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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Map of showing the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: March 14, 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!

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

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • 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.

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 (I87) 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.

FLOOD WATCH: The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Northern New York in effect from 8 am Friday to 8 pm Saturday.

  • The Flood Watch covers all of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence County.
  • Temperatures rising well into the 50s Thursday and Friday will lead to a rapid loss of snowpack, especially in valley locations.
  • The runoff will contribute to river ice breakup, likely beginning during the day Friday and extending through Saturday.
  • Due to thick river ice, in excess of one foot in many areas, the potential exists for localized ice jams and associated flooding as river ice breakup occurs.
  • Be alert to sudden changes in river levels and localized flooding.
  • A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.
  • Monitor NWS forecasts (leaves DEC website) and be alert for possible Flood Warnings.

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

Variable Weather:

  • Temperatures in the 50s and rain will proceed the weekend when temperatures will drop below freezing.
  • Saturday will have daytime high temperatures in the low to mid 30s with snow showers.
  • Sunday will have daytime high temperatures in the mid-20s to low 30s with partly cloudy skies.
  • Nighttime low temperatures will range from the single digits to the teens
  • This is a general forecast and may change. Check the National Weather Service (leaves DEC website) for current forecasts for the location where you plan to recreate.

Snow Cover:

  • Snow depths ranging from 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 cm) in the lower elevations.
  • 67 inches (170 cm) of snow at the stake on the shore of Lake Colden at 2,750 feet (838 m) elevation.
  • 7 to 8 feet (215 to 245cm) of snow above 3,000 feet (914 m) elevation.
  • Snow depths will decrease due to warm temperatures and rain leading into the weekend but there will still be plenty of snow this weekend.
  • The National Weather Service NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) provides maps depicting current snow depths, forecasts, and other snow information.

Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be much colder, winds will be stronger, ice will be present, and snow will be deeper. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leaves DEC website) for selected summits.

Be Prepared for Winter Conditions:

  • The sun sets early - ALWAYS carry a flashlight or headlamp.
  • Avoid hypothermia:
    • Dress properly, stay dry, and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature.
      • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing
      • Wear hat and gloves.
    • Carry plenty of food and water.
    • Eat, drink and rest often.
    • Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Watch a video about winter hiking safety tips. (leaves DEC website)

Ice on Waterbodies:

  • Water and slush will present on the surface of ice on most waterbodies.
  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid ice over running water, near inlets & outlet and 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.
  • Observe ice safety, especially when ice fishing.

Seasonal Access Roads: Gates on seasonal access roads on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands are closed and locked. Motor vehicle use on ALL seasonal access roads is prohibited until the end of the spring mud season.

Hikers/Skiers/Snowshoers

General Information on Hiking

General Information on Skiing and Snowshoeing

Trail Conditions:

  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible.
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Trail conditions will be mixed except in the highest elevations.
    • Trails will be a mix of water, slush, snow, and ice. The amount of each will depend on latitude, altitude, aspect to the sun, and tree cover.
    • Northern, higher elevation trails on north-facing slopes with evergreen trees will have plenty of snow and ice.
    • Southern, lower elevation trails on south facing slopes without trees will be wetter and possibly have no snow.
  • Trails will harden and freeze as the weekend progresses
  • The use of snowshoes or skis is required on all trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and should be used on trails wherever snow depths exceed 8 inches.
  • The use of snowshoes
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry snowshoes, trail crampons, and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when warranted.
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.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)
  • 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

High Peaks Wilderness

  • Lake Colden Caretaker Report (3/14)
    • 67 inches (170 cm) of snow at the stake at 2,750 feet (838 m) elevation.
    • 7 to 8 feet (215 to 245 cm) of snow above 3,000 feet (914 m) elevation.
    • South Meadow Lane, Marcy Truck Trail, and the ski trails are in good condition for skiing despite the loss of some snow depth prior to the weekend.
    • Wet areas and melting snow will refreeze with the return of cold weather.
    • Trail crampons and steel tipped hiking poles should be carried on all hikes and used when warranted.
    • Snow cover on foot bridges may be above the handrails. Use caution when crossing.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes or skis is required in the High Peaks Wilderness at this time. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when warranted.(3/14)
  • 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 trails through the Elk Lake Conservation Easement Tract - to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain - are open for public use. However, the Clear Pond Gate is closed for the winter. The Clear Pond Parking Area is two miles from the Elk Lake Trailhead - plan your travels accordingly. (2019)
  • South Meadow Lane is closed to motor vehicle use. Do not block the opening when parking at the entrance. This is used by emergency response vehicles. (2019)
  • The gate on Corey's Road is closed to accommodate logging operations in Ampersand Park. Parking is available at Raquette Falls Trailhead. (2019)
  • DEC with the assistance of NY State Police Aviation Unit airlifted 55 bags of stone to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg. (2018)
    • 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
  • The new, sustainably designed and built, Mt. Van Hoevenberg East Trail is open for public use. The 1.7-mile trail climbs 920 feet from the trailhead in the Olympic Sports Complex to the 2,940-feet summit of the mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness. (2018)
  • 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)
  • 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. (2018)
  • Once again the private landowners have agreed to allow hiking on the Owls Head Trail during the week. Parking at the trailhead and hiking the trail are prohibited on weekends. (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 High Peaks Wilderness. (2019)
    • DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • Group size regulations are now in effect on these and groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than 8 campers.
    • 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.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)

Hurricane Mountain Wilderness

  • The Hurricane Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)

Jay Mountain Wilderness

  • The Jay Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness

  • The McKenzie Mountain Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)

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.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)
  • 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.
  • High fast-moving waters will make stream crossings on trails dangerous and even impossible. (3/14)
    • Plan hiking routes that do not require water crossings or have intact foot bridges.
    • Do not try to cross through cold, high, fast flowing waters.
    • Drainages will likely get blown out exposing rock and soil.
  • Snowshoes or skis should be used on all trails. The use of snowshoes: (3/14)
    • Eases travel on snow,
    • Prevents "post holing" which can ruin trails, and
    • Reduces injuries from trips and falls
  • Carry trail crampons and steel-tipped hiking poles on all hikes and use when conditions warrant. (3/14)
  • 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: