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Adirondack Backcountry Information

Lightly snow covered mountains beyond a pond

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.

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 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.

Outdoor Recreation in the Adirondacks

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 New York's 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 and other outdoor topics on DEC's YouTube Channel.
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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. Hike Smart NY provides expert information on how to properly prepare and 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.

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.

Adirondack Recreation Resources (January 14, 2021)

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 Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.

Travel: Check 511NY (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Avoid Hypothermia: Hypothermia is the result of your body losing heat faster than it can produce it. To prevent hypothermia, keep yourself dry and warm, drink plenty of water, and eat high-calorie, high-protein foods to help maintain your energy. Dress in layers and add and remove layers as necessary to keep yourself warm without sweating. As sweat dries it cools, creating ideal conditions for hypothermia.

Snowmobiling: Some seasonal access roads will transition to snowmobile use once Northern Zone big game hunting season concludes and sufficient snowpack accumulates. Check local club, county, and state webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile Webmap (leaves DEC website), for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Snow Accumulation: The following provides current snowpack depths in inches as of 01/05/21 at a selection of Adirondack locations. Snow accumulation data is collected every other week. Additional data (leaves DEC website) and interactive maps (leaves DEC website) are available on the National Weather Service website.

  • Northwoods Club Road, Minerva, Essex County: 7.7 inches
  • Goodnow Flow Road, Newcomb, Essex County: 7.6 inches
  • Tahawus/Upper Works, Newcomb, Essex County: 7.8 inches
  • Blue Ridge Road, Newcomb, Essex County: 7.5 inches
  • Elk Lake Road, North Hudson, Essex County: 8.7 inches
  • Lake Colden, Essex County: 11.4 inches
  • Cedar River Road, Indian Lake, Hamilton County: 7.8 inches
  • Sagamore Road, Long Lake, Hamilton County: 7 inches
  • Haskell Road, Ohio, Herkimer County: 9.6 inches
  • North Lake Road, Ohio, Herkimer County: 9.7 inches

Ice Safety: A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water. Learn more about ice safety.

Seasonal Access Roads: Many seasonal access roads have closed following the end of Northern Zone big game hunting season. Check regional notice pages for specific road closures. Some roads may remain open if conditions allow.

Fire Danger: Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Ashes should be cool to the touch. Learn more about campfire safety.

Review Regulations: Take a moment to review the rules and regulations for the area you will be visiting. Each state land management unit has rules in place to help protect users and the natural resources. Hikers headed to the High Peaks should review the rules and regulations for the High Peaks Wilderness.

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating 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 or taking it 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.

Hiking Information

Be prepared, bring the right gear, and wear the right clothes and shoes to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. Review Hike Smart NY's list of 10 essentials and bring those items on every hike. Prepare for your hike by doing the following:

Colden Caretaker Report (01/13): 11 inches of snow has accumulated at the Colden Caretaker cabin. 16 inches of snow has accumulated on summits. Snowshoes are needed, including to get to Avalanche Lake. The Marcy Dam truck trail is skiable with some thin sections. Snowpack on the Van Hoevenberg trail to Adirondack Loj is very thin but is skiable. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen.

Bring Winter Gear: Winter conditions are present at all elevations, with deep snow and thick ice at higher elevations. Bring traction devices, such as microspikes and crampons, on all hikes. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are required where snow has accumulated to a depth of 8 inches or more. Use crampons for safe travel on thick ice.

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits, with below freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and strong winds possible. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

Research Your Hike: Research a variety of hikes and pick one that is appropriate for the physical abilities and experience of every person in your group. Estimate how long the hike will take and make a realistic timeline - remember that it takes longer to move through snow and over ice. Using reliable sources, research the route. Double check your route on a map and bring a paper map with you. Research trailhead parking. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who will notice if you do not return on time.

Plan and Practice Navigation: Winter conditions can make navigating trails - especially lesser-used trails - more difficult. Plan and study your route using an up-to-date map published by a reliable source before you begin your hike. Take note of significant landmarks and trail intersections. Leave your planned route with a trusted friend or relative. While hiking, pay close attention to posted signage and check your map at trail intersections to confirm you are on the correct path.

Have a Back-up Plan: The Adirondacks is a popular destination with limited parking in most places. Well-known trails get crowded and parking spots fill up quickly and early. Have several backup plans. If you arrive at your desired location and cannot find parking, move on to back-up locations until you find a place with safe, legal parking.

Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers and wearing or bringing additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, mittens, and extra socks. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Learn more about layering for your hike from DEC Forest Rangers in a DEC Facebook video (leaves DEC website).

Manage your time wisely: Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours and always bring a headlamp.

Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp or flashlight on every hike. Bring extra batteries and a back-up source of light. Even if you plan to be done before sunset, bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Don't rely on your phone's flashlight. Using your phone's flashlight will drain the battery quickly.

Stick to Designated Trails: Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud and snow, not around it, to protect trail edges. Use traction devices when you encounter ice

Use of Drones in the Adirondacks

Both commercial and hobbyist use of drones on Forest Preserve lands is prohibited in areas classified as Wilderness, Primitive, Primitive Bicycle Corridors, or Canoe Areas.

Hobbyist use is allowed, and commercial use may be allowed with an approved temporary revocable permit (TRP), on lands classified as Wild Forest and on the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor.

For information on hobbyist and commercial drone use on conservation easement lands contact the DEC Lands and Forests office nearest the easement property. Lands and Forests staff will, in consultation with the easement landowner, determine if such use is prohibited by the terms of the easement or whether the use of drones conflicts with the existing use(s) of the land.

Learn how to Leave No Trace while using drones and other important information about using drones.

Specific Notices

Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages for the most up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

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.