DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin - September 27, 2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin
September 27, 2018

Have a safe and enjoyable outdoor recreational experience on the lands and waters of the Adirondacks. Properly plan and prepare for your outdoor adventure. Minimize the impact on the mountains and forests, rivers and brooks, ponds and lakes, and the wildlife of the Adirondacks.

Check the Backcountry Information for the Adirondacks web pages for more detailed information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and conditions for those planning to recreate in the Adirondacks. This bulletin provides only the most recent notices.

Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured; keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-0235.

More information on hiking safety and what to pack.


Weather forecasts and conditions can and do change quickly. Check the current National Weather Service Forecast and be prepared for the forecasted conditions or change your plans.

  • Plan for busier trails. As the leaves begin to change, trailheads and summits will once again be busy. Plan to arrive early to get a designated parking spot. Be aware of slower vehicles entering and exiting parking areas, as well as people crossing roads or exiting vehicles. 
  • Plan for shorter days. As fall quickly approaches, the days continue to get shorter. Plan your hike accordingly to ensure you have plenty of daylight for your trip. Pack a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries with you on all hikes.
  • Plan for cold temperatures on summits and exposed areas. Protect yourself from hypothermia by packing extra non-cotton, warm and wind protectant layers including hat and gloves.


Properly prepare to better ensure a safe and enjoyable recreation experience.

  • Temperatures in the Adirondacks are reaching near freezing at night. Campers and evening hikers should prepare for extreme temperature changes as the sun sets. Haystack MountainPack appropriately to protect yourself from hypothermia.
  • Prevent Hypothermia: Dress properly, stay dry, and add or remove layers to regulate your body temperature. Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink, and rest often. Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
  • If you get lost or injured, keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call the DEC Emergency Dispatch (518-891-0235). Try to stay warm and dry by separating yourself from the ground by sitting on your pack or an extra layer. Build a campfire to provide heat, light and comfort. A campfire will also be useful for search crews to locate you. See Emergency Essentials Packing below.

*Photo Credit: Fardad Housh, High Peaks Wilderness Area

Practice Leave No Trace

Leave No TraceFollow proper trail etiquette to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks, as well as ensure an enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors by following the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.


Leaf Peeping Etiquette

  • Busy road in AdirondacksIf driving on busy roads, do not slow down to look at the leaves. This is unsafe for traffic behind you, as well as around congested parking areas. Find a safe pull over to view the leaves. 
  • Park only in designated parking spots. Do not park alongside busy roadways.
  • Share the views! Summits and trails will be busier. If the outlook or summit is smaller, be sure to allow space for everyone to experience the view. Be patient, the view is not going away!
  • Hike in a single file, especially when approaching other hikers. Stay to the right and pass on the left when safe and appropriate. Allow faster hikers to pass. When approaching other hikers from behind, politely let them know of your presence and desire to pass. 
  • Be sure you are prepared for the hike you are going on! Do your research ahead of time and know before you go!

Plan Ahead and Prepare - Emergency Essentials

Keep an emergency essentials kit in your pack. A few things to include are: a pocket knife, duct tape to patch ripped jackets or broken poles, a headlamp for unexpected trips out in the dark or overnight stays, space blanket, emergency whistle, first aid kit, fire making tools, extra layers and socks.

General Conditions/Notices

Learn the conditions you will encounter from Adirondack Backcountry Information.


  • Fall Foliage: Leaves have begun to change colors throughout the Adirondacks. I Love NY Fall Foliage Report
  • Fall Weather: Temperatures are cooler and days are shorter.
    • The sun sets earlier and rises later – carry a flashlight or headlamp. Owl Head Lookout
    • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing. 
    • Those hiking to the higher summits should also pack a winter hat and gloves.
  • Hunting Season: Some big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are open and others will open soon.
    • Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails.
    • Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement lands.
    • Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.
    • Hikers can wear bright colors if it makes them feel safer.
  • Fire Danger Rating: Low. Check the current fire danger map. DEC forest rangers have responded to several wildland fires started by unattended or improperly extinguished campfires. Be safe with campfires.

Hikers and Campers

  • Trail Conditions: Recent heavy rains have resulted in wet and muddy trails – especially in low spots, along water bodies, and in drainages. Avoid damaging hiking trails, trail side vegetation and habitats. 
    • Wear water-resistant hiking boots and let them get muddy.
    • Stay in the center of trail and walk through mud and water.
  • Blowdown: Blowdown (fallen trees, limbs, and branches) may be present on trails. Be prepared for hikes to take longer than planned and to bushwhack around blowdown or turn back if blowdown is heavy.
  • Stream Crossings: Use caution around steep, shallow, rocky streams and rivers. These are considered “flashy”, meaning water levels can rise quickly after heavy rainfall. Water levels will also drop quickly after the rains have stopped.
  • Mountain Summits: Temperatures will be cooler and winds will be stronger. Check the National Weather Service Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
  • Nuisance Bears: Nuisance bear activity has lessened. DEC still recommends following practices to avoid negative encounters with bears in the backcountry and storing all food, toiletries, and garbage in bear-resistant canisters. DEC requires the use of bear resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness through November 30.

Boaters, Paddlers, and Anglers

  • Water Levels: Due to recent heavy rains water in most streams and rivers are at average or above average levels. See the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Water levels in ponds and small lakes with large watersheds have also risen. Water levels in large lakes may rise some as well.

 Mountain Bikers

  • Electric bicycles: Electric bicycles (E-bikes) of any class are not allowed on trails or roadways where public motorized access is prohibited.

Recent Notices

Notices below reflect recent changes in conditions and recreation infrastructure work completed by DEC and its partners. Backcountry Information for the Adirondacks for ongoing issues and more detailed information.

  • Big Moose Conservation Easement Tract: The Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower and the trail to it on will be closed to public use beginning October 8 through December 20.
  • Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: A new lean-to was constructed by DEC staff along the Northville-Placid Trail just north of the West Stony Creek crossing.
  • Bog River Complex (Lows Lake): Work on Low's Upper Dam has been completed.
  • Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps recently completed a reroute of the Catamount Mountain Trail near the summit. The reroute includes a ladder and rock staircase.
  • Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Lean2Rescue has completed three projects on Eighth Lake during the past several weeks.
    • Dunning Lean-to located on the northern shore of the lake has been completely rehabilitated. Volunteers with the organization replaced the roof, the floor, and select logs that were in poor condition. They all stained the lean-to.
    • The "Double-wide Lean-to” on the western shore of Eighth Lake has been completely rehabilitated. The four base logs, the floor, and the roof were all replaced and the lean-to was stained.
    • Earlier this summer the lean-to located on a small island near the western shore of Eighth Lake was removed. Due to the small size of the island it cannot sustain camping. The site has been converted into a day use site. (9/21)
  • Giant Mountain & High Peaks Wildernesses: Parking is prohibited on the shoulders of both lanes of State Route 73 in the vicinity of Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead and the Ausable Club Road (south). The parking prohibition supports DEC’s multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks.
  • Giant Mountain & High Peaks Wildernesses: Columbus Day Weekend Plan for Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains.
    • Trailhead parking lots and the shoulders of State Route 73 in the vicinity of the Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain Trailheads will be closed to public parking beginning in the late afternoon on Thursday, October 4, through Columbus Day. 
    • Hikers will be directed to the Cross Country Parking Lot at ORDA’s Olympic Sports Complex beginning Friday morning and throughout the holiday weekend. 
    • From the parking lot, visitors can take the Cascade Mountain Trailhead, hike the trail up Mt. Van Hoevenberg, or enjoy the amenities at the Olympic Sports Complex. 
  • High Peaks Wilderness:
    • Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps recently replaced ladders, a small bridge, and bog bridging along on the Avalanche Pass-Lake Colden Trail along Avalanche Lake.
    • Nuisance bear activity has subsided in the Eastern High Peaks. However, hikers and campers should still follow practices to avoid negative encounters with bears. Pack all food, toiletries and garbage in a bear resistant canister as required by regulation.
    • The lands formerly in the Dix Mountain Wilderness are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. DEC will be changing signs, web pages, and regulations to eliminate the Dix Mountain Wilderness and transition to the High Peaks Wilderness.
    • Group size regulations are now in effect on the lands in the former Dix Mountain Wilderness. Groups should consist of no more than 15 hikers and no more than eight campers. 
    • DEC is undertaking a multi-year, comprehensive effort to promote sustainable tourism and address public safety in the Adirondacks focused on the State Route 73 Corridor between Exit 30 of the Northway (I87) and Lake Placid.

Highlighted Hike- Bear Den Mountain, Wilmington, NY

This trail in the Whiteface Mountain Intensive Use Area, Wilmington Wild Forest ascends 1.6 miles and 1,160 feet from a trailhead near the parking area for Kids Campus of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area to the 2,400-foot summit of Bear Den Mountain. Enjoy spectacular views of Whiteface Mountain including the ski trails and summit. The trail is part of the Flume Trail Network and is open to the public for day use free of charge. Bikes are allowed on the first 0.4 mile of the trail. The summit provides views of the West Branch Ausable River Valley, Sentinel Range, Stephenson Range and the ski trails and summit of Whiteface Mountain. Parking at Kids Campus is free. Overnight parking is prohibited.

Elevation Gain: 1,160ft

Roundtrip: 3.2 miles

Trail map

Trailhead: Bear Den Trailhead Parking Area is located near the Kid Campus of the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area (N 44.3595°; W 73.8576°)