Backcountry Information for the High Peaks Region
Please be advised of the following conditions and prepare for them to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor recreational experience.
Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly.
Check the current National Weather Service Forecast and be prepared for the forecasted conditions.
Carry extra clothing, equipment, and supplies in case of an unanticipated overnight stay.
Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace when recreating in the High Peaks Region. Protect the lands and waters of the Adirondacks that awe and inspire.
Late Fall/Early Winter Conditions: Expect to encounter below freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and short days. Snow cover is found at all elevations varying between 1-3 inches in the lower elevations, may be deeper in higher elevations. Snow and snow showers are forecast but no significant accumulation is forecast at this time. Be prepared for conditions:
Avoid hypothermia, stay dry and warm.
Be prepared for cold and snow:
Waterproof outer layer
Wear layers of non-cotton clothing
Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing.
Hat and gloves or mittens.
Short Days: 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.
Trail Conditions: Trails are covered with snow and ice at all elevations; fallen leaves are present in the lower elevations; and, mud and water may be encountered on trails along water and in low spots.
Wet, icy, and snow-covered leaves can be very slippery, use caution when walking on leaves – particularly on steep sections of trail.
Wear proper footwear including traction devices – especially on steep sections of trail and at water crossings where rocks may be covered with a layer of ice.
Due to recent high winds, expect to encounter blow down (fallen or hanging trees, limbs and branches) on trails.
Walk through mud and water – not around – to protect trailside vegetation and prevent further erosion of trails.
Ice on Water: Ice has formed on small ponds, in the backwaters and pools of streams and rivers, and in the bays and along the shoreline of larger water bodies. Ice will not bear the weight of person at this time. Remember ice that holds snow still doesn’t hold the weight of a person.
Summits: Temperatures will be colder, winds will be stronger, snow will be deeper, and ice will be present.
Wear a jacket or coat (outer shell) that blocks wind when on summits or other exposed locations.
Carry extra layers of non-cotton clothing to wear on the summits.
Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
Hunting Season: The regular big game hunting season is open. Many small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are or will soon open.
Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails.
Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve.
Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.
Mr. Van Lean-to: A large tree has fallen on the lean-to on the Mr. Van Ski Trail causing severe damage and rendering the lean-to unsafe and unusable. DEC is working with partners to evaluate the extent of the damage and the requirements and timing of repairs.
Phelps Trail: Several sections of the trail in the Upper Johns Brook Valley contain extensive amount of blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches). Please use caution when hiking in and around this area.
Elk Lake Trails: The two trails through the Elk Lake Easement lands connecting to the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix Mountain Wilderness, are closed to the public through the regular big game hunting season. The trails will reopen on Monday, December 4.
Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Trail between Indian Pass and Lake Colden is no longer a designated trail and is not maintained. It has not been a designated trail since Tropical Storm Irene devastated the trail in 2011.
Bradley Pond Trail: A new section of this trail to Sanatanoni Mountain has been constructed near the beginning of the trail to avoid the two crossings which had unusable bridges. The new trail section leaves the old trail just as the trail leaves the gravel road and crosses Santanoni Brook on a newly constructed bridge, and then joins the old trail a short distance later. The project was a combined effort of NOLS Alumni Service, Student Conservation Association (SCA) Adirondack Program, SCA High Peaks Backcountry Stewards, DEC High Peaks Trail Crew, Adirondack 46ers Volunteer Trail Crew, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Moriah Shock Camp crews and DEC Lands & Forests staff.
Owls Head: The trail across private lands to the summit is closed to public access and use on weekends, but remains available for public use on weekdays. Please stay on the trail and avoid trespassing on private lands.