Adirondacks 101

Basic Information on Hiking in the Adirondacks.

I will Update this as I think of things. More Info in other sections of FAQ

What is the Adirondack Park?

The Adirondack Park is a 6 Million Acre State not national park of both public and private lands. It is the largest park in the USA outside of Alaska.

There is no entrance to the Park, You do not need a reservation or a permit to come here. It is free, you do not have to pay to get in. (Well as a New York State Taxpayer free might not be the right word). There are only old signs to let you know when you get in the park.

Except at public campgrounds the public land in the Adirondacks is true wilderness. You are on your own.

If it is a Park Why is there Private Land?

Even though it is a park people and organizations own private land within it's boundaries. There are even villages. The state owns ~3,000,000 Acres all for public use. Most of the more popular destinations in the Adirondacks are on state land. You can not walk on private land where it is posted (No trespassing signs on trees around the boundary). Some Private Landowners Allow hikers to cross there land to reach some popular destinations. Example are The Adirondack Mountain Reserve, Elk Lake Lodge, Adirondack Loj. On some mountains the private land goes all the way to the summit. All summits of the 46 High Peaks are on State Land.

How is the accessabilty and parking at the Trailheads?

They vary so make sure you check your guide. Some trailheads are huge parking lots, while some you literally park on the side of the road. The roads to Trailheads that are not a main road are often not paved and in bad shape. Winter Access to these may be difficult since more often than not they are not plowed. The trailheads to the High peaks are generally good. Many less popular trailheads outside the high peaks are often unmarked and difficult to find.

How Much Does it Cost?

At 99.9% of all the hiking trailheads in the Adirondacks there is no fee. You Basically Park your car and go.  

Where do I have to Pay?

These are only ones I can think of. All cost less than $10. The cost is to park your car.

The Adirondack Loj

The Garden

Chimney Mountain

Putnam Ponds (for Treadway mt)

Paradox Lake (For Peaked Mountain)

Whiteface Mt. Tollroad. If you want to drive to the top.

Do I need a permit?

Only if you have 10 or more in your group or plan to stay at a particular location for more than 3 nights. Other then that, just park and go.

Do I have to register?

At most trailheads there is a register. You do not register with a person. The register is basically just a notebook in a box similar to a Hotel register book. You "sign in" your name, where you are from, where you are going, number of people in your group, how long you are staying and that's all, You don't get a pass or a ticket. When you finish your hike there is a box in the notebook you "check out" in. You don't really have to sign in if you don't want to but I would highly recommend that you do. The purpose of signing in is to let the Park Rangers know you are out there and it makes it easier for them to locate you in an emergency.

If you are plan to hike on a path or Bushwhack there is no register.

In the High Peaks Wilderness you must register and fill out a form. Failure to have the completed form with you could result in a fine.

What is a Lean-To and do I need Reservations?

A Lean-To is a wooden shelter with one side open. It basically looks like a very small empty cabin with one wall missing. They should not be confused with the Huts of the White Mountains for there are no bathrooms or anyone to serve you food. They are good to camp overnight in since they are raised above the ground. No reservations are taken for Lean-tos they are a first come first serve basis. So you should always bring a tent because there availability should not be counted on. 

What are the Camping restrictions (Outside the High Peaks)?

Compared to other Parks around the country, the Adirondacks are very unrestrictive.

The Basic rules are

No camping within 150 feet of a main road, trail or stream.

No camping above 4000 feet. (*Note You could in Winter but the Winter of 1999-2000 will be the last year you are allowed to). 4000 feet is above the tree line and very windy and cold even in summer so you wouldn't want to camp there anyhow.

If you are staying more than 3 nights at any location or you have 10 or more people in your group you need a permit to camp. (Note: 3 nights "at any location" means the same place. Each day you could move your campsite to another place close by and not worry about getting a permit.)

There could be a sign from the NY DEC the allows or restricts camping at certain spots.

No camping on Private Land.

Other than that you can camp pretty much anywhere.

What are the Camping restrictions (The High Peaks)?

As of  April 1, 2000 There are new restrictions in the High Peaks Area. The High Peaks area includes most of the 46 highest peaks. The general borders are North (Rt. 86 & 3), South (Rte. 2 & 28N), East (Rte. 73), West (Rte. 30).

Note : The Mountains in the Giant Mt Wilderness Area, Dix Mt Wilderness Area, Senital Wilderness (Whiteface Area) Area, Hurricane Primitive Area are not part of the High Peaks.

The same rules above apply

Due to environmental damage there is no Camping around Indian Falls.

No Glass Containers

No Fires in the Eastern High Peaks

Group sizes for day hikes can't exceed 10 persons, if more that 10 are in a group they must split up and stay at least a mile apart.

You must sign in register

Dogs must be leashed at all times at campsites and on marked trails.

What is the difference between a Trail and a Path?

A trail is a well maintained footpath to the top of a mountain or other destination. The trail will have markers to let you know which way to go. Trails are generally easy to follow. Trails are created and maintained by volunteers or the NY DEC. Maintenance on trail means that if any tree or other obstacle falls on the trail it will be removed. Trails also have bridges or waterbars to help you get across wet spots.

A path (also called a Herd Path) is a non-maintained footpath to a popular destination. Paths are created by hikers going to popular destinations. Some paths are easy as trails to follow and some are real nightmares. It is advised that anyone not familiar with the Adirondacks don't try to follow them. 

What about the Trailess peaks of the 46?

Due to the popularity of hiking the High Peaks, there are paths to each of the trailess peaks. The Paths are so worn down they are just as easy as the trails to follow.

Can I bring My Dog?

Yes. Dogs can go anywhere on public land. Dogs are not aloud in the AMR.

Dogs must be leashed at all times at campsites and marked trails in the High Peaks wilderness area.

What is the Garden?

The Garden is the trailhead parking area for the very popular John Brook Lodge trails. Great Range, Marcy, Big Slide trails start from here. As of this year It cost $5 to park there. On weekends from memorial day to columbus day the parking lot is usually filled to capacity very early (so if you come make sure you are here before 7 AM). You cannot park along the road to the garden. To help with the parking problems there is now a shuttle bus running from Marcy Field to the Garden and back. It cost $3 it comes once every half hour.

What is the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR)?

The Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) is a 7000 acre private reserve located in the High Peaks area. They allow public access to there trails at no cost. They do not allow dogs or camping on their land.

What is the Adirondac Loj?

The Adirondac Loj is a campground/trailhead run by the Adirondack Mountain Club. Trails goto Mt. Jo, Algonquin and Marcy Dam. They allow full public access and no reservations are needed if you want to use their trails. Reservations are needed if you want to camp there. They charge a nominal fee for parking there. They have a huge parking lot but sometimes it does get full and they divert people to nearby south meadow.

What About Hunting Season?

I would suggest coming before mid September before the snows but if you want to come afterwards Do not come during "Regular" Deer Hunting Season.

Archery Season starts around Sep 27. This time is usually safe. Using a Bow and Arrow takes a lot of skill, There are a lot less people who hunt like this and Arrows don't stray to far. So hunting accidents during this time are almost unknown.  

Muzzle Loading Season starts the 2nd Saturday of October. Still generally safe for the same reason as above, but you still want to be cautious.         

Regular Season starts the 3rd Saturday in October. This is when the nuts come out. While many hunters are responsible, just as many are not. Many have the attitude to shoot first and ask questions later. Many use hunting as an excuse to get drunk and play with firearms. I could fill a whole website of hunting horror stories that I have personally observed. I highly advise that you do not come here to hike at this time.

To Almanac

To Questions