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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: April 18, 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's website) when recreating in 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). The parking prohibition supports DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.

Flood Watch: The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for all the Adirondacks from Friday evening through Sunday morning.

  • Moderate to locally heavy rainfall Friday into Saturday on already saturated soils along with snowmelt in higher elevations will lead to sharp rises on many local rivers and streams.
  • Most main stem rivers are expected to crest during the day Saturday into the first part of Saturday night.
  • All anglers, paddlers, and hikers should monitor weather forecasts (leaves DEC website) before and while recreating.

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

Fire Danger: Low


Early Spring Conditions in the Adirondacks:

  • Check the current National Weather Service (NWS) 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.

Snow Cover: There is little to no snow cover at trailheads and in the lower elevations.

  • Patchy snow will be found in wooded areas, especially on north facing slopes.
  • Snow may also be found in ravines and other locations that receive little sunlight.
  • Deep snow is still present in the higher elevations with 1-2 feet of snow present above 3,000 feet.


Ice on Water: Some waters are completely open. However, thin and broken ice can be found on many waters. No ice is safe at this time!

Water Levels: Rain and melting snow have raised water levels and rivers and streams are flowing high and fast.

  • The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch from Friday evening to Sunday morning for all the Adirondacks.
  • Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters - especially on Saturday.

Water Temperatures: Water temperatures are very cold.

Hikers

General Information on Hiking

Trail Conditions:

  • Spring conditions exist from trailhead to 2,500 feet (760 m) elevation - hike through mud not around it.
  • Above 2,500 feet (760 m) elevation ice and snow ridges (monorails) are present on trails - use crampons and walk on the monorails not on trailside vegetation.
  • 1 - 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) of snow is present above 3,000 feet (915 m) elevation.
  • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.
  • Water levels will rise in rivers, streams, and drainages due to melting snow and rain. Low water crossings may be problematic or impossible to cross.
  • Be aware on Saturday that low water crossing passable in the morning may not be passable when you return in the afternoon.

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

Anglers

General Information on Fishing

  • Wear proper footwear and use a hiking stick with a carbide tip to access the water.
  • Water temperatures are extremely cold.
    • Anglers should wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) as a precaution.
    • A person falling into the water could quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water.
  • Be aware on Saturday that water levels are expected to rise through the day. Monitor water levels to ensure your safety.
  • Anglers new to brook trout fishing should look to the Guide to Brook Trout Fishing in Adirondack Ponds for assistance.
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.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.
    • 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

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.
  • Garden Trailhead Parking Lot Closed Spring and Summer 2019
    • Parking lot is currently open and will remain open through the weekend. (4/18)
    • The parking lot at the Garden Trailhead - one of the main access points to the eastern High Peaks Wilderness - will be closed during the spring and summer of 2019 due to the replacement of the Johns Brook Bridge.
    • Work on installing the replacement bridge will begin as soon as weather and road conditions allow and is expected to last through the summer.
    • Once work begins no vehicles or pedestrians will be able to pass the bridge to access the parking lot until the work is complete.
    • During this time, the only way to access the Garden Trailhead is by using the shuttle from the Marcy Field.
    • The shuttle will use a detour across private property that is closed to the public.
    • Driving, biking, or walking on the detour road is prohibited - violators will be charged with trespassing.
    • Public use of the private roadway could lead to loss of access by the shuttle and no means of accessing the trailhead.
    • The Town of Keene will post the shuttle schedule and additional information.
    • When the shuttle is not operating, hikers are encouraged to hike other trails in the area.
    • See the complete press release for more information.
  • The following roads remain closed for mud season: (4/18)
    • South Meadow Lane
    • Corey's Road
    • Elk Lake Road (beyond Clear Pond Gate
    • Gulf Brook Road (access to Boreas Ponds)
  • 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.
  • DEC with the assistance of NY State Police Aviation Unit airlifted 55 bags of stone to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg. (2018)
    • 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. (2018)
  • 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.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (20 cm).
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Area are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. (2019)
    • 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.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (20 cm).
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (20 cm).
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (20 cm).
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (20 cm).
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.

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.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation- hike through mud - not around it. (4/18)
  • 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.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (4/18)
    • Hike through mud - not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted - not on trailside vegetation.
    • Snowshoes should be carried on all hikes above 3,000 feet (915 m) and used wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches (20 cm).
    • Post-holing can occur even on heavily compacted snow as the snow warms, softens, and melts.
  • 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: