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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Updated: May 6, 2021

Map of showing the High Peaks 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 (leaves DEC website). 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.

General Conditions

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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Adirondack Recreation Resources (May 6, 2021)

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.

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

Early Season Muddy Trails Advisory: DEC has released an early season muddy trails advisory urging hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. As snow and ice continue to melt at high elevations, steep trails can pose a danger due to thick ice and deep, rotten snow. Thin soils are susceptible to erosion and sensitive alpine vegetation can be easily damaged.

Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Check the full list of route closures.

Avoid Hypothermia: Hypothermia is the result of your body losing heat faster than it can produce it. To prevent hypothermia, keep yourself dry and warm, drink plenty of water, and eat high-calorie, high-protein foods to help maintain your energy. Dress in layers and add and remove layers as necessary to keep yourself warm without sweating. As sweat dries it cools, creating ideal conditions for hypothermia.

Water Levels: Streams and rivers are open and many are running high. Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast-flowing brooks and rivers. Where bridges are not available, do not attempt stream crossings during periods of high, fast moving water. The stream water is very cold and falling in can lead to immediate hypothermia.

Seasonal Access Roads: Many seasonal access roads that have been closed for the winter season will remain closed until the end of spring mud season.

Bear Canisters Required: NYSDEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 And November 30. NYSDEC encourages campers to use bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack backcountry. Bear canisters should be used to store all food, food garbage, toiletries, and other items with a scent. Canisters should be stored a minimum of 100ft from tents, lean-tos, and cooking sites, and kept closed whenever they are not being accessed. Learn more about bear canisters and avoiding human-bear conflicts.

Ticks: Ticks are already becoming a concern this time of year. Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily. Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors. Consider using insect repellent. Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails and walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. Additional tips for tick prevention (leaves DEC website).

Fire Danger: Fire danger in the Adirondack Park and Champlain Region is low. Brush burning is prohibited across New York State until May 14. Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Ashes should be cool to the touch. Learn more about campfire safety.

Review Regulations: Take a moment to review the rules and regulations for the High Peaks Wilderness, provided below.

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

Hiking Information

Be prepared, bring the right gear, and wear the right clothes and shoes to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. Review Hike Smart NY's list of 10 essentials and bring those items on every hike. Prepare for your hike by doing the following:

Snow Advisory (04/22): On Wednesday, April 21, 5 to 6 inches of snow accumulated at low elevations in the region. Hikers should expect over a foot of new snow accumulation on top of the 2 to 3 feet of existing snow pack at higher elevations. Be prepared for winter conditions and expect poor trail conditions this weekend.

Bring Winter Gear: Winter conditions, including deep snow and thick ice, are still present at higher elevations. Bring traction devices, such as microspikes and crampons, on all hikes. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are required where snow has accumulated to a depth of 8 inches or more. Use crampons for safe travel on thick ice.

Prepare for Variable Conditions: Warm, wet conditions at base elevations will give way to freezing temperatures, deep snow, and thick ice at higher elevations. Be prepared for all conditions with appropriate gear and extra clothing. Change out of wet clothes to prevent hypothermia. Temperatures will fluctuate throughout the day. Freezing temperatures at night will create more ice and form a hard crust on deep snow.

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits, with freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and strong winds. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

Research Your Hike: Research a variety of hikes and pick one that is appropriate for the physical abilities and experience of every person in your group. Estimate how long the hike will take and make a realistic timeline - remember that it takes longer to move through snow and over ice. Using reliable sources, research the route. Double check your route on a map and bring a paper map with you. Research trailhead parking. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who will notice if you do not return on time.

Hiking at AMR: DEC and AMR have launched a pilot reservation system developed in partnership to provide reliable access and address public safety along a particularly crowded stretch of Route 73 near Ausable Road. The reservation system, operated by AMR, will facilitate safer public access to trailheads through the AMR gate as well as for the Noonmark and Round mountain trailheads accessed through AMR lands and improve visitors' trip planning and preparation by ensuring they have guaranteed parking upon arrival. Reservations will be required for parking, daily access and overnight access, including for individuals getting dropped off/picked up and arriving on bicycle, from May 1 through October 31. Walk-ins are not permitted. Users arriving by Greyhound or Trailways bus lines can produce a valid ticket from within the last 24-hours arriving in Keene in lieu of a reservation. Visitors can make reservations now for hikes through May 22. Beginning May 7, reservations will be available for dates a maximum of two weeks out. For a complete FAQ list, please visit the Hike Adirondack Mountain Reserve website.

Plan and Practice Navigation: Winter conditions can make navigating trails - especially lesser-used trails - more difficult. Plan and study your route using an up-to-date map published by a reliable source before you begin your hike. Take note of significant landmarks and trail intersections. Leave your planned route with a trusted friend or relative. While hiking, pay close attention to posted signage and check your map at trail intersections to confirm you are on the correct path.

Have a Back-up Plan: The Adirondacks is a popular destination with limited parking in most places. Well-known trails get crowded and parking spots fill up quickly and early. Have several backup plans. If you arrive at your desired location and cannot find parking, move on to back-up locations until you find a place with safe, legal parking.

Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers and wearing or bringing additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, mittens, and extra socks. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Learn more about layering for your hike from DEC Forest Rangers in a DEC Facebook video (leaves DEC website).

Manage your time wisely: Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours and always bring a headlamp.

Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp or flashlight on every hike. Bring extra batteries and a back-up source of light. Even if you plan to be done before sunset, bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Don't rely on your phone's flashlight. Using your phone's flashlight will drain the battery quickly.

Stick to Designated Trails: Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud and snow, not around it, to protect trail edges. Use traction devices when you encounter ice

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for important general notices and 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

Adirondack Canoe Route/Northern Forest Canoe Trail

  • The Adirondack Canoe Route is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) (leaves DEC website) which links the waterways of New York, Vermont, Québec, New Hampshire and Maine.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve Conservation Easement Tract (AMR/Ausable Club)

  • The Adirondack Mountain Reserve Conservation Easement Tract webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Beginning May 1 through October 31, 2021, reservations will be required for parking in the AMR lot as well as daily access and overnight access to the AMR trailhead and Noomark and Round mountain trailheads accessed through AMR. This includes individuals getting dropped off/picked up and arriving on bicycle. Walk-ins are not permitted. Users arriving by Greyhound or Trailways bus lines can produce a valid ticket from within the last 24-hours arriving in Keene in lieu of a reservation. Reservations can be made starting April 15 as early as two weeks in advance at hikeamr.org.
  • Rules specific to this property include no camping, no dogs, no drones, and no off-trail travel.
  • Indian Head via Gill Brook Trail contains a few smaller trees blocking the trail. (5/21)
  • The easement agreement provides for public hiking only on designated trails and roads. Do not trespass on AMR lands and waters or participate in any unauthorized activities. (2020)
  • Dogs are prohibited. (2020)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds Tract webpage provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area.
  • The Blue Ridge Parking Lot for access to Gulf Brook Road will not be plowed this winter season.
  • Boreas Road - which DEC opens during hunting season - cannot be accessed during this year's hunting season due to the damage and closure of the Gulf Brook Road. (10/1)
  • Gulf Brook Road, which provides access to the Boreas Ponds, remains closed to public motor vehicle use at this time due to washouts caused by the 2019 Halloween storm. DEC has repaired several ditches and culverts to date. Additional roadwork is still required to ensure the road is resilient to damage from future storms. Construction is coming to an end for this season but the road will remain open for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, skiing, and snowshoeing. Visitors can park at the Blue Ridge Parking Lot.
  • Management of the Boreas Ponds Tract is defined by the 2018 High Peaks Wilderness UMP Amendment and the 2018 Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest UMP Amendment. The amendments describe the management, access, and public recreational opportunities available for the lands and waters on this tract of land. (2018)

High Peaks Wilderness

  • The High Peaks Wilderness webpage provides information about the area, its recreational opportunities, and the special regulations that serve to protect the natural resource of the wilderness and the experience of those who visit.
  • The gate on Corey's Road is now open (4/30)
  • The High Peaks Trail Crew was able to replace the missing sign at the junction of Blue Ridge Rd and Tahawus Rd, providing direction for those heading to the Southern High Peaks access points. The original sign had been vandalized this summer. Thanks to the NYS DEC Sign Shop for the new sign and the High Peaks Trail Crew for installing it before the deep frost hit.
  • South Meadows Road is closed to public vehicle traffic for the winter season. Users may still walk, ski, and snowshoe the road. (12/3)
  • The high-water crossing footbridge over Phelps Brook on the VanHo Trail to Mt. Marcy just above Marcy Dam came to the end of its service life and was removed by DEC. When Phelps Brook is running high and the low water crossing is unsafe, hikers can use the newly developed Phelps Brook Lean-to Trail between the South Meadow (aka Marcy Dam Truck) Trail (0.5 mile north of Marcy Dam) and the Van Ho Trail (above the crossing). The trail is marked with red Foot Trail markers. (10/8)
  • The two trails on the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract which provide access to the Dix Mountain, Mt. Marcy, and the Colvin Range will close to public use on October 16 and will remain closed through Northern Zone Big Game Hunting Season. (10/8)
  • Protecting the Uniqueness of the High Peaks: The Adirondacks contain some of New York's rarest plants. They are found in tundra-like habitats resembling those of the Arctic. This condition is encountered on the State's highest peaks and the total area covered by alpine vegetation approximates 40 acres on 19 peaks, 18 of which are in DEC's High Peaks Wilderness. To protect this ecosystem, DEC reminds visitors to the High Peaks Wilderness of the rules and recommendations in place that include but are not limited to: (2020)
    • No campfires in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
    • Group Size Maximums: Day Trip maximums are 15 people. Overnight maximums are 8 people. Permits for oversized groups are not available in the High Peaks Wilderness
    • No camping on summits
    • No camping above 3,500 feet (except at lean-to)
    • No camping in areas with "No Camping" signs present
    • Whenever possible, camp in designated sites. If necessary, at-large camping is permitted as long as campsites are at least 150 feet from any road, trail, water body, or waterway. Place your tent on a durable surface, such as hardened soil, leaf litter, or pine duff. Do not place your tent on vegetation.
    • Bear canisters are required for all overnight campers in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
    • Carry out what you carry in. Properly dispose of waste and pack out all gear and garbage. Do not leave waste at trailheads.
    • Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and at trailheads, campsites and above 4,000 feet everywhere else. If accessing the High Peaks from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) trailheads, dogs are not allowed on AMR property.
    • Bikes are prohibited
    • Drones are prohibited
    • ATVs are prohibited
    • No fixed anchors for climbing on Forest Preserve at this time
  • If you plan on hiking in the High Peaks, use 511NY (leaves DEC website) to check the status of parking lots along the busy Route 73 corridor. Have back-up plans in place and, if the parking lot at your desired destination is full, move on to your back-up plan. Status of parking lots is being updated throughout the day on weekend days by patrolling DEC Forest Rangers and Forest Ranger Assistants. (2020)
  • The Trap Dike route up Mount Colden is not a trail, it is rock climbing route. DEC Forest Rangers have had to rescue numerous people in recent weeks that have become stuck on the climb. (2020)
  • There continues to be high levels of nuisance black bear activity resulting in several incidents of campers losing food to the bears. Avoid losing your food and gear to a hungry bear by following these tips: (2020)
    • Store all food, trash, toiletries, and anything else with a scent in a bear resistant canister at least 100 feet from your tent, lean-to, or sleeping area.
    • Immediately secure the lid on your bear canister after adding or removing items.
    • Cook & eat at least two hours before dark in an open area. Never cook or eat in a tent, lean-to, or sleeping area.
    • If you see a bear, group up, raise and wave your arms, speak in a loud voice, make loud noises by banging pots or clapping, and warn others that there is a bear nearby.
    • Carry bear spray, keep it readily accessible on your person at all times, and know how to use it.
    • Report food and gear loss and close encounters to DEC.
    • Learn more about properly handling bear encounters.
  • DEC and other agencies will be enforcing the No Parking Zones along State Route 73. (2020)
  • Town of Keene's Garden Shuttle between Marcy Field Parking Lot and The Garden Shuttle is not operating. (2020)
  • The Town of Keene prohibits parking along Johns Brook, Market, and Adirondack Streets in Keene Valley. Violators will be towed.(2020)
  • The main span bridge in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail has failed. (2020)
    • Hikers will have to wade the river to get across - rock hopping is not possible as it is a swamp.
    • Be aware that during rain events the water level can fluctuate significantly.
  • Adirondack Mountain Reserve (aka Ausable Club) has reduced the parking capacity on its lot near the intersection of Ausable Road and State Route 73 to a maximum of 28 vehicles in response to COVID-19. Parking is not permitted along Ausable Road, on Ausable Club lands, or along the nearby stretches of State Route 73. (2020)
  • The new Van Hoevenberg East Trail cannot be accessed due to construction activity at the Olympic Sports Center. (2020)
  • In the Dix Mountain Area, Nippletop via Elk Pass Trail has a few mid-sized trees downed across the trail between Elk Pass and the summit of Nippletop. (5/21)
  • Three bridges were washed out on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail during the Halloween Storm. The three crossings will be hazardous except when water levels are low. (2020)
  • The Opalescent Bridge on the East River Trail to Allen Mountain and Hanging Spear Falls is washed out. (2020)
  • Calamity Trail has several bridges out. (2020)
  • Cold Brook Trail is not maintained. The trail has not been maintained since Tropical Storm Irene. (2020)
  • The trail to Little Porter Mountain from the Garden Trailhead is closed. The portion of the trail crossing private land has been closed to public use by the landowner. Trespassing on those lands is now prohibited. The summit of Little Porter Mountain can still be accessed from the Marcy Field Trailhead or the Cascade Mountain Trailhead. (2020)
  • Many of the herd paths found on Mount Marshall and some of the other trail-less peaks meander around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Those climbing these peaks should navigate with a map and compass rather than follow the paths created by others. (2020)
  • Fixed ropes, harnesses and other equipment are often abandoned in the Trap Dike. Due to the age, weatherizing and wearing of these materials they are unsafe and should never be used. The Trap Dike is not a designated hiking trail or maintained route. (2020)
  • Blueberry Horse Trail is passable to horses and riders, however, riders should take care near drainages and several stream crossings that will be muddy. DEC plans to improve the trail tread of this route in the future. (2020)
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. During low water conditions, crossing the brook is still possible. (2020)
  • The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses. (2020)
  • Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends. (2020)
  • There are 23 designated primitive campsites along Meadows Lane and the South Meadows Area. Camping is only allowed at designated campsites. As of October, 2020 the sites are numbered.

Dix Mountain Tract

  • The Dix Mountain Tract webpage provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area. This will be incorporated into the High Peaks Wilderness webpage in the near future.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Tract are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. (2020)
    • DEC will be changing signs, webpages, and regulations to transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • All regulations applicable to the High Peaks Wilderness are now in effect including, but not limited to:
      • Group size: Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
      • Glass Containers: Glass containers are prohibited.
    • Information about the former Dix Mountain Area may be found in the High Peaks Wilderness section above.

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • If you plan on hike Giant Mountain, use 511NY (leaves DEC website) to check the status of parking lots along the busy Route 73 corridor. Have back-up plans in place and, if the parking lot at your desired destination is full, move on to your back-up plan.

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Hurricane Mountain East Trail has a few small to mid-sized trees downed across the trail. (5/28)

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Jay Mountain Road is managed by the Town of Lewis and is a seasonal road. The road is not maintained from October - April, effectively closing it to public automobile use during that time.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Moose Pond Road is now open. (04/16)

Northville-Placid Trail

  • The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter (leaves DEC website) of the Adirondack Mountain Club provides the latest trail conditions and information for planning a hike on the trail - whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike.
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook has collapsed into the brook. The brook is passable during low water conditions. (2020)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Several sections of the Pitchoff Mountain Trail, including the segment to "Balanced Rocks", are severely eroded. These areas are challenging to navigate. Please use caution and turn back if it is too difficult for your party to safely cross. (2020)
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail. (2020)


More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: