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Adirondack Backcountry Information

Lightly snow covered mountains beyond a pond

Looking for a great seasonal hike in the Adirondacks? How about an easy, family-friendly hike? Maybe you prefer a quiet paddle in a canoe or an exhilarating kayaking adventure. The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website) provides directions and trail descriptions for hundreds of hikes (leaves DEC website) through the woods and up mountains; and directions and descriptions of routes for hundreds of paddles (leaves DEC website) on the lakes, ponds and rivers of the Adirondacks.

The more than 2,300 miles of trails on the Adirondack Forest Preserve provide hikes of various distances, levels of challenge and types of scenery. All trails are available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and some trails are available for biking or horseback riding. The more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams in the Adirondacks provide for a variety of boating, paddling and fishing opportunities. Find a trail, boat launch or hand launch for your backcountry adventure using the DECinfo Locator or DEC Google Data.

Check out hikes outside the Adirondack High Peaks for a hiking experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, but with fewer people.

Watch clips about hiking in the Adirondacks, winter safety, and other outdoor topics on DEC's YouTube Channel.
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Help Maintain Trails & Waterway Access

The Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.

Volunteer to help preserve, maintain and enhance New York's outdoor recreation. Individuals or groups can enter into a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement to maintain trails, lean-tos, boat launches, or other recreational infrastructure.

Stay Safe, Respect Others and Protect the Environment

Back country hiking trails can be rugged and rough - they are not maintained as park walkways - and wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Properly prepare to ensure a safe outdoor experience. Follow all state land use rules for hiking and primitive camping and Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) to minimize your impacts on the natural resources and others users.

Be aware that you may encounter black bears and other wildlife while hiking, paddling and camping in the Adirondacks. Enjoy viewing and photographing wildlife, but do not feed or harass wildlife.

Trail and Road Storm Damage Information

High Peaks Wilderness (11/22 Update)

  • Three bridges were washed out on the Elk Lake - Marcy Trail.
    • Repair of the bridges won't occur until spring 2020.
    • Currently the trail is closed to the public through the end of the big game hunting season.
    • When the trail reopens the three crossings will be hazardous except when low water levels are low.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness (11/21 Update)

  • Elm Lake Road is rough but passable to the Cisco Brook Trailhead. The use of four-wheel drive vehicles is recommend.
  • Barton Mines Road is now passable by most passenger vehicles.
  • DOT work is still continuing on Route 8 but there are fewer stoppages of traffic.

Silver Lake Wilderness (Town of Wells) (11/21 Update)

  • West River Road has been reopened. Road conditions are rough, but passable. The use of four wheel drive vehicles is highly recommended.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness (11/21 Update)

  • Old Military Road that accesses Pillsbury Mountain Parking Area remains closed due to washouts.
  • The Northville Placid Trail trailhead on Haskell Road in Piseco is open. However, a large washout has impacted the motor vehicle bridge at the end of the road. The trailhead can be accessed by foot.
  • The foot bridge over the Mad Tom Brook on the South Branch Trailhas washed out. The stream may be impassable in high water.
  • G Lake Road is closed due to wash outs.
  • Mountain Home Road is in rough condition but passable with 4WD and high clearance vehicles.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest (11/21 Update)

  • Tower Hill Road is now open from both directions.

Black Creek State Forest (Town of Norway)

  • Stanley Road, which bisects the State Forest from east to west, has an impassable washout midway through the State Forest, by the small wildlife pond. The public is advised to NOT drive onto the dike that retains the pond.

Black River Wild Forest

  • The Loop Road at North Lake is passable with high clearance 4wd vehicles. Most of the damage occurred at the section of the Loop Road that passes through private lands.
    • Loop Road continues to be closed past campsite #18 due to a washout at Golden Stair Creek.
  • The Wolf Lake Landing Road in McKeever is passable with high clearance 4wd vehicles. Access past the gate just before Woodhull Lake is limited to persons with disabilities who possess a valid Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit

Boreas Ponds Tract (Town of North Hudson)

  • Gulf Brook Road is closed due to culvert damage and washout.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest (Towns of Stratford & Arietta)

  • Powley Piseco Road has severe wash outs on either end and is closed for the foreseeable future.
  • Edick Road is closed.

Fulton Chain Wild Forest (Town of Webb)

  • The Safford Pond Snowmobile Trail has experienced a large beaver dam failure approximately one quarter mile north of Safford Pond Road, as the Safford Pond inlet. The trail is impassable at this point.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest (Town of Inlet)

  • Otter Brook road is closed at the gate at Otter Brook. Severe washout beyond the gate.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest (Town of Mayfield)

  • Tolmantown Road which provides access to the Benson Tract is closed from the Mayfield end. The Bleecker end is open to the Big T.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

  • Thirteenth Lake Road has been washed out. The public can still access Thirteenth Lake Trailhead by detouring on Harvey Road and meeting back up with Thirteenth Lake Road beyond the washout.
  • The Thirteenth Lake Trailhead and accessible trails have sustained damage. Public should use caution.
  • The seasonal road to Old Farm Trailhead Parking Lot has washed out at a culvert. Temporary parking is being determined.

Speculator Tree Farm and Perkins Clearing Conservation Easements

  • Roads have been repaired and the easements lands are open to the public. Use caution as roadwork may still be occurring.

Crotched Pond (Indian Lake)

  • Extensive damage to roads and infrastructure.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • Due to the closure of the Indian River Road at the Otter Brook Bridge the unit remains inaccessible from the northern trailhead within Moose River Plains Wild Forest's Brook Trout Lake Parking Area.

Seasonal Notices and Information (December 5, 2019)

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

DEC Adventure Adirondacks: Visit the DEC Facebook page (leaves DEC website) to follow the DEC Adventure Adirondacks Group for more information on winter hiking safety, preparedness, trail conditions, and trip ideas. Login to join the group.

Travel: Check NY511 (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions.

Weather:

  • Nighttime and daytime temperatures will be below freezing through the weekend.
  • Additional snow ranging from dusting to 3 inches is forecast through Sunday.
  • Check the National Weather Service (leaves DEC website) or NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) for updated warnings, and current weather conditions and forecasts for the location where you plan to recreate.

Early Winter Conditions in the Adirondacks

  • Sunset is approximately 4:20 pm.
  • Snow and ice are present throughout the Adirondacks
  • Snow depths range from 4 to 12 inches with the deeper snow in the southern and southwestern Adirondacks and the shallower snow across northern Adirondacks.
  • Snow is deeper in the higher elevations.
  • The National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) provides maps depicting current snow depths and forecasts.
  • Ice has formed on many ponds, streams, backwaters, and bays. No ice is currently safe to travel on.

Be Prepared:

  • Wear:
    • Insulated, water resistant/water proof winter hiking boots
    • Layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing
    • Hat and mittens (or gloves)
  • Pack or carry the following items on all hikes:
    • Water
    • Working headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
    • Extra layers of clothes
    • Map of the area
    • Food or snack
    • Trail crampons (foot traction devices) and wear when conditions warrant
    • Snowshoes for high elevation hikes and wear when conditions warrant.
  • Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips. (leaves DEC website)

Seasonal Access Roads:

  • Open seasonal access roads may have minor wash outs, use caution when using them.
  • Most seasonal access roads will close to motor vehicle traffic next week.
  • Seasonal access roads that are designated snowmobile trails will be open to snowmobile use when snow depths allow for safe use.

Hunting Seasons: The Northern Zone (which includes all the Adirondacks) regular big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are open.

  • Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails.
  • Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands.
  • Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.
  • Hikers can wear bright colors if it makes them feel safer.

Drones: Drones are motorized equipment and the operation of drones on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe is prohibited.

Hikers & Campers

General Information: Hiking and Camping

Trail Conditions:

  • Trailheads and trails may be covered in ice and snow.
  • Many bridges were washed out or damaged in the Oct. 31 storm leaving some streams impassable. Use caution and be prepared to turn around.
  • DEC continues to assess back country infrastructure. Hikers should be aware that not all areas have been assessed - more remote and less traveled areas are likely to have unreported damage.
  • Expect to encounter heavy blow down in areas. Be cautious of hanging branches and unstable fallen trees. Blow down may take considerably more time to hike around.

Wear Proper Footwear:

  • Wear waterproof boots with warm, wool socks to keep feet dry.
  • Trail crampons (foot traction devices) should be carried on all hikes and used when warranted.
  • Snowshoes are recommended for all high elevation hikes.

Water Crossings:

  • Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast flowing brooks and rivers.
    • Rocks and other surfaces may be covered with ice from splashing water.
    • Wear crampons and use steel or carbide pointed hiking sticks.
  • Some crossings may be difficult or impossible due to high water levels.

Mountain Summits:

Specific Notices

Check the map and then link to the area of Adirondacks you plan to visit. Use the Adirondack Forest Preserve Map and Guide to help you determine the area you plan to visit. The information is provided by DEC Forest Rangers and Foresters based on their knowledge and observations and is updated weekly.

The information provided may not reflect current specific conditions. Contact the local Forest Ranger for more current and specific information by calling 518-897-1300 or check the list of Region 5 Forest Rangers or Region 6 Forest Rangers for direct contact information.



Northeastern Eastern High Peaks East Central Southern West Central Northern Southwestern Western Northwestern
Legend:

Green - Forest Preserve Lands
Tan - Conservation Easement Lands
Gray - Private Lands

More about Adirondack Backcountry Information :

  • Backcountry Information for the Northwestern Adirondack - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Northwestern Adirondack Backcountry for Grass River Complex, Raquette Boreal Complex, and Whitehill Wild Forest
  • Backcountry Information for the Northern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Northern Adirondack Backcountry for the DeBar Mountain Wild Forest, Kushaqua Conservation Easement Tract, Paul Smiths College Conservation Easement Tract, Santa Clara Conservation Easement Tract, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, and St. Regis Canoe Area
  • Backcountry Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Northern Adirondack Backcountry for the Chazy Highlands Wild Forest, Lake Champlain Islands Complex, Sable Highlands Tract, Taylor Pond Complex, and Wilmington Wild Forest.
  • Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the backcountry of the High Peaks Region for the High Peaks Wilderness, Dix Mountain Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness, Hurricane Mountain Wilderness, Jay Mountain Wilderness, McKenzie Mountain Wilderness, and Sentinel Range Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the Western Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Western Adirondack Backcountry for the Aldrich Pond Wild Forest, Bog River Complex, Cranberry Lake Wild Forest, Five Ponds & Pepperbox Wildernesses, Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest, and William C. Whitney & Round Lake Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the West Central Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the West Central Adirondack Backcountry for the Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Township 19 Conservation Easement Tract, Township 20 Conservation Easement Tract, Blue Ridge Wilderness, Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract, Jessup River Wild Forest, Moose River Plains Complex, Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Easement, Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, West Canada Lakes Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the East Central Adirondack Backcountry for the Camp Santanoni Historic Area,Essex Chain Lakes Complex, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, Hudson Gorge Wilderness, Jessup River Wild Forest, Siamese Ponds Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest
  • Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Eastern Adirondack Backcountry for the Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Lake George Wild Forest, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, and Split Rock Wild Forest
  • Backcountry Information for the Southwestern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Southwestern Adirondack Backcountry for the Black River Wild Forest, Fulton Chain Wild Forest, Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, Independence River Wild Forest, and Pigeon Lake Wilderness
  • Backcountry Information for the Southern Adirondacks - Information regarding access, outdoor recreation infrastructure and conditions on the lands and waters in the Southern Adirondack Backcountry for the Ferris Lake Wild Forest, Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Silver Lake Wilderness, and Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
  • North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) - The DEC has completed a Draft Plan/GEIS for the North Country National Scenic Trail Adirondack Park section. This plan describes a proposed route across the central region of the Adirondack Park. The route assessment presented in this plan will be integrated into the unit management plans (ump's) for each respective unit traversed by the trail.