It’s officially fall! Fall hiking in the Adirondacks is amazing with the foliage that should be appearing over the next few weeks, but trails can get overcrowded. Here’s everything you need to know about crowds, the fall weather, and trail conditions in the Adirondacks for this weekend.
Crowds on Weekends
Trails, summits, and parking areas are expected to be significantly crowded on weekends through Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Specifically, parking areas along the Route 73 corridor, the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, Dix Mountain Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness, and Eastern High Peaks are all expected to be more populated than usual.
Adirondack Loj Trailhead
When the parking lot by this trailhead is full, DEC forest rangers will be turning around motor vehicles on the Adirondack Loj Road at South Meadow Lane.
You can avoid the crowds and still get in a great hike with spectacular views of the autumn foliage, mountains, and waters of the Adirondacks! The DEC has identified a dozen nearby hikes that provide a very similar experience to the High Peaks:
- Rocky Peak
- Baxter Mountain
- Owl’s Head Lookout
- The Crows
- Whiteface Mountain
- Scarface Mountain
- Copperas & Owen Ponds
- Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain
- Catamount Mountain
- Silver Lake Mountain
- Bear Den Mountain
- Cobble Lookout
- Clements Pond
Along with the amazing foliage many seek when hiking in the fall, the new season also brings about some weather changes to be aware of.
The sun is setting earlier each day, around 6:50pm, and even earlier in the deep valleys and on the northern and eastern facing slopes. Plan to return to the trailhead by 6:50pm, but always carry a flashlight or a headlamp while hiking just in case.
Both the days and nights are now cooler. Nighttime temperatures are forecasted to be below freezing this weekend with daytime highs in the 40s and 50s. Wear non-cotton clothing, dress in layers, and pack extra clothing like a non-cotton jacket or a sweater and hat. Add or remove layers as needed while hiking.
Of course, the summits are likely to be cooler and windier than the trails, so keep this in mind as well.
Some big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting seasons are open. Hikers should be aware that hunters with firearms or archery equipment will be out hunting, and they have the legal right to participate in these activities on the forest preserve. Hunting accidents with non-hunters are incredibly rare, but you should wear bright colors just in case.
The DEC and the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program have been working on the removal of Marcy Dam. Work may still be ongoing, so please pay attention to caution flagging in this area, and follow the reroutes around equipment at the dam. Do not enter the worksite or disturb the tools when workers are not present.
Water Levels and Showers
Water levels should be low at the moment, but can rise quickly, especially during and after rain. Showers are forecasted for this weekend.
Like last week, trails may be wet and muddy along water bodies, especially with the forecasted showers. Remember to remain on trails, walking through mud and water as necessary to prevent trailside erosion. Wear waterproof footwear and gaiters.
Fire danger is still moderate. Remember never to leave a campfire unattended, and ensure all fires are out completely with all wood, coals, ember, and ash cool.
Black bears are still more active than usual. Campers not using bear-resistant canisters properly have lost their food to bears. Remember, the use of bear-resistant canisters is required in the Eastern High Peaks, but recommended throughout the Adirondacks.
Bears are more active in the evening – cook, eat, and clean up before dusk. Keep your campsite as clean as possible and don’t keep coolers or food out at any time. Toiletries should be treated as food items and stored securely as such.
A trail reroute has been constructed around the washout near Uphill Lean-to by members of the Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program.
East River Trail
The second bridge on the East River Trail to Allen Mountain and Hanging Spear Falls has been replaced by the DEC and Student Conservation Association Adirondack Program. Please do not bounce on the bridge.
Moose Creek Suspension Bridge
Repairs on the bridge on the Northville-Placid Trail between Shattuck Clearing and Cold River are completed and the bridge is now open for use.
Whiteface Landing Trail
The trail has been rerouted to avoid private camps on Connery Pond. The trail now starts at the small parking area just before the private gate. Please respect the private property by staying on the trail.
Boreas Ponds Tract
The Interim Access Plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract has been developed, opening up new recreational opportunities:
- 3.2 miles of motor vehicle access on the Gulf Brook Road
- 6.7 miles of roadway open to bicycling from Blue Ridge Road to Boreas Ponds Dam
- About 25 miles of 7 roadways open to horse and horse drawn wagons
- 5 year-round parking areas and 3 seasonal parking areas
The lands of this tract are unclassified at this time. The Interim Access Plan does not have any bearing on future land classification of the tract currently in development and does not prejudge what access and uses will be allowed in the future. The public is prohibited from trespassing in and around the leased camps.
High Peaks Wilderness
Ouluska Brook Bridge: The bridge over Ouluska Brook on theNorthville-Placid Trail has collapsed into the brook. Because water conditions are low it is still possible to cross the brook.
Blueberry Hiking Trail: The first 1,500 feet of this trail has been closed. The trail now connects with the Blueberry Horse Trail about .3 miles east of the previous location (.8 miles from Seward Trailhead). This reroute eliminates the need to hike through a large wet area.
Blueberry Horse Trail: This trail between Calkins Creek Horse Trail and Ward Brook Trail in the Western High Peaks contains extensive blowdown, is grown in with vegetation, and is poorly marked. The trail is impassible to horses. The DEC aims to work on this trail in the fall.
Phelps Trail: The high water bridge over Slide Mountain Brook between the Garden and Johns Brook Lodge is broken and unusable.
Northville Placid Trail: This trail has been rerouted around a beaver pond south of Plumley’s Point on the shores of Long Lake. It passes the beaver pond higher up the slope and eliminates the need to cross the beaver dam. Follow the blue NPT trail markers.
Corey’s Road: Logging trucks are still on this road – keep an eye out for them when entering from trailheads.
Garden Trailhead Parking Area: There is a $7 a day fee for parking. An attendant is present 1pm to 7pm on Fridays and from 7am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays until October 16th. The rest of the week hikers are expected to pay the fee using an envelope and collection slot.
Garden Trailhead Shuttle: The shuttle between Porter Mountain/Marcy Field Trailhead Parking Area and the Garden Trailhead operates from 7am to 7pm on weekends and holidays through October 16th. A round trip costs $5.
Bradley Pond Trail: The first and second foot bridges have been damaged and are unusable. The stream can be forded/rock hopped most of the time on the down stream side of the bridge sites.
Mount Marshall: Many of the herd paths and trail-less peaks go around the slopes of the mountain without reaching the peak. Use a compass to navigate and don’t follow the paths created by others.
Trap Dike: Do not use the abandoned equipment here; it is unsafe due to aging and weatherizing.
Calkins Creek Horse Trail: This trail has two bridges out, making it impassible for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.
Adirondack Mountain Reserve (Ausable Club)
The AMR consists of private lands between the Dix Mountain Wilderness and the High Peaks Wilderness in the Adirondacks. The public easement agreement only allows for hiking (or snowshoeing and skiing when in season) on the designated trails and roads. Traversing the Lower or Upper Ausable Lakes is prohibited. Do not trespass on AMR lands or waters, or participate in any unauthorized activities. Dogs are prohibited on the AMR.
Giant Mountain Wilderness
North Trail to Giant Mountain: Beaver activity has flooded this trail just past the lean-to.
Hurricane Mountain Wilderness
Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower: The fire tower is still closed to the public at this time.
McKenzie Mountain Wilderness
State Route 86 Bridge Over the West Branch Ausable River: Construction is occurring about three miles northeast of Lake Placid. Construction is expected to continue until November 1st. Parking near the bridge will be restricted. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing are discouraged from using the parking areas near the bridge – use the parking area along Route 86 near the Connery Pond Road instead.
Paddlers using that section of river are advised to find an alternative route, and are discouraged from paddling under the bridge.