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Trail Information for the Eastern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Eastern Adirondacks

Updated: September 11, 2014

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 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 in the 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, snow depths and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Winter hiking boots
    • Cold weather outer wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothes
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Carry
    • Traction devices and crampons and use when warranted
    • Snowshoes or skis and use in snow depths of 8 inches or more
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Ensolite pad to rest on and insulate your body from cold surfaces
    • Bivy sack or space blankets for extra warmth
    • Fire starter supplies - waterproof matches, butane lighter, candles, starter material, etc.
  • Always inform someone of your itinerary and when you expect to return

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

Fire Danger: Low, be cautious with campfires. Check the current Fire Danger Map. (9/11)

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. (9/11)

Trail Conditions: Trails are mainly dry but wet and muddy conditions may be encountered in low areas, drainages and trails along waters. Wear gaiters and appropriate footwear. Walk through - not around - wet and muddy areas to avoid further eroding and widening trails. (9/11)

Shorter Days: The sun is rising later and setting earlier. Plan your trips to ensure you are out of the backcountry before darkness sets in. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries just in case. (9/11)

Hunting Seasons: Early bear hunting season opens Saturday in the Adirondacks. Other hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment 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. (9/11)

Paddlers & Boaters: Water levels are below average for this time of year. Although Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) are not required at his time, paddlers and boaters are strongly encouraged to wear PFDs at all times while on the water. Children under age 12 are required to wear a PFD at all times while on the water. Strong currents and cold water can quickly cause a person without a PFD to lose their ability to keep their head above water. Use the "USGS Current Streamflow for NY Waters" link near the bottom right column to check water levels and flows in select waters. (9/11)

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are typically dirt or gravel roads that often are rough and muddy with rocks sticking up in locations. Shoulders are soft, ditched or even non existent. Drivers should always drive slowly and use caution when operating on these roads. Pickup trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended - four wheel drive vehicles will serve even better. (9/11)

Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks. All campers should follow these practices to avoid attracting black bears: (9/11)

  • Store food, toiletries & garbage in a bear resistant canister away from the campsite or lean-to;
  • If you don't use a bear resistant canister hang your food, toiletries and garbage at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from any trees;
  • Prepare food away from the campsite or lean-to, and prepare and eat food well before dark;
  • Take food out immediately before preparation and/or eating;
  • Take out only as much food as will be eaten; and
  • If approached by a bear make noise and make all reasonable efforts to keep bears from obtaining food, but do not risk physical contact. Back away from the bear, but never run.

Summits: Conditions on and near summits of high elevation mountains are more extreme - stronger winds and cooler temperatures. 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. (9/11)

Blowdown: Due to recent storms blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. (9/11)

Specific Notices

Essex Chain Lakes Complex

Third Lake of the Essex Chain Lakes
Third Lake of the Essex Chain Lakes
  • The Essex Chain Lakes Complex web page and the map of the complex (PDF, 1 MB) provide information about the unit and its outdoor recreational opportunities. The web page and map will be updated as additional recreation facilities and opportunities become available.
  • Camping is now available: (2014)
    • 22 designated tent sites are currently available in the area around the Essex Chain Lakes.
    • 13 designated tent sites (map of tent sites (PDF 1.5 mb)) along the shores of the waters of the complex require a free permit between May 15 and October 15.
      • Campers must call 518-582-2000 or visit SUNY ESF's Adirondack Interpretive Center facility at 5922 State Route 28N in Newcomb, NY, to reserve a tent site.
      • Campers can pick up their reserved permit at the Adirondack Interpretive Center facility between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
      • Visit the Adirondack Interpretive Center web site using the link in the right column.
  • The Cornell/Deer Pond Road is open to public motor vehicles to the Deer Pond Access Parking Area (Latitude: 43° 53.196' N Longitude: 74° 15.842' W (NAD83/WGS84)). (7/24)
  • The gate which provides access to the parking area (Latitude: 43° 53.726' N; Longitude: 74° 10.106' W (NAD83/WGS84)) for paddlers to access the Hudson River at the Blackwell Stillwater section and the Iron (aka Polaris Club) Bridge, has been moved closer to the Hudson River. The parking area is approximately 0.3 mile from the Hudson River, reducing 0.5 mile of walking between the put in site on the river and the parking area.(7/17)
  • Motor vehicles can now park near the former Outer Gooley Club (Latitude: 43° 49.651' N; Longitude: 74° 12.049' W (NAD83/WGS84)) at the end of the Chain Lakes Road. (7/24)
    • This reduces nearly 0.75 mile of walking for those accessing the Cedar River; Pine Lake, Clear Pond, Mud Pond and Corner Pond in the southern Essex Chain Lakes Complex.
    • The new parking area will also cut 0.5 mile of walking for those paddling the Hudson River to the take out point upstream of the confluence of the Hudson and Indian Rivers.
    • The parking area at the former gate (Latitude: 43° 49.011' N; Longitude: 74° 12.411' W (NAD83/WGS84)) will remain available for additional vehicle parking
  • Mountain biking is prohibited on all roadways at this time. (2014)
  • Public trespass of the Gooley Club and Polaris Club cabins, out buildings and the lands around them is prohibited. (2014)

