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Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks

Updated: February 25, 2021

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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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 Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.

Unstable Snowpack: Recent weather conditions have created unstable snowpack on open slopes. Practice safe travel when crossing exposed areas. Assess the stability of snowpack before back country skiing or hiking on open slides and faces. Be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions.

Prepare for Variable Conditions: Warm, wet conditions at base elevations will give way to below freezing temperatures and deep snow at higher elevations. Be prepared for all conditions with appropriate gear and extra clothing layers. Change out of wet clothes to prevent hypothermia.

Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.

  • Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Conditions will be more severe on summits, with below freezing temperatures, thick ice, deep snow, and strong winds. Take wind chill into consideration when preparing for temperatures.
  • 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.
  • Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.

Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.

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

Adirondack Backcountry Information: Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information main webpage for Adirondack recreation resources, 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.
  • To prevent the community spread of COVID-19, the 2021 Winter Weekend events at Camp Santanoni have been canceled. Organizers determined the indoor spaces used for the events are too small to safely accommodate typical attendance numbers under current health guidelines. DEC and its partners hope to resume these popular winter events in 2022.

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.
  • All publicly drivable roads in the Essex Chain Complex are now closed for the winter season. (12/17)
  • The fall seasonal portion of Chain Lakes Road South is closed. (12/10)
  • Seasonal Camp Six Road is closed. (12/3)
  • 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 Branch Parking Lot for access to the north end of the Notch Trail will not be plowed this winter season.
  • The Severance Hill trailhead parking lot needs improvement. DEC will be stockpiling gravel and stone in the parking area this fall and will use it to make improvements in spring 2021. Please do not disturb the materials and park only in remaining designated parking spaces. (12/3)
  • 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.
  • Snowmobile Trail C8A is open from the gate at Lake Harris through to Indian Lake. Snow pack is inconsistent and thin but rideable.
  • The Blue Ridge Parking Lot for access to Gulf Brook Road will not be plowed this winter season.
  • 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)