Welcome to the NCT in the Empire State!
The North Country National Scenic Trail enters New York State from the east as it crosses the Lake Champlain Bridge from Vermont (Long Trail & Appalachian Trail). Once hikers step foot on the New York side they immediately enter the Adirondack Park at the Crown Point State Historic Site. It is worth the time to take a quick look at the remains of the two forts at this site.
The Adirondack Park is 6 million acres (50% private, 50% public) and the NY State Constitution and State Land Master Plan protect the public lands or Forest Preserve. The trail through the park crosses eight units, each classified as Wild Forest or Wilderness as well as several easement lands. As the trail crosses the Central Adirondacks, approximately 158 miles, it offers foot travelers mountains, spectacular vistas in remote areas of dense forests rich with many lakes, bogs, and cascading streams. Camping is permitted anywhere in the Forest Preserve (i.e. public land) as long as it is 150 ft. from the trail, stream or water body. Campers should hang their bear bags high each night.
The final route through the central Adirondack Mountains is a combination of existing trails (81 miles), new trails (38miles) yet to be built and some temporary road walks (39 miles). Road connectors fill the gaps where trail sections are yet to be built.
The 2015 Final Plan for the Adirondack route with maps at the end of the document can be accessed at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/ncnst001.pdf.
Volunteers are working with Department of Environmental Conservation Planners and Foresters to insure that the NCNST is included in each Unit Management Plan (UMP). Only after the trail route is included a UMP can new trail be constructed and marked as NCNST in that unit (Wild Forest or Wilderness Area).
West of the Adirondack Park the trail enters the hamlet of Forestport. The NCTA Central New York Chapter maintains this approximately 95-mile section. From here the trail follows several canal towpaths. The Black River Feeder Canal towpath leads to Boonville, where the trail passes The Black River Canal Museum. The Black River Canal, operated by BREIA (Black River Environmental Improvement Association), with its many locks along the towpath leads to Pixley Falls State Park. Until a permanent route is determined, south of Pixley Falls State Park, local roads and Delta Lake State Park get hikers to the historic Erie Canal through Rome, the location of Fort Stanwix, a Revolutionary War era fort. Note that Lock 21 west of Rome is an operating lock on the newer Erie/Barge Canal. The towpath, Old Erie Canal State Park, takes the hiker to Canastota. From Canastota the trail leaves the Old Erie Canal towpath and passes through forested hills, rural villages, the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park and the Nelson Swamp Unique Area south to the FLT/NCT Onondaga Trail (blue blazes) junction in the Tioughnioga Wildlife Management Area, leading to the Finger Lakes Main Trail (white blazes). For NCNST maps visit here.
For the next 422 miles, the North Country Trail follows (is coincident with) the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) westward, on a well established, long distance foot trail that is host to the NCNST. The FLT passes dramatic, glacier-formed ridges with scenic views of the Finger Lakes, deep verdant valleys, secluded glens, and many waterfalls, touching the south ends of the Finger Lakes, and passing through Watkins Glen, Letchworth and Allegany State Parks. The FLT is 50/50 private/public land so it is necessary to stay on the trail and avoid stealth camping. Hikers should look for camping opportunities in State Parks and State Forests. Finger Lakes Trail hiking maps (M1-M21, O1-O2) are available at www.fltconference.org. The mile by mile narrative on the back of the FLTC maps serves as a trail guide. From Allegany State Park the trail crosses the NY PA state line.
Anyone with an adventurous spirit will enjoy the New York section of the North Country National Scenic Trail.