DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin - April 2, 2020

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin
April 2, 2020

DEC encourages responsible recreation during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Use common sense guidelines to practice safe recreation, reduce the burden on DEC forest rangers and other first responders, and help stop the spread.

During the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health. Scientific studies show that time outside in nature, especially among trees, significantly reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, energy, and sleep, and boosts the immune system.

#RecreateLocal - DEC encourages New Yorkers to recreate locally. Please continue to follow the CDC/NYSDOH's guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19 by choosing trails close to home, avoiding potentially busy trailheads, keeping at least six feet of distance between you and others, avoiding direct contact with other people, and staying home if you are showing or feeling any sign of symptoms.

Seek out less-used trails and waters and avoid busy trailheads. If you arrive and find a trailhead is crowded, seek out another place to recreate.

Keep it simple - To reduce the number of potential search and rescue incidents, take short hikes that are easily within your physical and navigational abilities. During the current public health crisis, DEC forest rangers and other first responders are needed to respond to COVID-19 related incidents.

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 these guidelines when using trailhead registers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • Only one person per group should register. Others in the group should stay away from the register.
  • If someone is at a register when you approach, stand at least six feet away and wait for them to leave before you approach.
  • Bring your own pencil or pen.
  • Minimize touching surfaces.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it immediately before and after using the register.
  • Don't cough or sneeze while at the register. If you must cough or sneeze, move away from the register and hand sanitize before returning.

General Conditions

  • HIKE SMART NY by always being prepared for your trip, variable trail conditions, and unexpected weather when you go out on the trail. 
  • The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has recommendations for responsible outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
  • All DEC Campgrounds remained closed at this time, including campsites, boat launches, day use areas, roadways and other facilities. The public is prohibited from being in any DEC campground for any purpose at this time.
  • DEC boat launches not within campgrounds are open for launching and retrieving boats. Docks are currently being installed at these boat launches. Bathrooms associated with boat launches remain closed.
  • All DEC-controlled fire towers are closed to the public to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 during the current public health crisis. Trails to the towers and the summits remain open.
  • Seasonal access roads are closed for the spring mud season. The roads will reopen to public motor vehicle use once they have thawed, dried and hardened and all necessary repairs and maintenance are complete.
  • Trails are a mix of mud, ice and snow. Mud and ice are present at low to moderate elevations, and there is still deep snow in the highest elevations. Trail crampons and snowshoes are still recommended for all hikes.  
  • Ice is thin. No ice should be considered safe at this time. 
  • Water levels in streams and rivers are high, currents are swift, and water temperatures are extremely cold.


mushroomHas COVID-19 turned you into an at-home teacher to your kids? Are you a full-time teacher finding new ways to engage your students from afar? Encourage your students to get outside and #RecreateLocal in their own backyards! Not only is time spent outdoors great for mental health, but the fresh air and physical activity will help them focus better for the rest of the day. Their time spent outside can even be educational.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, creators of the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, have shared a number of educational activities that teach responsible outdoor recreation to kids. From "Camp Oh No!" to the "Thumb Trick" and packing a backcountry poop kit, these fun, engaging activities can be done outside, inside, or over video chat to prepare kids for a lifetime of responsible outdoor recreation.

Inspire others to get outdoors by sharing how you and your family #RecreateLocal using the hashtag, and – from the backyard to the local trail – always remember to practice safe social distancing and follow CDC guidelines on minimizing the spread of COVID-19.