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Backcountry Information for the Southern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Southern 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

Ferris Lake Wild Forest

  • The snowmobile trail on Morrey Road in the town of Caroga remains closed due to a dispute with the private landowner. (2018)
  • Billy Hamlin Trail is eroded rough and rocky and very wet in places. (2017)
  • Beavers have caused flooding problems on two 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.

Northville-Placid Trail

  • The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter (leaves DEC website) of the Adirondack Mountain Club provides the latest trail conditions and information for planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike.
  • Hikers using the portion of the trail through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest may have trouble crossing West Stony Creek during high waters following rains. (2017)

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Shaker Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Snowmobile trails in the towns of Caroga, Bleecker, and Mayfield are closed due to the lack of snow. Trails may be reopened this weekend if forecasted snow amounts do occur. Check local conditions before going out.
  • Hikers using the Northville-Placid Trail may have trouble crossing West Stony Creek during high waters following rains. (2017)

Silver Lake Wilderness

  • The Silver Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Nothing to report.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

  • The Mulleyville Snowmobile Trail System has reopened. (3/9)
  • The Sacandaga Snowmobile Trail System is open but accessing the trails from the Sacandaga Reservoir is difficult due to deteriorating ice conditions. (3/9)
  • The Spruce Mountain Trail is open. The fire tower stairs may be climbed but the cab is locked. (2018)
  • The cab of the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower and the observer's cabin are closed and locked for the season. (2018)
  • The North Bend Bridge on Oregon Trail is flooded but intact. Hikers will need to wade through water to enter and exit the bridge.(2016)
  • A bridge on Bartman Trail just north of Fish Ponds is out. The small stream is crossable by rock hopping (2016)
  • The bridge over Georgia Creek on Cotter Brook Trail is out due to beaver activity. (2016)
  • The bridge over Dayton Creek between Hope Falls Road and Wilcox Lake on East Stony Creek Trail is out. The creek is crossable except during high water conditions. (2016)
  • The Pine Orchard Trail is flooded due to beaver activity .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. (2010)
  • The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet and is flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake. (2004)