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Adirondack Lean-Tos: Etiquette, Locations & More

Adirondack lean-tos are one of a few different ways you can enjoy camping in the Adirondacks. See what you need to know below.

millman pond lean-to
Millman Pond Lean-To in the Lake George Wild Forest, photo credit: Alan Nudi

Lean-To Basics & Etiquette

A lean-to is a three-sided log structure that has one open side and an overhanging roof. Lean-tos make perfect shelters for camping, and many are found along Adirondack trails.

  • Lean-tos are first come, first serve; you cannot reserve them
  • Bring a backup tent in case your desired lean-to is taken
  • If you have a party smaller than 6 to 8 people, you are required to share with other campers if there are any
  • Tents must be set up no closer than a 1/4-mile from a lean-to
  • Some lean-tos have a fire pit and/or picnic table close by

Do not:

  • Carve or write your initials in the lean-to
  • Use plastic to close off the open part of the lean-to
  • Use nails or similar fasteners to affix a tarp on a lean-to (you can use rope to tie a canvas or tarp)
  • Leave anything behind when you go, including "gifts" for the next campers
pharaoh lake lean to with six guys in it
One of the Pharaoh Lake lean-tos

Where to Find Adirondack Lean-Tos Throughout the Park

There are over 200 lean-tos throughout the Park. Most wilderness areas have between 1 and 10 lean-tos, although some have more.

The High Peaks Wilderness has 73 lean-tos, West Canada Lakes Wilderness has 16, Pharoah Lake Wilderness and Sargent Ponds Wild Forest each have 14, and Paul Smiths has 12. 

The link below brings you to CNY Hiking's website, where they have a great breakout on lean-tos in each camping area.

Find more info on lean-to locations from CNY Hiking >>

A Little Adirondack Lean-To Background

The first lean-tos were constructed in New York State in 1919, which was a time when many were realizing how fantastic the Adirondack region is for camping and vacationing. 

The ADK Lean-To Adopters are volunteers who work to ensure the safety and stability of lean-tos throughout the Park. 

See primitive camping spots >>

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