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Backcountry Information for the Southwestern Adirondacks

Updated: October 21, 2021

Map of showing the Southwestern 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.

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 Dispatch, 833-NYS-RANGERS (833-697-7264).

Wet and Muddy Trails: Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to help protect fragile trail edges. Gaiters help keep feet dry and trekking poles provide added stability. Mountain bikers are encouraged to avoid riding in muddy and wet conditions as biking on wet trails can significantly contribute to erosion and trail widening. As with hiking, ride through the center of the trail to avoid impacting trailside soils and plants.

Hunting & Trapping: Hunting and trapping seasons are underway throughout New York State. Hikers and bikers are advised to dress in bright colors such as hunter orange, put bright colors and bells on pets and equipment like backpacks, bikes, and walking sticks, and keep pets leashed to discourage roaming. Horseback riders should dress horses in hunter orange and wear hunter orange while riding. Avoid interfering with hunters and trappers. Stay on or close to trails and give hunters space. Don't attempt to scare game, sabotage a hunt, or tamper with traps, and never harass hunters or trappers. Be aware that you might encounter hunters carrying firearms, bows, or crossbows on trails or in camping areas.

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly.
  • With the arrival of cooler temperatures, remember that temperatures will likely decrease as you gain elevation.
  • 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.

@NYSDECAlerts: Follow @NYSDECAlerts on Twitter for real-time updates to help you prepare. @NYSDECAlerts provides updates for DEC-managed lands throughout New York State, including the Adirondacks.

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

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, John Brown & North Lake Conservation Easement Tracts)

  • The Black River Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Effective 9/27, DEC is temporarily closing the boat launch, parking area, and adjacent boat launch campsites on South Lake Reservoir to allow the New York State Canal Corporation to perform maintenance work on South Lake Dam. The temporary closure will begin September 27 and is anticipated to last until November 30, 2021. Canoers and kayakers may still launch their boats off the shore alongside South Lake Road but should not block the travel lanes, shoulders, or park within the vicinity of the construction area. (9/24)
  • A temporary closure of parts of the North Lake Conservation Easement will begin Sept. 7 to allow the property owners to conduct forest management activities. The temporary closure will continue until early winter. DEC will announce when the easement reopens fully to public access.
    • Affected areas begin at the Golden Stair Creek bridge and extend east, just south of Ice Cave Mountain. During this closure, the Loop Road and campsites along the Loop Road will remain open, but areas adjacent to the road and some campsites may be closed. Hunters and hikers will have access to the logging roads that lead off the Loop Road in order to recreate in areas not actively harvested. Users of the campsites and parking areas along the Loop Road should expect to encounter log trucks and other equipment and should exercise caution when driving or using the road. Contact DEC's Herkimer office at 315-866-6330 with questions.
  • The Little Salmon Outlet Bridge on the South Lake-Herkimer Landing Road has been replaced (11/5)
  • The bridge across the inlet to Bear Lake on the Bear Lake Trail is currently out, all users should be prepared to ford the stream or cross elsewhere. (2019)
  • The bridge across the inlet to Little Woodhull Lake on 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)
  • 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) is 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 webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Obey "No Parking" signs on Rondaxe Road in the vicinity of the Rondaxe (aka Bald) Mountain Trailhead.

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness

  • The Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Lost Lake Trail has been flooded by beaver activity a half mile east of Lost Lake. (7/2)
  • Moose River Mountain Trail has heavy blow down and is difficult to follow at times. (2016)

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

  • The Independence River Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower trail is closed until December 20th. This closure is due to terms of the conservation easement on which the fire tower is located. (10/21)
  • The Hinchings Pond trail will be closed through 10/22 while a trail crew constructs new bridges. (10/21)
  • Big Otter Lake Road has been rehabilitated up to Tommy Roaring Brook. The road will be temporarily blocked beyond Tommy Roaring Brook until further rehabilitation occurs. (2018)
  • The Erie Canal Trail Bridge over Otter Creek has been damaged and is closed indefinitely. Horses may ford Otter Creek at the old bridge site. Snowmobiles can cross Otter Creek at the Eatonville Falls Bridge. (2018)

Pigeon Lake Wilderness

  • The Pigeon Lake Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The bridge across Constable Creek on the Constable Pond-West Mountain Trail has been removed due to its poor, deteriorating condition. All users should be prepared to ford the creek until a replacement bridge can be installed. (06/17)
  • 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)