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Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks

Map depicting forest preserve and conservation easement lands in Central and Southern Adirondacks

Updated: April 17, 2014

General Notices

Former Finch Pruyn Lands: Last year Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens announced the commitment by New York State to acquire 69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn lands in the Adirondacks in phases over the next five years. See Governor Cuomo's press release on the planned acquisition.

This year Governor Cuomo announced the closing on five tracts of land totaling 9,300 acres. Some of these tracts lie just outside the Adirondack Park. When combined with the previously purchased 18,318-acre Essex Chain of Lakes Tracts, the State has added 27,618 acres of new forest preserve and state forest lands. The remaining 41,382 acres will be purchased in phases over the next three years.

More information on the acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn Lands, including announcements regarding public access opportunities, can be found on the Acquisition of Former Finch Pruyn Lands web page.

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.

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

Northville-Placid Trail Website: The Adirondack Mountain Club has created a web site devoted to the 133-mile Northville-Placid Trail. The new website provides information about planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike. It also provides information on the latest trail conditions. Use the link near the bottom of the right column. (12/9)

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

Early Spring Weather: Recent very warm temperatures and heavy rains have been followed by a period of very cold weather. The weekend forecast is for daytime temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s; nighttime temperatures below freezing; and chance of snow and rain showers early Saturday and clear Sunday. Snow and ice are present in the middle and higher elevations, while lower elevations have little to no snow. Water-proof footwear; cool weather, water-resistant outer wear; extra layers of non-cotton clothing; and hat & gloves are recommended for any outdoor recreation activities. 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 going into the backcountry. (4/17)

Trail Conditions: Trail conditions will vary with changes in elevation and the time of day. Low elevation trails, trailheads and parking areas may have mud, water, hard-packed snow and ice or a mix some or all of those. Middle & high elevation trails have hard-packed snow and ice in the morning which softens in later in the day as temperatures warm. DEC Forest Rangers report 18-24 inches of snow above 2000 feet in some locations. Water may be present below the hard packed snow on some trails. Use the link in the right column to see the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" which is updated daily. (4/17)

Snowshoes: Snowshoes are necessary on any trails throughout the Adirondacks with 8 inches of snow or more. Snow may not be present at trailheads or on low elevation trails but snow will be present at 1800 feet and higher. Carry snowshoes on all hikes that will take you above this elevation. Trails with hard snow in the morning will soften later in the day. Even with snowshoes hikers are sinking knee deep in snow when they step off the trail. Wear snowshoes when warranted and don't posthole. If you don't have snowshoes, turn back when you encounter snow. The use of snowshoes or skis prevents "post-holing," avoids injury and eases travel on snow. "Post-holing" ruins the trails for other users and makes them hazardous to travel. (4/17)

Mud & Water: Snowmelt and rain are creating muddy, wet trails in the lower elevations and raising water levels in rivers, streams and drainages at all elevations. Stream and drainage crossings may not be passable, especially in the afternoon. Trails adjacent to rivers, streams or low lying areas may be flooded. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters and walk through wet and muddy areas on trails not around them so that you don't erode and widen trails. (4/17)

Crampons & Traction Devices: Traction devices should be carried and worn when warranted on lower elevation icy areas. Crampons should be carried and worn on summits and other open areas where significant ice has accumulated. (4/17)

Ice on Water: Ice is out on rivers and low elevation streams. Ice on ponds and lake is thin and deteriorating, open water is present along shorelines and near inlets and outlets. Some low elevation waters in the southern portion of the region may be open. No ice is considered safe at this time. (4/17)

Snowmobiles: Gates and trails are closed closed and the snowmobile season has ended. (4/17)

Access Roads: Gates have been closed on many access roads for the mud season. Roads will be reopened once they have dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)

Prevent Hypothermia: Dress properly, stay dry and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink and rest often. Being tired, hungry or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Traveling in snow takes more energy and more time than traveling the same trail on bare ground. (4/17)

Summits: Conditions on and near summits are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, snow and ice. (4/17)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. Prepare accordingly. (4/17)

Specific Notices

Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Route (central portion)

  • The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine. Use the link near the bottom of the right column for more information.
  • Rivers are open and ice is thinning and deteriorating on lakes and ponds. (4/17)
  • Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold. (4/17)
  • Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) must be worn by all people at all times in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1. (4/17)

Blue Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Blue Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public including the cab. The fire tower was restored in 1994 and the observer's cabin was restored this year. (2010)

Blue Ridge Wilderness

  • The Wakely Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public, but has not been restored at this time. DEC plans to restore the fire tower and the observer's cabin. (2007)

Ferris Lake Wild Forest

  • All recreational facilities are in satisfactory condition. (4/11)

