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Trail Information for the Eastern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Eastern Adirondacks

Updated: November 25, 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!

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Mountain Forecast: Weather is an important factor in preparing for hiking or camping in the Adirondack backcountry. Often there is a 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 3000 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

  • 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
    • Hiking shoes or hiking boots
    • Comfortable non-cotton clothing
    • Hat to protect from sun or rain
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Waterproof jacket and pants
    • Gaiters to wear on wet & muddy trails
    • 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

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

All links to regulations leave DEC website.

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.

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 eastern High Peaks Wilderness, 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. 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.

Shorter Days: The length of day continues to shorten and sunset arrives much earlier with the return to Standard Time. Sunset will occur at approximately 4:25 pm, it will be dark by 4:55 pm. Plan trips to be out of the backcountry before dark. Forest Rangers have recently responded to numerous incidents of hikers in the dark without a flashlight. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries just in case you are caught after dark. (11/25)

Colder Temperatures: While day time temperatures are forecast to be in the high 40s on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, but only in the mid 30s on the weekend. There is a chance of showers Friday and a mix of rain & snow is likely Friday night. Wear appropriate footwear, a waterproof outer layer, a hat and layers of non-cotton clothing. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and take off layers as needed to keep comfortable. Stay warm & dry to prevent hypothermia. (11/25)

Trail Conditions: Trails may be a mixture of mud and ice in the morning but may be wet and muddy by midday. Ice and snow may be present in the higher elevations. Wet or frozen leaves can make for slippery footing; especially on steep grades. Bedrock, rocks, logs, bog bridging and bridges may be icy, especially in the morning - pack footwear traction devices and use when warranted. Wear waterproof footwear & gaiters, walk through - not around - mud and water on trails. (11/25)

Summits: Temperatures will be cooler, winds will be stronger and snow & ice may be presen during the weekend. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. 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. (11/25)

Ice on Water: Ice has begun to form on the surface of ponds and the shores of lakes in the higher elevations. No ice is safe to cross at this time. Ice that holds snow cannot hold the weight of a person. (11/25)

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads will remain open through the hunting seasons provided there is no significant snowfall. Seasonal access roads are rough, dirt or gravel roads. Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. (11/25)

Fire Danger: LOW. Check today's Fire Danger Rating Map. (11/25)

Hunting Season: Big game, small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or other hunting implements while hiking on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution. (11/25)

Bear-Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks to avoid losing food to bears and to prevent creating nuisance bears through the month of November. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (11/2015)

Specific Notices

Camp Santanoni Historic Area

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Camp Santanoni Historic Area, including a map, is available.
  • The Newcomb Lake Road which connects the Gate House Area with the Main Camp Area is open for hiking, biking and horseback riding. (2015)

Essex Chain Lakes Complex

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, including a map, is available.
  • Crews from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program and DEC staff have completed the construction of motor vehicle, camping and waterway access for people with disabilities at Fifth Lake of the Essex Chain Lakes. The parking area, campsite and waterway access are open to DEC Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) holders. Visitors must call the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb (518.582.2000) to reserve a parking space. (10/15)
  • The gate at the Outer Gooley Parking Area is open allowing hunters and others to access 1.5 additional miles of the Chain Lakes Road South (accessed from Indian Lake via Route 28) by motor vehicle. A parking area at the end of the section and three designated campsites along the road will be accessible by motor vehicle through the end of the regular big game hunting season - December 7. Four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles strongly recommended. (10/8)
  • A gate along the Drakes Mill Road is open allowing hunters and others to access 1.0 mile of the Camp Six Road (accessed from Newcomb via the Goodnow Flow Road) by motor vehicle. A parking area at the end of the section and four designated campsites along the road will be accessible by motor vehicle through the end of the regular big game hunting season - December 7. Four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles strongly recommended. (10/8)
  • The public should not travel on the Goodnow Flow Road beyond the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North. The Goodnow Flow Road becomes a private road shortly after the DEC sign for "Essex Chain Lakes and Hudson River Access" sign at the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North. Motorists, bicyclists and others should turn left at the sign on to the Chain Lakes Road North. (2015)
  • Nearly 20 miles of trails are open for use by bicycles. The administrative roads open for bicycle use are (see map): (2015)
    • 8.5 miles of the Chain Lakes Road North from the Goodnow Flow Road to the Cedar River;
    • 3 miles of the Chain Lakes Road South from the Outer Gooley Parking Area to the Cedar River;
    • 2.5 miles of road connecting the Chain Lakes Road North to the Deer Pond Parking Area;
    • 2.5 miles of road around Deer Pond;
    • 1.5 miles of the Drake's Mill Road connecting the Chain Lakes Road North to the Hudson River/Polaris (Iron) Bridge (NOTE: Biking is prohibited beyond the Polaris (Iron) Bridge into the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest);
    • 1 mile from the Chain Lakes Road South to Pine Lake; and
    • 0.3 mile from the Chain Lakes Road North to Jackson Pond
  • The Cornell Road which accesses the Deer Pond Parking Area, is open to motor vehicle traffic. (2015)
  • Chain Lakes Road South is open for motor vehicle access to the Outer Gooley Club Parking Area. (2015)
  • Chain Lakes Road North and Drakes Mill Road are open for motor vehicle access to the Hudson River/Polaris Bridge Parking Area. (2015)
  • Public trespass of the Gooley Club and Polaris Club cabins, out buildings and the lands around them is prohibited. (2015)

Hammond Pond Wild Forest

  • There is blowdown on the trail between Hammond Pond and Bloody Pond. (2014)
  • A bridge over Crowfoot Brook on the Crowfoot Trail is out. (2011)
  • The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity. (2007)

Hoffman Notch Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • Several small beaver dams are flooding sections of the Hoffman Notch Trail just south of Blue Ridge Road Trailhead under a foot of water. A reroute has not yet been developed. Hikers may have to walk through the water - take off boots and socks and roll-up pants. (2014)
  • There is no bridge over East Branch Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail. (2014)

Hudson Gorge Wilderness

A high waterfall
  • The Ross Pond/Whortleberry Pond/Big Bad Luck Pond Trail has dried considerably, most of the standing water is gone but expect to encounter wet and muddy areas on the trail. Wear proper footwear and walk through - not around - mud and water to avoid further eroding the (8/6)
  • The trail to OK Slip Falls Trail is in good shape. (7/23)
  • The three-mile OK Slip Falls Trail leads to an overlook that provides a scenic view of the falls. OK Slip Falls is considered one of the highest falls in the Adirondacks and its waters flow into the Hudson River near the center of the Hudson Gorge. (2014)
    • The parking area for the trailhead is located on the south side of Route 28, approximately 7.5 miles east of the community of Indian Lake. (Latitude: 43° 46.325' N; Longitude: 74° 7.792' W (NAD83/WGS84))
    • The trailhead itself is on the north side of Route 28, 0.2 miles west of the parking area. (Latitude: 43°46.273' N; Longitude: 74° 7.996' W (NAD83/WGS84))
    • The trail also provides access to Ross, Whortleberry and Big Bad Luck Ponds.
    • Approximately a half mile from the trailhead hikers should turn right onto the trail to OK Slip Falls.
    • Follow the trail another 2.5 miles to the overlook on the east side of the OK Slip Gorge.
    • OK Slip Falls Trail Map (PDF 1.6 MB)
    • DEC is still working on this trail and plans to install additional signs and bog bridging, and make other trail improvements during the summer.

Lake George Wild Forest (Western)

  • Photo of Thomas Messick
    DEC Forest Rangers and their partners are searching for 82-year old Thomas E Messick who was last seen on November 15, 2015 in the area of Lily Pond in the town of Horicon. Mr. Messick is 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He is wearing a camouflage jacket, coveralls and a red & black plaid hat. If you have any information, please call the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-897-1300. (11/19)
  • The following roads are open to motor vehicles. Be cautious the roads are rough. The use of four wheel drive trucks, SUVs or other high axle vehicles is recommended. (2015)
    • Gay Pond Road
    • Jabe Pond Road
    • Lily Pond Road
  • Public motor vehicle use on Palmer Pond Road is limited to people with mobility disabilities with a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit. (2015)
  • Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic. (2015)
  • Trails on Cat & Thomas Mountains are marked with Lake George Land Conservancy markers. Obtain a map from Conservancy before hiking this trail system. (2015)
  • On the Tongue Mountain Range, signs at trail intersection of the Summit (red) Trail and Lake (blue) Trail coming from the Clay Meadow Trailhead are often stolen. Hikers are advised to carry maps. (2014)
  • Deer Leap Trail on Tongue Mountain is washed out and heavily cobbled with boulders from the trail head to the spur to Deer Leap, but is passable on foot. (2014)
  • The Hudson River Special Management Area web page provides more information and maps on the facilities, including ADA accessible facilities, in this area.
  • Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. (2010)

