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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Updated: September 22, 2022

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

General Notices

The Welcome to the Adirondacks webpage provides information about the Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands, outdoor recreation opportunities, and Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website). Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for Adirondack recreation resources, hiking resources, and other information which applies across the Adirondacks.

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 backcountry. Backcountry hiking trails can be rugged and rough-they are not maintained as park walkways-wear proper footwear!

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.

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Adirondack Recreation Resources (September 22, 2022)

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 Dispatch, 833-NYS-RANGERS (833-697-7264).

@NYSDECAlerts: Follow @NYSDECAlerts on Twitter for real-time updates to help you prepare.

Travel: Check 511NY (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions. Take the Route 73 Hiker Shuttle from Marcy Field to Rooster Comb, Giant Mountain Ridge Trail, or Roaring Brook Falls. Learn more about hiker shuttles.

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. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures and remember that temperatures will drop as you gain elevation.

Know Before You Go (09/22):

  • Temperatures: Forecasts are calling for cool temperatures moving into the High Peaks this weekend. Highs during the day are expected to range from 50 to low-60s, while the nighttime lows will range from the mid-30s to high 40s. Showers are expected to move into the region toward the end of the day Sunday. Weather changes quickly in the mountains, particularly as we approach the fall season. Carry extra layers, rain gear, and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions.
  • Water crossings: Never attempt to cross high, fast-moving water, especially following rain or storms.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 6:42 a.m.; Sunset = 6:53 p.m. Make a timeline and stick to it. Pack a headlamp even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset.
  • Travel: Expect trails to be busy. Plan on arriving at your destination early and have several back-up plans in place in case parking at your desired location is full. Check @NYSDECAlerts on Twitter for real-time updates on parking lot status. Consider taking a shuttle (more information below).

Fire Danger: As of 09/22, fire danger is low for the Adirondacks. Check the fire rating map. Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Ashes should be cool to the touch. Learn more about campfire safety.

Water Conditions: Water levels throughout the Adirondack region are wide ranging from below average to extremely high for this time of year depending on the body of water.Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn.

Ticks: 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).

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.

No Overnight Camping at Trailheads: Please note that overnight camping is not permitted at trailheads or other roadside locations where a camping disc is not present. This includes individuals sleeping in cars, vans and campers. Campers should seek out designated roadside campsites marked with a camp here disc or campgrounds.

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.

Hiker Shuttles

Route 73 Hiker Shuttle: The Route 73 Hiker Shuttle runs from 7am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays through Columbus Day. Riders can park and depart from Marcy Field in the town of Keene and be dropped off at the Rooster Comb, Giant Mountain Ridge Trail, and Roaring Brook Falls trailheads. The shuttle is free of charge and available on a first come, first serve basis. Masks are recommended. Only certified service animals are permitted. Find more information in the full press release. Check the map and schedule.

October Foliage Shuttle: Experience fall foliage hikes and views without the hassle of driving and parking. No-cost shuttles will run on Oct. 1 and 2 and again over Indigenous Peoples'/Columbus Day weekend on Oct. 8, 9, and 10 from the Frontier Town Gateway to the Giant Mountain, Roaring Brook Falls, and Rooster Comb trailheads and the Marcy Field Parking Area. These are the same drop-off locations currently offered by the Route 73 Hiker Shuttle from Marcy Field, but from an alternate starting point. The gateway shuttle stop is also conveniently located near the DEC Frontier Town Campground, Equestrian and Day Use Area.

The October shuttle will operate in a loop from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Seating is available on a first-come first-served basis. Dogs are not permitted on the shuttle and masks are recommended.

Garden Shuttle: The town of Keene shuttle from Marcy Field to the Garden Trailhead is also in operation Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 7pm.

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:

Hiker Information Stations: DEC's Adirondack Hiker Information Stations are operating every weekend now until Columbus Day. Stop by a Hiker Information Station ahead of your weekend hiking trip for information about parking, alternative hiking locations, local land use rules and regulations, safety and preparedness, and Leave No TraceTM. Please visit us at the following locations:

  • Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Holiday Monday:
    • High Peaks Rest Area, Northbound on Route 87, starting at 7 a.m.
  • Other Stations this Weekend:
    • Marcy Field, Keene Valley, starting at 7 a.m.
    • The Garden Trailhead, Keene Valley, starting at 7 a.m.

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. 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. Remember that temperatures will likely decrease as you gain elevation.

Pack & Prepare: Spring hiking can be lots of fun, but it can also be dangerous if you're not prepared. Preparation for a spring hike can look a lot like preparing for a winter hike. Take a moment to watch DEC's How To Pack and Prepare for a Winter Hike (leaves DEC website) video for a review of what gear to pack and the steps to take as you plan your hike.

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. Using reliable sources, research the route. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who can report you missing if you do not return on time.

Hiking at AMR: The 2022 season of the Pilot Parking Reservation System at AMR will begin May 1, 2022. Parking reservations are required for all visitors to AMR. A reservation is needed to access trails through the AMR gate as well as the Noonmark and Round Mountain trailheads located on AMR property. Visitors can begin making no-cost reservations on April 17 (leaves DEC website) on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve website. Reservations can be made as early as two weeks in advance up until 12 hours in advance of arrival. Until May 1, parking is available on a first come, first served basis. This reservation system only pertains to the AMR Conservation Easement. Parking at trailheads on State land are available on a first come, first serve basis. See a map of the area (PDF) and find additional information in a list of frequently asked questions (PDF).

Plan and Practice Navigation: 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, insulating layers, and waterproof, windproof outer layers. Gaiters can help keep your lower legs dry. Bring additional layers. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in.

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. Set a turnaround time and stick to it.

Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp on every hike. Bring extra batteries and a back-up headlamp or alternate 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.

Trap Dike: The Trap Dike route up Mount Colden in the High Peaks Region is not an official trail. This route is classified as a rock-climbing route and preparation and safety should be planned specifically for this type of activity. This route should be avoided by those who do not have rock climbing experience and equipment like a climbing rope and helmet. Without the proper equipment, this route can be life threatening.

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.
  • Participate in a public comment period regarding the AMR reservation system by visiting the Adirondack Mountain Reserve Conservation Easement Tract webpage.
  • The 2022 season of the Pilot Parking Reservation System at AMR will begin May 1, 2022. Parking reservations are required for all visitors to AMR. A reservation is needed to access trails through the AMR gate as well as the Noonmark and Round Mountain trailheads located on AMR property. Visitors can begin making no-cost reservations on April 17 on the Adirondack Mountain Reserve website. Reservations can be made as early as two weeks in advance up until 12 hours in advance of arrival. Until May 1, parking is available on a first come, first served basis. This reservation system only pertains to the AMR Conservation Easement. Parking at trailheads on State land are available on a first come, first serve basis. See a map of the area (PDF) and find additional information in a list of frequently asked questions (PDF). (03/22)
  • Rules specific to this property include no camping, no dogs, no drones, and no off-trail travel.
  • 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)

Boreas Ponds Tract

  • The Boreas Ponds Tract webpage provides information about the area and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the area.
  • On Tuesday, September 5, work will begin on a temporary bridge over LaBier Dam that will restore motor vehicle access to the Four Corners Parking Area on Gulf Brook Road. To prepare the work site, the pedestrian bridge currently in place over the dam will be removed starting Thursday, September 1. This will temporarily prevent all access beyond LaBier Dam for both motorists and pedestrians. Motor vehicle and pedestrian access will remain open as far as the Fly Pond Parking Area. Visitors should use caution on Gulf Brook Road due to construction equipment also using the road. Work on the temporary bridge is expected to be complete by mid-fall. (09/01)
  • 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 at Clear Pond, on the Elk Lake Conservation Easement, is now open for the season. The public is allowed to drive to the Elk Lake parking lot and trailhead to park for access to the Slide Brook Trail (to the Dix Mtns) and the Elk Lake Marcy Trail. Parking is limited to the capacity of the parking lot. No parking is permitted along the Elk Lake Road or in any other pull-offs. If the parking lot is full, hikers must park at the Upper Elk Lake Road parking lot on the west side of the Elk Lake Road approximately 2.3 miles south of the Elk Lake parking lot and trailhead. Please respect the parking rules to help ensure this access is maintained and there are no impacts to fire and rescue access. (05/12)
  • The Bridge over South Meadow Brook on the Klondike Trail was removed due to a broken stringer and unsafe conditions. Hikers can follow the South Meadow Trail to the Mt Van Ski Trail to gain access to the Klondike Trail. (12/2021)
  • The trail from Lake Arnold to Feldspar Brook is experiencing extensive flooding. Crossing flooded areas on floating logs and old pieces of bridging is dangerous and should be avoided when possible. Seek alternate routes. If you must cross, be prepared to wade through deep water. (09/2021)
  • 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. (10/2021)
  • 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
  • DEC and other agencies will be enforcing the No Parking Zones along State Route 73. (2022)
  • The Town of Keene prohibits parking along Johns Brook, Market, and Adirondack Streets in Keene Valley. Violators will be towed.(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)
  • 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) ,

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.
  • Nothing to report.

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

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

Jay Mountain Wilderness

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

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: