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Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks

Updated: February 4, 2016

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

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!

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Be Prepared

  • 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
    • Snow depths
    • Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Winter Boots
    • Waterproof Outer Wear
    • Layers of non-cotton clothing
    • Fleece or Wool Hat
    • Gloves or Mittens
    • Sunglasses (if sunny)
  • Carry
    • Map and compass - know how to use them and use them!
    • Snowshoes or skis
    • Crampons, spikes or traction devices
    • Flashlight or headlamp & extra batteries
    • Pocket knife or other multi-tool device
    • Plenty of food and water
  • Pack
    • Extra clothes and socks
    • Gaiters
    • 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

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

All links to regulations leave DEC website.

Electronic Technology: Do not depend on electronic technology in the backcountry. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best and often non-existent. GPS signal can be poor under heavy tree cover. Batteries expire quickly in cold temperatures. Prepare before the trip and carry a map and compass for navigation or at least as backup.

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.

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. 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.

Ice on Water: Recent warm temperatures and rain have deteriorated ice conditions. NO ICE IS SAFE FOR MOTOR VEHICLES. Water is present on the surface of ice. Thin spots have opened and open areas around inlets and outlets have expanded. Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it. Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlets, and near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices. Ice with snow on the surface, may not hold a person's weight.

Prepare for Winter Conditions: Winter conditions are present throughout the area. Days are short, temperatures are below freezing, and snow & ice are present. Wear appropriate footwear, a waterproof outer layer, a hat and layers of non-cotton clothing. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and take off layers to keep comfortable. Avoid hypothermia by staying warm & dry, and resting, eating and hydrating often. Plan trips to be out of the backcountry before dark. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries in case you are caught after dark. (2/4)

Snow Information: Snow depths range from 0 to 6 inches, the deeper snow is found in northern Hamilton County and in the higher elevations. Snow will hard, crunchy or crusty. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "NERFC Snow Information" for maps depicting current snow depths, daily snowfall amounts, snow forecasts and information about the snowpack. (2/4)

Trail Conditions: Trails are icy with the return to below freezing temperatures after recent warm weather and rain. The use of crampons or spikes is strongly encouraged. Snowshoes should be carried on hikes planned for higher elevations such as on Snowy Mountain (3,899 ft) and worn when warranted. The use of snowshoes prevents injuries, eases travel through snow, and avoids "post-holing". Post-holing makes trails more difficult and more hazardous for others to use. Skiing conditions are poor to non-existent due to no snow and icy trails. (2/4)

Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen or hanging trees, limbs, and branches) may be found on trails, especially on trails in the higher elevations and less used trails. (2/4)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, open areas will be icy, and snow will be deeper. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. (2/4)

Snowmobile Trails: Gates have been opened on snowmobile trails. Currently snowmobile trail conditions range from non-existent in the southern portion of the area to poor in the northern portion. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out on trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobiles trails should keep to side to allow safe passage of snowmobiles. Snowmobiles should slow down when passing skiers and snowshoers. (2/4)

Seasonal Access Roads: All seasonal access roads are closed to public motor vehicle access at this time. The roads will be reopened after the spring mud season. (2016)

Hunting Season: Small game hunting seasons remain open. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or other hunting implements 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 may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution. (2016)

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 & Township 20 Tract Conservation Easement Lands

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Blue Mountain Wild Forest is available.
  • Many snowmobile trails and associated gates are open, but currently snowmobile trail conditions are poor. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out on trails. (2/4)
  • O'Neill Flow Road, Barker Pond Road and the Minerva Club Road are closed to public motor vehicle access. (2016)
  • Construction of a roadway, parking area and trail which provide access for paddlers to the County Line Flow on the Township 20 Tract is complete and open for public use. Public trespass on the lands other than the roadway, parking lot and trail is prohibited. Fishing from shore - including at the waterway access site - is prohibited. A pile of gravel remains on site at this time. (2015)

Blue Ridge Wilderness

Ferris Lake Wild Forest

  • Beavers have caused flooding problems on two trails: (2014)
    • 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.

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • The Cedar River Snowmobile Trail connecting Indian Lake and the Moose River Plains is open. Currently snowmobile trail conditions are poor. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out on trails.(2/4)
  • 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.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest

  • Gates are open on the Moose River Plain Snowmobile Trail System. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out on trails. (2/4)
  • The Moose River Plains Road System is closed to public motor vehicle access until after the spring mud season. (2016)
  • 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.
  • Gates are opened on the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Snowmobile Trail System. Snowmobile trail conditions are poor. Snowmobilers should check local conditions before going out on trails. (2/4)
  • Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Road System is closed to public motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season. (2016)

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

  • Snowmobilers cannot use the canoe carry trail between Outlet Bay and North Point Road (the traditional route) to travel between Raquette Lake and Forked Lake. The route snowmobilers must use (PDF 1.3 MB) to travel between Raquette Lake and Forked Lake is as follows: (1/28)
    • The designated snowmobile trail between Outlet Bay and the North Point Road - located 1.2 miles west of the Raquette Lake Canoe Carry Trail);
    • 1.6 miles along North Point Road between the designated snowmobile trail and the Forked Lake Canoe Carry Trail; and
    • Forked Lake Canoe Carry Trail - which remains open to snowmobiles.
  • DEC staff constructed a new lean-to on the southeastern side of Big Island on Raquette Lake. Additionally work crews from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program have completed work on lean-tos on Raquette Lake as follows: (2016)
    • The eastern lean-to on Big Island was roofed and stained;
    • The northern lean-to at Lonesome Bay was recently roofed and stained; and
    • The middle lean-to on Big Island was removed in preparation for constructing a new lean-to this summer.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest

  • An 8.6 mile reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail has been completed. A map of both reroutes (PDF) (286 KB) - the reroute in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest Reroute and the reroute in the Silver Lake Wilderness - is available. (2015)
    • The trail traverses between trailheads on the Gifford Valley Road in the Town of Northampton and the Benson Road in the Town of Benson.
    • The reroute eliminates 7.6 miles of walking along State Route 30 and the Benson Road.
    • Hikers wishing to hike the whole length of the trail will still need to walk 3.5 miles between the Gifford Valley Road Trailhead to the official southern terminus trailhead in Waterfront Park. This section includes travel along South Main Street, Bridge Street, County Routes 152 & 152A, Mountain Road and Gifford Valley Road.
    • Hikers will need to ford West Stony Creek until a footbridge over the creek is completed. While this can be done by rock hopping during low water, it will not be passable during high water.

Silver Lake Wilderness

  • Information about the recreational opportunities in the Silver Lake Wilderness, including a map, is available.
  • The Town of Wells has closed the West River Road until the spring mud season ends. (2016)
  • The Northville-Placid Trail has been rerouted in the Benson Road-Godfrey Road area. The reroute includes seven miles of new trail in the Silver Lake Wilderness combined with upgrades to the former Woods Lake Trail and eliminates 1.6 miles of walking along the Benson Road for through hikers. Non-through hikers may access the NPT at the Woods Lake Trailhead on Benson Road or the Godfrey Road Trailhead using the Godfrey Road Spur Trail. A map of both reroutes (PDF) (286 KB) - the reroute in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest Reroute and the reroute in the Silver Lake Wilderness - is available. (2015)
  • The trail to Cathead Mountain remains closed by a private landowner. (2016)

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lewey Lake Campground is closed until further notice. Blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail impassable and difficult to follow. DEC is developing plans to restore the trail corridor and allow safe passage for hikers. The Colvin Brook Lean-to at the western end of the trail remains open but can only be accessed from the Northville-Placid Trail. (2016)
  • Volunteer trail workers have removed blowdown from the Northville-Placid Trail. (2015)

More about Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks: