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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: July 24, 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 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 and short-term forecast
  • Wear
    • Hiking boots
    • Light, light-colored breathable non-cotton clothing
    • Hat to protect from sun, rain & biting insects
    • Sunglasses & sunscreen
    • Insect repellent
  • 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 & insect repellent
    • Bivy sack or space blankets in case you need to spend the night in wood
    • 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. (7/24)

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. (7/24)

Trail Conditions: Trails may be wet and muddy in low areas and along waters. Wear gaiters and appropriate footwear. Walk through not around wet and muddy areas to avoid further eroding and widening trails. (7/24)

Paddlers & Boaters: Water levels are in the average range for this time of year. Although Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs, aka life jackets) are not required at his time, paddlers and boaters are strongly encouraged to wear PFDs at all times while on the water. Children under age 12 are required to wear a PFD at all times while on the water. Strong currents and cold water can quickly cause a person without a PFD to lose their ability to keep their head above water. (7/24)

Biting Insects: Mosquitoes, Deer Flies and Midges (No-see-ums) are present in the backcountry. Minimize the nuisance of biting insects: (7/24)

  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants
  • Tuck shirts into pants
  • Button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist
  • Tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks
  • Pack a headnet to wear when insects are thick
  • Use an insect repellant with DEET, follow label directions
  • Check for and remove ticks

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are typically dirt or gravel roads that often are rough and muddy with rocks sticking up in locations. Shoulders are soft, ditched or even non existent. Drivers should always drive slowly and use caution when operating on these roads. Pickup trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended - four wheel drive vehicles will serve even better. (7/24)

Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is recommended throughout the Adirondacks. All campers should follow these practices to avoid attracting black bears: (7/24)

  • Store food, toiletries & garbage in a bear resistant canister away from the campsite or lean-to;
  • If you don't use a bear resistant canister hang your food, toiletries and garbage at least 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from any trees;
  • Prepare food away from the campsite or lean-to, and prepare and eat food well before dark;
  • Take food out immediately before preparation and/or eating;
  • Take out only as much food as will be eaten; and
  • If approached by a bear make noise and make all reasonable efforts to keep bears from obtaining food, but do not risk physical contact. Back away from the bear, but never run.

Summits: Conditions on and near summits of high elevation mountains are more extreme - stronger winds and cooler temperatures. (7/24)

Blowdown: Due to recent storms blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. Prepare accordingly. (7/24)

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.

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 trails and other recreational facilities are in satisfactory condition. (2014)

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • 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.
  • Blowdown may be found on trails.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest

  • The Rock Dam Road remains closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time. (7/10)
  • 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.
  • Repairs have been made on the Jessup River Road beyond Carpenter Road. (7/2)
  • 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 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)
  • The Northville Placid Trail between Benson and Silver Lake has been cleared of major blowdown. (2013)

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • Repairs have been made on the Jessup River Road beyond Carpenter Road. This road provides motor vehicle access to the Spruce Lake Trailhead. (7/2)
  • 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: