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Backcountry Information for the Southern Adirondacks

Updated: November 25, 2020

Map of showing the Southern 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 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

Ferris Lake Wild Forest

  • The Ferris Lake Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Powley Road is open to public motor vehicle use from the north entrance on State Route 10 to ten miles south at the Brayhouse Brook crossing. The southern portion of the road is closed for the foreseeable future due to severe damage caused by the 2019 Halloween storm. (5/21)
  • Hikers on the Jockeybush Lake Trail may have difficulty crossing the Jockeybush Lake Outlet during high waters following periods of rain. (2020)
  • Billy Hamlin Trail is eroded rough and rocky and very wet in places. (2020)

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.
  • A 400-foot stretch of the Northville-Placid Trail - about 0.5 mile north of the Carry Lean-to - is flooded trail due to recent beaver activity. DEC staff were able to lower the water level to 7-8" and are continuing efforts to remove dams farther downstream. The trail is passable, but hikers should anticipate wet feet while passing through this area. (8/27)
  • The trail is grown in and contains blowdown between Silver Lake and Mud Lake and may be difficult to follow in areas. (2020)
  • 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. (2020)

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Shaker Mountain Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The South Trail up Kane Mountain off Schoolhouse Road is closed. The trail crosses private lands and the landowner revoked permission for the public to cross. Hikers must use the formal Kane Mountain Trailhead off Green Lake Road. (2020)
  • Hikers using the Northville-Placid Trail may have trouble crossing West Stony Creek during high waters following rains. (2020)

Silver Lake Wilderness

  • The Silver Lake Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The Northville-Placid Trail is grown in and contains blowdown between Silver Lake and Mud Lake and may be difficult to follow in areas. (2020)

Rockwood State Forest

  • The road north of Cemetery Road leading to the parking and camping area on the State Forest is very rough due to significant washouts. Several cars have become stuck. Only high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles should use the road. (6/18)

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

  • The Wilcox Lake Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The North Bend Bridge on Oregon Trail is sagging but intact. In wet times of year, hikers will have to go through some water to enter and exit the bridge. (2020)
  • The bridge over Georgia Creek on Cotter Brook Trail is out. When water is high, this spot is difficult to cross (2020)
  • Dayton Creek on the East Stony Creek Trail is crossable except during high water conditions. (2020)