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Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Updated: May 6, 2021

Map of showing the Western 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 (leaves DEC website). 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.

Keep Our Environment Clean

Help preserve the beauty of the Adirondacks and protect our local wildlife by putting garbage in designated trash cans when available or taking your garbage home with you. Please do not leave trash, gear, or food scraps behind. Use designated toilets when available and visit the Leave No Trace website to learn how you can Leave No Trace when going to the bathroom in the woods. Do not graffiti or carve rocks, trees, or backcountry structures like lean-tos or fire towers.

Drone Use

Drones are prohibited on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe Area. Before you launch your device, learn more about drone use on DEC lands.

Play Smart * Play Safe * Play Local

New York State's PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL campaign encourages residents to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. This guidance (PDF) urges New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region (PDF) (leaves DEC's website), practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

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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Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured; keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call 911 or the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.

Early Season Muddy Trails Advisory: DEC has released an early season muddy trails advisory urging hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. As snow and ice continue to melt at high elevations, steep trails can pose a danger due to thick ice and deep, rotten snow. Thin soils are susceptible to erosion and sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged.

Prepare for Variable Conditions: Warm, wet conditions at base elevations will give way to freezing temperatures, deep snow, and thick ice at higher elevations. Be prepared for all conditions with appropriate gear and extra clothing. Change out of wet clothes to prevent hypothermia. Temperatures will fluctuate throughout the day. Freezing temperatures at night will create more ice and form a hard crust on deep snow.

Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Check the full list of route closures.

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures.
  • 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.
  • Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

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

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

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for Adirondack recreation resources, hiking resources, and other 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

Aldrich Pond Wild Forest

  • The Aldrich Pond Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Seasonal access gates are closed for mud season. (03/25)
  • Powell Road leading to South Creek Lake often experiences flooded conditions due to beaver activity. Users should exercise caution and be aware of changing road conditions throughout the seasons. (2020)

Bog River Complex (Lows Lake, Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, and Big Tupper & Piercefield Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Bog River Complex webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Lower than usual water levels may be observed at the lower Bog River (Lower Lows) dam on the downstream side of Hitchens Pond. DEC is lowering the water to assess a leak in the dam. The gate on the lower dam road is currently closed for mud season. DEC anticipates that after the water is lowered, recreational users will be able to paddle canoes and kayaks from the dam up through Hitchens Pond, although the channel will be narrower and more obstructions will be visible. (04/16)
  • Seasonal access gates are closed for mud season. (03/25)

Cranberry Lake Wild Forest (Massawepie and Conifer Emporium Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Cranberry Lake Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Seasonal access gates are closed for mud season. (03/15)

Five Ponds Wilderness

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

Pepperbox Wilderness

  • The Pepperbox Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest (Croghan & Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • All seasonal access gates are now open. (4/29)
  • On the Oswegatchie Conservation Easement - the Silver Dawn Lake Trail and Rainbow Trail have been cleared and signed. Several campsites proposed in the Recreation Management Plan have also been designated.

William C. Whitney Wilderness & Round Lake Wilderness