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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 23, 2015

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 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
    • Waterproof hiking boots and gaiters
    • Layers of wool, fleece or other non-cotton clothing
    • Hat and gloves or mittens (or pack depending on the conditions)
    • Skis or Snowshoes (wherever snow depths are 8 inches or more)
    • 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
    • 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

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: Low. Check today's Fire Danger Rating. (4/23)

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. (4/23)

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. (4/23)

Early Spring Conditions: Daytime high temperatures are forecast to be mainly in the 40s. Nighttime temperatures will drop below freezing. Snow and rain showers are forecast through the weekend. The middle and higher elevations will continue to receive new snow through the weekend - possibly up to 2-3 inches .Dress and pack properly to avoid being cold & wet. Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing. Put on and remove layers as needed to keep comfortable. Wear an outer layer that is water & wind resistant. (4/23)

Snow: There no snow in the lower elevations. Snow and ice may be present on north facing slopes in the woods or other very sheltered and shaded areas. Snow is still present on the upper reaches and summits of mountains! Use the National Weather Service "NWS Snow Cover Maps" link near the bottom of the right column to check the snow depth and snow forecast for the area. Maps are updated daily. (4/23)

Trail Conditions: Trails in the lower to middle elevation are mixture of mud & water. Snow and ice may be present in sheltered and shaded sections of trail. Trails may be hard and icy in the morning. Snow is still present on the upper reaches of mountain trails including, but not limited to, Snowy Mountain! (4/23)

Snowshoes & Crampons: Carry both snowshoes and crampons when hiking mountain trails - use them when warranted! Traction devices are necessary on hard packed trails in the morning. The use of snowshoes avoids "post-holing", eases travel, and prevents injuries. (4/23)

Avoid Hypothermia: Stay dry and warm. Drink plenty of water, eat food and rest often. (4/23)

Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger and snow will be present. Sight distance will be limited, sometimes significantly, when clouds cover the summits. (4/23)

Ice on Water: Ice is darkening and thinning on all ponds and lakes. Large lower elevations waters are open, middle elevations are opening around shorelines, inlets, outlets and other areas. Smaller waters in the middle and higher elevations are still frozen in. Streams and rivers are open. No ice should be considered safe at this time. (4/23)

Water Levels & Temperatures: Water levels are running at normal high spring flows, currents are swift and water temps are cold. A person in the water will quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water without a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). PFDs must be worn by all paddlers and boaters in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1st. 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. (4/23)

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic until after the spring mud season. (4/23)

Blowdown: Blowdown may be present on trails, especially lesser used secondary trails. (4/23)

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.
  • Water levels are running at normal high spring flows, currents are swift and water temps are cold. A person in the water will quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water without a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). PFDs must be worn by all paddlers and boaters in boats less than 21 feet in length until May 1st. (4/23)

Blue Mountain Wild Forest/Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands

  • The O'Neill Flow Road and the Barker Pond Road are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. (4/16)
  • 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

  • Jockeybush Lake still has ice as do most other backcountry waters. (4/23)
  • 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. (4/23)
  • The southern portion of Indian Lake is open but there is still ice on the northern portion. (4/23)
  • Eagle Cave in the Siamese Pond Wilderness is closed from October through May to protect hibernating bats. (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

  • Seventh Lake, Eighth Lake and some of Raquette Lake are open. (4/23)
  • Gates are closed, all roads are closed to public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. Road designated for motor vehicle traffic will be opened when they have dried and are suitable for travel. (4/16)
  • 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 Town of Lake Pleasant has closed & locked the gate at the north end of the Perkins Clearing Road at Mason Lake and the Village of Speculator closed and locked the gate at the end of blacktop on Elm Lake Road. These roads will remain closed through the end of mud season. (4/16)
  • All other roads also remain closed to public motor vehicle traffic through the end of mud season. (4/16)
  • 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 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

  • All recreational facilities are in satisfactory condition. (2015)

Silver Lake Wilderness

  • Backcountry waters, especially smaller ponds, still have ice on the surface. (4/23)
  • 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 NPTl at the Woods Lake Trailhead on Benson Road or the Godfrey Road Trailhead using the Godfrey Road Spur Trail. (Map PDF 2.5 mb) (2015)
  • 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. (2015)

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • The Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program constructed bog bridging on the Cedar Lakes Trail between the Pillsbury Lake Trailhead and the Cedar Lakes. (2014)
  • There is some blowdown in the Northville-Placid Trail near Mud Lake. (2014)
  • 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: