Friday, June 5, 2020

Adirondack Outdoor Conditions (6/5): DEC Campgrounds remain closed

This bulletin provides only the most recent notices. Check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages for more detailed information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and conditions.


Early Season Camping: DEC is actively working to safely reopen DEC campgrounds this summer. All DEC campgrounds and pavilions are currently closed to overnight visitation through June 18 and DEC is cancelling and refunding reservations through June 18. We ask for your patience as refunds are processed. Additional updates will be available soon as reopening planning and preparation continues.

(Editor’s note: While DEC-managed campgrounds remain closed, New York State Park campsites, cabins and cottages are currently open only to those with existing reservations. New reservations for all available sites – including tents, trailers, RVs, cabins, yurts and cottages — will be accepted at 9 a.m. June 8, for camping stays beginning on June 22. Reservations are expected to fill quickly. Reservations can be made in advance by calling toll free 1-800-456-CAMP or visiting this website.)

Camping Reservations: All new DEC reservations for the 2020 season remain temporarily suspended as planning for the safe reopening of DEC campgrounds continue. Additional information regarding the resumption of reservations for the 2020 season will be announced as reopening plans are finalized. We are assessing campground status on a daily basis. Visitors who wish to cancel an existing reservation may do so and receive a full refund or can transfer the reservation to the 2021 season. Thank you for your patience as we work to protect the safety of our visitors and staff.

Update for 2021 Camping: DEC has temporarily lifted the 9-month reservation window restriction for camping and will allow for transfers of existing camping reservations into the 2021 season. If you choose to transfer, the change fee will be waived until June 11 for online transactions only. In addition, you may also make new reservations for the 2021 season at this time. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will get the same camping site or dates for 2021 whether you transfer or make a new reservation.

Water-access campsites at DEC campgrounds remain closed to overnight visitation until DEC’s campgrounds reopen. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Saranac Lake Islands Campground;
  • Indian Lake Campground;
  • Lake George Islands Campground;
  • Tioga Point Campground;
  • Forked Lake Campground; and
  • Alger Island Campground.

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 for groups of nine or fewer people from a single household camping three nights or less. Campsites along seasonal access roads that remain closed will not be accessible by motor vehicle.

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.

Boaters and other day users should continue to social distance on the water and on shore and avoid crowded sites. Boaters and day use visitors should use mainland bathroom facilities before going out on the water, as outhouse facilities at DEC day use sites and campsites are not currently maintained or sanitized.

The Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program is underway. Stewards will be present at public boat launches throughout the Adirondacks to check for invasive species on water vessels and educate users about proper clean, drain, and dry techniques and other methods of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Trailhead Registers
Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, special precautions should be taken 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.

Fire Towers
Fire towers are closed to public access. 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.

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 patrolled 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 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, travel conditions, and parking availability at Route 73 trailheads.
  • 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: Most seasonal roads are now 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: While water levels have risen due to recent rains, waters remain lower than typical for this time of year. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Water temperatures are still extremely cold 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, mosquitoes, 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.
  • Fire Danger: LOW. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Be careful with campfires.


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.

Muddy Trails Advisory: DEC has issued a Muddy Trails Advisory for trails above 2,500 feet in the Adirondacks. Trails are a mixture of mud and ice as late season ice and snow melt and frost leaves the ground. Trails are particularly dangerous to hikers and susceptible to damage at this time. Help protect high elevation trails by choosing hikes under 2,500 feet until conditions improve.

Be Prepared. Trails will be muddy in middle elevation ranges and in some locations at lower elevations. 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.

Rock Climbers

DEC has opened up a number of rock climbing routes. Check the current status of rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks.

Recent Notices

Included here are notices reported in the past week. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness:

  • Hikers on the Blue Hill/Long Swing Trail report being dive-bombed by a nesting pair of an unknown species of hawk.
    • Hikers should keep facing the birds if possible, as hawks predominantly attack from behind.
    • The behavior will cease in a month or two when the young have fledged and left the nesting area.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Tract

  • Barnes Pond Road is now open to motor vehicle access for people with a permit through the Motorized Access Program for People With Disabilities (MAPPWD) to access the six accessible campsites along the road. The campsites are open to all but those without MAPPWD permits must access them by foot, non-motorized watercraft (where applicable) or mountain bike.
  • The wheelchair ramp at the Fishpole Pond Accessible Fishing Site was damaged by a recent wildfire and is unusable.

Moose River Plains Complex

  • The Cedar River Entrance Gate and the entire Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road (aka Moose River Road) are now open to public motor vehicle use.
  • Otter Brook Road is open to public motor vehicle use.
  • The 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.
  • Rock Dam Road remains closed.
  • Roads will be opened as conditions improve and repairs are completed.

Speculator Tree Farm/Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement Tract

  • The full length of Jessup River Road is open to public motor vehicle use.
  • Old Military Road beyond Sled Harbor (access to Pillsbury Mountain and West Canada Wilderness) remains closed.

Adirondack Mountain Reserve

  • An Adirondack Trail Improvement Society crew closed and began rebuilding the piers on the Leach Bridge, located below the dam at Lower Ausable Lake, on June 1.
    • The project is expected to take two weeks.
    • Hikers will need to access the Weld Trail to Gothics and the two trails to Sawteeth by crossing the river on the Beaver Meadow Bridge and using the West River Trail.

Terry Mountain State Forest

  • Terry Mountain Road is now open to public motor vehicle use.

High Peaks Wilderness

  • South Meadow Road is now open public motor vehicle use.

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.

Hike Smart by packing the proper gear. See our recommended packing list and safety tips.

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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.

2 Responses

  1. David Olbert says:

    It would be nice to include the status of the Essex Chain of Lakes interior road system as well as Golf Brook road to access Boreas Ponds.

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