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Backcountry Information for the Southwestern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Southwestern Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: March 15, 2018

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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Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information for important general notices and information which apply across the Adirondacks.

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 current National Weather Service Forecast (leaves DEC website) and 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, forecasts, and snow depths.

Winter Conditions: There are 15 to 20 inches of snow on the ground with deeper snow in the higher elevations. Below freezing temperatures are forecast through the weekend with night time lows dropping into the low teens and single digits. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for current snow information.

Be Prepared for Conditions

  • Be prepared for cold weather and snow to avoid hypothermia, wear:
    • Water proof upper and lower outer shell
    • Waterproof footwear
    • Layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing (not cotton!)
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. (link leaves DEC's website)

Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow and snow depths warrant the use of snowshoes

Ice on Trails:

  • Thick ice is present on high elevation trails especially on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas.
  • The thick ice may be covered by snow.
  • Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you are planning to travel up trails to mountain summits and use when warranted
  • Trail crampons are ineffective.

Snowmobile Trails: Deeps snows are providing great late season snowmobiling opportunities. Many gates and snowmobile trail systems previously closed have been reopened with the recent snows. Check local conditions before going out. Be safe when snowmobiling. (link leaves DEC's website)

River and Streams: Large areas of ice over moving water are gone or have thinned considerably.

  • All ice is covered with snow. Ice that holds the weight of snow may not hold the weight of a person, snowmobile, or ATV.
  • Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow - If you don't know, don't go.
  • Use extreme caution at all stream crossings, as rocks are covered with ice.

Ice on Lakes and Ponds: Ice is has thinned on lakes and ponds especially over river channels and other moving water. Be safe on ice.

  • DEC has received and responded to numerous reports of motorized vehicles falling through ice.
  • Water and slush are present below the snow on the surface of the ice.
  • Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow - If you don't know, don't go.
  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid and stay well away from ice:
    • Over running water
    • Near inlets & outlets
    • Near boathouses & docks - especially those with "bubblers" or other ice prevention devices.
    • Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person, snowmobile or ATV.

Mountain Summits: Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead.

  • Temperatures will be colder
  • Winds will be stronger
  • Ice will be present
  • Snow will be deeper - much deeper on high elevation summits.

Daylight: Days are lengthening but always carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.

Specific Notices

Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Trail

  • The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) (leaves DEC website) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine.

Black River Wild Forest (Flat Rock Mountain Tract, John Brown Tract & North Lake Tract Easement Lands)

  • The Black River Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Mill Brook Snowmobile Trail is closed due to flooding and ice along Sand Lake Outlet (2/15)
  • Loop Road is closed past Campsite #19 due to a major washout at Golden Stair Creek. The road will be repaired in this summer. (2018)
  • Stone Dam Trail north of Stone Dam Lake to its intersection with the Chub Pond Trail is overgrown and can be hard to find and follow. (2017)
  • The bridge across the inlet to Little Woodhull Lake on the Little Woodhull Lake Trail is out. The stream may not be passable in times of high water. (2016)
  • Nick's Lake Outlet Trail to Remsen Falls may be rough and grown in. (2016)
  • The gate at the end of the Wolf Lake Landing Road has been vandalized. Motor vehicle access beyond the gate is prohibited except by people with a valid Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit. (2016)
  • Watch for trains when crossing the rails to the Nelson Lake Access Hand Launch off State Route 28 on the banks of the Middle Branch Moose River. There is an active railroad present in the summer. Camping is prohibited in and around the hand launch site during June, July and August. (2016)
  • Gull Lake Road (the jeep road) impassable to motor vehicles at this time because it is very rutty and rocky. ATVs use is prohibited. (2016)
  • Six of the ten water access sites on the east shore of North Lake are rarely used. Vegetation has begun to grow in on the six sites making them harder to find. (2016)
  • Haskell/West Creek Road is a rough road, and 4-wheel drive trucks, SUVs and other high clearance vehicles are recommended. (2016)
    • Travel beyond Seabury Brook is challenging as road conditions are poor.
    • The road is closed beyond the Honnendaga Outlet Bridge because the bridge is in disrepair. Landowners of the private lands beyond may choose to use the bridge to access their lands.
  • Herkimer Landing Road is not open to public motor vehicles, however there are private rights to use motor vehicles on the road. (2016)
  • Flansburg/Black Creek Road is open to public motor vehicle use. However, travel beyond Mill Creek Lake will be limited by poor road conditions and snowmobile bridges not designed to support vehicles. (2016)

Fulton Chain Wild Forest

  • The Fulton Chain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Safford Pond Trail is flooded by beaver activity near the Safford Pond Inlet. (2016)

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness

  • The Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Most of Blackfoot Pond Trail off of the East-Pond Lost Creek Trail has been cleared of blowdown. The portion of the trail from Blackfoot Pond to the Old Mica Mine (less than one quarter mile) has not been cleared of blowdown and is hard to find. (2017)
  • East Pond-Lost Creek Trail has been cleared of blowdown and vegetation has been cut back. (2016)
  • Brown's Tract Trail has been flooded by beavers between Tamarack lake and Bare Mountain, the trail is difficult to traverse. (2016)
  • A culvert is washed out on the Big Otter Lake East Trail near Indian Brook. (2016)
  • Also Big Otter Lake East Trail is flooded at South Inlet Flow but the trail remains passable. (2016)
  • Moose River Mountain Trail has heavy blow down and is difficult to follow at times. (2016)
  • Middle Settlement Lake Trail is flooded due to beaver activity between the Cedar Pond Trail and Middle Settlement Lake. (2016)

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose Tract Easement, & Three Lakes Tract Easement)

  • The Independence River Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The 10 Mile Crossing Road gate at Otter Creek and the Mt. Tom Trail East gate are both closed. (3/9)
  • Some horses will not cross the bridge over Otter Creek on Erie Canal Trail - they may ford the stream parallel to the bridge. (2016)

Pigeon Lake Wilderness

  • The Pigeon Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • There is an area with significant blowdown on the Norridgewock Trail about 1.5 miles south of Beaver River Station. A rough and temporary reroute has been flagged with pink flagging. All users should exercise caution when travelling through this area. (2017)
  • Constable Pond-West Mountain Trail has been cleared to west of Pigeon Lake. However, from this point to Otter Pond the trail is overgrown and can be hard to find and follow. (2017)
  • Chub Lake Trail between Constable Pond and Queer Lake Trail was recently cleared of blowdown and brushed out by DEC Boonville Operations staff. (2017)
  • The bridge crossing over the Oswego Pond Outlet on the Twitchell Lake Trail has washed out. An old beaver den can be used to cross the outlet. (2016)
  • Cascade Lake Trail is wet and very muddy on the north-west section of the trail around Cascade Lake. Be alert of trail reroutes. (2016) Mill brook- sorry and along the sand lake outlet it was flooded and ungroomable due to water and ice chunks trackside blazers are sending 2 groomers tomorrow to try and groom same we have received 20" plus snowfall in area since Sunday