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Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks

Updated: February 25, 2021

Map of showing the Eastern Region of the Adirondacks

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. 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.

Keep Our Environment Clean

Help preserve the beauty of the Adirondacks and protect our local wildlife by putting garbage in designated trash cans when available or taking your garbage 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.

Drone Use

Drones are prohibited on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe Area. Before you launch your device, learn more about drone use on DEC lands.

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 to 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.

General Notices

WARNING: Backcountry conditions can change suddenly. All users should plan accordingly, including bringing flashlight, first aid equipment, extra food and clothing. Weather conditions may alter your plans; you should always be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods before entering the back country. Back country hiking trails can be rugged and rough-they are not maintained as park walkways-wear proper footwear!

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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.

Unstable Snowpack: Recent weather conditions have created unstable snowpack on open slopes. Practice safe travel when crossing exposed areas. Assess the stability of snowpack before back country skiing or hiking on open slides and faces. Be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions.

Prepare for Variable Conditions: Warm, wet conditions at base elevations will give way to below freezing temperatures and deep snow at higher elevations. Be prepared for all conditions with appropriate gear and extra clothing layers. Change out of wet clothes to prevent hypothermia.

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits, with below freezing temperatures, thick ice, deep snow, and strong winds. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures.
  • Check the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast (leaves DEC website) for updated notices and current conditions and forecasts. 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.
  • Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

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

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

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for Adirondack recreation resources, hiking resources, and other information which applies across the Adirondacks.

Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Ray Brook Dispatch at 518-891-0235.

Specific Notices

Hammond Pond Wild Forest

  • The Hammond Pond Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The Ensign Pond Parking Lot for access to Ensign Pond will not be plowed this winter season.
  • The bridge near the beginning of the Hammond Pond Trail washed out during the 2019 Halloween storm. It will be replaced in 2021. (5/21)

Lake George Wild Forest

  • The Lake George Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The gate at the beginning of Dacy Clearing Road is now open for snowmobile access. (2/11)
  • The Hague Brook Trail off Route 8 in the Town of Hague is currently closed to public use due to unsafe trail conditions along the riverbank. (11/19)
  • The Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway closed for the season on November 11. (11/12)
  • Palmer Pond access road is closed starting at the snowplow turnaround due to a failing culvert. Parking is allowed on the right (west) side of the road before the turnaround.
  • Due to washouts in Lily Pond Road, only four-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles should be used. (5/21)
  • Deer Leap Trail on Tongue Mountain is washed out and heavily cobbled with boulders from the trail head to the spur to Deer Leap, but is passable on foot. (2019)

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

  • The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.