Adirondack Glossary


Acid Rain: Rain with a very low pH caused by a combination of rain water with Sulfur and Nitrogen mostly from Pollution. Acid Rain has killed and is killing our lakes by lower their pH and leaching Mercury and other heavy metals from the soil into them.

Acid Shock: In spring when the snow (which is acidic as rain) melts and runs off into a lake or pond and rapidly drops the pH. 

Adirondack Park Agency (APA): A NY state government agency that is in charge of the park. It is both loved and hated.

Ascent: (also call Total Ascent). The total amount of vertical climbing you must do. Including descents you have to make up. See also Vertical Rise.


Beaver Fever: The sickness caused by a Giardia Infection. Symptoms include fever, weakness and extreme diarrhea

Blackfly: A small gnat like swarming, annoying, biting insect that comes out usually around Memorial day thru the 4th of July.

Black Ice: An invisible sheet of Ice that forms on the road right after temperatures drop below freezing. Black Ice is the #1 cause of accidents in the North Country during Winter.

Blowdown: Term for many trees in an area being knocked ("Blown") down during a wind storm or an Icestorm. Someplaces hit hard look like an atomic bomb went off there. Due to the cold winters and short summers downed trees can take decades to disintegrate. Getting around blowdown on a path or bushwhack can be difficult.

Blue Line: Slang for the boundary of the Adirondack Park. On many maps it is drawn with a blue line

Boreal Forest: Forest type common to the northern Adirondacks and highlands. It's the mix of a temperate forest and a tiaga forest.

Boreas: The god of the North Wind in Greek mythology.

Bushwhack: going to a destination without using a trail or path.


Camp: A camp is a piece of property with a cabin or small house that is not equip with heat for the winter.

Cascade: A Waterfall that doesn't drop all at once but in many levels

Champ: The name of the Loch Ness monster like creature that lives in Lake Champlain.

Champlain Valley: The low valley around Lake Champlain (El. 95') on the New York and Vermont side. It separates the Adirondacks from the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Cheating: Using GPS to bushwhack

Col: a high valley between 2 mountains. It is basically where one mountain ends and another one begins.

Contour: Lines drawn on a map connecting points of equal elevation. The slope of the surface is steepest where the contour lines are closest together.

Cripplebush: nearly impenetrable strands of short trees. At high elevations trees can not grow tall or they will be killed by the cold winter wind. So instead they grow outward, their branches get tangled with each other making it hard for bushwhackers to push through them. Some Cripplebush trees are over 50 years old and only 5 feet tall.

Cul-De-Sac: A dead end


Dacks: A slang, shortened term for the AdironDACKS


Easement: A trail or road that allows hikers to cross private property

Erratic: A large boulder that was left in an unusual place by a retreating glacier.

Essex County Justice: You don't want to find out.


Finch Pryun: A Lumber company that owns land in the Newcombe/Tahawus area

Flatlander: A slang derogatory term for someone from downstate.

Flume: A natural water slide on a river.


Giardia Lamblia: A Protozoan Parasite that lives in Streams and Lakes and causes Beaver Fever

GNDN: Acronym for "Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing". Originally from Star Trek where set designers labeled some pipes and conduits seen on the Enterprise "GNDN" as an inside joke. In the Adirondacks the acronym fits when describing various herd paths, abandoned tote roads, slides and even trails that seemily Go nowhere and do nothing.   

The Great Range: The Great range is a awesome mountain range that runs from Snow mt. in Keene Valley to Haystack. The Great range rises steeply from Panther Gorge to the west, John's Brook Valley to the North, and Ausable Lake & River valley to the south and east. The Valleys the Great Range borders was carved deeply out by Glaciers unable to break down the almost erosion proof metamorphic rock of the Mountains and being forced into cutting around them.

Almost all the Mountains in the Great Range have massive slides & cliffs. And they are the most irregular shaped and most recognizable mountains in the Adirondacks. More postcards have their massive profiles on them than any other group (including Marcy)  

The Mountains of the Great Range can be seen heading south on the Northway between Exit 40 and Exit 39 (very far away). And on Route 86 heading east out of Lake Placid

The Mountains of the Great Range include

Snow- Rooster Comb- Hedgehog- Lower Wolfjaw- Upper Wolfjaw -Armstrong- Gothics- Saddleback- Basin- Haystack

Mt. Marcy is not part of the great range it was formed differently

GPS: A device cheaters use to Bushwhack


Hell Ride: a long drive on a winding, curvy, hilly road or a long winter drive on an unplowed road

High Peaks:

(Area): Refers to the Area that is in the Northeast/Central area of the Adirondack Park. The area which makes up only 6% of the park includes the The 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks.

(Mountains): Refers to all 42 Mountains that are above 4000 feet and the 4 others that were thought at one time to be over 4000 feet.

Hunting Camp: Private land which is used by a hunting club.


Ice Dam: During the winter usually late or after a warm spell ice on rivers melts a flows downstream until it hits a bridge where the ice piles up forming a dam in which water backs up behind it and eventually can end up causing floods.


(General): A storm where rain upon hitting the ground freezes and encases everything in Ice.

(Event: The Icestorm) Occurred in Jan. 1998. One of the worst natural disasters to hit the North Country. Many trees were brought down and damage can still be seen in various locations today. Many people had no power for weeks. 

International Paper Company: A lumber company which owns a lot of land in the Adirondacks and has a plant in Ticonderoga.


Krumholtz: Scientific name of cripplebush


Leaf Peeper: A tourist that is here to look at the changing colors of leaves during the fall. They have a way of being really annoying by driving really slow, slamming their brakes when they see a pretty tree and basically not paying attention to the road

Lean To: A 3 sided Structure with a roof where you can sleep out in the woods.


Macadam: A crappy road made of small closely packed broken stone. 4WD preferred.

Marcy Mile High Club: Use your imagination, this is a family Web site.

Metamorphic Rock: Rock that has been changed from sedimentary or igneous through heat or pressure. Most of the rock in the Adirondacks is of this type. Metamorphic rock is the most weather resistant type of rock so the Adirondacks should be here a long time.

Mudfest: A very muddy trail that if you hike you will come back very dirty.


Non-Technical Climb: Climbing a mountain without the aid/need for rope or other rock climbing gear.

North Country : Term for Upstate NY that is North of Albany & it's suburbs. It Includes all of the Adirondacks, the Champlain Valley and the St. Lawrence Valley. Note for those trying to fit in, people who live in the Adirondacks never say we are from the "Adirondacks" we use the term "North Country".

Northway: Interstate 87 North of Albany. Yes at Albany it starts back at exit 1

North Winds: Cold, eerie sounding winds that appear with little warning and come out of the north in the fall or winter that signal a coming massive temperature drop.

NY DEC: Abbrv. for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation


PeakBagger: A person who climbs mountains not for the views or the climb itself but for the purpose of completing a list. One could Argue that people who only climb the 46 high peaks are peakbaggers.

Public Easement: A trail or road over private land in which the public can access

Puck: Same as Cripplebush. This term is used more in the Appalachians than in the Adirondacks


Quadrangle: A square named section of a map of a whole area.


Radiation Cooling: When the sun goes down and it is a clear and cloudless night the earth from the earth in the form of infra red radiation can escape from the earth's atmosphere.


Scramble: Climbing steeply up open rock. Basically non-technical rock climbing.

Sled: Slang term for a Snowmobile

Spruce Trap: A hole or a decent that gets filled with small dead spruce trees. Mostly seen on bushwhacks above 3000 feet. You have a tendency to believe it is only 1 layer and there is solid ground beneath you until you fall in. Spruce traps are a real pain to get out of and have a tendency to really cut up your legs and arms if they are not covered. 

Summit Hog: A rude inconsiderate person who upon reaching the actual summit of a mountain stays there blocking other hikers.

Switchback: A switchback is when the trail at a steep section zigzags back and forth up the mountain instead of going straight up. They are used to prevent erosion. They can make a trail easier or more annoying to climb depending on your perspective.


Technical Climb: Rock Climbing vertical or near vertical with the aid of Rope and other climbing gear.

Tote Road: an abandoned logging road that could now part of a trail or path

Traffic Jam: A traffic Jam in the Adirondacks is when there are more than 5 cars on the road. 10 cars it is gridlock.

Trail: A Official footpath to a destination such as a mountain.  It is maintained and marked.

Trailhead: The Start of a trail. Usually where you park your car.

Trail Marker: A colored disk nailed to a tree to help you follow a trail.


USGS: Abbrev. for United States Geological survey. They are the ones who make the maps.


Verglas: a film of ice that often covers rock; usually requires the climber to use crampons.

Vertical Drop: The same as Vertical rise, only it's the vertical distance from the summit to base.

Vertical Rise: The Vertical Elevation difference from the base of a mountain or a trailhead to the summit.

**Vertical rise differs from ascent in that it doesn't included any descents you have to make up during the climb. An example of the differences can be found on Giant Mt. from the New Russia Trail (The Trail goes to Bald Peak then to Rocky Peak then to Giant). The Base is at 617 feet and the summit is 4627 feet. So the Vertical Rise is 4010'. However during the climb there are a few descents. One between Bald Peak and Rocky Peak that you descent 300 feet and one between Rocky Peak and Giant that you drop 700 feet. You have to reclimb these, so the Ascent from the trailhead is 5010 feet.  


WaterBar: Logs or Rocks placed on wet or muddy spots on a trail. They help prevent erosion and keep your feet dry.


Xenophobia: Fear and/or hatred of strangers or outsiders.