High Peaks Wilderness DEC Regulations

Different regions of the Adirondack Park have differing regulations tailored to their specific concerns. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has adopted general rules for camping in the Adirondacks and Catskills. 

2020 DEC Regulations fact sheet for the High Peaks Wilderness

The Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area (HPWA) is the most heavily used and regulated region of the Adirondack Park. Effective January 1, 2020 the DEC will be enacting a revised list of regulations for this region, which includes rezoning to account for newly acquired lands. These new rules will be underlined below. The HPWA is split into two sections: the Central (formerly Eastern) and Outer (formerly Western) Zones.

Group Size

  • Overnight group size is limited to a maximum of eight people in both Central and Outer Zones.
  • Day use group size is limited to a maximum of 15 people.
  • Affiliated groups must maintain a separation distance of at least 1 mile (1.6 km) at all times.

Camping

  • No camping above 4000 feet at any time.
  • Camping between 3500 and 4000 feet is limited to designated sites.
  • Below 3500 feet in the Central High Peaks, camping is allowed at designated sites or lean-tos only.
  • Below 3500 feet in the Outer High Peaks, camping is allowed at at designated sites or at locations at least 200 feet (60 m) from any road, trail, or water source.

Campfires

  • No campfires or wood-burning camp stoves are allowed in the Central High Peaks.
  • In the Outer High Peaks, campfires are allowed only at designated sites or at locations at least 200 feet (60 m.) from any road, trail, or water source.
  • Chopping down trees for wood is strictly prohibited on state land

Bear Canisters

From May 1 to Oct. 31, campers in both the Central and Outer High Peaks are required to use bear-resistant canisters to store all food, food containers, garbage, and toiletries. Canisters are available to purchase and rent at ADK’s High Peaks Information Center, for sale at ADK’s Lake George Member Services Center, and for sale and rent at several other local retailers. The rental rate at HPIC is $8 per two nights. While not required by law in other parts of the Adirondack Park and the Catskills, the DEC highly encouraged overnight backpackers to bring bear canisters as an extra precaution.

Notice: The blue Bear Vault and orange Frontiersman bear canisters are ineffective in the High Peaks Wilderness. Backpackers that own one of these canisters can do a free bear canister rental exchange at the High Peaks Information Center. They can be reached at 518-523-3441 for more details.

Dogs

  • In the Central High Peaks, dogs must be on a leash at all times.
  • In the Outer High Peaks, dogs must be on a leash at trailheads, campsites, and areas over 4000ft.

Winter Recreation

  • If snow levels are 12 inches or more off trail, hikers must have either snowshoes or skis.

Other Regulations

  • No soap or detergents in any water body.
  • No disposal of food in any water body.
  • No use of any motorized equipment, including drones.
  • Use existing outhouses or deposit human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep and at least 200 feet (60 m) from any water body.
  • Glass containers are prohibited.

Additional regulations may apply. Please review regulations at the trailhead before starting your trip.

The above information is provided as a public service of ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club). For further information, contact the Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 5 Office, Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977, 518-897-1200.