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Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks

Map of showing the Eastern Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: March 15, 2018

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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Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information for important general notices and information which apply across the Adirondacks.

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

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, forecasts, and snow depths.

Winter Conditions: There are 6 to 20 inches of snow on the ground with deeper snow in the higher elevations. Below freezing temperatures are forecast through the weekend with night time lows dropping into the low teens and single digits. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for current snow information.

Be Prepared for Conditions

  • Be prepared for cold weather and snow to avoid hypothermia, wear:
    • Water proof upper and lower outer shell
    • Waterproof footwear
    • Layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing (not cotton!)
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. (link leaves DEC's website)

Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow and snow depths warrant the use of snowshoes

Ice on Trails:

  • Thick ice is present on high elevation trails especially on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas.
  • The thick ice may be covered by snow.
  • Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you are planning to travel up trails to mountain summits and use when warranted
  • Trail crampons are ineffective.

Snowmobile Trails: Deeps snows are providing great late season snowmobiling opportunities. Many gates and snowmobile trail systems previously closed have been reopened with the recent snows. Check local conditions before going out. Be safe when snowmobiling. (link leaves DEC's website)

River and Streams: Large areas of ice over moving water are gone or have thinned considerably.

  • All ice is covered with snow. Ice that holds the weight of snow may not hold the weight of a person, snowmobile, or ATV.
  • Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow - If you don't know, don't go.
  • Use extreme caution at all stream crossings, as rocks are covered with ice.

Ice on Lakes and Ponds: Ice is has thinned on lakes and ponds especially over river channels and other moving water. Be safe on ice.

  • DEC has received and responded to numerous reports of motorized vehicles falling through ice.
  • Water and slush are present below the snow on the surface of the ice.
  • Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow - If you don't know, don't go.
  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid and stay well away from ice:
    • Over running water
    • Near inlets & outlets
    • 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, snowmobile or ATV.

Mountain Summits: Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead.

  • Temperatures will be colder
  • Winds will be stronger
  • Ice will be present
  • Snow will be deeper - much deeper on high elevation summits.

Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leave DEC website) for selected summits.

Daylight: Days are lengthening but always carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

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

Specific Notices

Hammond Pond Wild Forest

  • The Hammond Pond Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC and the town of Horicon have completed paving the Brant Lake Boat Launch. (2017)

Lake George Wild Forest

  • The Town of Fort Ann has closed Shelving Rock Road for mud season. Parking along the road before the gate is prohibited. During this period there is no access to (3/9)
    • Hogtown
    • Sleeping Beauty
    • Buck Mountain (east trail head)
    • Shelving Rock
    • Dacy Clearing,
    • Log Bay
    • Shelving Rock Day Use Area
    • Shelving Rock Falls.
    • Buck Mountain from Pilot Knob and Inman Pond are still open
  • South Warren Snowmobile Trail System trail maps and trail conditions (leaves DEC website). (2018)
  • North Warren Snowmobile Trail System trail maps and trail conditions (leaves DEC website) (2018)
  • The trail between Prospect Mountain and Viele Pond Road is closed due to a private land closure. (2018)
  • DEC crews have dismantled and removed the Thomas Mountain Cabin. Crews will return in the spring to rake and complete clean up of the site. The cabin was removed because it did not comply with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and was not compatible with the Forest Preserve. Additionally, vandals had started misusing the cabin, such that it had become an attractive nuisance. (2018)
  • Cross-country skiing trails at Rogers Rock are opened and groomed. (2018)
  • Trails on Cat & Thomas Mountains are marked with Lake George Land Conservancy markers. Obtain a map from Conservancy before hiking this trail system. (2016)
  • Heavy blowdown is present above 1,200 feet on Erebus Mountain Trail, Fishbrook Pond to Lake George Trail and other lesser used trails in the area. (2015)
  • 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. (2014)
  • Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. (2010)
  • The Hudson River Special Management Area contains campsites, trails and day use areas., including ADA accessible facilities.
  • The Shelving Rock Area contains campsites, trails, and day use areas.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

  • The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • DEC staff have completed construction of a 15-vehicle parking area near along Pharaoh Lake Road near the intersection with Beaver Pond Road. (2017)
  • A new bridge over the Pharaoh Lake Outlet (and dam) was installed by Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program crews. (2017)

Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest

More about Backcountry Information for the Eastern Adirondacks: