DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin - October 18, 2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin
October 18, 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.

  • Varying trail conditions:Snow
    • Trails are very muddy in lower elevations. Always walk through the mud to avoid damage and erosion to trails and vegetation.
    • Fallen wet leaves have made trails very slippery. Use caution on steeper slopes and exposed areas.
    • Higher elevations in the High Peaks and exposed summits are experiencing early winter snow and ice. Bring traction devices on all high peaks.
  • Longer hiking time: With varying trail conditions, plan to take extra time to complete hikes, take care and caution on slippery rocks and trails, and bring a head lamp.
  • Research your trip ahead of time: Researching your trip before you go allows you to have better knowledge of the time it will take you to complete the trip. This helps you to better plan your start time to ensure you’re safely back before dark and that you have the proper equipment for the time you will be out recreating. Researching also gives you an idea of milestones such as junctions or specific markers along the trip to keep a look out for to ensure you are staying on track.


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

  • Gear list for late fall/early winter:
    • Head lamp: It can take longer to complete hikes this time of year with the varying trail conditions. A head lamp ensures your safety if you find yourself still on the trail after dark.

    • Traction devices: Higher elevations in the High Peaks may be covered in snow and ice.

    • Waterproof hiking boots: trails are a mix of mud, ice, and snow. Protect your feet from the elements with proper hiking boots. This will also help as a prevention against hypothermia.

    • Footwear with no traction such as running shoes are unsafe on wet, slippery trails.
    • Hat, gloves, wool socks and wind protectant layers: summits and exposed areas will be colder and windy. Protect yourself from hypothermia by wearing and packing the proper layers.

    • Plenty of water: the colder temperatures tend to make people feel less thirsty, but it is important to stay hydrated no matter the weather.

    • Map of route: trails are covered in leaves, ice or snow making them harder to follow. Knowing your route will help you stay on track. Always be on the lookout for trail markers and junctions so you don’t miss your turn or stray off trail.

    • Emergency essentials kit: Varying weather and trail conditions create a lot more opportunity for injuries or going off course. Carrying an emergency essentials kit will prepare you to handle unexpected situations.

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.


Emergency Essentials:

  • 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, and extra snacks.

Keep Dogs on Leashes

  • Respect other trail users by keeping your dog on a leash. While your dog may be well behaved and friendly, other dogs may not be. Other users may also have small children or a fear of dogs themselves.
  • With hunting season in full swing, it is much safer for your dog to be leashed during this time as well.

General Conditions/Notices

Learn the conditions you will encounter from Adirondack Backcountry Information.


  • Watch for Moose: Motorists should be aware that moose are rutting this time of year. Moose will be wandering around looking for mates and walking into roads without paying attention to vehicles. Four moose-vehicle collisions occurred during a recent three-day period. Take precautions to avoid colliding with moose.
  • Fall Foliage: Leaves are past peak and many have fallen due to recent heavy winds Owl Head Lookoutand rain. Use caution on trails covered with leaves on steeper slopes.
  • Fall Weather: Temperatures are cooler and days are shorter.
    • The sun sets earlier and rises later – carry a flashlight or headlamp. 
    • Dress in layers of non-cotton, wicking fabric, and pack extra clothing. 
    • Those hiking to the higher summits should also pack a winter hat, gloves and traction devices.
  • 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:
    • Trails may be covered in ice and snow at higher elevations and exposed areas and summits. Bring traction devices on all high elevation hikes.
    • Fallen leaves have made trails slippery. Use caution on steeper slopes.
    • 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 trails 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 much colder, winds will be stronger, and higher elevations may have wintry weather and ice. 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 Temperatures: Water temperatures are cooling. Paddlers and boaters should wear a personal flotation device (PFD, aka life jacket). People immersed in cold waters can lose the ability to think clearly and move quickly after only a short time in the water. Anglers fishing from shore or wading should also wear a PFD.
  • Water Levels: Due to recent rain water, 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. 
    • Boaters and paddlers should be alert for objects on or below the surface that are typically covered by deeper water.

 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. Check the Backcountry Information for the Adirondacks for ongoing issues and more detailed information.

  • Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The last segment of the trail to Spruce Mt. Fire Tower in Corinth will be closed from 10/20 until 12/2 for the regular big game season. Access to the tower is prohibited during this time. This part of the trail is on Lyme Timber lands, and is closed each year for this period.
  • High Peaks/Sentinel Range Wildernesses: The trails through the Elk Lake Past Peak FoliageConservation Easement Tract – to Mt. Marcy via Panther Gorge and to Dix Mountain – will be closed to public use for the duration of the big game hunting season beginning Saturday, October 20. The trails will reopen for public use on December 3.
  • Boreas Ponds/Vanderwhacker Wild Forest: Currently, there are no designated tent sites on these lands - roadside or truck camping is not available at this time.
  • West Canada Lake Wilderness: A broken foot bridge spanning Lamphere Brook on the Northville-Placid Trail was recently replaced with a new 35-foot bridge.
    • State Police Aviation and DEC Forest Rangers transported materials for the bridge to the remote stream crossing by helicopter in Spring of 2018.
    • A Student Conservation Association Adirondack Corps crew completed the bridge replacement this Fall.
    • The bridge was fully replaced using treated poles and lumber for strength and longevity.
  • Essex Chain Lakes Complex: Gates have been open on two roads providing hunters and others motor vehicle access to additional lands and roadside primitive tent sites.
    • Camp Six Road has three roadside primitive tent sites and a parking lot at the end - one mile from the Chain Lakes North Road.
    • The gate at the Outer Gooley Club on the Chain Lakes Road South is open providing access to three primitive tent sites and a parking area 1.5 miles beyond the gate. Two additional tent sites are located past the gate at the seasonal parking area - one further north on the Chain Lakes Road South and one at Pine Lake.

Highlighted Hike- Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, Essex County, NY

Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain (2,162 feet), part of the Taylor Pond Wild Forest, provides 360-degree views of the surrounding area and may be accessed by either of two trails:

  • The 1.9-mile Observer's Trail ascends 1,280 feet from the trailhead to thePoke-O-Moonshine summit along the route of an old access road used by fire observers. The trail travels through the forest for much of its length and several beaver ponds may be observed along the route.
  • The 1.8-mile Ranger Trail ascends 1,280 feet from the trailhead in the Poke-O-Moonshine Day Use Area to the summit. Significant work has been completed to upgrade the existing trail. Stone steps were installed and portions of the trail are rerouted. The rerouted lower half of the trail passes through some interesting rock features. A reroute of the upper half of the trail will occur in the future.

The 35-foot tall Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain Fire Tower, a steel Aermotor LS40 tower, was constructed in 1917 to replace a wooden fire tower built in 1912. In 1920, the station was the first in the New York State system to be equipped with an experimental Osborne Fire Finder, a type of panoramic map developed by the U. S. Forest Service for use with an alidade.

The fire tower was staffed and used for fire observation until 1988 and now appears on the National Historic Lookout Register, along with the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Poke-O-Moonshine FiretowerThe tower has been open to the public since restoration was completed in 1996. The public may climb the tower and enjoy the view Thursdays through Mondays during the summer and on some weekends in the fall. A summit steward or volunteer is present when the fire tower is open and provides local and natural history interpretation, environmental education, and assistance for the hiking public. The cab of the fire tower includes interpretive panels on the interior walls which display the changes in land use of the surrounding area since the tower was installed.

Poke-O-Moonshine Day Use Area Parking is located off State Route 9 approximately four miles south of Exit 33 of the Northway (I-87). (44.3892°N, 73.5075°W).

Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower/Observer's Trailhead is located along State Route 9 approximately five miles south of Exit 33 of the Northway (I-87) (44.4019°N, 73.5029°W)