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Trail Information for the High Peaks

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

Updated: March 27, 2015

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!

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

Mountain Forecast: Weather is an important factor in preparing for hiking or camping in the Adirondack backcountry. Often there is considerable difference in weather conditions at the trailhead and those experienced in the higher elevations. The National Weather Service in Burlington has a product that provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3,000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin County. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to access the forecast.

Be Prepared in Winter

  • 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
    • Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Waterproof hiking boots and gaiters
    • Layers of wool, fleece or other non-cotton clothing
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
    • Skis or snowshoes (wherever snow depth is 8 inches or more)
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Traction devices to prevent slips and falls on snow and ice
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Waterproof jacket and pants
    • 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.
  • Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return

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. See the information under the "Be Prepared" heading above to ensure you are prepared. 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. (3/26)

Road & Traffic Information: The Route 86 bridge in Wilmington is closed for repairs. It is scheduled to reopen June 1. A detour route has been established using Springfield Road and Fox Farm Road. Businesses along Route 86 remain open while the bridge is being repaired. 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. (3/26)

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. (3/26)

Late Winter Conditions: Days are becoming longer and warmer. Snow, ice and cold temperatures are present at all elevations. In the lower to middle elevations daytime high temperatures are alternating above and below freezing, nighttime lows are below freezing for the most part in the lower to mid-elevations. Temperatures are mainly below freezing or a little above in the higher elevations. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and remove layers as needed to keep comfortable. Dress and pack properly to avoid being cold & wet. Include an outer layer that is water & wind resistant. (3/26)

Snow: Snow depths up to 20 inches are present in the in the lower elevations. Open areas in the lower elevations have little or no snow. Four inches of snow fell this past week, the snow depth at Marcy Dam (2,350 ft.) is 30 inches and 39 inches at Lake Colden (2,750 ft.). Use the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Maps" link near the bottom of the right column to check the snow depth and snow forecast for the area. Maps are updated daily. (3/26)

Trail Conditions: Trails are in good condition. In the lower elevations hard packed trails may be icy. A layer of crust is present in the snow cover in the lower and mid elevations which may or may not bear the weight of a person on snowshoes or skis. In the higher elevations snow depths are deeper and the snow lacks any base. Watch for ice & snow falling from exposed, ledge areas on warm sunny days. (3/26)

Skis, Snowshoes & Traction Devices: Snowshoes or skis are required all trails in the High Peaks and should be worn on all backcountry trails in the Adirondacks. Snow clumps on skis and snowshoes when temperatures warm & snow softens. Use the correct wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing", eases travel, and prevents injuries. Crampons should be carried and worn when warranted on summits and other icy areas. (3/26)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger and snow will be deeper - especially where drifts have formed. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits or in heavy falling and/or blowing snow. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "NWS Mountain Forecasts" for selected summits in this area. (3/26)

Avoid Hypothermia: Stay dry and warm. Drink plenty of water, eat food and rest often. (3/26)

Backcountry Snow Report: (3/26)

  • The High Peaks received 4 inches of snow during the past week.
  • There has been some warming of temperatures, but below normal temperatures will return this weekend.
  • Accumulating snows are forecast for today into Friday.
  • Some spring conditions have been observed, especially on slopes that are receiving significant sun.
  • Snow stake at the Marcy Dam is currently recording 30 inches and the state at Lake Colden is 39 inches.
  • If you are plan to travel in avalanche terrain be sure to:
    • Carry essential equipment - Avalanche transceiver/beacon, Shovel, & Collapsible or ski-pole probe;
    • Dig test pits;
    • Remember the red flags;
    • Travel safely; and
    • Have a self-rescue plan and the tools to accomplish it.
    • Just because you see a ski or boot track on an avalanche slope doesn't mean one cannot occur. Make your own decisions.
  • Be sure you are Prepared for Avalanches before entering avalanche terrain.

Ice on Water: Slush and water are present on top the ice on lower elevation waters. In the higher elevation slush and water may be found on top of the ice under the snow cover. Ice has begun melting on streams and rivers. Thin layers of ice have formed along shores and other recently open areas with the return of below freezing temperatures. Avoid ice over or near running water, near inlets & outlets and near boathouses & docks - especially those with bubblers or other ice prevention devices. (3/26)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. (3/26)

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates on seasonal access roads are closed. The roads will reopen after the spring mud season. Motor vehicles should not be driving on seasonal access roads that serve as snowmobile trails in the winter. (3/26)

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 the lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. (2015)

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. (2015)

Specific Notices

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Corey's Road is closed until the end of mud season. Those seeking to access the Calkins Brook and Ward Brook Trails must park at the Raquette Falls Trailhead and traverse the 3 miles to the summer parking lot. (3/12)
  • Snow Depths: Marcy Dam - 30 inches; Lake Colden 39 inches. (3/26)
  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)
  • Stay on trails or deep snow when on summits. Exposed and ice covered sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged under winter conditions. (3/26)
  • The Trap Dike is full of snow, considerably more time and effort is required to climb the dike. (3/26)
  • Avoid ice around the inlets at outlets of Lake Colden & Avalanche Lake. (3/26)
  • The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to all public access and recreation for the winter. (2015)
  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This will add 4 miles to round trip, plan accordingly. (2015)
  • The Town of North Elba has closed and barricaded Meadow Lane off the Adirondack Loj Road. The road will remain closed through the spring mud season. (2015)
  • 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. (2015)
  • The public easement agreement for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club) only allows for hiking on designated trails and roads. (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)
  • The low water route through the Deer Brook Flume on the Deer Brook Trail to Snow Mountain has been repaired. (2013)
  • The first foot bridge on the Bradley Pond Trail has been dropped and is unusable. The stream can be forded /rock hopped most of time on the down stream side of the bridge site. (2013)
  • 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)
  • The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John's Brook Outpost is closed and DEC is not maintaining it at this time. (2012)
  • The Cold Brook Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass is closed and DEC is not maintaining it at this time. (2012)
  • 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

  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)
  • Stay on trails or deep snow when on summits. Exposed and ice covered sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged under winter conditions. (3/26)
  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This will add 4 miles to round trip, plan accordingly. (2015)
  • 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

  • Beginning April 1 all rock climbing routes on Lower and Upper Washbowl Cliffs near Chapel Pond will be closed to climbers to allow peregrine falcons to establish nest sites. (3/27)
  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)
  • Stay on trails or deep snow when on summits. Exposed and ice covered sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged under winter conditions. (3/26)
  • Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain just past the lean-to. (2011)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)
  • Stay on trails or deep snow when on summits. Exposed and ice covered sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged under winter conditions. (3/26)
  • The Hurricane Mountain Trail from the Route 9N trailhead has been rerouted to bypass areas flooded by beavers. The trail now extends 3.4 miles from the trailhead to the summit. The reroute and new footbridges were completed by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program. (2014)
  • A bridge on the Carlott Road, one of the roads to access the Jay Mountain Road from the southeast, is closed. (2012)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • Beginning April 1 all rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch will be closed to climbers to allow peregrine falcons to establish nest sites. (3/27)
  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)
  • Volunteers from Lean2Rescue and the Syracuse University Outing Club reroofed the Whiteface Brook Lean-to. (3/5)
  • The Connery Pond Road and its gate have been closed until the end of the spring mud season. Skiers and snowshoers may still use the road to access trails to Connery Pond and Whiteface Landing on Lake Placid. (2015)
  • Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road. (2013)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)

Wilmington Wild Forest

  • Snowshoes or skis are required on all trails. Snow will clump on skis and snowshoes when it warms and softens. Use the right wax on skis and wax or silicon spray on snowshoes to avoid this. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing"; eases travel and prevents injuries. (3/26)
  • Watch for ice and snow falling from exposed, rocky ledge areas on warm or sunny days. (3/26)
  • Crampons should be carried and worn when icy conditions are present on trails, summits, and exposed bedrock. (3/26)
  • All designated snowmobile trails are open and trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (3/26)
  • View of the Ausable Valley from Cobble Lookout
    The new 1.3-mile Cobble Lookout Trail has a mild ascents and descents as it follows the contour across the southwestern face of the Stephenson Range to a large rocky ledge. The vista from here offers great views of nearby Whiteface Mountain and much longer views across the Ausable River drainage to the Jay Mountains, Hurricane Mountain, and many other peaks. The trail was constructed under the guidance of DEC by the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program with assistance from inmates at the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Moriah Shock Camp. The trailhead is located on Gillespie Road a short distance past the the intersection with the Whiteface Memorial Highway (Latitude: 44° 24.195' N; Longitude: 73° 52.652' W (NAD83/WGS84)). Parking is roadside, though a parking area is planned to be built in the future. (2014)
  • 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. (2013)
  • A new trail segment has been completed connecting the hamlet of Wilmington's business district with a trail that leads to the remote and scenic Cooper Kiln Pond. The new three-mile trail segment will allow snowmobilers to travel from Wilmington, connect with the previously existing Cooper Kiln Pond Trail and travel another three miles to the pond. It creates a 12.6-mile round trip hiking opportunity. See the press release for more information. (2012)
  • The outlet of Cooper Kill Pond is flooded by beaver activity. (2009)

More about Trail Information for the High Peaks: