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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.

Seasonal Notices and Information (September 12, 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 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).

Fall Foliage: Leaves have begun to change colors in the higher elevations.

Pilot Hiker Shuttle: Beginning Friday, September 13 through Columbus Day, Essex County will operate the Whiteface-Lake Placid Hiker Shuttle (leaves DEC website) providing free rides Friday through Sunday to and from four stops which access six family-friendly hiking trails. Shuttle schedule (leaves DEC website).

  • Whiteface Landing Trailhead;
  • Copperas Pond Trailhead;
  • Bear Den Mountain Trailhead; and
  • Whiteface Mountain Ski Lodge

Weather: Check the National Weather Service (leaves DEC website) or NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) for updated hazardous weather notices and current conditions and forecasts for the location where you plan to recreate.

Autumn Conditions have Arrived in the Adirondacks – Be Prepared:

  • The sun sets earlier – carry a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Temperatures are cooler - especially at night - dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing.
  • Rain showers are forecast this weekend – wear or pack a waterproof outer shell.
  • Those hiking to the higher summits should also pack a winter hat and gloves.
  • Always carry the following items on any hike or paddle:
    • Water
    • Map of the area
    • Food or snack

Biting Insects: Fewer mosquitoes are present but tick season continues until the ground freezes or is covered with snow. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects:

  • Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants.
  • Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks.
  • Use an insect repellant and follow label directions.
  • Additional tips for tick prevention. (leaves DEC website)

Hunting Seasons: Big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are open or will open soon.

  • 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.

Seasonal Access Roads:

  • Seasonal access roads typically remain open until the end of the northern zone regular big game hunting season unless snow or other conditions warrant an early closure.
  • Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravels roads that can be rough.
  • Roads may be narrow – use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.
  • Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads.

Fire Danger:

  • Low throughout the Adirondacks.
  • Check the Fire Danger Rating Map for more information determine and updates.

Report Moose Sightings:

  • DEC is asking the public to report moose sightings and observations.
  • DEC and its research partners use these public sightings as indices of moose distribution and abundance in New York.
  • This is part of a multi-year research project to obtain information on the status of New York State's moose population, health of the moose, and the factors that influence moose survival and reproductive rate.
  • Use the moose sighting form.

Hikers & Campers

General Information: Hiking and Camping

Trail Conditions:

  • Due to recent rains trails may be wet and muddy in low areas and along water.
    • Wear footwear suitable for hiking through wet and muddy areas.
    • Please protect trails and trailside vegetation – stay in the center of the trail and walk through mud and water, not around it.

Bear Resistant Canisters:

  • The use of bear-resistant canisters ensures campers don’t lose their food, prevents creating nuisance bears, and is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness until November 30.
  • All food, toiletries, and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.
  • DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters and other practices to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks.

Mountain Summits:

Bikers

General Information: Biking

Trail Conditions:

  • Due to recent rains trails may be wet and muddy in low areas and along water.
  • Please don’t ride on muddy trails, they are easily rutted and damaged through use - if you are leaving tracks, turn back.
  • The Barkeaters Trail Alliance (leaves DEC website) provides information on the status of mountain bike trails in the Tri-lakes region of the Adirondacks.

E-bikes: Electric powered bikes are prohibited on all bike trails on the Forest Preserve.

Boaters, Paddlers, and Anglers

General Information

Conditions:

  • Water levels in most rivers and streams are around the seasonal average.
  • Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters.
  • Water temperatures are cooling.
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters, and paddlers.

Climbers

Rock Climbing Route Closures: All Adirondack rock climbing routes are open.

  • DEC appreciates the cooperation and understanding of the climbing community during the closure period.
  • Rock climbers also volunteer to identify nesting pairs, nest sites, and observed nest sites until the young fledge.

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.