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Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region

Updated: May 28, 2020

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. 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.

Recreate Local - Safely and Responsibly

DEC encourages responsible recreation during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases, DEC and State Parks encourages New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. Use DECinfo Locator to find DEC-managed lands near you and use #RecreateLocal to share your outdoor experiences in open spaces and parks close to home.

Social Distancing Guidelines

Follow DEC's guidelines for social distancing (PDF) while recreating outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home. Keep visits short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.
  • Be Safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Recreate only with members of your immediate household. Keep a distance of 6 feet or more from others. Alert others as you're about to pass or step aside to let people pass. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing.
  • Be Ready: Move quickly through parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit.
  • Stay Home: If you're not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their visit.

Pack A Mask

New Yorkers are required to wear masks in public when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained, including on trails and in the backcountry. No matter how or where you plan to recreate, pack a mask and wear it in parking lots, on crowded summits, and anywhere else you meet people along the trail or in the outdoors.

Trailhead Registers

Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, special precautions should be taken while using trailhead registers to minimize spread of the virus through commonly touched surfaces, such as pencils and the registers themselves. Follow these guidelines when using trailhead registers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • Only one person per group should register. Others in the group should stay away from the register.
  • If someone is at a register when you approach, stand at least six feet away and wait for them to leave before you approach.
  • Bring your own pencil or pen.
  • Minimize touching surfaces.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it immediately before and after using the register.
  • Don't cough or sneeze while at the register. If you must cough or sneeze, move away from the register and hand sanitize before returning.

Limit Parking

Please avoid visiting crowded areas. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas. If parking lots are full, please choose a different area to visit, or return another time or day when parking is available.

Hike within the Limits of Your Physical Abilities and Experience

Adirondack lands and forests are monitored by Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance (PDF) will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

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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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 National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast (leaves DEC website) for updated notices and current conditions and forecasts. 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.

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

Muddy Trails Advisory: DEC has issued a Muddy Trails Advisory for trails above 2,500 feet in the Adirondacks. Trails are a mixture of mud and ice as late season ice and snow melt and frost leaves the ground. Trails are particularly dangerous to hikers and susceptible to damage at this time. Help protect high elevation trails by choosing hikes under 2,500 feet until conditions improve.

Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are beginning to open. Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravel which can be rough. Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads. Roads may be narrow - use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.

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.
  • An Adirondack Trail Improvement Society trail crew will close and begin rebuilding the piers on the Leach Bridge, located below the dam at Lower Ausable Lake, beginning June 1. (5/28)
  • 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.
  • Gulf Brook Road (2020)
    • The road is closed to public motor vehicle use due to one large washout and numerous smaller ones.
    • A large washout is present about a half mile from the Blue Ridge Road - the washout can be problematic to traverse but is passable by hikers, bicyclists, and horse riders.
    • The there is some blowdown on the road but all of it is also passable by hikers, bicyclists, and horse riders.
    • 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

  • South Meadow Road is open to public motor vehicle use. (5/28)
  • The main span bridge in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail has failed. (5/28)
    • 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.
    • DEC does not expect to replace the bridge this year.
  • 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)
  • Coreys Road is open to public motor vehicle use for the season. (5/15)
  • Adirondack Mountain Club's will begin staffing the parking booth and the High Peaks Information Center starting May 22 to manage increases in visitation at our trailhead. (5/7)
  • Parking at the Adirondak Loj Trailhead has been reduced to every other space to ensure social separation to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (4/23)
  • 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. (4/9)
  • The new Van Hoevenberg East Trail cannot be accessed due to construction activity at the Olympic Sports Center. (1/23)
  • There is significant blowdown on the Phelps Trail before you reach Slant Rock. It is difficult to get through the blowdown. DEC is developing a plan to clear a way through the blowdown. (2020)
  • There are 4-5 mid-size trees down at various locations on the Big Slide via the Brothers Trail. It is easy to get around, over, or under them. (2020)
  • 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. River is impassable at this time. (2020)
  • Calamity Trail has several bridges out. (2020)
  • 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. (2020)
  • Cold Brook Trail is not a designated DEC trail and 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. (2020)
  • Camping is prohibited at the former location of the Boquet Lean-to north of Dix Mountain and the open area adjacent to the trail. (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 Area

  • The Dix Mountain Area 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 Area are now part of the Eastern Zone of High Peaks Wilderness. (2019)
    • DEC will be changing signs, webpages, 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 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.
  • Near Chapel Pond, all rock climbing routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliffs are open. All rock climbing routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliffs remain closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. All climbing routes on Spider's Web remain open. (5/21)
  • There is a large tree across the Rocky Peak Ridge Trail. It is easy to step or slide over the tree trunk. (1/2)

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.

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 closed to public motor vehicle use in the Town of Lewis.

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: