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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 State Land Interactive Mapper 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.

Seasonal Notices and Information (January 18, 2019)

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

DEC Adventure Adirondacks: Follow the DEC Adventure Adirondacks Group (leaves DEC website) on Facebook for more information on winter hiking safety, preparedness, trail conditions, and trip ideas.

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 and forecasts.

WINTER STORM WARNING: The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning that includes all of the Adirondacks from 4 pm Saturday through 4 pm Sunday.

  • Heavy snow possible. Total snow accumulations of 8 to 18 inches expected.
  • Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.
  • Check the National Weather Service Forecast for updates.

TRAVEL ADVISORIES: Governor Cuomo Urges Caution as Forecasts Call for Significant Snowfall in New York in Coming Days (leaves DEC website). Governor advises travelers to check NY511 (leaves DEC website) before traveling this week

Camp Santanoni Winter Event: Due to the forecasted heavy snow on Sunday and the below zero temperatures and high winds on Monday the event has been cancelled on those two days for the safety of the public, staff, and volunteers.

  • The event will still be held on Saturday.
  • Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will have access to the historic camp properties to rest, tour the buildings, and view interpretative displays.
  • The next Camp Santanoni Winter Weekend is scheduled for the Presidents Day holiday weekend, February 16-18.

Snow Cover: The recent snowstorms had already brought plenty of snow to most of the Adirondacks. Even before this weekend's storm:

  • Snow depths range from 6 to 15 inches across most of the Adirondacks.
  • Deeper snows are found in the northern, northwestern, and central Adirondacks and in the higher elevations.
  • Snow depths in the southeastern part and the very northeastern corner of the Adirondacks are only 2 to 6 inches deep.
  • Snow is deeper in the higher elevations; snow is 3-5 feet deep above 3,000 feet in the High Peaks region.
  • The National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) provides maps depicting current snow depths, forecasts, and other snow information.

Very Cold Temperatures: Daytime temperatures are forecast to be in the single digits above zero with nighttime temperatures in the single digits below zero through the weekend for most of the Adirondacks.

  • Wind chill factors will be in the double digits below zero due to winds on Monday (1/21).
  • Keep skin covered to avoid frostbite.
  • Avoid hypothermia:
    • Dress properly, stay dry, and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature.
    • Carry plenty of food and water.
    • Eat, drink and rest often.
    • Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.

Be Prepared for Winter Conditions:

  • The sun sets early - ALWAYS carry a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing.
  • Wear hat and gloves.
  • Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips. (leaves DEC website)

Ice on Waterbodies: Ice has formed on most waters.

  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlet and 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.
  • Observe ice safety, especially when ice fishing.

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates on seasonal access roads on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands are closed and locked.

  • Motor vehicle use on ALL seasonal access roads is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season.
  • DEC will reopen the roads after they have dried and any needed repairs and maintenance are completed.

Hikers/Skiers/Snowshoers

General Information on Hiking

General Information on Skiing and Snowshoeing

Trail Conditions: All trails have snow, with most of the Adirondacks have between 6 and 15 inches of snow.

  • An additional six inches or more - possibly up to two feet - of snow are forecasted at this time.
  • Snowshoes should be worn on all trails where snow depths exceed one foot.
  • Snowshoes will be needed on all trails beginning Sunday.
  • The use of snowshoes
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Traveling through snow takes more time and energy than hiking on bare ground - especially when breaking trail through deep, freshly fallen snow.
  • Ice may be present under snow or where snow has been blown off trails. Carry trail crampons and use when warranted.

Designated Snowmobile Trails:

  • Watch and listen for snowmobiles when skiing or snowshoeing on designated snowmobile trails.
  • Move off the trail to allow snowmobiles to safely pass.

Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be much colder, winds will be stronger, ice will be present, and snow will be deeper. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC website) for selected summits.

Snowmobilers

General Information on Snowmobiling

Trails: A recent storm has brought plenty of snow to most of the Adirondacks and an additional six inches or more of snow is forecasted this weekend.

  • Many trails are open or will be open this weekend
  • Check with local snowmobile clubs to determine status and condition of trails.
  • New York State Snowmobile Association Interactive Trail Map (leaves DEC website)
  • See the Specific Notices section for each of the regions of the Adirondacks for information on trail closures, detours, and unusual circumstances.

Safety:

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 Easement, Township 20 Easement, Blue Ridge Wilderness, 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.