Friday, July 3, 2020

Outdoor Conditions (7/2): Increased bear activity

This bulletin provides only the most recent notices. 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.

DEC Campgrounds
Updated: All DEC Campgrounds and Day Use Areas in the Adirondacks are open except for the Hinkley Reservoir Day Use Area. All Campgrounds and Day Use Areas have restrictions and rules to protect visitors and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To maintain social distancing and reduce the density of facilities and protect visitors, DEC is currently not accepting additional reservations or walk-in camping for the 2020 season – only existing reservations will be honored at DEC campgrounds. Only reservations for the 2021 season may be made now.

Backcountry Camping
DEC is issuing permits for groups of fewer than 10 people who plan to stay for more than three nights at a primitive campsite. 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.

Due to dry conditions, nuisance bear activity is high in the front country and the backcountry. Please take steps to prevent attracting bears. The use of bear resistant canisters by overnight campers is required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness and recommended throughout the Adirondacks.

DEC Boat Launches
All DEC boat launches are open. Boaters should continue to social distance on the water and on shore, and avoid crowded sites or wear a face mask.

Clean, Drain, and Dry – Prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, and have your boat and trailer inspected and cleaned at one of the many boat inspection and wash stations across the Adirondacks, including the Adirondack Welcome Center’s boat wash, located between Exits 17 and 18 on the Northway, before entering the Adirondacks.

Fire Towers
DEC-controlled fire towers in the Adirondacks are open to visitors. Only one household group should be in the fire tower cab at a time. Groups should social distance on the summit while waiting to climb to the cab, sanitize hands before and after being on the fire tower, and wear masks.

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 guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus while using trailhead registers.

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 511NY 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.

Holiday Weekend: Expect to encounter many people at trailheads, on the trails, and on the water this July 4th holiday weekend. Seek out less popular places to recreate and wear a face mask when around other people.

Warm Weather: Take precautions to prevent heat distress and dehydration. Carry plenty of water; stay in the shade as much as possible; drink and rest often.

Fire Danger: Moderate. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions. Be careful with campfires. DEC has issued an updated Fire Danger Warning due to the lack of rain and concerns with fireworks.

Water Conditions: Water levels in most streams and rivers are within seasonal average range. 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.

Seasonal Access Roads: 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.


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. Trails are mainly dry but muddy spots may be present in low areas and along waterways. Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud, not around it, to protect trail edges. Temperatures will be lower on high summits, and many exposed summits will be windy. Pack extra layers of clothing. 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.

Hiking with Dogs

Pet owners often overestimate how physically fit their dog is, how much water their dog will need, or how walking on scalding hot rock can negatively affect canines. DEC warns pet owners to avoid bringing their dogs hiking with them in the summer, especially in warm to hot temperatures and on bright sunny days. Dogs hiking in warm temperatures are at risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and death – especially older, larger, and overweight dogs. If your dog does collapse, quickly move to create shade for the dog and cool their feet and stomach – this is the most effective way to help an overheated dog.

Rock Climbers

Several rock climbing routes remain closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons. 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.

Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness: Lost Lake Trail has been flooded by beaver activity a half mile east of Lost Lake.

Independence River State Forest: Overnight camping is available at the Otter Creek Horse Trail Facility.

Lake George Wild Forest

  • Prospect Mountain Veteran’s Memorial Highway is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, DEC is taking the following precautions:
    • The shuttle will not operate;
    • Picnicking will be prohibited, and the picnic pavilions will not be available to rent;
    • Restrooms will remain closed; and
    • View scopes at the pull-offs and on the summit have been dismantled.
  • In addition, the summit area above the parking lot is closed to the public until late August while 500 feet of mortared stone border wall that is crumbling along summit lookout areas is removed and replaced with individual cut stone blocks. Due to the grades, the moving of the stone blocks is difficult and dangerous, especially with heavy equipment. The road and the path from the parking lot are blocked and the trail from the village ends at the parking lot.
  • Lake George Beach is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Following Department of Health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a maximum of 500 people are allowed on the beach, half its normal capacity.

Massawepie Conservation Easement Tract: The tract is closed to public access from June 15 through August 31 pursuant to the easement agreement with the Boy Scouts of America whether scouts are present at the camp or not.

High Peaks Wilderness: There has been an increase in nuisance black bear activities resulting in several incidents of campers losing food to the bears. While a number of bears are responsible for the increase activity, one large black bear with a scar on its face is entering occupied campsites and lean-tos, destroying equipment, and obtaining food from campers who have improperly stored food and/or were cooking at the campsite. Avoid losing your food and gear to a hungry bear by following these tips:Bear scavenged food

  • Store all food, trash, toiletries, and anything else with a scent in bear resistant canisters at least 100 feet from your tent, lean-to, or sleeping area.
  • Immediately secure the lid on your bear canister after adding or removing items.
  • Cook & eat at least two hours before dark in an open area. Never cook or eat in a tent, lean-to, or sleeping area.
  • If you see a bear, group up, raise and wave your arms, speak in a loud voice, make loud noises by banging pots or clapping, and warn others that there is a bear nearby.
  • Carry bear spray, keep it readily accessible on your person at all times, and know how to use it.
  • Report food and gear loss and close encounters to DEC.
  • Learn more about properly handling bear encounters.

Moose River Plains: The Rock Dam Road is now open to public motor vehicle use.

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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.

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