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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 24, 2014

General Notices

Former Finch Lands

March 2014: Governor Cuomo announces New York State has purchased an additional 8,451 acres of former Finch lands in Fulton, Warren, Essex and Hamilton counties. The 14 new parcels contain miles of rivers and streams, ponds, wildlife habitat and trails, and offer exceptional opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, cross country skiing and mountain biking. Already, the state has completed two acquisition phases totaling 30,037 acres.

October 2013 - Governor Cuomo has announced approximately 11,600 acres of lands and waters on the Essex Chain Lakes tract in the center of the Adirondacks is now open to the public for outdoor recreation through an Interim Access Plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Tract and Essex Chain Lakes Easement Tract (PDF, 2.5 MB).

June 2013 - Governor Cuomo has announced that public access to the 7,200 acres of land, the Hudson River between Newcomb and Indian Lake, the lower reaches of the Cedar River and the lands and ponds south of the Cedar River is available for the first time in 100 years through an Interim Access Plan for the Former Finch Lands (PDF, 2.4 MB).

DEC has developed an interim access web page with information about the area and descriptions and maps of the interim public access facilities. Updated information will be provided here and on the interim access web page as roads are opened and trails, landing sites and other infrastructure are developed.

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

Public access opportunities are also available on the Former Finch Lands that are now part of the Upper Hudson Woodlands Conservation Easement. Additional public access on the conservation easement lands will available in the future.

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

Fire Danger: MODERATE. Be cautious with campfires. Check the current Fire Danger Map. (4/24)

Spring Weather: Warm temperatures and rain have brought on spring conditions in the lower elevations. Late winter conditions remain in the higher elevations. 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; and extra layers of non-cotton clothing 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. (4/24)

Trail Conditions: Trail conditions will vary with changes in elevation and the time of day. Low to middle elevation trails, trailheads and parking areas may have mud, water, hard-packed snow and ice - or a mixture of some or all. Trails in the highest elevations - for example near the summit of Snowy Mountain - have hard-packed snow and ice in the morning which softens as temperatures warm. Trails through open areas with southern exposures have little or no snow but may be icy in the morning. Use the link in the right column to see the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Map" which is updated daily. (4/24)

Snowshoes: Snowshoes should be carried for all hikes above 2000 feet, though they aren't needed at trailheads or on lower elevation portions of the trail. Wear snowshoes 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. (4/24)

Muddy Trails: Low to mid elevation trails may be wet and muddy. Water levels are in rivers, streams and drainages are high with normal spring time flows. 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. (4/24)

Crampons & Traction Devices: Traction devices and crampons should be should be carried and worn when warranted. (4/24)

Ice on Water: Ice is out or nearly out on all but small, high elevation waters. No ice should be considered safe at this time. (4/24)

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. (4/24)

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. (4/24)

Summits: Conditions on and near summits of high elevation mountains are more extreme - stronger winds, colder temperatures, snow and ice. (4/24)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. Prepare accordingly. (4/24)

Snowmobiles: Gates and trails are closed and the snowmobile season has ended. (4/24)

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 out on lakes and ponds. (4/24)
  • Water levels are high and water temperatures are cold. (4/24)
  • 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. (4/24)

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. (2014)

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: (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.
    • 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. (2014)
  • 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 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 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. (2014)

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. (2014)

More about Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks: