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Backcountry Information for the West Central Adirondacks

Updated: September 17, 2020

Map of showing the West 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 (leaves DEC website). 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.

Carry Extra Layers

Fall is here, which means it's time to layer up. It's getting colder in the mountains, and temperatures fluctuate depending on the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing and bringing the right clothes. Start with non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers. Wear or pack additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, and mittens. Bring extra base layers and socks. Add or remove layers as needed. Avoid sweating through your clothes - as sweaty clothes cool, they create ideal conditions for hypothermia. Learn more about layering and fall hiking preparedness on DEC's Hike Smart NY webpages.

Daytime High Temps: 40s & 50s

Nightime Low Temps: Below Freezing

Remember a Headlamp

A headlamp or flashlight is one of the 10 essential items you should bring on every hike. DEC is seeing an increase in individuals without headlamps requiring rescue. Hiking in the dark can be dangerous. When you are unable to see where you are going, you are more likely to get lost or injured. A headlamp will help you hike out safely if you get caught in the woods after dark. Even if your planned hike should conclude before sunset, you should still bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Do not rely on your phone's flashlight. Phones can die and using the flashlight will drain your battery quickly. Bring extra batteries and a back-up source of light as well. Approximate Time of Sunset: 7:00 PM

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. New York State DEC and State Parks recommendations for getting outside safely incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases. This guidance urges New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Take the Pledge to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Enjoy the Outdoors Safely and Responsibly

  1. I pledge to respect the rules and do my part to keep parks, beaches, trails, boat launches, and other public spaces safe for everyone.
  2. I will stay local and close to home.
  3. I will maintain a safe distance from others outside of my household.
  4. I will wear a mask when I cannot maintain social distancing.
  5. I accept that this summer, I may have to adjust how I enjoy the outdoors to help keep myself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing my plans to visit a public space.
  6. I will be respectful of others by letting them pass by me if needed on a trail and keeping my blanket ten feet apart from others on the beach.
  7. I will move quickly through shared areas like parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas to avoid crowding.
  8. If I'm not feeling well, I will stay home.

Use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how you get outside safely, responsibly, and locally.

What's Local? Consistent with the NYForward (leaves DEC website) phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region (leaves DEC website). Each of the state's 10 REDC regions (leaves DEC website) have a wide variety of recreational opportunities. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities and remember that public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available.

Use DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures.

Social Distancing Guidelines

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

Pack A Mask

When recreating in New York, hikers and others 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.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order 205, visitors coming from travel restricted states (leaves DEC's website)will not be issued camping permits and will not be allowed to stay on state lands until they have completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Quarantining on state land is not permitted.

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.

Keep It Clean

DEC PSA (leaves DEC website) reminds outdoor adventurers to Play Smart * Play Safe * Play Local while keeping natural areas litter-free.

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!

Sign up for DEC Delivers

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Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC 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 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.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest

  • The Blue Mountain Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The access road to the radio towers on Blue Mountain is a private road. The use of the road by people other than authorized personnel with administrative duties is prohibited and is considered trespassing. (2020)

Blue Ridge Wilderness/Wakely Mountain Primitive Area

  • The Blue Ridge Wilderness and Wakely Mountain Primitive Area webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • The bridge across Rock Pond is out. Cascade Pond and the Cascade Pond Lean-to can only be accessed via Wilson Pond Trail and Crossover Trail or via Northville-Placid Trail. (2020)

Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract

  • The Cedarlands Conservation Easement Tract webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • A crew from the Student Conservation Association's Adirondack Program recently completed constructing three primitive tent sites on the shores of Mud Pond. The site on the northern shore can be accessed from the Fishing Camp Trail. The other two sites are best accessed from the water. The campsites are available year-round. See map (PDF).

Moose River Plains Complex

  • The Moose River Plains Complex webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Indian Lake Road is open to public motor vehicle use to the Brooktrout Parking Area. The road remains closed at the Falls Pond Outlet due to a large washout. (6/26)

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.
  • A 400-foot section of the trail within the West Canada Lake Wilderness - about 0.5 mile north of the Carry Lean-to - is flooded trail due to recent beaver activity. DEC staff were able to lower the water level to 7-8" and are continuing efforts to remove dams farther downstream. The trail is passable, but hikers should anticipate wet feet while passing through this area. (8/27)
  • Expect to encounter heavy blowdown on this section of the trail. Plan for hikes to take longer due to working through or around blowdown. (2020)
  • The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lewey Lake Campground is unmaintained beyond the height of ground between Lewey Mountain and Cellar Mountain, about 4.4 miles west of the campground. (2020)
    • Beyond the height of ground blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail difficult to follow.
    • Access to Colvin Brook Lean-to and the Northville Placid Trail may be gained from the Moose River Plains trailhead off Limekiln Lake - Cedar River Road.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tracts

  • The Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Tracts webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • On the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, repairs on the Long Level Bridge are complete and public motor vehicles may use it to travel between Long Level Road and Pine Lake Road. (8/6)
  • On the Perkins Clearing Tract, Old Military Road is closed between the turn to Pillsbury Mountain and the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead due to severe washouts. Hikers must park at Sled Harbor and walk the road 1.5 miles to the trailhead. (5/15)
  • On the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, Robbs Creek Road remains closed to public motor vehicle use. (5/15)

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

  • The Sargent Ponds Wild Forest webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • Nothing to report.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness

  • The West Canada Lakes Wilderness webpage provides information about the unit and its recreational opportunities, and a map of the unit.
  • A 400-foot stretch of the Northville-Placid Trail - about 0.5 mile north of the Carry Lean-to - is flooded trail due to recent beaver activity. DEC staff were able to lower the water level to 7-8" and are continuing efforts to remove dams farther downstream. The trail is passable, but hikers should anticipate wet feet while passing through this area. (8/27)
  • Old Military Road is closed between the turn to Pillsbury Mountain and the Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead due to severe washouts. Hikers must park at Sled Harbor and walk the road 1.5 miles to the trailhead. (5/15)
  • Blowdown is present on many of the trails most notably the Northville-Placid Trail between Spruce Lake and the Cedar Lakes. (5/15)
  • The foot bridge over Sampson Bog on the Northville-Placid Trail is washed out, please use caution in this area. (5/15)
  • The foot bridge over the Mad Tom Brook on the South Branch Trail has washed out. The stream may be impassable in high water. (2020)
  • Blowdown is particularly prevalent on the Northville-Placid Trail and Cedar Lakes Trail. Plan for hikes to take longer due to working through or around blowdown. (2020)
  • The Sucker Brook Trail which connects the Northville-Placid Trail and the DEC Lewey Lake Campground is unmaintained beyond the height of ground between Lewey Mountain and Cellar Mountain, about 4.4 miles west of the campground. (2020)
    • Beyond the height of ground blowdown, wet stretches of trail, and beaver activity make the trail difficult to follow.
    • Access to Colvin Brook Lean-to and the Northville Placid Trail may be gained from the Moose River Plains trailhead off Limekiln Lake - Cedar River Road.