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

  • The Hoffman Notch Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Recent storms caused a considerable amount of blowdown on the Big Pond Trail. The trail has been cleared to the outlet of the pond but is impassable beyond that. It is likely DEC will not be able to clear the trail until this fall when chainsaws can be used in the wilderness. (7/11)
  • The Bailey Pond Trail is in good shape. Work has been done on the road accessing the trailhead parking area, the road is in fairly good shape. (5/22)
  • Blowdown has been removed from 3 miles of the Hoffman Notch Trail from the Blue Ridge Road Trailhead south. (5/22)
  • 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. (5/22)
  • There is no bridge over East Branch Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail. (2014)
  • Blowdown has been removed from the Bailey Pond, Marion Pond and Hoffman Notch Trails. (2013)

Hudson Gorge Wilderness

A high waterfall
  • The trail to OK Slip Falls Trail is open for public use. The three-mile hike 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. (7/24)
    • 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)

  • Trails on Cat & Thomas Mountains are marked with Lake George Land Conservancy markers. Obtain a map from Conservancy before hiking this trail system. (7/2)
  • The following roads and access routes are open to motor vehicle access for people with a Motorized Access Permit for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD). The roads are muddy. MAPPWD holders must remember to check the allowable vehicle type and call the Warrensburg office (518-623-1200) for the 2014 combination and current conditions. (6/26)
    • Darlings Ford Road
    • Palmer Pond Road
    • Bear Slide Access Route
    • Pikes Beach Road
    • Schofield Flats Road
  • Buttermilk Road Extension is washed out and remains closed to all motor vehicle traffic. (2014)
  • 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 trails along the northern and western sides of Pharaoh Lake (the two trails between the 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)
  • The Sucker Brook Horse Trail contains extensive blowdown. (2011)

Santanoni Historic Area

  • Newcomb Road, the road to access the Farm Complex and the Main Camp is open to horseback riders, horse drawn wagons, bikers and hikers. (2014)
  • Management, maintenance, restoration and interpretation of Camp Santanoni Historic site is accomplished through a partnership of DEC, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the Town of Newcomb and volunteers.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

  • Warren County Department of Public Works has closed the Thirteenth Lake Road (County Route 78) to "Local Traffic Only" due to a bridge closure just past the intersection with Beach Road. Motor vehicles may still use the Thirteenth Lake Road to Beach Road to access the Thirteenth Lake Trailhead and Waterway Access Site. However, motor vehicles will need to use the Harvey Road to access the Old Farm Clearing Trailhead and the Balm of Gilead Mountain Trailhead. (8/21)
  • Eagle Cave is open to the public at this time. (2014)
  • On the Halfway Brook Trail the washout of a culvert at Barton Mines Road was temporarily repaired and is passable for the time being. (2013)
  • A reroute has been constructed around the original beaver flooded trail segment of the West Puffer Pond Trail which travels around the south side of Chimney Mountain and continues past the John Pond Crossover Trail. (2012)
  • The Peaked Mountain Trail contains blowdown from the beaver pond to the summit of Peaked Mountain. (2011)
  • Beavers have a built a dam directly above the foot bridge over Cisco Creek on the Kunjamuck Trail, both ends of the bridge may be flooded at times. (2011)

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

  • 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. (2014)
  • The Oregon Trail has minor blowdown between Baldwin Springs and North Bend, the North Bend Bridge is flooded but intact. (2011)
  • The Crane Mountain Trail Head is accessible from the south by car and truck by way of Ski Hi Road via Putnam Cross Road. The south end of Ski Hi Road is washed out but Putnam Cross Road bypasses the washout. The north access by way of 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: