Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: May 23, 2019

General Notices

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.

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!

Sign up for DEC Delivers

Enter email address:

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 Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

Route 73 Corridor: DEC is undertaking a multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism, and address public safety in the Adirondacks focused on the State Route 73 Corridor between Exit 30 of the Northway (I-87) and Lake Placid.

Changes to Parking on State Route 73: Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south). The parking prohibition supports DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.

Travel: Check NY511 for road closures and conditions (leaves DEC website).

Memorial Day Weekend:

  • Trailheads parking areas will fill early.
  • Expect to encounter many people on trails and waterways.
  • Plan accordingly and seek outdoor recreational opportunities in other less used areas of the Adirondacks.

Weather Forecast:

  • 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.

Spring in the Adirondacks:

  • Mud and water in the lower to middle elevations
  • Snow and ice remain present in the higher elevations.
  • Check spring recreation tips for a safe and enjoyable outing while minimizing impacts on natural resources and trails.

Thunderstorm Safety:

  • Avoid summits, water surfaces and other open areas during thunderstorms.
  • As soon as you are first aware of an approaching thunderstorm move to lower elevations, head to shore or otherwise seek shelter.
  • If caught outside in a thunderstorm find a low spot away from tall trees, seek an area of shorter trees and crouch down away from tree trunks.

Fire Danger: Low. The Fire Danger Rating can change daily in the spring, check the Fire Rating Map for daily updates.

Biting Insects: Black flies and mosquitoes have emerged heralding "Bug Season" in the Adirondacks. Follow these steps to minimize the nuisance of biting insects:

  • Wear light colored long sleeve shirts and long pants.
  • Tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks.
  • Pack a head net to wear when insects are thick.
  • Use an insect repellant with DEET, follow label directions.

Water Levels: Rains and melting snow are keeping water levels in rivers and streams high and flowing fast. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters

Water Temperatures: Water temperatures are cold.

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) (aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters, and paddlers.
  • People immersed in cold waters can lose the ability to think clearly and move quickly after only a short time in the water.
  • Anglers fishing from shore or wading should wear a PFD.

Hikers & Campers

General Information: Hiking and Camping

Muddy Trail Advisory: DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory

  • Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened.
  • Snow and ice are currently melting on high elevation trails.
  • Steep trails with thin soils can be dangerous to hike and are susceptible to erosion; and sensitive alpine vegetation is easily damaged.
  • Choose any of the numerous trails under 2,500 feet to hike until the advisory is lifted.

Trail Conditions:

  • Mud and water are present on most all trails - protect trails and trailside vegetation by walking through mud and water not around it.
  • Monorails of ice and compacted snow may be present on some trails - use crampons and walk on the monorails not on trailside vegetation.
  • Water levels are high. Low water crossings may be problematic or impossible to cross.

Bear Resistant Canisters:

  • The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30.
  • All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.
  • DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters and other practices to avoid negative encounters with bears throughout the Adirondacks.

Mountain Summits: Please avoid high elevation summits while the Muddy Trail Advisory is in effect.

Anglers

General Information on Fishing

  • Wear proper footwear and use a hiking stick with a carbide tip to access the water.
  • Water temperatures are extremely cold.
    • Anglers should wear a personal flotation device (PFD aka life jacket) as a precaution.
    • A person falling into the water could quickly lose the ability to keep their head above water.
  • Anglers new to brook trout fishing should look to the Guide to Brook Trout Fishing in Adirondack Ponds for assistance.
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 (AMR) (aka Ausable Club)

  • The Adirondack Mountain Reserve web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation: (5/23)
    • Hike through mud not around it.
    • Use crampons and walk on the monorails of ice and compacted snow - not on trailside vegetation.
  • Parking is prohibited along the Ausable Club Road and at the trailhead. (2019)
  • 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. (2019)
  • Dogs are prohibited. (2019)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds Tract web page provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area.
  • DEC will be working in June and July to provide additional access and recreational infrastructure on the Boreas Ponds Tract. (5/23)
    • Gulf Brook Road will remain closed through the Memorial Day holiday weekend due to a significant washout on the road.
    • When the road opens motorists will be able to access the Fly Pond Parking Area on weekends only.
    • Hikers, bicyclist, and horseback riders will be able to use the road during the week but must use caution in construction areas and obey all instructions from workers.
  • 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

  • Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR): DEC Forest Rangers and Assistant Forest Rangers will continue this pilot initiative this weekend to reduce the number of incidents in the Adirondack High Peaks region and help to ensure the public has an enjoyable and safe outdoor experience. (5/23)
    • They will be present at the following locations:
      • Marcy Field Parking Area/Shuttle Stop
      • Adirondak Loj Trailhead Parking Area
    • This is part of DEC's multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondack region.
  • DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory. Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. (5/23)
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation - hike through mud, not around it. (5/23)
  • Corey's Road is open for public motor vehicle use. (5/16)
  • The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is open. The road is open to the Elk Lake Trailheads. (5/16)
  • Gulf Brook Road remains closed for mud season. (5/16)
  • South Meadow Lane is open for public motor vehicle use. (5/9)
  • Garden Trailhead Parking Lot is Closed (2019)
    • Hikers can access the Garden Trailhead using the Town of Keene's Shuttle from Marcy Field.
      • Currently the shuttle will only operate on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
      • The Town of Keene (leaves DEC website) will post the shuttle schedule and additional information.
      • The shuttle will utilize an alternate route across private property.
      • The public is prohibited from walking, biking, or driving on the alternate route.
    • When the shuttle is not operating, hikers are encouraged to hike other trails in the area.
  • The roadway on the Bradley Pond Trail has been washed out by the Harkness Lake Outlet approximately a half mile from the parking lot. Hikers will be unable to cross the outlet when water levels are high. (5/23)
  • The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13) DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks. (2019)
  • 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. (2019)
  • Marcy Dam #4 Lean-to has been removed. (2019)
    • A new Phelps Brook Lean-to has been installed off the Marcy Truck Trail.
    • The lean-to was built by students from the Franklin-Essex-Clinton Counties BOCES Natural Resource Science Program.
    • The students and volunteers from Lean2Rescue assembled the new lean-to.
    • Follows signs from the bridge below Marcy Dam to the new lean-to.
  • 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. (2019)
  • DEC with the assistance of NY State Police Aviation Unit airlifted 55 bags of stone to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg. (2019)
    • These stones will be used to help stabilize the summit ledge viewing area from wind, rain, and hiking erosion.
    • DEC and partners will undertake the stone work in the spring.
    • Please stay off the piles and enjoy the views if you hike the summit this winter
  • Cedar Point Lean-to has been repaired and relocated by Lean2Rescue volunteers. The lean-to is now located on southeastern shore of Lake Colden, off the trail about .2 miles from the Opalescent River. Camping is prohibited at the former lean-to site. (2018)
  • A primitive campsite with two tent pads has been developed in the Slide Brook Area south of Dix Mountain by volunteers from NOLS Northeast Adirondack Service Expedition. The site is west of the trail just before the crossing of slide brook. (2018)
  • Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail. (2018)
  • Bradley Pond Lean-to has a 3ft by 6ft hole in the roof. The lean-to can still be used but should be avoided if it's raining. DEC is developing a temporary fix for the 2018 season and will fully repair the roof during the off season. (2018)
  • Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and is not maintained. The trail has not been a designated trail since Tropical Storm Irene. (2018)
  • 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. (2018)
  • 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. (2016)
  • 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. (2013)
  • 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. (2012)
  • The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses. (2011)

Dix Mountain Area

  • The Dix Mountain Area web page provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area. This will be incorporated into the High Peaks Wilderness web page in the near future.
  • The lands of the Dix Mountain Area are now part of the Eastern Zone of High Peaks Wilderness. (2019)
    • DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • All regulations applicable to the Eastern Zone 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.
      • Bear Resistant Canisters: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13)
      • Glass Containers: Glass containers are prohibited.
    • Information about the former Dix Mountain Lands may be found in the High Peaks Wilderness section above.

Giant Mountain Wilderness

  • The Giant Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory. Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. (5/23)
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation, hike through mud - not around it. (5/23)
  • All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to protect nesting peregrine falcon. (4/26)
  • All rock climbing routes on Upper Washbowl Cliffs are open. (4/26)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory. Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. (5/23)
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation, hike through mud - not around it. (5/23)

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory. Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. (5/23)
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation, hike through mud - not around it. (5/23)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory. Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. (5/23)
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation, hike through mud - not around it. (5/23)

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.

  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation hike through mud - not around it. (5/23)
  • The bridge over Ouluska Brook has collapsed into the brook. The brook is passable during low water conditions. (2018)

Sentinel Range Wilderness

  • The Sentinel Range Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • DEC has issued the annual Spring Muddy Trail Advisory. Please protect high elevation trails and vegetation and postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until these high elevation trails have dried and hardened. (5/23)
  • Be prepared for all conditions to protect trails and trailside vegetation, hike through mud - not around it. (5/23)
  • 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. (2018)
  • Beaver activity has flooded some parts of the Jack Rabbit Trail. (2017)

More about Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region: