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Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks

Map of showing the East Central Region of the Adirondacks

Updated: March 15, 2018

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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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 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 current National Weather Service 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, forecasts, and snow depths.

Winter Conditions: There are 15 to 20 inches of snow on the ground with deeper snow in the higher elevations. Below freezing temperatures are forecast through the weekend with night time lows dropping into the low teens and single digits. See the NERFC Snow Page (leaves DEC website) for current snow information.

Be Prepared for Conditions

  • Be prepared for cold weather and snow to avoid hypothermia, wear:
    • Water proof upper and lower outer shell
    • Waterproof footwear
    • Layers of synthetic or wool winter clothing (not cotton!)
    • Hat and gloves or mittens
  • Learn how to have a safe and enjoyable outdoor winter experience. (link leaves DEC's website)

Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow and snow depths warrant the use of snowshoes

Ice on Trails:

  • Thick ice is present on high elevation trails especially on bedrock summits, steep rocky slopes, and other exposed areas.
  • The thick ice may be covered by snow.
  • Carry mountaineering or climbing crampons if you are planning to travel up trails to mountain summits and use when warranted
  • Trail crampons are ineffective.

Snowmobile Trails: Deeps snows are providing great late season snowmobiling opportunities. Many gates and snowmobile trail systems previously closed have been reopened with the recent snows. Check local conditions before going out. Be safe when snowmobiling. (link leaves DEC's website)

River and Streams: Large areas of ice over moving water are gone or have thinned considerably.

  • All ice is covered with snow. Ice that holds the weight of snow may not hold the weight of a person, snowmobile, or ATV.
  • Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow - If you don't know, don't go.
  • Use extreme caution at all stream crossings, as rocks are covered with ice.

Ice on Lakes and Ponds: Ice is has thinned on lakes and ponds especially over river channels and other moving water. Be safe on ice.

  • DEC has received and responded to numerous reports of motorized vehicles falling through ice.
  • Water and slush are present below the snow on the surface of the ice.
  • Be sure you know the thickness of the ice under the snow - If you don't know, don't go.
  • Always check the thickness of ice before traveling across it.
  • Avoid and stay well away from ice:
    • Over running water
    • Near inlets & outlets
    • 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, snowmobile or ATV.

Mountain Summits: Conditions will be more extreme than those found at the trailhead.

  • Temperatures will be colder
  • Winds will be stronger
  • Ice will be present
  • Snow will be deeper - much deeper on high elevation summits.

Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts (leave DEC website) for selected summits.

Daylight: Days are lengthening but always carry a headlamp or flashlight on all hikes.

  • Be sure to have fresh batteries and carry extras.
  • Do not depend on your cell phone as a flashlight; the batteries will drain quickly and you will be unable to call for help.

Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235.

Specific Notices

Essex Chain Lakes Complex

  • The Essex Chain Lakes Complex web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • All gates and seasonal access roads are closed public motor vehicle traffic until the end of the spring mud season. (2018)
  • Goodnow Flow Road is a private road beyond the intersection with the Chain Lakes Road North and should not be used by the public. (2018)
  • Public trespass of the Gooley Club and Polaris Club cabins, out buildings and the lands around them is prohibited. (2018)

Hoffman Notch Wilderness

  • The Hoffman Notch Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Several small beaver dams are flooding sections of the Hoffman Notch Trail just south of Blue Ridge Road Trailhead under a foot of water. A reroute has not yet been developed. Hikers may have to walk through the water - take off boots and socks and roll-up pants. (2014)

Hudson Gorge Wilderness

  • The Hudson Gorge Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Nothing to report.

Jessup River Wild Forest

  • The two designated primitive tent sites at the northern end of Fawn Lake have been closed for rehabilitation. Two new tent sites will be designated in the future. (2015)

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

  • The Siamese Pond Wilderness web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • Eagle Cave on Chimney Mountain is closed to the public to protect hibernating bats through April 30th. (2018)
  • 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). Hikers may have trouble crossing during times of high water following heavy rain or during spring snow melt. (2017)
  • The bridge on the Puffer Pond Trail south of Thirteenth Lake has been replaced. (2017)

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest web page provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities.
  • 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)

More about Backcountry Information for the East Central Adirondacks: