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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: August 15, 2019

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 Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Travel: Check NY511 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).

Parking Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73:

  • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket.
  • Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
  • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
  • Hikers planning to use the AMR parking lots and hike any of the nearby trails are recommended to identify alternate hikes before arriving as the lots fill quickly.
  • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
  • The DEC web page Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes.

Weather:

  • Chance of thunderstorms and chance of showers are in the forecast through the weekend.
  • Check the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast (leaves DEC website) for updated notices and current conditions and forecasts. 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.

Be Prepared

  • Wear appropriate footwear for the hike
  • Dress and pack for weather conditions
  • Always carry the following items on any hike or paddle:
    • Water
    • Working headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
    • Map of the area
    • Food or snack

Thunderstorm Safety: Thunderstorms can pop up (leaves DEC website) even if they are not forecast.

  • Avoid summits, water surfaces and other open areas during thunderstorms.
  • As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm move to lower elevations, head to shore, and seek shelter.
  • If caught outside in a thunderstorm find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees, and crouch down away from tree trunks.

Biting Insects: It is "Bug Season" in the Adirondacks. Expect to encounter deer flies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums (biting gnats), and ticks. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects:

  • Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants.
  • Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks.&
  • Pack a head net to wear when insects are plentiful.
  • Use an insect repellant and follow label directions.
  • Additional tips for tick prevention. (leaves DEC website)

Report Moose Sightings:

  • DEC is asking the public to report moose sightings and observations.
  • DEC and its research partners use these public sightings as indices of moose distribution and abundance in New York.
  • This is part of a multi-year research project to obtain information on the status of New York State's moose population, health of the moose, and the factors that influence moose survival and reproductive rate.
  • Use the moose sighting form.

Hikers & Campers

General Information: Hiking and Camping

Trail Conditions:

  • Trails are mostly dry but expect to encounter wet and muddy conditions in low areas, along water, and after rain.
    • Wear footwear suitable for hiking through wet and muddy areas.
    • Please protect trails and trailside vegetation - stay in the center of the trail and walk through mud and water, not around it.

Bear Resistant Canisters:

  • The use of bear-resistant canisters ensures campers don't lose their food, prevents creating nuisance bears, and is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness until 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.

Mountain Summits:

Boaters, Paddlers, and Anglers

General Information

Conditions:

  • Water levels in many rivers and streams remain below average to low.
    • Shallow sections of rivers and streams may be "bony" or otherwise too shallow to float through.
    • Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters.
  • Water temperatures are warm though high elevation brooks will be cool.
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters, and paddlers.

Heat Stressed Trout and Salmon: Trout and salmon can experience physical stress whenever water temperatures climb above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • In streams, heat-stressed fish will seek deep pockets of cold water, small feeder streams, or water released from deep reservoirs.
  • These refuges allow trout to avoid or recover from potentially fatal levels of heat stress.
  • Anglers can help trout and salmon by taking the following precautions during warm-weather fishing trips:
    • Avoid catch-and-release fishing for heat-stressed trout on hot days.
    • Do not disturb trout where they have gathered in unusually high numbers.
    • Fish early in the day.
    • Always have an alternate fishing plan in case water temperatures are too high at the intended destination.
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 Conservation Easement Tract (AMR/Ausable Club)

  • The Adirondack Mountain Reserve web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Parking Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73 (2019)
    • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket. Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
    • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
    • Hikers planning to use the AMR parking lots and hike any of the nearby trails are recommended to identify alternate hikes before arriving as the lots fill quickly.
    • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
    • The DEC web page Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes.
  • Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead. (2019)
  • 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. (2019)
  • Dogs are prohibited. (2019)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds Tract web page provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area.
  • Work on Gulf Brook Road continues. (8/15)
    • The road will be closed to motor vehicles Monday through Friday for the next several weeks.
    • Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders may use the road but must use caution in active work areas and follow the instructions of staff.
    • The road is open to the Fly Pond Gate on Saturday and Sunday
  • Management of the Boreas Ponds Tract is defined by the 2018 High Peaks Wilderness UMP Amendment and the 2018 Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest UMP Amendment. The amendments describe the management, access, and public recreational opportunities available for the lands and waters on this tract of land. (2018)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • There continues to be high bear activity at from Marcy Dam through Avalanche Pass to Lake Colden and Uphill Lean-to/campsites. Avoid problems with bears: (8/15)
    • Cook early,
    • Secure canister immediately after taking food out, and
    • Consider bear spray for unexpected close encounters.
  • The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. (2019)
    • All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13)
    • DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.
  • Garden Trailhead Parking Lot is Closed (2019)
    • Due to unforeseen circumstances, the replacement of Johns Brook Road Bridge will not be completed until early September.
    • Hikers will only be able to access The Garden Trailhead using the shuttle from Marcy Field until then.
    • The Town of Keene (leaves DEC website) for the shuttle schedule and additional information.
  • Parking Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73 (2019)
    • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket. Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
    • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
    • Hikers planning to use the AMR parking lots and hike any of the nearby trails are recommended to identify alternate hikes before arriving as the lots fill quickly.
    • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
    • The DEC web page Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes
  • Hikers seeking to use the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail, which opened last fall, will be re-routed around the construction underway to make significant improvements to Olympic Sports Complex facilities. (2019)
    • Hikers can park at the Biathlon Facility parking area in the Complex and use a marked 1.0-mile detour bypassing the construction zone using roads, ski trails, and a temporary trail to reach the Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail.
    • It is a 3.8-mile round-trip hike from the parking area to the summit and back.
    • Expect to encounter trail workers along the trail to the summit of the mountain as they complete the final touches on the sustainably designed and recently opened trail.
    • Hikers may also reach the summit using the traditional 2.2-mile (4.4-mile roundtrip) Mt. Van Hoevenberg West Trail which begins at the trailhead on Meadows Lane.
  • The roadway on the Bradley Pond Trail has been washed out by the Harkness Lake Outlet approximately a half mile from the parking lot. Hikers will be unable to cross the outlet when water levels are high. (2019)
  • Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends. (2019)
  • Marcy Dam #4 Lean-to has been removed. (2019)
    • A new Phelps Brook Lean-to has been installed off the Marcy Truck Trail.
    • The lean-to was built by students from the Franklin-Essex-Clinton Counties BOCES Natural Resource Science Program.
    • The students and volunteers from Lean2Rescue assembled the new lean-to.
    • Follows signs from the bridge below Marcy Dam to the new lean-to.
  • Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and is not maintained. The trail has not been maintained since Tropical Storm Irene. (2019)
  • 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. (2019)
  • 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)
  • 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 Eastern Zone of High Peaks Wilderness. (2019)
    • DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • All regulations applicable to the Eastern Zone are now in effect including but not limited to:
      • Group size: Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
      • Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13)
      • Glass Containers: Glass containers are prohibited.
    • 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.
  • All rock climbing routes on Lower and Upper Washbowl Cliffs are open. (8/1)
  • Parking is Prohibited on Four Mile Section of Route 73 (2019)
    • Be safe, enjoy your hike, and avoid a parking ticket. Do not park on the shoulders of State Route 73 in the four-mile section between Chapel Pond and the Rooster Comb Trailhead.
    • Parking is allowed at trailheads and other designated pull-offs.
    • DEC encourages hikers to discover and visit the other numerous hiking opportunities in the area or visit on weekdays when there is less demand.
    • The DEC web page Hikes Outside the Adirondack High Peaks lists a dozen nearby alternate hikes

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: