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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: June 14, 2018

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.

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.

Trail Conditions:

Mountain Summits: Avoid trails and summits above 2,500 feet.

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.

Biting Insects: Bug Season in the Adirondacks is in full swing. Expect to encounter black flies, mosquitoes, 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.
  • Gulf Brook Road is open to public motor vehicles to Fly Pond Gate (Parking Lot #8 on Interim Access Plan Map) which is approximately 3.2 miles from Blue Ridge Road, 2.5 miles from LaBier Flow, and 3.5 miles from Boreas Ponds. The road is in very rough shape after the long, hard winter - four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended. DEC is developing plans to address these concerns. (6/14)
  • An Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract identifies access and recreational opportunities (PDF 773 KB) that are available prior to the completion of management plans.
  • DEC has released Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) Amendments to the High Peaks Wilderness Complex UMP and the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest UMP that propose management actions regarding public access and recreation to the Boreas Pond Tract and other adjacent and nearby Forest Preserve lands. DEC and APA are conducting concurrent public review processes of the Draft UMP Amendments until June 27. (2018)
  • The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around leased hunting camps. (2018)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • DEC has released a Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) Amendment to the High Peaks Wilderness Complex UMP proposes management actions regarding public access and recreation to the Boreas Pond Tract and other adjacent and nearby Forest Preserve lands. The Draft UMP Amendment also includes proposals to address parking concerns along State Route 73 and State Route 3 near Ampersand Mountain. DEC and APA are conducting concurrent public review processes of the Draft UMP Amendment until June 27. (2018)
  • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: The harsh, long winter with its deep snow and deep frost has caused problems for high elevation trails, so the Muddy Trail Advisory remains in effect. DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are present and melting on these high elevation trails. The trails have thin soils, are dangerous for hiking, and susceptible to erosion. Sensitive trailside alpine vegetation is easily damaged. (6/14)
  • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats. (6/14)
    • Wear waterproof hiking boots and let them get dirty.
    • Stay in the center of trails.
    • Walk through mud and water.
  • Bradley Pond Lean-to has a huge hole in the roof (3ft by 6ft). The lean-to is 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)
  • Gulf Brook Road is open to public motor vehicles to Fly Pond Gate (Parking Lot #8 on Interim Access Plan Map) which is approximately 3.2 miles from Blue Ridge Road, 2.5 miles from LaBier Flow, and 3.5 miles from Boreas Ponds. The road is in very rough shape after the long, hard winter - four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended. DEC is developing plans to address these concerns. (6/14)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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. DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to eliminate the Dix Mountain Wilderness and transition to the High Peaks Wilderness. (2018)
  • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: The harsh, long winter with its deep snow and deep frost has caused problems for high elevation trails, so the Muddy Trail Advisory remains in effect. DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are present and melting on these high elevation trails. The trails have thin soils, are dangerous for hiking, and susceptible to erosion. Sensitive trailside alpine vegetation is easily damaged. (6/14)
  • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats. (6/14)
    • Wear waterproof hiking boots and let them get dirty.
    • Stay in the center of trails.
    • Walk through mud and water.

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: The harsh, long winter with its deep snow and deep frost has caused problems for high elevation trails, so the Muddy Trail Advisory remains in effect. DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are present and melting on these high elevation trails. The trails have thin soils, are dangerous for hiking, and susceptible to erosion. Sensitive trailside alpine vegetation is easily damaged. (6/14)
  • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats. (6/14)
    • Wear waterproof hiking boots and let them get dirty.
    • Stay in the center of trails.
    • Walk through mud and water.
  • All rock climbing routes on Upper Washbowl Cliffs in the Chapel Pond are open. (5/24)
  • All rock climbing routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliffs remain closed to allow peregrine falcons to nest and raise their young. (5/24)
  • 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

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Trails may be wet and muddy in places, especially low spots, drainages, and sections of trails by water. Walk through - not around - mud and water to avoid eroding and widening trails and trampling vegetation. (6/14)

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Trails may be wet and muddy in places, especially low spots, drainages, and sections of trails by water. Walk through - not around - mud and water to avoid eroding and widening trails and trampling vegetation. (6/14)
  • Blowdown has been cleared from the Jay Mountain Trail. (5/31)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: The harsh, long winter with its deep snow and deep frost has caused problems for high elevation trails, so the Muddy Trail Advisory remains in effect. DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are present and melting on these high elevation trails. The trails have thin soils, are dangerous for hiking, and susceptible to erosion. Sensitive trailside alpine vegetation is easily damaged. (6/14)
  • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats. (6/14)
    • Wear waterproof hiking boots and let them get dirty.
    • Stay in the center of trails.
    • Walk through mud and water.

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.
  • MUDDY TRAIL ADVISORY: The harsh, long winter with its deep snow and deep frost has caused problems for high elevation trails, so the Muddy Trail Advisory remains in effect. DEC is asking people to avoid trails above 2,500 feet in the High Peaks Region until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. Snow and ice are present and melting on these high elevation trails. The trails have thin soils, are dangerous for hiking, and susceptible to erosion. Sensitive trailside alpine vegetation is easily damaged. (6/14)
  • Avoid damaging hiking trails and sensitive trail side vegetation and habitats. (6/14)
    • Wear waterproof hiking boots and let them get dirty.
    • Stay in the center of trails.
    • Walk through mud and water.
  • 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: