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Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks

Map of showing the East Central Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: December 14, 2017

General Notices

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.

Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. Being properly prepared for the weather and conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors.

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC's website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Late Fall/Early Winter Conditions: Below freezing temperatures, snow, and ice are present throughout this region of the Adirondacks. Snow depths range from 4-8 inches; deeper in the higher elevations and some additional snow accumulation forecast. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC's website) for current snow information. Be prepared for conditions:

  • Avoid hypothermia, stay dry and warm.
  • Be prepared for wet and cold conditions with:
    • Waterproof outer layer
    • Wear layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Carry extra wool socks
    • Hat and gloves or mittens

Short Days: Carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Trail Conditions: Snow and ice is present on trails at all elevations. Water and mud may also be present on lower elevation trails

  • Wear proper footwear including traction devices - especially in the higher elevations
  • Snowshoes or skis are strongly encouraged wherever snow depths exceed 8".
  • Use caution on steep sections of trail and at water crossings where rocks may be covered with a layer of ice.
  • Due to recent high winds, expect to encounter blow down (fallen or hanging trees, limbs and branches) on trails.

Ice on Water: Ice is beginning or has formed on many waters. Ice will not bear the weight of a person at this time. Ice may be covered in snow and still will not hold the weight of a person.

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, snow will be deeper, and ice will be present.

  • Wear a jacket or coat (outer shell) that blocks wind when on summits or other exposed areas.
  • Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing to wear on summits.
  • Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.

Specific Notices

Camp Santanoni Historic Area

Essex Chain Lakes Complex

  • The Essex Chain Lakes Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • All gates to the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Area are closed for winter
    • This includes: Chain Lakes Road North, Cornell Road, and Chain Lakes Road South.
    • The outermost parking areas will be used from now until after spring mud season.
  • All other seasonal access roads remain open until conditions warrant their closing. (12/7)
  • Campers planning to camp on one of the 11 tent sites on the shores of the Essex Chain Lakes are reminded they no longer are required to reserve a site before camping. Self-issuing permits will still be required to allow DEC to gather use data. Campfires are prohibited on the 11 shoreline tent sites. (2017)
  • People with a valid Motorized Access for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit should contact the DEC Warrensburg office during regular business hours at 518-623-1275 to obtain access to the accessible parking area, tent site and hand launch on Fifth Lake. (2017)
  • Goodnow Flow Road is a private road beyond the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North and should not be used by the public. (2017)
  • Public trespass of the Gooley Club and Polaris Club cabins, out buildings and the lands around them is prohibited. (2017)

Hoffman Notch Wilderness

  • The Hoffman Notch Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • 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)

Hudson Gorge Wilderness

  • The Hudson Gorge Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Nothing to report.

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • The two designated primitive tent sites at the northern end of Fawn Lake have been closed for rehabilitation. Two new tent sites will be designated in the future. (2015)
  • The Snowy Mountain Fire Tower was restored and the cab is open to the public.
  • The Pillsbury Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public up to the topmost landing, but the cab is closed. DEC plans to restore the tower, including the cab, and the observer's cabin, in the future with the help of a friends group. Once the work is complete the public will be able to access the cab of the fire tower as well.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

  • The Siamese Pond Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The former site of the 55 foot bridge over the East Branch of the Sacandaga River on the Botheration Pond Loop Trail is now a foot crossing (rock hopping). Hikers may have trouble crossing during times of high water following heavy rain or during spring snow melt. (2017)
  • The bridge on the Puffer Pond Trail south of Thirteenth Lake has been replaced. (2017)
  • Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain is closed to the public to protect hibernating bats until through April 30th. (2017)

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Boreas River crossing on the Cheney Pond- Irishtown Trail is not bridged. During low water conditions, crossing by rock hopping may be possible. (2016)

More about Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks: