The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would like to remind hikers, and all who enjoy outdoor recreation to follow the “common sense rules of the outdoors,” such as preparing for arduous conditions, avoiding sensitive ecology, picking up your trash, and respecting your fellow visitors and those working to protect our wilderness.
We are currently experiencing a boom in outdoor recreation, with areas of the Adirondack park and the Catskill Parks reaching record numbers of visitors. Issues of littering, trash, and unprepared hikers affecting natural resources have increased in proportion to these record numbers, and it is essential to reinforce these common sense rules in order to protect both the safety of the public and the integrity of the sensitive plants and wildlife.
The DEC keeps these measures in place in order to promote a shared respect for these resources, along with respect for other tourists, volunteers, and workers who dedicate their time and effort to protecting the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the many forests, trails, lakes, and rivers that run throughout New York State.
The DEC recognizes the importance of promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack and Catskill parks and is working with local partners and stakeholders to make both long- and short-term improvements towards that end, especially within the High Peaks.
For example, the High Peaks Strategic Advisory Group meets monthly in order to issue interim report recommendations, working with the DOT, state police and the towns to reduce congestion in areas around the High Peaks, and promote sustainable use with partners through Leave No Trace principles, to help visitors learn the impact they have on the environment.
Some of the DEC’s rules and regulations in the High Peaks Wilderness are as follows:
- No campfires in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
- Group Size Maximums: Day trip maximums are 15 people. Overnight maximums are 8 people. Permits for oversized groups are not available in the High Peaks Wilderness.
- No camping on summits
- No camping above 3,500 feet (except at lean-to)
- No camping in areas with “No Camping” signs present
- Whenever possible, camp in designated sites. If necessary, at-large camping is permitted as long as campsites are at least 150 feet from any road, trail, water body, or waterway. Place your tent on a durable surface, such as hardened soil, leaf litter, or pine duff. Do not place your tent on vegetation.
- Bear canisters are required for all overnight campers in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness
- Carry out what you carry in. Properly dispose of waste and pack out all gear and garbage. Do not leave waste at trailheads.
- Dogs must be leashed at all times in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and at trailheads, campsites and above 4,000 feet everywhere else. If accessing the High Peaks from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) trailheads, dogs are not allowed on AMR property.
- Bikes are prohibited
- Drones are prohibited
- ATVs are prohibited
- No fixed anchors for climbing on Forest Preserve at this time
- Adirondack Mountain Reserve-specific rules for this property include no camping, no dogs, no drones, and no off-trail travel.
Leave No Trace:
- Carry out what you carry in. Don’t leave trash, food, gear, or any other personal belongings behind.
- Trash your trash. Use designated receptacles when available or carry your trash in a small bag so you can throw it out at home. Never put trash in outhouses or porta-potties.
- Use designated bathroom facilities when available. If traveling, use the rest areas closest to your destination before you arrive. Learn how to dig a cat hole (leaves DEC website) and properly dispose of your human waste for the times when nature calls and a bathroom is not available.
- During the COVID-19 public health crisis, take extra precautions when picking up trash you find on the trail. Wear gloves and make sure to use hand sanitizer when you are done.