Rugged mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, lush forests, and scenic campsites are all at your disposal in the Adirondacks. With so much to discover, the experience of a lifetime is out there waiting for you. To ensure you have nothing but fun, make sure you're properly prepared by taking a few simple steps, including doing your research, making a plan, dressing appropriately, and packing the essentials.
With 6 million acres to explore, the Adirondack Region is a dream come true for avid and aspiring outdoorspeople. Rugged mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, lush forests, and scenic campsites are all at your disposal. With so much to discover, the trip of a lifetime is out there waiting for you. To ensure the best possible experience, make sure you're properly prepared for the wilderness and the situations you might encounter. Whether you're planning to hike, camp, paddle, or climb, consider the following wilderness preparedness tips before you head out.
The first step to being prepared is to do your research. How long is the trail you're hiking? What sort of conditions will you encounter? Will there be a lean-to, or should you bring a tent? Are the lakes you want to paddle all connected, or will you need to portage? While state and local environmental groups work hard to mark and maintain public lands, it is still wilderness. There won't always be a 'you are here' map or a Forest Ranger that you can ask questions of. More often than not, once you're in the wild, you're on your own. The more you know before you head out, the more prepared you will be to handle any situation you encounter.
If you're hiking, become familiar with your route and know what other trails you'll encounter. If you're paddling, know where you can put in, take out, and what conditions to expect. Backcountry camping is a lot of fun, but it doesn't come with many amenities. Know what you need to pack to have a fun, safe night and read up on how to store your food to avoid a bear encounter.
When it comes to the outdoors, knowledge is power. Gain more wilderness know-how by learning from the pros! Organizations like the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Nature Conservancy, and many more have tons of information available online, and their staff are happy to answer questions. Some groups even offer classes to help prepare you for an Adirondack wilderness adventure.
Once you've done your research, make a plan. Spontaneity is exhilarating, but it doesn't mix well with wilderness. The best way to ensure a positive outcome no matter what is to have a plan – and share it! Map out your route, determine your start time, anticipate your end time, and arrange check-ins with a responsible friend or family member. Share your planned route with that person as well. That way, if you miss a check in, they can alert emergency responders and give them an idea of where you might be.
When hiking or exploring backcountry lands, always remember to sign in at trail registers. That lets Forest Rangers know where you were planning on going, how many people were in your party, how long you planned on being out, and how to reach you if you don't return on time. This information could save your life if you run into trouble on the trail. At the end of your trip, make sure you sign out so you don't end up with an unnecessary search party!
Careful planning also sets you up for personal success. Overexerting yourself or getting lost is no fun. Plan a trip that is properly suited to your ability and experience level, the season, and your timeframe and you're bound to have a good time.
Believe it or not, the right outfit can make or break your wilderness experience. Before you head outdoors, make sure you're dressed appropriately. Dressing in layers is a great way to guarantee your warmth, even if the weather changes – and the weather can change quickly! Always check the forecast to see if there is rain, snow, high winds, or a dramatic temperature change on the horizon. When hiking, remember that conditions at the trailhead will be different than at the top. Even on a warm day, summits can be significantly colder and windy. You'll want an additional layer or windbreaker to wear at the summit.
In addition to dressing appropriately, bring extra layers. If you get caught in the rain, you'll be glad to have a fresh shirt to change into. If you accidentally slip into a stream, a warm, dry pair of socks will be a huge relief. Don't go overboard and bring multiple extra outfits though, as weight can add up quickly.
Last but not least, keep in mind the material your clothing is made of. Some materials, like cotton, won't wick away moisture or properly insulate you. Wool, on the other hand, will insulate even when wet, making it a great option for damp days and winter trips. In summer months, consider the breathability of your clothing. Material blends are great for that happy medium between breathable and moisture-wicking.
In order to have a fun and successful Adirondack experience, there are a few essentials you should plan on packing for any trip. You may need more or less than this depending on the season, the kind of trip you're taking, and the difficulty of the activity.
1. Food and Water
Make sure you have ample food and water – more than you think you will actually need. If an unexpected situation turns a day trip into an overnight, you'll be grateful you brought extra snacks and a spare water bottle. A simple water filtration solution is also a great supply to have.
2. First Aid Kit
Make your own from supplies you already have in your medicine cabinet, or buy a small one specifically made for outdoor recreation. In addition to Band-Aids and bandage wraps, consider the season and what special conditions you might encounter. If you require prescription medications, keep an extra dose in your kit in case you get caught overnight.
3. A Map
Phones and GPS devices can die or lose signal. Bring a paper map of your planned route and the surrounding area just in case you get turned around.
4. Matches or Fire Starter
Campfires are a staple of the outdoor experience. If you do end up staying overnight, a fire will be your best friend. Not only does it provide warmth and serve as a signal to those looking for you, but it also provides companionship and a sense of comfort. Not all areas of the Adirondacks permit recreational fires, so make sure you know the regulations of the land and only light a fire if necessary.
5. Headlamp or Flashlight
If your trip takes longer than expected, you may end up hiking out in the dark. Always bring a headlamp and/or flashlight, just in case.