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Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks

Map of showing the East Central Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: February 16, 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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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. (link leaves DEC's website)

Busy Holiday Weekend: Due to the good amount of snow on the ground, the great weather forecast, and the three-day holiday weekend, expect to encounter larger than usual numbers of people on the trails.

Snow: Current snow depths range from 20 to 30 inches with additional accumulations of snow forecast through the weekend. National Weather Service NERFC Snow Information Page (leaves DEC's website) provides additional information on snow conditions.

Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoes or skis is strongly encouraged on all trails. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing" (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails. Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use.

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 clouds and snow, sometimes significantly. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Ice on Trails: Thick ice may be present at some locations on exposed bedrock on summits and other open areas. Carry crampons on all hikes and use when conditions warrant.

Ice on Water: Due to periods of thaw and the lack of extremely cold temperatures this winter, ice on ponds and lakes is thinner than usual. Slush or water may be present between the snow cover and the surface of the main layer of ice. Ice over moving water is thin and may have only recently formed. Be safe on the ice.

Ice on Lakes & Ponds: Many lakes and ponds have rivers or streams passing through them. Ice over the channels of rivers or streams in the lakes or ponds is much thinner than other ice on the lake or pond due to the current beneath the ice. Know the location of channels and avoid ice over channels.

Snowmobiles: Snowmobile trails are open and trail conditions are excellent. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out. Snowmobilers are urged to follow designated trails and avoid frozen bodies of water.

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.

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.
  • The portion of the Cornell Road that is a designated snowmobile trail is open to snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out. (12/29)
  • 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. (12/8)
  • 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. (11/23)
  • 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

  • All designated snowmobile trails are open to snowmobiles. Snowmobilers should contact the local club or tourist information center to obtain local trail conditions before going out. (12/29)
  • 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.
  • Two foot bridges on trails have collapsed (Map (PDF 791 KB)) (11/23)
    • 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: