Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks
Updated: March 23, 2017
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!
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 the weather and conditions will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable time in the outdoors. Check the current National Weather Service Weather Forecast (leaves DEC's website).
Snow: Snow depths range from 8 to 20 inches. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.
Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow. Secondary, less used trails may have blowdown (fallen or leaning trees, limbs and branches) and may require "breaking trail". Snowbridges and ice on most stream crossings have only recently formed and may not hold the weight of a person.
Snowshoes or Skis: Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails covered in 8 inches or more of snow. The use of snowshoes prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use.
Snowmobiles: Some trails systems and gates on individual trails are closed. Contact the local club or tourist information center (leaves DEC website) for information on opened trails and local trail conditions before going out.
Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, and snow will be deeper on high elevation summits such as Snowy Mountain and Vanderwhacker Mountain. Sight distance can be limited by blowing snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC's website) for selected summits.
Ice on Water: Ice had thinned, weakened, and receded from inlets, outlets and shorelines before the recent cold spell. Ice on rivers, streams, and most channels of moving water only recently formed during the very cold temperatures and is very thin even though it is covered with snow. Ice that can hold snow may not be able to hold the weight of a person. No ice should be considered safe without checking the thickness and condition first. Be safe on the ice.
Winter Conditions: Be prepared for snow, ice, cold temperatures and short days.
Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.
Camp Santanoni Historic Area
- The Camp Santanoni Historic Area web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- The last 2017 Camp Santanoni Winter Weekend will be held on March 18 & 19. Weather, snow, and trail conditions will be excellent for this unique winter outdoor recreational experience. (3/16)
Essex Chain Lakes Complex
- The Essex Chain Lakes Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
- Gates have been closed and locked. Public motor vehicle use is prohibited on all seasonal access roads until the end of the spring mud season. (2017)
- The Upper Hudson Loop Trail Parking Area is temporarily unavailable. Trail users should park at the parking area a little further along Goodnow Flow Road, just before the intersection with Chain Lakes Road North. Care should be taken when walking the road and crossing the bridge to the trailhead. (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)
- 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. (2016)
- 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. (2016)
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.
- Two foot bridges on trails have collapsed (Map (PDF 791 KB)) (2017)
- The 55-foot bridge over the East Branch Sacandaga River on the Botheration Pond Loop Trail has collapsed and cannot be crossed. Do not attempt to scramble over it. During low water, rock hopping is possible.
- A 30-foot bridge on the Puffer Pond Trail over a tributary to the Thirteenth Lake south of the lake collapsed earlier this year and cannot be crossed.
- 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:
- Northern Hudson River Special Management Area Map - Map of the Northern Portion of the Hudson River Special Management Area (HRSMA)
- Southern Hudson River Special Management Area Map - Map of the Southern Portion of the Hudson River Special Management Area (HRSMA)
- Hudson River Special Management Area Map 1 - Map of the Stones Mountain/Pike's Beach/Scofield Flats Area of the HRSMA
- Hudson River Special Management Area Map 2 - Map of the Darling Ford/Bear Slides/The Pines Area of HRSMA
- Hudson River Special Management Area Map 3 - Map of the Buttermilk Road/Western Gay Pond Road Area of HRSMA
- Hudson River Special Management Area Map 4 - Map of the Eastern Gay Pond Road Area of HRSMA