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

  • The two trails between the Pharaoh Lake and Glidden Marsh have extensive blowdown in the sections along the lake. (2011)
  • The Springhill Pond Trail has extensive, large-sized blowdown along the entire length from parking area on West Hague Road to Pharaoh Lake. (2011)
  • The Blue Hill Trail has larger sized blowdown (greater than 2 feet diameter)and some minor trail washout from streams jumping banks. (2011)

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

  • Trail markers on Siamese Ponds Trail from the suspension bridge across the Sacandaga River to the ponds are now yellow. (7/16)
  • Eagle Cave is closed until May to protect hibernating bats. (2015)

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest

  • A 2.5 mile foot trail from the trailhead on 14th Road in Minerva to the summit of Moxham Mountain is open for use. The trailhead is located on the south side of 14th Road, about 2 miles west of the intersection of 14th Road and Route 28N in the town of Minerva. (2013)
  • The Boreas River crossing on the Cheney Pond - Irishtown Trail is not bridged. During low water conditions, crossing by rock hopping may be possible. (2006)

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

  • The directional sign to the Crane Mountain Trailhead located at the intersection of the Garnet Lake Road and the Sky Hi Road is missing. (10/29)
  • The nearby Lake Desolation Road Conservation Easement Tract (Map PDF, 1.58 MB), located in the town of Greenfield, is now open for non-motorized recreational uses including hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, etc.
    • Access is from Lake Desolation Road; roads from the other side are very rough and impassible.
    • The tract can also be accessed by a car-top boat launch at Archer Vly.
    • Two primitive tent sites have been designated on Archer Vly.
    • ATV use is not permitted.
    • No vehicles are permitted past gates or signs.
    • Please respect private property; several inholdings are throughout the property.
  • DEC and the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew have completed a 1.6-mile trail (3.2 mile round trip) on Spruce Mountain. The trail begins at the trailhead at the end of the Spruce Mountain Road and ascends 1,000 feet to the summit of the mountain. The fire tower at the summit has been renovated and rehabilitated by DEC and the Student Conservation Association and is open to the public. Please be aware of the following before hiking the trail: (10/15)
    • The section of the trail just prior to reaching the two acres of forest preserve lands on the summit passes through private lands
    • An easement allows the public to use the trail but not the nearby lands. The road and trails other than the DEC marked trail that leave the top are on private lands. Do not trespass on private lands
    • The easement agreement with the landowner also calls for closure of that portion of the trail during the regular big game hunting season
    • The upper section of the trail is closed through Sunday, December 6.
    • During the trail closure the Fire Tower will not be accessible.
    • Hunters and others may still use the trail to access the state lands east of the trail.
    • The full length of the trail and the fire tower will once again be accessible to the public beginning Monday, December 7.
  • Thanks to the efforts of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee the fire tower is a wonderful attraction for hikers in the southern Adirondacks. DEC appreciates all of efforts of this group of volunteers who maintain the trail and undertake minor maintenance projects on the fire tower and the observer's cabin. The Committee also provides a summer summit steward to do maintenance work and monitor the trails and structures. The steward also educate visitors about the fire tower, the history of the area, the Adirondacks in general and how to minimize their impacts on the natural resources - adding greatly to the experience of those who climb to the summit of Hadley Mountain. (2015)
  • The Oregon Trail has minor blowdown between Baldwin Springs and North Bend, the North Bend Bridge is flooded but intact. (2011)
  • The northern access to Crane Mountain Trail Head via the Crane Mountain. Rd is washed out and not accessible with any vehicle. (2011)
  • Mud Pond Road contains washouts, it is recommended that it be used by trucks only. (2011)
  • There are multiple trees down on the Pumpkin Hollow Road at the Wilcox Lake Trailhead preventing access to the Wilcox Lake Trail, the Murphy Lake Trail and the Pine Orchard Trail. (2011)
  • The bridge over a small stream just north of Fish Ponds on the Bartman Trail is out. (2011)
  • Trails to Wilcox Lake (Stony Creek Trail) and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner's privacy - stay on the trail, do not enter the private property. (2010)
  • The bridge over Georgia Creek on the Cotter Brook Trail is under water due to beaver activity. (2010)
  • The Pine Orchard Trail is flooded due to beaver activity .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. (2010)
  • The Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake. During low water conditions crossing can be made by rock hopping. (2004)
  • The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet. (2004)
  • Also the Murphy Lake Trail is flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake. (2004)

More about Trail Information for the Eastern Adirondacks: