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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 (March 22, 2019)

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC's 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

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the current National Weather Service (NWS) 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 Winter Storm Warnings for all the Adirondacks except for the Champlain Valley through noon Saturday.
  • A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
  • Significant amount of heavy, wet snow is possible.
  • Total snow accumulations of range from 6 to 16 inches throughout the watch areas with locally higher amounts possible.
  • Strong winds are associated with the storm could gust up to 35 mph on Friday night
  • High winds may lead to scattered tree damage and isolated power outages.
  • Travel could be very difficult to hazardous and may impact the morning and evening commutes on Friday.
  • Check the National Weather Service (leaves DEC website) for the current conditions, forecasts, and the specific Winter Storm Watch information for the location where you live, plan to travel, and plan to recreate.
  • Check NY511 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).
  • Governor's Press Release on Winter Storm

High Elevations/Mountain Summits: Snow accumulations will be much greater in the higher elevations and winds will be stronger. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC website) for selected summits.

Winter Conditions in the Adirondacks: While spring may have arrived on the calendar, and spring conditions may be present in areas to the south, winter conditions remain present across the Adirondacks. Snow depths will be deeper this weekend after the winter storm has gone through.

Snow: Currently most of the Adirondacks has snow depths ranging from 12 to 30 inches.

  • There is little to no snow in the in the northwestern and northeastern corners of the Adirondacks.
  • Most of the Adirondacks is forecast to receive 6 to 12 inches of new snow through Saturday morning
  • The very eastern Adirondacks are forecast to receive 2-4 inches of snow with more in the higher elevations.
  • Snow is deeper in the higher elevations; snow is 7 to 8 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.

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.

Be Prepared for Winter Conditions:

  • ALWAYS carry a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Avoid hypothermia:
    • Wear boots and gaiters.
    • Dress properly, stay dry, and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature.
      • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing
      • Wear hat and gloves.
    • Carry plenty of food and water.
    • Eat, drink and rest often.
    • Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips. (leaves DEC website)

Ice on Waterbodies:

  • Lakes and ponds remain frozen with up to 2 feet of ice.
  • Water and slush will present on the surface of ice on most waterbodies.
  • 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.

Hikers/Skiers/Snowshoers

General Information on Hiking

General Information on Skiing and Snowshoeing

Trail Conditions:

  • Fresh snow will be present on all trails, most trails will have deep snow.
  • In the lower elevations of the eastern portion of the Adirondacks shallow snow may cover ice on trails.
  • Snowshoes should be used on all hikes except in the very eastern Adirondacks where trail crampons may be needed.
  • The use of snowshoes:
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry snowshoes, trail crampons, and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use whichever is warranted for conditions.
  • Traveling through snow takes more time and energy than hiking on bare ground - especially when breaking trail through deep, freshly fallen snow.
  • Blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails. Plan for hikes to take longer.

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.

Snowmobilers

General Information on Snowmobiling

Trails: Fresh snow will be present on all trails - most trails will have deep snow.

  • Snow depths will be shallow in the eastern portion of the Adirondacks.
  • 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:

Ice Anglers

General Information on Ice Fishing

Ice Shanties: Ice fishing shanties can be taken on and off the ice when in use, but cannot be left empty on the ice.

Safety: Be safe on ice.

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.