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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: December 19, 2014

General Notices

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 Autumn

  • 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 and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Waterproof hiking boots and gaiters
    • Layers of wool, fleece or other non-cotton clothing
    • Hat and gloves or mittens (or pack depending on the conditions)
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Waterproof jacket and pants
    • Sunscreen
    • Bivy sack or space blankets in case you need to spend the night in woods
    • 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

Weather: Always be aware of and prepared for weather conditions. See the information under the "Be Prepared" heading above to ensure you are prepared. 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, use the National Weather Service "NWS Weather Forecast" link near the bottom of the right column to check the current weather forecast before entering the backcountry. (12/18)

Winter Conditions: Winter conditions are present throughout the area. Snow, ice and cold temperatures are present at all elevations. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and take off layers as needed to keep comfortable. Plan trips to be out of the backcountry before dark. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries just in case. (12/18)

Snow: Rain showers and warmer temperatures have decreased snow depths in the lower elevations, while the high elevations have received additional snow. 6 to 10 inches of snow is on the ground in northern and central Hamilton County. More snow is present in the high elevations mountains such near the summit of Snowy Mountain. 4 to 6 inches in present in southern Hamilton County and northern Fulton County. Use the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" link near the bottom of the right column to check the snow depths in the area. The map is updated daily. (12/18)

Snowshoes & Skis: Snowshoes or skis should be worn on all trails in the Adirondacks. The use of snowshoes or skis avoids "post-holing; eases travel and prevents injuries. (12/18)

Trail Conditions: Wet snow is forming a good base. Most trails are skiable but may contain a few obstacles such as rocks and roots. Use caution around stream crossings as snow may cover thin ice or open water. Drainages and trails along waters may be wet. Some lesser used, secondary trails may still be untraveled since last week's storm. Breaking trail takes more time and energy. (12/18)

Blowdown: Wet snow is increasing the weight on snow laden limbs and branches, many are breaking under the weight. This is adding to blowdown caused by last week's storm. Expect blowdown on trails, especially on lesser used, secondary trails. Some locations may have significant amounts of blowdown, especially in the lower elevations. (12/18)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger and snow will be deeper - especially where drifts have formed. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits or in heavy falling and/or blowing snow. (12/18)

Ice on Water: Ice has only recently formed on lower elevation and larger waters. Always check ice thickness before traveling across it. Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlet and near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices. Ice that holds snow will not hold the weight of a snowmobile at this time and may not hold the weight of a person. (12/18)

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates on seasonal access roads are closed. The roads will reopen after the spring mud season. Motor vehicles should not be driving on seasonal access roads that serve as snowmobile trails in the winter. (12/18)

Snowmobile Trails: Many gates and designated snowmobile trails are open. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (12/19)

Avoid Hypothermia: Stay dry and warm. Drink plenty of water, eat food and rest often. (12/18)

Hunting Seasons: Hunting seasons for small game and some waterfowl are 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. There is no record of a hunting related shooting incident in New York State involving a hiker. (12/18)

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.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands

  • The O'Neill Flow Road and its gate and the Barker Pond Road are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. (12/11)
  • 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 designated snowmobile trails on state land and their gates are open. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. (12/19)
  • Beavers have caused flooding problems on some trails: (12/11)
    • The Fall Stream Trail from Piseco towards the Big Brook trail has one bridge flooded out.
    • The Hurrell Vly Trail in Morehouse has a bridge flooded out.
  • Be aware that the big lakes are not frozen. Even if they have snow on them the ice will not hold the weight of a snowmobile and may not hold the weight of a person. (12/11)

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • All gates and many designated snowmobile trails are open. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. (12/19)
  • Eagle Cave in the Siamese Pond Wilderness is closed from October through May to protect hibernating bats. (2014)
  • 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: (2013)
    • 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.
    • Designating 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.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest

  • All gates and many designated snowmobile trails are open. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. (12/19)
  • All roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic. The Town of Indian Lake does not plow beyond the end of the paved portion of the Cedar River Road. Snowmobilers and cross country skiers can park in that area and access the eastern Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) from there. (12/11)
  • 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.
  • All gates and designated snowmobile trails are open. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor to fair. Snowmobilers should check on local trail conditions before heading out. (12/19)
  • The northern section of the Perkins Clearing Road will be closed to snowmobiles from Pole Brook/Hardwood Hill to Mason Lake to allow for logging operations. Crews from the Town of Lake Pleasant Highway Department and local snowmobile clubs with DEC oversight have worked to upgrade a secondary snowmobile trail to serve as reroute of the main snowmobile trail this winter. (12/11)
  • Snowmobilers must obey all signs. (12/11)
  • All designated snowmobile trails on the Speculator Tree Farm are open without any reroutes. (12/11)
  • All roads are closed to public motor vehicle traffic. (12/11)
  • 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. (2014)

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 footbridge on the Castle Rock Trail has been replaced by DEC staff. (12/19)
  • 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. (2014)

Silver Lake Wilderness

  • The Mud Lake Lean-to on the Northville Placid Trail has been repaired and is fully functional. (2014)
  • The trail to Cathead Mountain remains closed by a private landowner. (2014)

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • The Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program constructed bog bridging on the Cedar Lakes Trail between the Pillsbury Lake Trailhead and the Cedar Lakes. (10/16)
  • There is some blowdown in the Northville-Placid Trail near Mud Lake. (10/16)
  • 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. (2014)

More about Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks: