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Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks

Map of showing the East Central Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: October 21, 2016

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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Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web page for important notices and information which apply broadly across the Adirondacks, and links to important information about hiking, camping and paddling in the Adirondacks.

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.

WEEKEND SNOW FORECAST: Weather forecasts vary but some weather services forecast accumulations of snow ranging from three to five inches this weekend in this region. Snow depths will be deeper in higher elevations. Hikers should plan and prepare accordingly.

Rain, Snow, and Wind: Significant amounts of rain are forecast through the weekend with rain mixing with snow before changing to all snow. Winds will get stronger through the weekend. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC website) and the National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for the latest snow information.

High Elevation Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be present and deeper than depths at trailheads. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Trail Conditions: Trails will be wet and muddy through midday Saturday and then become a mix of water, mud, ice, and snow before becoming snow covered.

  • Wet leaves, snow and ice will make for slippery trails - wear proper footwear and traction devices.
  • Snowshoes may be warranted late Saturday and on Sunday in higher elevations such as Vanderwhacker Mountain.
  • Remain on trails. Walk through mud & water and on snow & ice to prevent further eroding trails and damaging trailside vegetation.

Avoid Hypothermia: The forecasted wet and cold weather provides ideal conditions for hypothermia.

  • Wear waterproof outer layers.
  • Wear layers of fleece, wool, and other non-cotton clothing.
  • Pack extra clothing including a fleece, wool or other non-cotton jacket or sweater.
  • Add or remove layers to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
  • Wear cold weather hat and gloves (or mittens).
  • Eat, drink and rest often.

Shorter Days: Autumn has arrived the sun sets earlier each day.

  • Sunset is around 6:00 pm, earlier in deep valleys and on northern and eastern facing slopes.
  • It will become darker sooner when skies are cloud covered.
  • Plan to return to the trailhead by sunset but always carry a flashlight or headlamp just in case.

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails as winds strengthen, especially on trails in the higher elevations.

Water Levels: Waters level are low but will rise with the forecasted precipitation. Use caution when traversing low water crossings and drainages.

Autumn Foliage: Track the changing colors of the leaves in the Adirondacks, view the New York Fall Foliage Report (leaves DEC website).

Hunting Seasons: The regular Northern Zone Big Game hunting season opens this weekend. Small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are also open. 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 can wear bright colors as an extra precaution if it makes them more comfortable.

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

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.
  • An additional 1.5 miles of the Chain Lakes Road South (accessed from Indian Lake) and 1.0 mile of the Camp Six Road (accessed from Newcomb) will be open to motor vehicles through the end of the Northern Zone Big Game Hunting Season. Small parking areas are located at the end of each road segment and campsites are located along each road. Four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles strongly recommended. (2016)
  • 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. (9/29)
  • Campers planning to camp on one of the 11 tent sites on the shores of the Essex Chain Lakes are no longer 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. (2016)
  • Goodnow Flow Road is a private road beyond the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North and should not be used by the public. (2016)
  • Public trespass of the Gooley Club and Polaris Club cabins, out buildings and the lands around them is prohibited. (2016)

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)
  • There is no bridge over East Branch Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail. (2014)

Hudson Gorge Wilderness

  • The Hudson Gorge Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • A crew from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack program recently completed installing turn-piking in a chronically muddy section of Hudson River Access Trail. This a technique in which nearby natural materials are used to harden the tread of the trail. This keeps hikers within the designated trail corridor and not forming herd paths around muddy and wet areas. The technique is especially useful on sections of trails that are poorly drained but do not have standing water. (9/29)
  • An Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew under contract and direction from DEC has installed 65 feet of stone check steps on the Hudson River Access Trail from the OK Slip Falls Trail dramatically improving a steep section of trail. (9/15)

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • The 1.6-mile Watch Hill Trail has been newly designated, signed and marked. The trailhead is located on State Route 30 near Griffin Brook approximately 1 mile south of the Snowy Mountain Trailhead (43.6891° N; 74.3431° W (NAD83/WGS84)). The trail ascends 1.1 mile and 380 feet to the pinnacle of the hill before descending 0.5 mile and 480 feet to the shore of Indian Lake. There are two locations near the top of the descent to the shore that provide scenic views of the lake and surrounding mountains and forests. A map of the trail (PDF 213 KB) is posted in the trailhead kiosk. (2015)
  • 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.
  • Trail markers on Siamese Ponds Trail from the suspension bridge across the Sacandaga River to the ponds are now yellow. (2016)

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: