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Adirondack Backpacking

camping in a lean-to while backpacking in the Adirondacks

Guidelines for Backpackers

Pack a Tent

Don't depend on the availability of a lean-to. Tents also offer more protection from annoying insects.

Pack Extra Food

Bring at least one extra day's food supply for multi-day trips in case your hike takes longer than expected. Pack light. Your hike will be more enjoyable if you carry as light a backpack as possible without sacrificing safety items. Judge pack weight by physical condition and body weight.

Hang Your Food

Keep a clean camp and hang your food in a sturdy bag 12 or more feet above the ground and away from your campsite. Do not eat or store food in your tent. Small and large animals alike can ravage a campsite and equipment, bringing your trip to an abrupt halt. Do not underestimate bears and their desire for human food. They are clever, capable and motivated. Pack a portable stove. Do not count on building a campfire. Dead and down firewood is only permitted for use and will not always be available or dry. Nor is it an effective way to cook. Stoves do not scar the landscape as campfires do. Campfires are not permitted at elevations in excess of 4,000 feet and they may not be permitted in some areas because of dry weather, scarce firewood or environmental impact. If you must build a fire, use wood collected from the forest floor. Do not use standing deadwood since this is valuable habitat for Adirondack birds, insects, and small mammals.

Extinguish Fires Completely

Stir the ashes and pour plenty of water on the hot coals and embers before leaving the area. Never leave a campfire unattended. Campfires are a major cause of forest fires in the Adirondacks.

Hiking with Pets

When hiking with your dog in the Adirondacks, your pet should be under your control at all times. As trail use increases, the number of dogs hiking with their owners is increasing. Please exercise consideration toward fellow recreationists so that restrictive measures will not be necessary for the control of pets. Keep your dog quiet and remove droppings from the trail and campsite area. When others approach, particularly small children and other animals, leash your dog. Remember that others have no knowledge of your dog's temperament and they may react accordingly. Dogs are not allowed on trails within the Adirondack Mountain Reserve which is in the Ausable Lakes area.

Forest Preserve Regulations

Forest Preserve regulations are intended to preserve the environment and protect the safety of the user. Failure to comply may result in a ticketed violation punishable by fine. For more information and details contact your nearest DEC office and obtain the following booklets: "Use of New York State's Public Forest Lands" and "Tips for Using State Lands."

150 Foot Rule

Camping within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream or body of water except at camping areas designated by DEC is prohibited. Wash yourself and your dishes at least 150 feet from water sources. Bury human wastes under four inches of soil and leaf litter at least 150 feet from the trail or any water source.

Designated Campsites

DEC designates Adirondack backcountry campsites to keep use to previously disturbed areas, to mark locations where camping is acceptable, and to limit adverse impacts to resources and other campers. Designated sites are identified by DEC sign or disk. Outside of designated camping areas, backpackers may choose their own campsites provided they comply with the 150-foot rule noted above.

Camping Permits

A permit is required if camping on state land in one location exceeding three consecutive nights or in a group of 10 or more, regardless of the length of stay. The number of people per campsite may be limited in certain areas to reduce environmental and social impacts. Free permits may be obtained from DEC forest rangers; however, no permit will be issued to anyone under the age of 18.

Do not count on lean-to availability

Occasionally lean-tos will be relocated or removed entirely. Often they are already occupied. A lean-to must be shared with anyone who wishes to use it, up to capacity. You may not occupy a lean-to for more than three consecutive nights unless you have a camping permit. Tents may not be set up inside lean-tos. No nails or other fasteners may be used to secure tarps or ropes to the lean-to.

Mountain Bikes

Bicycles are permitted on existing trails and roads on forest preserve lands classified as Wild Forest; unless specifically prohibited by DEC sign due to environmental damage, user conflicts or safety concerns. Bicycles are prohibited on forest preserve lands classified as Wilderness. Many trails are designated for Adirondack biking.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Adirondack hunting and fishing is permitted on forest preserve lands in the Park within specified seasons. The Adirondack Park is a patchwork of private and public lands, please respect posted property. Applications for resident and non-resident big game licenses are available from local licensing agents. Contact the DEC for the name and address of the nearest vendor. Adirondack anglers under 16 years of age are not required to have a fishing license. For specific rules and regulations, limits, bait restrictions, maps and stocking lists contact any DEC office.