Backcountry hiking trails can be rugged and rough – they are not maintained as park walkways – and wilderness conditions can change suddenly. Hike Smart NY provides expert information on how to properly prepare and ensure a safe outdoor experience. Follow all state land use rules for hiking and primitive camping and Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) to minimize your impacts on the natural resources and others users.
Volunteer to help preserve, maintain and enhance New York’s outdoor recreation. Individuals or groups can enter into a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement to maintain trails, lean-tos, boat launches, or other recreational infrastructure.
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.
Travel: Check 511NY (leaves DEC website) for road closures and conditions.
Weather: Check the National Weather Service or NY Mesonow (leaves DEC website) for current conditions and forecasts for the locations where you plan to recreate. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
Adirondack Rock Climbing Closures: DEC closes certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Check the full list of route closure.
Fire Danger: Fire danger in the Adirondack Park is low and in the Champlain Region is low. Never leave campfires unattended. Fully extinguish your campfire before leaving your campsite. Ashes should be cool to the touch. Learn more about campfire safety.
Water Conditions: Water levels throughout the Adirondack region range from at or above average in the central or southern Adirondacks to below average in the northeastern and northwestern corners of the region. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York (leaves DEC website) for stream flow of selected waters. Water temperatures are still cold in many places. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended to be worn by all anglers, boaters, and paddlers. Where bridges are not available, do not attempt stream crossings during periods of high, fast moving water.
No Overnight Camping at Trailheads: DEC is receiving increased reports of people camping at trailheads in the Adirondacks. Please note that overnight camping is not permitted at trailheads or other roadside locations where a camping disc is not present. This includes individuals sleeping in cars, vans, and campers. Campers should seek out designated roadside campsites marked with a camp here disc or campgrounds. When camping, always carry out what you carry in and dispose of trash properly. Use designated bathroom facilities, pack out human and pet waste, or dig a cat hole.
Bear Canisters Required: NYSDEC requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 And November 30. NYSDEC encourages campers to use bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondack backcountry. Bear canisters should be used to store all food, food garbage, toiletries, and other items with a scent. Canisters should be stored a minimum of 100ft from tents, lean-tos, and cooking sites, and kept closed whenever they are not being accessed. Learn more about bear canisters and avoiding human-bear conflicts.
Ticks: Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily. Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors. Consider using insect repellent. Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails and walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas. Additional tips for tick prevention (leaves DEC website).
Review Regulations: Take a moment to review the rules and regulations for the area you will be visiting. Each state land management unit has rules in place to help protect users and the natural resources. Hikers headed to the High Peaks should review the rules and regulations for the High Peaks Wilderness.
Practice Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Leave No Trace Seven Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Adirondacks.
Keep Our Environment Clean: Help preserve the beauty of the Adirondacks and protect our local wildlife by putting garbage in designated trash cans or taking it home with you. Please do not leave trash, gear, or food scraps behind. Use designated toilets when available and visit the Leave No Trace website to learn how you can Leave No Trace when going to the bathroom in the woods. Do not graffiti or carve rocks, trees, or backcountry structures like lean-tos or fire towers.
Be prepared, bring the right gear, and wear the right clothes and shoes to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. Review Hike Smart NY’s list of 10 essentials and bring those items on every hike. Prepare for your hike by doing the following:
Hiker Information Stations: DEC’s Adirondack Hiker Information Stations are operating every weekend now until Columbus Day providing education and information to hikers and other recreationists during the busy summer and fall seasons.
DEC encourages visitors to stop by a Hiker Information Station ahead of their weekend hiking trip. These stations provide information about parking, alternative hiking locations, local land use rules and regulations, safety and preparedness, and Leave No Trace. Please visit us at the following locations:
- Mid’s Park, Lake Placid: Friday, 1pm – 7pm
- High Peaks Rest Area, Northbound Route 87: Saturday & Sunday, 6am – 11:30am
- Please note: This Friday (7/09), the station will move inside the Lake Placid Visitor’s Bureau due to forecast rain.
Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) and Southern Adirondacks (leaves DEC website) Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures. If conditions become unfavorable, turn around. You can always complete your hike another day.
Research Your Hike: Research a variety of hikes and pick one that is appropriate for the physical abilities and experience of every person in your group. Estimate how long the hike will take and make a realistic timeline. Using reliable sources, research the route. Double check your route on a map and bring a paper map with you. Research trailhead parking. Share your plans with a reliable friend or family member who will notice if you do not return on time.
Plan and Practice Navigation: Plan and study your route using an up-to-date map published by a reliable source before you begin your hike. Take note of significant landmarks and trail intersections. Leave your planned route with a trusted friend or relative. While hiking, pay close attention to posted signage and check your map at trail intersections to confirm you are on the correct path.
Have a Back-up Plan: The Adirondacks is a popular destination with limited parking in most places. Well-known trails get crowded and parking spots fill up quickly and early. Have several backup plans. If you arrive at your desired location and cannot find parking, move on to back-up locations until you find a place with safe, legal parking.
Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers and wearing or bringing additional warm, waterproof, and windproof layers, a hat, mittens, and extra socks. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Learn more about layering for your hike from DEC Forest Rangers in a DEC Facebook video (leaves DEC website).
Manage your time wisely: Be mindful of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Start long hikes early to maximize sunlight hours and always bring a headlamp.
Pack a Light: Bring a headlamp or flashlight on every hike. Bring extra batteries and a back-up source of light. Even if you plan to be done before sunset, bring a headlamp in case of emergencies or unexpected delays. Don’t rely on your phone’s flashlight. Using your phone’s flashlight will drain the battery quickly.
Stick to Designated Trails: Wear waterproof shoes and walk through mud and snow, not around it, to protect trail edges. Use traction devices when you encounter ice
Use of Drones in the Adirondacks
Both commercial and hobbyist use of drones on Forest Preserve lands is prohibited in areas classified as Wilderness, Primitive, Primitive Bicycle Corridors, or Canoe Areas.
Hobbyist use is allowed, and commercial use may be allowed with an approved temporary revocable permit (TRP), on lands classified as Wild Forest and on the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor.
For information on hobbyist and commercial drone use on conservation easement lands contact the DEC Lands and Forests office nearest the easement property. Lands and Forests staff will, in consultation with the easement landowner, determine if such use is prohibited by the terms of the easement or whether the use of drones conflicts with the existing use(s) of the land.
Learn how to Leave No Trace while using drones and other important information about using drones.