Friday, June 12, 2020

Outdoor Conditions (6/12): DEC Campgrounds still 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 canceling 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 — are open 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 daily. 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 nine-month reservation window restriction for camping and will allow for transfers of existing camping reservations into the 2021 season. 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.

Primitive camping: As of June 11, DEC has resumed issuing permits for groups of fewer than 10 people who would like to stay for more than three nights at one location on state lands. DEC has temporarily stopped issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more. Use of lean-tos should be restricted to members of a single household at a time to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 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. Boaters are encouraged to have their boats inspected and cleaned at the Adirondack Welcome Center’s boat wash, located between Exits 17 and 18 on the Northway, before entering the Adirondacks.

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. If you’re headed to the High Peaks, check NY511 for parking lot statuses along the Route 73 corridor.

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 511NY for road closures and travel conditions. New: If you plan on hiking in the High Peaks, use 511NY to check the status of parking lots along the busy Route 73 corridor. Have back-up plans in place and, if the parking lot at your desired destination is full, move on to your back-up plan. Status of parking lots is being updated throughout the day on weekend days by patrolling DEC Forest Rangers and Forest Ranger Assistants.
  • 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: Water levels in many waters are lower than is typical for this time of year. Recent rains may bring waters levels up this weekend, especially in the northern Adirondacks. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters.
  • Biting Insects: Black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, biting gnats (no-see-ums) 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 repellant – follow label directions. Additional tips for tick prevention.
  • Fire Danger: LOW. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Be careful with campfires.


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, conservation easement lands, outdoor recreation, and Leave No Trace.

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: The Muddy Trails Advisory remains in effect 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. Due to recent rains, trails in the lower and middle elevations will be wet and muddy. 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 high summits, 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 levels in the northern Adirondacks may be high due to recent rains.

Rock Climbers

DEC has opened several rock climbing routes. Check the 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 webpages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

Saranac Lake Wild Forest: Construction of the restrooms at the Lake Flower Boat Launch will resume Monday, June 15 and is expected to be completed in the fall. The boat launch remains closed to trailered boats until the project is finished, as the size of the construction site restricts the maneuvering space and safe passage for vehicles with trailers. Trailered boats will need to be launched at the Second Pond Boat Launch to access Kiwassa Lake, Oseetah Lake, Lake Flower, and portions of the Saranac River. Car-top boats such as canoes, kayaks, row boats, and small motorboats can use the boat launch.

Siamese Pond Wilderness

  • The Town of Johnsburg has repaired washout in the road and Old Farm Trailhead Parking Lot can once again be accessed by motor vehicles.
  • Crotched Pond Road, which provides access to Crotched Pond across the Tract 19 Conservation Easement Tract, is closed as the bridge at the entrance to the 0.2-mile road was damaged in the 2019 Halloween storm.

Lake George Wild Forest: Palmer Pond Road is closed due to a structurally unsound large culvert in danger of failing and causing the road embankment to collapse.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Hikers on the Blue Hill/Long Swing Trail report being dive-bombed by a nesting pair of an unknown hawk species.

  • 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.

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.

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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. Steven says:

    I find it odd that NYS Park campgrounds have a planned opening date (and even existing reservations holders at sites), but the DEC campgrounds haven’t said when they plan to open. They’re both NYS agencies facing the same challenges. I never thought before about whether I was at a state park or a DEC-run campsite. Both organizations regularly flood me with e-mails, but over this issue I’ve received nothing. The same can be said for ADK Mountain Club where I have a reservation soon. They send me e-mails about odd things, but no clear communication on when the campground is open again.

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