In 2018, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released an amendment to the Unit Management Plan (pdf link) for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex. This document, which addresses a broad range of topics from biodiversity to recreation regulations, represents a series of actions that the DEC will take to continue preserving the High Peaks region. Among these topics is a planned shift in zoning and regulations in response to new lands that were acquired by the state over the past few years.

Update: Originally, the goal was to implement the new regulations on January 1, 2020. However, due to the need for a public review and administrative approval, the regulations will not be implemented for at least another year. 2020 will be treated as a transition year, just like 2019. This means that rangers will not enforce the new regulations, but will be notifying people of the impending changes as they patrol the backcountry. Ideally this will result in a smoother transition once the new regulations come into effect.

Here is what you need to know about the proposed regulation changes:

New Zones, New Names

An updated version of the proposed High Peaks Wilderness zoning changes
  • The Eastern High Peaks will become the Central High Peaks Zone
  • The Western High Peaks and most of the new land acquisitions, including the former Dix Mountain Wilderness and Boreas Ponds tract, will become the Outer High Peaks Zone

See the graphic on the right for a visual representation of these new zones (click to expand).

Regulations Changing, Expanding Boundaries

  • Bear canisters will be required in both zones from May 1 to October 31 (currently April 1 to November 30)
  • Group size restrictions, which limit day hike groups to 15 people and overnight campers to 8 people, will be required in both zones
  • Skis and snowshoes will be required when there is 12 inches or more of off-trail snow in the Eastern/Central High Peaks (currently 8 inches)
  • Camping will be allowed at designated sites only in the Eastern/Central High Peaks

As stated, 2020 will be a transition period for these regulations. Rangers will be notifying visitors of the changes in order to prepare them for the official shift. Our High Peaks map reflects these changes already and has further details to help you out in the backcountry.

For more information, contact our High Peaks Information Center at 518-523-3441 ext. 121, or contact the DEC at 518-473-9518.