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Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks

Updated: November 25, 2020

Map of showing the East Central 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.

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.

Use DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website (leaves DEC's website) for information about parks and park closures. Use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how you get outside safely, responsibly, and locally.

Pack A Mask: When recreating in New York, hikers and others are required to wear masks in public (leaves DEC's website) 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.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: New York State residents and visitors from other states should check New York's most recent COVID-19 travel advisory before making plans.

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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Bring Winter Gear: You are likely to encounter winter conditions, including ice and snow, at higher elevations. This is not limited to the High Peaks. Snow and ice have been observed on lower elevation summits as well. Bring traction devices, such as microspikes or crampons, and other winter gear on all hikes.

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

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Be sure to check Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for important general notices, hiking resources and other 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

Camp Santanoni Historic Area

  • The Camp Santanoni Historic Area webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

Essex Chain Lakes Complex

  • The Essex Chain Lakes Complex webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Camp Six Road is open to public motor vehicle use for but is in rough shape and has not been brushed out. Use caution when driving on the road. The road will remain open until the end of the Northern Zone big game hunting season but may close sooner if conditions warrant. (10/1)
  • Chain Lakes Road South is open for hunting season for 1.5 miles north of the Outer Gooley Parking Area. High clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. (10/16)
  • There is an active logging operation on Cornell Road. This road, and the land adjacent to it, is privately-owned working forest conservation easement land. It also provides public access to the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Forest Preserve - specifically the Deer Pond Parking Lot. Please be alert for log trucks using the Cornell Road, and safely pull off the side of the road to allow them to pass. (8/27)

Hoffman Notch Wilderness

  • The Hoffman Notch Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The bridge over the West Branch of Trout Brook on the southern end of the Notch Trail was washed away in the 2019 Halloween storm so users will have to cross the stream itself. (5/15)
  • The Bridge over the North Branch of Trout Brook on the Big Pond Trail near its intersection the Notch Trail is washed off its abutments and will require crossing the stream itself. (5/15)
  • Most blowdown has been removed. Some trails have minor blowdown, but all are passable. DEC is working on clearing the rest of the blowdown. (5/15)

Hudson Gorge Wilderness

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

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • The Jessup River Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Old Military Road which provides access to Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead parking area is severely washed out and remains be closed to public motor vehicle traffic for the foreseeable future. Users will have to park at Sled Harbor and walk the road 1.5 miles to the trailhead. (5/15)
  • The bridge at the beginning of Crotched Pond Rd (located on Forest Preserve) which leads to the Crotched Pond Conservation Easement was damaged by the 2019 Halloween Storm and has been closed to vehicular traffic. Access to the Conservation Easement is via foot traffic only.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

  • The Siamese Pond Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain is currently closed to protect the bat population from potential harmful exposure to the COVID-19 virus. (2020)
  • Crotched Pond Road, which provides access to the Kunjamuk Trail and Siamese Ponds Wilderness across the Crotched Pond Conservation Easement Tract, is closed as the bridge at the entrance to the 0.2 mile road was damaged in the 2019 Halloween storm. (2020)
  • The former site of the 55 foot bridge over the East Branch of the Sacandaga River on the Botheration Pond Loop Trail is now a foot crossing (rock hopping). (2020)

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit, and its recreational opportunities and a map of the unit.
  • 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 (9/3)
    • The road, which provides access to the Boreas Ponds, remains closed to public motor vehicle use at this time due to washouts.
    • Hikers, off-road bikers, cross-country skiers, and horse riders may still use the road to access ponds.
    • DEC is working to repair the storm damage. Repairs to ditches and replacement of small culverts is underway.
    • Additional work includes installing large culverts and bridges to ensure the road is resilient to damage from future storms.
    • DEC is working to have the road open as early as possible, but likely not until the 2021 season.
  • Due to minor washouts from the 2019 Halloween storm on Cheney Pond Road and Moose Pond Club Road, only four-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles are recommended to be used. (5/15)
  • Most trails have minor blowdown, but all are passable. DEC is working on clearing the rest of the blowdown. (5/15)
  • The Boreas River crossing on the Cheney Pond-Irishtown Trail is not bridged. During low water conditions, crossing by rock hopping may be possible. (2016)