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • Motorized access to trailheads in or along the boundary of Perkins Clearing is closed for mud season. The roads will reopen when they have dried, firmed up and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)
  • DEC has completed a number of changes to the campsites around Mason Lake and along the Perkins Clearing Road pursuant to the actions described in the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan. See the Mason Lake Designated Campsites Map (PDF, 157 KB) for more details. These changes include: (5/23)
    • Converting the first waterside campsite on the shore of Mason Lake along the Perkins Clearing Road into a picnic area and waterway access site. This will allow a greater number of people to use the site. Two picnic tables, a full size privy and water access registration box have been installed.
    • Designation of 10 campsites as a result of closing some over used, poorly located campsites and creating some new campsites. Three sites have been closed and are currently under restoration. Camping is prohibited at these sites. The Mason Lake Designated Campsites Map (PDF, 157 KB) shows the location of campsites available for use.
    • Clumping three campsites along Mason Lake Road into a group campsite that is available by permit only.
    • Installing two new wilderness type box privies.
    • Designating campsites 6, 7 and 8 as a group camping site available by permit only. The permit must be obtained from the local Forest Ranger.
    • Permits are required for any campsite at which campers will be staying more than three nights and can be obtained from the local Forest Ranger.
    • Installing boulders to serve as vehicle barriers; keeping vehicles from accessing or parking in areas not designated for motor vehicle use. This will protect vegetation, soils and the water quality of Mason Lake.
  • The Snowy Mountain Fire Tower was restored and the cab is open to the public. (2001)
  • 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.
  • Blowdown may be found on trails.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest

  • The Limekiln Lake Gate and the Cedar River Gates are closed and the Limekiln Lake/Cedar River Road (aka Moose River Plains Road) is closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time. Roads will be reopened once they have dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)
  • The Cedar River Road is closed at the snowplow turnaround, where the pavement ends 4 miles from the Cedar River Flow. The Town of Indian Lake asks that vehicles not drive past the barriers as it ruts up the road resulting in a longer closure period. (4/17)
  • The Clarke's Point Lean-to on Raquette Lake has been destroyed by fire. (2013)
  • The 12.8-mile Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail connecting the communities of Inlet and Raquette Lake is open. The trail provides four seasons of recreational opportunities for the public to snowmobile, hike and bike. The southwestern end of the trail is at the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road in the Town of Inlet and the northeastern end is at the Sagamore Road in the Town of Long Lake. Trail Map (2013)

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands

  • The Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The following roads on the Speculator Tree Farm Tract are closed. The roads will reopen once they have dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed: (4/17)
    • Cave Hill Road
    • Robbs Creek Road
    • Fly Creek Road
    • Old State Route 30
    • East Road
    • Elm Lake Road
  • Perkins Clearing Road (aka Jessup River Road) is closed for mud season, closing motorized access to all of the Perkins Clearing Road system. Roads will reopen once they have dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)
  • Camping on easement lands is allowed at designated campsites only. Permits are required for any campsite at which campers will be staying more than three nights and can be obtained from the local Forest Ranger. (2013)
  • A new 5 car parking area has been constructed at the Spruce Lake Trailhead on conservation easement lands. The old parking area, located on forest preserve lands in the West Canada Wilderness, is closed and a rock barrier is located at the wilderness boundary. The new location does not add any additional mileage to a hike into Spruce Lake. (2012)

Pigeon Lake Wilderness

  • Blowdown may be found on trails, particularly infrequently used side trails. Blowdown may be heavy enough in some places to impede travel. (2012)

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

  • The Owls Head Mountain Fire Tower was restored a few years ago and is open to the public. There is no observer cabin. (2004)

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest

  • Trails and other recreational facilities are in satisfactory condition. (3/14)

Silver Lake Wilderness

  • The Town of Wells has closed the West River Road for mud season. The road will reopen when it has dried, firmed and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/18)
  • The Mud Lake Lean-to on the Northville Placid Trail has been destroyed by a large white pine that toppled on it during a recent storm. DEC is working to have a replacement built in the near future. (2012)
  • There is heavy blowdown on the Northville Placid Trail between Benson and Silver Lake. (2011)
  • The trail to Cathead Mountain remains closed by a private landowner. (2007)

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • Motorized access to trailheads in or along the boundary of Perkins Clearing is closed for mud season. The roads will reopen when they have dried, firmed up and any needed maintenance is completed. (4/17)
  • A new 5 car parking area has been constructed at the Spruce Lake Trailhead on conservation easement lands. The old parking area was located on forest preserve lands in the West Canada Wilderness, is closed and a rock barrier is located at the wilderness boundary. The new location does not add any additional mileage to a hike into Spruce Lake. (2012)
  • The bridge over the West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail at the outlet of Mud Lake has been rebuilt by the Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew as a paid contractor for the DEC. (2012)
  • A 30-foot long two-stringer footbridge along the Northville-Placid Trail south of Spruce Lake lean-to #1 has been repaired. In addition two 10-foot long bog bridges were constructed on the trail in that general area. All of the work was done by the Student Conservation Association's Adirondack Program. (2012)

More about Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks: