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Backcountry Information for the Northeastern Adirondacks

Updated: March 15, 2018

Map of showing the Northeastern Region of the Adirondacks

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 10 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

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest

  • Gates on the snowmobile access trail in the nearby Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area in Rouses Point have been open to provide access to Catfish Bay and Kings Bay on Lake Champlain. (2018)

Lake Champlain Islands

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands

  • The Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Snowmobiling is allowed on Wolf Pond Road and Liberty Road only. All other roads in the easement are closed to snowmobile use. This includes Goat Path Road, Piney Ridge Road, and D&H Road which are being used by logging trucks. (2018)
  • The gate on Barnes Pond Road is closed and road is closed to public motor vehicle use until the opening of the big game season. (2018)

Taylor Pond Complex (Taylor Pond Wild Forest, Terry Mountain State Forest, Burnt Hill State Forest, Franklin Falls Easement Tract, Shell Rock Easement Tract, and Black Brook Easement Tract)

  • The Taylor Pond Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) (leaves DEC website) links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine and follows the Saranac River through this area.
  • The gate on Redd Road in Terry Mountain State Forest is locked and the road is closed due to icy conditions. (2/23)
  • The road under the rail trestle in the Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area has been closed due to flooding. (2/22)
  • Rehabilitation of lower half of the Ranger Trail on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain had been completed by Tahawus Trails LLC under contract with the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine (leaves DEC's website) and oversight of DEC. The Adirondack Mountain Club Professional Trail Crew will be working on the reroute of the upper half of the trail this Fall. (2017)

Wilmington Wild Forest

  • The Wilmington Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • A small section of the Whiteface Mountain Trail just above the junction with the Whiteface Highway (Wilmington Turn) has been rerouted to avoid the hazard created by variable ice conditions and the "rock cut" of the highway. (1/18)
  • More than 1.5 miles of bike trails, including a new loop opportunity, have been added to the Beaver Brook Trail Network. (2017)
  • Whiteface Landing Trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The new trail route starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property and stay on the trail. (2016)
  • The outlet of Cooper Kill Pond is flooded by beaver activity. (2009)