DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin - April 16, 2020

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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DEC Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Bulletin

April 16, 2020

DEC Encourages Responsible Recreation During the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

DEC and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) are encouraging New Yorkers to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. DEC and State Parks recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. In addition, DEC and State Parks launched a new hashtag - #RecreateLocal - and encourages New Yorkers to get outside and discover open spaces and parks close to home.

Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, ride a bicycle, fish, or visit a park or state lands is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with immediate household family members, and reduce stress and anxiety when practicing social distancing. While indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC's public facilities may be closed out of an abundance of caution to prevent community spread of COVID-19, many parks, grounds, forests, and trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week.

State parks, lands, forests, and facilities are monitored by park police, forest rangers, environmental conservation police officers (ECOs) and other staff. These parks, lands, forests, and facilities and visitors will incorporate physical distancing to limit potential spread of COVID-19. In addition, these officers and staff respond to, and assist local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, State resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

For the safety of all visitors and to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, DEC and State Parks are undertaking steps to reduce public density:

  • Closing all playgrounds;
  • Limiting access to athletic courts and sporting fields;
  • Canceling all public programs and events at state parks, lands, forests and facilities until further notice;
  • Closing all indoor visitor facilities, such as nature centers, environmental education centers, visitor centers, and historic houses to the public until further notice;
  • State Parks has closed all State Parks golf courses;
  • DEC is closing public access to DEC-controlled fire towers. Trails and the summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails; and
  • Limiting parking. If the parking lot is full, visit a different location to recreate responsibly. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas.

Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures

DEC has closed certain rock climbing routes in the Adirondacks to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Status of rock climbing routes:

  • Chapel Pond Area
    • Upper Washbowl Cliffs – Closed
    • Lower Washbowl Cliffs – Closed
    • Spider's Web – Open
  • Wilmington Notch Area
    • Moss Cliffs – Open
    • Notch Mountain – Closed
  • Poke-O-Moonshine - The climbing routes between and including Opposition and Womb With View are Open, all other routes are Closed.
  • Crane Mountain – All climbing routes are Open, except the Amphitheater section of the Black Arches Wall is Closed including Torcher, Eatin Tripe and Lichen It, Hang Time, and Black Arch Arete.
  • Shelving Rock – All routes on the Main Wall are Closed which includes routes #11 Lunar Manscape through #37 Princess Bride. All other routes on Shelving Rock are Open.
  • Potash Mountain – All routes are Closed.
  • Sleeping Beauty Mountain – All routes are Closed.

Once peregrine nest sites are determined, climbing routes that will not disturb nesting will be reopened. We anticipate reopening by the beginning of May although in some years it has taken longer to confirm nesting. Routes that remain closed will reopen after the young have fledged. Thank you for your cooperation. For more information please contact the Bureau of Wildlife at (518) 623-1240.

DEC Campgrounds

All DEC Campgrounds remain closed at this time, including campsites, bathrooms, playgrounds, pavilions, picnic sites, beaches, and other day use areas and facilities. The public may enter DEC campgrounds to access trails on the Forest Preserve or to walk or bike on the campground roadways. Motor and motorized vehicles are prohibited from entering DEC campgrounds. Visit in small groups limited to immediate household members and practice social distancing.

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.


  • HIKE SMART NY by always being prepared for your trip, variable trail conditions, and unexpected weather when 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.
  • DEC’s Otter Creek Horse Trail Facility is temporarily closed to overnight camping to help limit the community spread of COVID-19. Day-use of the area is still allowed but water and restroom facilities are not available.
  • Adirondack Mountain Reserve (aka Ausable Club) is immediately reducing the parking capacity on its lot near the intersection of Ausable Road and State Route 73 to a maximum of 28 vehicles in response to COVID-19. Parking is not permitted along Ausable Road, on Ausable Club lands, or along the nearby stretches of State Route 73.
  • Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Information Center will remain closed through May 14 in response to COVID-19. Parking at Adirondak Loj Trailhead remains open to the public for a fee. The restrooms on the back porch of the High Peaks Information Center are also open.
  • Whiteface Mountain Ski Area is closed to public access. This blocks public access to Bear Den Mountain Trailhead and Trail.
  • 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.
  • DEC and municipal seasonal access roads are closed for the spring mud season.
  • Trails are a mix of mud, ice and snow. Mud and ice are present at low to moderate elevations. Ice and deep snow are present in the higher elevations. Trail crampons should be carried on all hikes and snowshoes should be carried on high elevation hikes.
  • Ice is thin if it is present at all. 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.


Join DEC in celebrating Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22. Not only is it one of our favorite days of the year – it’s also our 50th Anniversary! While some of our favorite Earth Day activities are on hold, there are still plenty of ways to participate. Check out these fun ideas for celebrating Earth Day while responsibly social distancing:

  • Start a nature journal. With spring in full swing, flowers are blooming; birds are returning; and many mammals are emerging from their winter hideouts. Look out the window, spend some time in your backyard, or take a walk around the block. Pay attention to what you see and record your observations in a nature journal. Look back on old entries from time to time – you’ll be amazed how quickly things change.
  • Get the kids involved. Make a toad abode, participate in a Google Earth scavenger hunt, or take a finger safari. DEC’s education experts have put together a great list of fun, engaging activities to get your kids involved with Earth Day. Check out their list of quick family activities.
  • Take action at home. Earth Day Network has resources that allow you to take action while social distancing. Check out the Earth Challenge 2020, a community science app for iPhone and Android that allows users to track plastic pollution and local air quality just by taking photos.
  • Make a resolution. What more can you do to protect Earth? Whether it’s starting to recycle or aiming for a zero-waste household, every step toward a greener earth is worthy of celebration. And there’s no better day to start an Earth-friendly habit than on Earth Day!
  • Share it all. However you end up celebrating Earth Day, we want to see it! Post a picture of your Earth Day activity or share an old shot from a favorite New York State spot on social media with #EarthDay50 and #DEC50.

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