This information is provided to ensure a safe and enjoyable Adirondack hiking and backcountry trip and lessen your impact on the environment.
Plan your trip carefully. Learn about the area ahead of time. Read the trail guide description of the hike you will be taking and review the appropriate topographic maps. Assess the difficulty and length of the time needed to complete the trip and check Adirondack weather reports before you set out. Dress and equip yourself for the expected conditions. Always carry the latest Adirondack hiking books and maps. Ensure you are aware of the below Forest Preserve Regulations to avoid tickets and fines.
Never Hike Alone
Companions are for safety as well as for sharing the scenery and fun. Each person in the party should know what to do in an emergency. Forest rangers recommend a minimum party size of three persons. In case of an accident, at least one person should remain with the injured person while others in the group should carefully note the location and contact the local forest ranger.
File a Trip Plan
Let a responsible person at home know what kind of car you are driving (make, color, license plate number), what your route will be and how long you will be gone. Always sign in at the trail registers. If you do not return by the designated time, the DEC should be notified.
Carry water. Each person should carry a minimum of two quarts of water in an unbreakable bottle. Drink plenty of fluids during strenuous activity; especially in the winter and summer. Purify water. All water sources must be considered contaminated by giardia protozoan which can cause severe sickness including diarrhea. For longer hikes, pack iodine tablets or a water purifier/filter. Or bring water to a rolling boil on a portable stove for a full five minutes to kill contaminants. Use proper sanitation methods. Use a privy where one is provided.
Carry out what you carry in. Carry a garbage bag and consider picking up trash left by others. Leaving the forest cleaner than you found it is a gesture of good trail etiquette. Burial is not an acceptable method of disposal. Bury human wastes under four inches of soil at least 150 feet from the trail or any water source.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Wear sturdy boots and appropriate clothing. Trail hiking differs considerably from walking on roads. The trails are often rough with rocks and exposed roots, and there are sections of trail that are wet and muddy most of the time. Good ankle-high boots can support your ankles, give you traction and keep your feet dry. Clothing should be loose-fitting and give protection from wind, rain, and cold. Keep dry and warm. Be ready for wind and rain (or snow), pack rain and wind gear, gloves, and a hat. Know the signs of hypothermia. Avoid cotton clothing especially in fall, winter and spring hiking. Cotton has no insulating ability when wet and takes a long time to dry. Wear wool, polypropylene or poly-fleece for warmth. Pack sunscreen, insect repellent and/or a head net. A baseball hat, for the sun, and a long-sleeved shirt and light-weight nylon pants are a good idea during buggy seasons.
Pack a Map and Compass
Each person in the group should have both and know how to use them. Guidebook trail descriptions are useful for finding unmarked overlooks and for following poorly marked sections of trail. Stay oriented; know where you are. Summer trails can easily disappear under leaves and snow.
Pack a flashlight with extra batteries, a whistle, and waterproof matches. Even if it is only for a day trip! Sometimes a hike takes longer than expected, a flashlight provides the only means to get out of the woods after dark. If lost you can't shout for long, but a whistle can be blown almost indefinitely. The signal for help is three consecutive blasts on the whistle. A smoky fire is one of the best ways to let search and rescue teams know where you are. Pack a first aid kit that includes ace bandages (to support tired joints) and moleskin (for blisters). Bring a jackknife, space blanket, extra protective clothing and high energy food items. A waterproof tarp and 30 feet of nylon cord can be used to erect an emergency shelter.
Alpine Summits Deserve Your Respect
On alpine summits walk only on rocks and avoid trampling fragile alpine vegetation. Join in the effort to save the endangered alpine plants. Extreme wind and weather are common on open summits. Use caution and wear protective clothing.
Don't Disturb the Wildlife
Observe and enjoy wildlife and plant life but leave them undisturbed. Picking, collecting or damaging living plants and trees on public lands is against the law. Feeding wildlife encourages animals to rely on humans for food. This is not only unhealthy but also may potentially reduce their ability to find food on their own.