Tract

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Lake Colden Caretaker reports 30 inches (75 cm) of snow at the stake (2,750 feet (838 m) elevation) with 3-4 feet (91-122 cm) of snow above 3,000 feet (914 m). (12/13)
  • South Meadow Truck Trail, Avalanche Ski Trail, and Avalanche Pass Trail all have good snow conditions. (12/6)
  • Snowshoes are required above Marcy Dam - 2,360 feet (719 m) elevation. (12/6)
  • The trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract - to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain - are open for public use. However, the Clear Pond Gate is closed for the winter. The Clear Pond Parking Area is two miles from the Elk Lake Trailhead - plan your travels accordingly. (12/6)
  • South Meadow Lane is closed to motor vehicle use. Do not block the opening when parking at the entrance. This is used by emergency response vehicles. (12/6)
  • The gate on Corey's Road is closed to accommodate logging operations in Ampersand Park. Parking is available at Raquette Falls Trailhead. (12/6)
  • DEC with the assistance of NY State Police Aviation Unit airlifted 55 bags of stone to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg. (11/21)
    • These stones will be used to help stabilize the summit ledge viewing area from wind, rain, and hiking erosion.
    • DEC and partners will undertake the stone work in the spring.
    • Please stay off the piles and enjoy the views if you hike the summit this winter
  • The new, sustainably designed and built, Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail is open for public use. The 1.7-mile trail climbs 920 feet from the trailhead in the Olympic Sports Complex to the 2,940-feet summit of the mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness. (10/5)
  • 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. (2018)
  • 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. (2018)
  • Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail. (2018)
  • 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. (2018)
  • 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)
  • 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 Area

  • The Dix Mountain Area web page provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area. This will be incorporated into the High Peaks Wilderness web page in the near future.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Area are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. (2018)
    • DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to 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, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report

Jay Mountain Wilderness

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

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

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, and a map of the unit.
  • 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: