Backcountry Camping Rules & Guidelines

Backcountry camping is allowed on the Adirondack Forest Preserve as well as State Forest lands outside of the Adirondack Park. Camping is prohibited on Unique Areas, Wildlife Management Areas and a few other categories of state land. Hiking is generally permitted anywhere on state lands, however, special restrictions apply to both Adirondack mountain biking and horseback riding.

Rules and guidelines for the use of public lands managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are generally as follows:

Camping  & Personal Hygiene in the Adirondacks

  • Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at areas designated by a "camp here" disk.
  • Groups of ten or more campers or stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the DEC Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
  • Lean-tos are available in many areas on a first come first served basis. Lean-tos cannot be used exclusively and must be shared with other campers.
  • Use pit privies (outhouses) provided near popular camping areas and trail-heads. If none are available, dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6"-8" deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites. Cover with leaves and soil.
  • Do not use soap to wash yourself, clothing or dishes within 150 ft of water.
  • Except in an emergency or between December 15th and April 30th, camping is prohibited above an elevation of 4,000 feet in the Adirondacks.

Fires & Cooking while in the Adirondack Park

  • Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided.
  • Use only dead and down wood for fires. Cutting standing trees is prohibited.
  • Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch.
  • Do not build fires in areas marked by a "No Fires" disk. Fires are prohibited in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and above 4000 feet throughout the Adirondacks. Camp stoves are safer, more efficient and cleaner.
  • Carry out what you carry in. Practice "leave no trace" camping and hiking.
  • Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.

Adirondack Wildlife

  • Observe and enjoy Adirondack wildlife and plants but leave them undisturbed.
  • Removing plants, rocks, fossils or artifacts from state land without a permit is illegal.
  • The storage of personal property on state land is prohibited.
  • The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters. Bear-resistant canisters are an effective means for keeping bears from your food and their use encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Specific land units in the Forest Preserve may have regulations that differ from the rules and guidelines listed above. The DEC web site contains additional information on backcountry camping, or contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518- 897-1300.

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