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Backcountry Information for the West Central Adirondacks

Updated: July 2, 2020

Map of showing the West Central Region of the Adirondacks

Welcome to the Adirondacks

The Welcome to the Adirondacks webpage is the place to go if you are interested in learning more about the Adirondacks. It provides information about the Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands, outdoor recreation opportunities, and Leave No Trace. Be sure to check out the links to additional information and tips for recreating safely and minimizing your impacts on natural resources, recreational infrastructure, and other backcountry users in the Adirondacks.

Recreate Local - Safely and Responsibly

DEC encourages responsible recreation during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases, DEC and State Parks encourages New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. Use DECinfo Locator to find DEC-managed lands near you and use #RecreateLocal to share your outdoor experiences in open spaces and parks close to home.

What's Local? New York is focused on getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering the further spread of COVID-19. Responsible, respectful, local recreation is a crucial part of continuing to help New Yorkers stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety. Consistent with the NYForward phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region (PDF) (leaves DEC's website). Each of the state's 10 REDC regions have a wide variety of recreational opportunities available within them for the public to explore and enjoy. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities because public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available.

Social Distancing Guidelines

Follow DEC's guidelines for social distancing (PDF) while recreating outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home. Keep visits short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.
  • Be Safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Recreate only with members of your immediate household. Keep a distance of 6 feet or more from others. Alert others as you're about to pass or step aside to let people pass. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing.
  • Be Ready: Move quickly through parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit.
  • Stay Home: If you're not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their visit.

Pack A Mask

New Yorkers are required to wear masks in public when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained, including on trails and in the backcountry. No matter how or where you plan to recreate, pack a mask and wear it in parking lots, on crowded summits, and anywhere else you meet people along the trail or in the outdoors.

Trailhead Registers

Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, special precautions should be taken while using trailhead registers to minimize spread of the virus through commonly touched surfaces, such as pencils and the registers themselves. Follow guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus when using trailhead registers.

Limit Parking

Please avoid visiting crowded areas. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas. If parking lots are full, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.

Hike within the Limits of Your Physical Abilities and Experience

Adirondack lands and forests are monitored by Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance (PDF) will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

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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Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC's website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast (leaves DEC website) for updated notices and current conditions and forecasts. Be prepared for the forecasted conditions or to change your plans.
  • NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) has two dozen stations in and just outside of Adirondacks that provide real time weather data and forecasts.

Travel: Check 511NY (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions.

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for important general notices and information which applies across the Adirondacks.

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

Specific Notices

Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Trail

  • The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) (leaves DEC website) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Blue Mountain Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Logging operations will continue this winter on the Township 19 Conservation Easement Lands. (2020)
  • The access road to the radio towers on Blue Mountain is a private road. The use of the road by people other than authorized personnel with administrative duties is prohibited and is considered trespassing. (2020)

Blue Ridge Wilderness/Wakely Mountain Primitive Area

  • The Blue Ridge Wilderness and Wakely Mountain Primitive Area webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The bridge across Rock Pond is out. Cascade Pond and the Cascade Pond Lean-to can only be accessed via Wilson Pond Trail and Crossover Trail or via Northville-Placid Trail. (2020)

Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract

Moose River Plains Complex

  • The Moose River Plains Complex webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Rock Dam Road is open to public motor vehicle use. (6/26)
  • Indian Lake Road is open to public motor vehicle use to the Brooktrout Parking Area. The road remains closed at the Falls Pond Outlet due to a large washout. (6/26)

Northville-Placid Trail

  • The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter (leaves DEC website) of the Adirondack Mountain Club provides the latest trail conditions and information for planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike.
  • Expect to encounter heavy blowdown on this section of the trail. Plan for hikes to take longer due to working through or around blowdown. (2020)
  • The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lewey Lake Campground is unmaintained beyond the height of ground between Lewey Mountain and Cellar Mountain, about 4.4 miles west of the campground. (2020)
    • Beyond the height of ground blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail difficult to follow.
    • Access to Colvin Brook Lean-to and the Northville Placid Trail may be gained from the Moose River Plains trailhead off Limekiln Lake - Cedar River Road.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tracts

  • The Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tracts webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • On the Perkins Clearing Tract, Old Military Road is closed between the turn to Pillsbury Mountain and the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead due to severe washouts. Hikers must park at Sled Harbor and walk the road 1.5 miles to the trailhead. (5/15)
  • On the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, Pine Lakes Road and Long Level Road are open to public motor vehicle use to the bridge. (5/15)
  • On the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, Robbs Creek Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use. (5/15)

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

  • The Sargent Ponds Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • The West Canada Lakes Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Old Military Road is closed between the turn to Pillsbury Mountain and the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead due to severe washouts. Hikers must park at Sled Harbor and walk the road 1.5 miles to the trailhead. (5/15)
  • Blowdown is present on many of the trails most notably the Northville-Placid Trail between Spruce Lake and the Cedar Lakes. (5/15)
  • The foot bridge over Sampson Bog on the Northville-Placid Trail is washed out, please use caution in this area. (5/15)
  • The foot bridge over the Mad Tom Brook on the South Branch Trail has washed out. The stream may be impassable in high water. (2020)
  • Blowdown is particularly prevalent on the Northville-Placid Trail and Cedar Lakes Trail. Plan for hikes to take longer due to working through or around blowdown. (2020)
  • The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lewey Lake Campground is unmaintained beyond the height of ground between Lewey Mountain and Cellar Mountain, about 4.4 miles west of the campground. (2020)
    • Beyond the height of ground blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail difficult to follow.
    • Access to Colvin Brook Lean-to and the Northville Placid Trail may be gained from the Moose River Plains trailhead off Limekiln Lake - Cedar River Road.