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Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks

Updated: November 25, 2020

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.

Use DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website (leaves DEC's website) for information about parks and park closures. Use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how you get outside safely, responsibly, and locally.

Pack A Mask: When recreating in New York, hikers and others are required to wear masks in public (leaves DEC's website) 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.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: New York State residents and visitors from other states should check New York's most recent COVID-19 travel advisory before making plans.

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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Bring Winter Gear: You are likely to encounter winter conditions, including ice and snow, at higher elevations. This is not limited to the High Peaks. Snow and ice have been observed on lower elevation summits as well. Bring traction devices, such as microspikes or crampons, and other winter gear on all hikes.

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, 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.
  • 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.
  • A major dam rehabilitation project is being planned for the Lows Lower Dam (aka Bog River Dam) - the paddlers access site for Hitchens Pond and Lows Lake. The project is not expected to be active this year. Updates on the work schedule will be posted here when they become available. Possible impacts to public access include: (2020)
    • Temporary road and access closures;
    • Traffic controls including flag persons, construction fence, etc.
    • Shared road/parking areas with construction vehicles;
    • Different parking, drop-off, and launching schemes;
    • Increased informational signage.

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.
  • Nothing to report.

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.
  • 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