Monday, May 18, 2020

Outdoor recreation update

DEC logoFrom NYS DEC:

Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for more detailed information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and conditions.

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.

Pack A Mask
New Yorkers 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.

Fire Towers
DEC is closing access to DEC-controlled fire towers until further notice. Trails and the summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails.

DEC campgrounds and day use areas, including pavilions, beaches, and boat launches located within DEC campgrounds, are closed through May 31. The public may enter DEC campgrounds to access trails on the Forest Preserve or to walk or bike on the campground roadways. Motor and motorized vehicles are prohibited from entering DEC campgrounds. Use of lean-tos should be restricted to members of a single household at a time to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Primitive camping is permitted with some adjustments:

  • DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more.
  • DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for more than three days at one location on state lands.

DEC Boat Launches
DEC boat launches not located within DEC campgrounds are open for recreational use by individuals and households that adhere to guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Try to keep at least six feet of distance between you and others.
  • Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands.
  • Wash hands often, or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as rails, posts, and tie off cleats.
  • Wear a mask when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained.

Trailhead Registers
Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, take special precautions while using trailhead registers to minimize spread of the virus through commonly touched surfaces, such as pencils and the registers themselves. Follow these guidelines when using trailhead registers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • Only one person per group should register. Others in the group should stay away from the register.
  • If someone is at a register when you approach, stand at least six feet away and wait for them to leave before you approach.
  • Bring your own pencil or pen.
  • Minimize touching surfaces.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it immediately before and after using the register.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze while at the register. If you must cough or sneeze, move away from the register and hand sanitize before returning.

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.

Adirondack lands and forests are monitored by forest rangers, 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 Conditions

  • Travel: Check NY511 for road closures and conditions.
  • Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate.
  • Seasonal Access Roads: Seasonal access roads are beginning to open. Seasonal access roads are dirt and gravel which can be rough. Four-wheel drive SUVs, pick-up trucks, and other high clearance vehicles are recommended for driving on these roads. Roads may be narrow – use caution, drive slowly, and watch for oncoming vehicles.
  • Water Conditions: Water levels are very low than is typical for this season of the year but levels should rise – especially in the southern half of the Adirondacks – with today’s rain. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Water temperatures are colder than is typical for this time of year. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters and paddlers.
  • Biting Insects: Black flies and ticks are present. Wear light-colored long sleeve shirts and long pants; tuck shirts into pants, button or rubber band sleeves at the wrist, and tuck the bottom of pant legs into your socks; pack a head net to wear when insects are plentiful; and use an insect repellent – follow label directions. Additional tips for tick prevention.


Before you hit the trail, check out DEC’s Hike Smart NY page to learn about safety, best practices, and preparedness. While recreating in the Adirondacks, please follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and avoid busy trailheads. Discover trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy.

Be Prepared. You can still find ice and snow at higher elevations in the Adirondacks. Bring trail crampons (foot traction devices) and use them when warranted. Trails will be muddy at lower elevations, especially after the heavy rains expected today. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Dress in layers and be prepared for conditions to change. Temperatures will be lower on summits than at trailheads, and many exposed summits will be windy. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.

Use Caution. Many Adirondack trails encounter water crossings, and not all of them have bridges. Use caution at crossings and on trails along fast flowing brooks and rivers. Water is cold and moving swiftly this time of year due to spring snowmelt and recent rains.

Recent Notices

Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for the most up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

Practice Leave No Trace

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks. Use proper trail etiquette to ensure an enjoyable experience for yourself and others, and tread lightly!Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace Recommendations for Getting Outside During COVID-19
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has shared seven guidelines for outdoor recreation during COVID-19. The following is a summary of their guiding principles. For the full guidelines, check out this poster.

  1. You and Your Outdoor World: Pay close attention to guidance in your community before heading outside. Then follow physical distancing guidance, meaning staying at least six feet away from anyone not living with you.
  2. Expect Closures: As businesses limit services or direct their staff to work remotely, you should expect closures. The result could be a lack of water, restrooms, campgrounds, or other facilities—or even entire areas closed to the public.
  3. Pack Out Trash: With limited staff and services likely in many parks and protected areas, trash and recycling receptacles may not be emptied as often as normal or at all. Pack your trash and recyclables out with you all the way home and utilize your own receptacles.
  4. Avoid Times and Places of High Use: Absolutely avoid crowded parks, trails and beaches. Physical distancing applies in the outdoors just as it does anywhere else.
  5. Proceed with Caution: As much as possible, stick to activities and areas that are within your regular routine, and take it easy.
  6. Don’t Forget the Leave No Trace 7 Principles: Remember, it is still just as important to prepare for spring weather conditions, stick to trails, dispose of our waste properly, minimize fire impacts, leave what we find, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and generally do your best to eliminate impacts.
  7. Be Considerate and Kind to Other Visitors: We are all in this together. Be considerate of others in the outdoors by ensuring that you practice physical distancing.

Social Distancing Guidelines
Follow DEC’s guidelines for social distancing while recreating outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home. Keep visits short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.
  • Be Safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Recreate only with members of your immediate household. Keep a distance of six feet or more from others. Alert others as you’re about to pass, or step aside to let people pass. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing.
  • Be Ready: Move quickly through parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit.
  • Stay Home: If you’re not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their visit.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

One Response

  1. Beau Bushor says:

    What We Know About Your Chances of Catching the Virus Outdoors

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