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Trail Information for the Central and Southern Adirondacks

Updated: September 24, 2015

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
    • Current weather conditions and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Hiking shoes or hiking boots
    • Comfortable non-cotton clothing
    • Hat to protect from sun or rain
    • 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
    • Gaiters to wear on wet & muddy trails
    • 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.

Fire Danger: MODERATE. Vegetation remains dry and leaves are beginning to fall, be careful with campfires, matches, lighters and other fire ignition sources. Never leave campfires unattended. Be sure campfires are completely out and embers are wet and cool. Check today's Fire Danger Rating Map. (9/24)

Fall Foliage: Leaves are changing color. See the I Love NY Fall Foliage Report (link leaves DEC website) for current information. (9/24)

Autumn Weather: Days are shorter and temperatures are cooler particularly in the morning and evening hours and at higher elevations. Plan hikes accordingly. Carry a flashlight or headlamp. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat, in addition to your usual equipment. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat. (9/24)

Trail Conditions: Trails are dry, but may be wet and muddy in low areas and along water. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters walk through - not around - mud and water on trails to avoid further eroding trails. Low water crossings are passable. (9/24)

Paddlers & Boaters: Water levels are below average for this time of year and continue to drop with the lack of rain. Rocks, logs and other obstacles normally below water levels will be exposed or just below the water surface. Rocky and shallow stretches of rivers may not be navigable. Use caution and stay observant when boating or paddling on waters. PFDs should be worn by all paddlers and boaters in small boats. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to check levels and flows of selected waters at the USGS Current Streamflow for New York Waters. (9/24)

Hunting Season: Many big game, small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are open or will open soon. 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. (2015)

Summits: Temperatures will be cooler and winds will be stronger. Use the link near the bottom of the right column to view the National Weather Service "NWS Mountain Forecasts" for selected summits in this area. (2015)

Seasonal Access Roads: All seasonal access roads are open. Seasonal access roads are rough, dirt or gravel roads. Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. (2015)

Biting Insects: Mosquitos and No-see-ums (biting gnats) are still present in low numbers, mainly in the evening. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects: (2015)

  • Wear light colored clothing, long sleeve shirts, and long pants;
  • Tuck shirts into pants, pant legs into socks and button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist;
  • Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick;
  • Use an insect repellant with DEET and follow the label directions.

Thunderstorm Safety: Avoid summits, water surfaces and other open areas during thunderstorms. As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm, move to lower elevations, head to shore or otherwise seek shelter. If caught outside in a thunderstorm, find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks. (2015)

Bear-Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks to avoid losing food to bears and to prevent creating nuisance bears. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (2015)

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.
  • The Minerva Club Road off State Route 28N on the Township 20 Tract is open to the gate at Sixmile Brook - do not drive past the gate (Map PDF 1.2 MB). The lands to the west of the road are open to non-motorized public access and abut forest preserve lands. Do not cross Sixmile Brook and trespass on private property. (9/17)
  • The portion of the O'Neill Flow Road off State Route 30 on the Township 19 Tract is open to public motor vehicles has been extended to the gate at Dun Brook - do not drive past the gate (Map PDF 2.2 MB). (9/4)
    • Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended.
    • Expect to encounter logging trucks on the road. Drive slowly, be observant and cautious. Logging trucks do not have the ability to slow down quickly.
    • Access and parking are only available on the south side of the road - the right side as you drive in.
    • Please respect private property on the north side and do not trespass.
    • Non-motorized uses (hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, biking, etc.) are allowed on the lands south of the road only.
  • The Barker Pond Road is open and motor vehicles may access the Barker Pond Parking Area. Use caution a the road remains rough and muddy where it had been previously flooded. Four wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended. (2015)

Blue Ridge Wilderness

Ferris Lake Wild Forest

  • The Powley-Piseco Road is open to public motor vehicle traffic. (2015)
  • Beavers have caused flooding problems on some 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 two designated primitive tent sites at the northern end of Fawn Lake have been closed for rehabilitation. Two new tent sites will be designated this summer. (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

  • Rock Dam Road is open to motor vehicle traffic for the entire length. (2015)
  • The Otter Brook Road is open, pick-up trucks, SUVs and other high clearance vehicles are recommended when using the road. (2015)
  • The Moose River Plains (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River) Road is open to motor vehicles its whole length from the Limekiln Lake gate near Inlet to the Cedar River Gate near Indian Lake. (2015)
  • The Otter Brook Road is open to motor vehicles to the Squaw Lake Barrier. (2015)
  • 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.
  • A bridge on the Jessup River Road, approximately 0.5 mile before the Spruce Lake Trailhead, is damaged and closed to motor vehicle traffic. Hikers seeking to access the Northville-Placid Trail and Spruce Lake can park along the road before the bridge provided they don't block traffic and walk across the bridge using caution. This will add approximately one mile for a round trip, plan accordingly. DEC plans to replace the bridge this fall. (7/23)
  • All roads designated for public motor vehicle traffic on the Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement are open with a some soft spots. Motorist should stay in the center of the roads as much as possible. (2015)
  • The section of the Jessup River Road, in the Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement, leading to the Spruce Lake Trailhead is soft and should only be traveled by four-wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles. (2015)
  • All roads designated for public motor vehicle traffic on the Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement are open and in good condition. (2015)

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

  • DEC staff recently completed constructing a new lean-to on the southeastern side of Big Island on Raquette Lake. The new lean-to replaces the dilapidated middle lean-to which was removed earlier this summer. (8/19)
  • Work crews from the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program have completed work on lean-tos on Raquette Lake as follows: (7/10)
    • 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 in the Summer of 2016.
  • The footbridge on the Castle Rock Trail has been replaced by DEC staff. (2014)
  • 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

  • An 8.6 mile reroute of the Northville-Placid Trail has been completed. (9/24)
    • 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 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. (Map PDF 2.4 MB) (2015)
  • The trail to Cathead Mountain remains closed by a private landowner. (2015)

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lake Durant 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. (9/17)
  • Volunteer trail workers have removed blowdown from the Northville-Placid Trail. (7/2)
  • The Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program constructed bog bridging on the Cedar Lakes Trail between the Pillsbury Lake Trailhead and the Cedar Lakes. (2014)
  • A new 5 car parking area has been constructed at the Spruce Lake Trailhead on Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement lands. The old parking area was located on forest preserve lands in the West Canada Wilderness. It is closed and a rock barrier has been placed 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: