Adirondack Park Major Wild Forest Areas

Condensed from the Adirondack State Land Master Plan - June 2001

A wild forest area is an area where the resources permit a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness, primitive or canoe areas, while retaining an essentially wild character. A wild forest area is further defined as an area that frequently lacks the sense of remoteness of wilderness, primitive or canoe areas and that permits a wide variety of outdoor recreation. Those areas classified as wild forest are generally less fragile, ecologically, than the wilderness and primitive areas. Because the resources of these areas can withstand more human impact, these areas should accommodate much of the future use of the Adirondack forest preserve. The scenic attributes and the variety of uses to which these areas lend themselves provide a challenge to the recreation planner. Within constitutional constraints, those types of outdoor recreation that afford enjoyment without destroying the wild forest character or natural resource quality should be encouraged. Many of these areas are under-utilized.

Wild Forest Areas

Black River Grasse River Saranac Lakes
Blue Mountain Hammond Pond Sargent Ponds
Cranberry Lake Independence River Shaker Mountain
DeBar Mountain Jessup River Vanderwhacker Mountain
Ferris Lake Lake George Wilcox Lake
Fulton Chain Moose River Plains Aldrich Pond
Chazy Highlands Horseshoe Lake Raquette River
Split Rock Mountain Taylor Pond Watson East Triangle
White Hill Wilmington  

Black River

This area includes the state lands primarily in Herkimer County, south of Route 28, north of Route 8 and west of the Adirondack League Club holdings. The Black River flows in a generally east-west direction through the middle of the area.

A considerable number of interior, privately-owned parcels exist to which jeep trails extend from the public highways. Relatively low hills interspersed with small swamp areas covered with second growth hardwoods on the more fertile soils and spruce-fir combinations along water courses are typical in this southwestern corner of the Park. Mohawk Valley population centers such as Rome, Utica and Herkimer are within short driving distance, and big game hunting pressure in the fall season is heavy. The streams attract many trout fishermen to the area. South Lake is a favorite fishing, hunting and boating spot.

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Blue Mountain

This area is located in Hamilton and western Essex counties. It is bounded by Route 30 on the west and south, the Hudson River on the east and Route 28N on the north.

The terrain varies from gentle around the easily accessible and popular Rock Lake to extremely steep and rugged in the remote Fishing Brook Range.

The 3,759-foot Blue Mountain dominates the landscape for some distance around, offering wide ranging views in all directions for those willing to make a short but steep hike to the summit from the picturesque hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake. Tirrell Pond nestles to the northeast of Blue Mountain and, due to relatively easy access, affords an excellent opportunity for day use or primitive camping for family groups and novice hikers.

The ridge from East Inlet Mountain to the Fishing Brook Range represents a wild block of forest preserve unbroken for over ten miles except for a crossing of the Northville-Placid trail.

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Cranberry Lake

This area is located in southern St. Lawrence County in the towns of Clifton, Colton and Fine.

It provides a considerable amount of snowmobiling opportunity in the winter in a setting offering the snowmobiler a sense of remoteness.

A public campsite on the northeastern shoreline permits exploration of the interesting flows of Brandy Brook, East Inlet and Sucker Brook. Trails connecting these and several interior brook trout ponds permit fishing, camping and hunting on a variety of wild forest land.

Boreal forest is visible along Route 3 traversing the western tract, where one can glimpse interesting bog and scattered great pines. A short hike into this spruce-fir forest will often reward the birdwatcher with sighting of species normally found only much further north in Canada.

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DeBar Mountain

This area is in the northern section of the Park primarily in the towns of Brighton and Duane, Franklin County. The summit of DeBar Mountain once permitted Verplanck Colvin to triangulate Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. It also offers the broadest distant view in the Park of the High Peaks country to the south. Trails traversing the mixed hardwood-softwood forest preserve lead from Meacham Lake Campground on the west and from the DeBar Mountain wildlife management area on the west.

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Ferris Lake

This area is located in the southwestern corner of the Park. It consists of those state lands south of Route 8 and the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area and west of Route 10. Both Route 8 and Route 10, as well as the Powley-Piseco Road, provide easy access to the area.

Numerous small ponds, lakes and streams are distributed throughout the area where both trout and pan fist attract fishermen throughout the season. It is also a very popular area with big game hunters.

One of the last old Adirondack dirt roads, extending about 17 miles from Route 10 near Piseco Lake to Stratford, cuts through the approximate center of this large block of forest preserve. It provides the public with motor vehicle access through practically unbroken forest, quite comparable to some of the wilderness areas. Many motorists take advantage of the attractive drive over this old winding dirt road, the like of which has become a rare and vanishing facility in the eastern United States.

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Fulton Chain

This unit is located in Herkimer County, town of Webb, Township 8, John Brown's Tract, Macombs Purchase. It is divided into four main sections by three strips of privately owned lands, one of which includes lands near the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The unit is roughly bordered on the north by the Razorback Pond Outlet, the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area and private lands adjacent to Silver and Twitchell Lakes; on the east by the Big Moose Road, Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area, private lands near Big Moose Lake and the Village of Eagle Bay; on the south by the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, the South Shore Road and private lands adjacent to the Fulton Chain of Lakes and on the west by private lands and the west boundary of Township 8. The unit also includes DeCamp or Treasure Island, which comprises two small islands of Forest Preserve between the First and Second Lakes of the Fulton Chain. A permanent easement across private lands connects this wild forest to Razorback Pond and the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area.

This unit has high recreational potential due to its location within short driving distances from the populated Mohawk Valley. Uses include hiking, campting, canoeing, hunting, fishing, horse-back riding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and sight-seeing, the latter drawing many visitors to the Rondaxe Mt. Fire Tower during the fall foliage season.

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Grasse River

This 1,274 acre unit is located in St. Lawrence County, Town of Clare and borders both the Main (a designeated Study River) and North (a Scenic River) Branches of the Grasse River. The Adirondack Park Blue Line forms the western boundary of the unit. Access to the unit is by means of the Downerville Road from the north and the gated Lampson's Mill road from the south. The primary points of interest are Lampson Falls and canoeing on the Main Branch of the Grasse River.

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Hammond Pond

This area is located in the towns of Crown Point, Moriah, North Hudson and Schroon in Essex County. Bounded by Route 9 on the west and north, it extends south to Paradox Lake, and its eastern and southern boundaries border private lands.

Owl Pate and Hail Mountain provide great distant views, and exceptionally fine overlooks may be had from the many rocky bluffs and ledges dominating the area.

Access is open to hunters and other recreationists from the Tracey Road, North Hudson-Moriah Road and Route 9. The Sharp Bridge public campground offers trail access to East Mill Brook and the interior. Many ponds offer scenic fishing opportunities and have defined but unmarked trails leading from highways. A great variety of flora and fauna reflect an overlap of forest types where beech, birch, maple and hemlock on the cool, northern slopes give way to oak, ash, basswood and pine on the southerly exposures.

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Independence River

This western Adirondack area lies in Lewis and Herkimer counties south of the Beaver River and north of Route 28.

A balance of private lands interlaced with forest preserve tracts characterize this area of gentle hills and flat lands.

The sand plain depressions north from Brantingham Lake to the Independence River offer many unique bird and plant life associations.

Numerous bogs and beaver meadows along the drainage of Beaver Meadow Creek and Second, Third and Fourth creeks provide contrasting wildlife habitats. An extensive network of trails, both foot and snowmobile, link Pine Lake, Big Otter Lake and the Independence River with the Stillwater Road in the north.

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Jessup River

This area is located in Hamilton County in the towns of Arietta and Lake Pleasant. Bounded on the north by the "saddle" of Indian Lake, this wild forest land extends easterly to lSacandaga Lake and southerly to Piseco.

Access is from Route 30 and the Perkins Clearing road, which traverse the area, and from the Moffitt Beach and Lewey Lake Campgrounds.

Long popular with hunters, trappers and fishermen, the interspersion of private woodlands with state ownership has made this area a top producer of fish and wildlife. The Jessup and Miami Rivers have long been known as good trout producers.

Numerous logging roads and trails are open to foot travel. The Pillsbury Mountain summit, from which a vast view of lakes and forest may be obtained, offers a particularly enjoyable hike.

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Lake George

The wild forest tracts of land associated with this well-known section of the Park straddle the Warren-Washington county line. Mountains rising steeply on either side of the lake provide many views of rugged beauty. The area west of the lake is accessible by Routes 9N and 73 while the forest preserve on the east side is accessible from the Pilot Knob and Hulett's Landing roads.

The Tongue Mountain and Island Pond sections form the base for a varied wildlife resource. The moderating influence of the lake on both sides of this peninisula has produced an oak-pine cover type which is more characteristic of the southern part of the state than of the Adirondacks. Many plant and wildlife species found on Tongue Mountain are rarely found elsewhere in the Park.

The Black Mountain track on the opposite shore is more precipitous. Spruce and hemlock are common, as recreational enjoyment of the area is enhanced by this diversity of plant and animal associations.

Trails connect the lake at Shelving Rock and Black Mountain Point with interior ponds and the summits of Black Mountain and Sleeping Beauty. The latter provides some exceptional views.

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Moose River Plains

This area lies between Route 28 and the West Canada Lake Wilderness in Hamilton and Herkimer counties.

The scenic "plains" of the Moose and Red Rivers are well-known areas of interest to the public. These zones of herb and grass vegetation contrast vividly with the overall forested nature of the Park. Other scenic points of interest include the Moose River cliffs, Mitchell Ponds, Lost Ponds, Icehouse and Helldiver Ponds.

The area is unique also in that the Department of Environmental Conservation maintains an extensive road system and provides numerous scattered individual camping sites along this system. This provides a type of outdoor recreation intermediate between that of the developed campground and primitive tent sites. Heavy use of the road system is made in the winter months by snowmobiles, a use that may not be compatible with the wintering deer population and which may therefore require reassessment.

Hunting, fishing, camping and snowmobiling make this one of the truly four-season recreational areas of the Park.

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Saranac Lakes

Easily accessible from Route 3 and 30, this southern Franklin County area offers a broad network of streams, lakes and ponds for water-oriented recreation. Boating access sites, camping areas and portages are convenient for the day user and the long distance traveler alike. The Fish Creek Ponds and Rollins Pond campgrounds offer a base camp for some users of the area.

Ampersand Mountain, just south of Route 3 in the High Peaks Wilderness, provides a superb view of this area as a reward for a three-mile hike through majestic stands of hemlock and northern hardwoods.

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Sargent Ponds

Easterly of Raquette Lake, lying north of Route 28 and west of Route 30, lies a labyrinth of boreal swamp forest. Much of this great spruce-balsam-white cedar tract borders the Raquette River, Marion River and Boulder Brook.

Known to many canoeists, hunters and fishermen, this wild forest area offers intimate sightings of Adirondack wildlife and bog plants. The trail to Sargent Ponds courses through stands of old growth forest. Many fo the picturesque tall pines along the Marion River may be glimpsed from the highway.

Public campgrounds on Raquette Lake, Forked Lake and Lake Eaton plus the Deerland Road to the Raquette River provide varied access and recreational opportunity to users of this parcel.

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Shaker Mountain

This area is located south of the Silver Lake Wilderness between Routes 10 and 30 in Fulton County. It is near the population centers of Albany, Schenectady and Amsterdam, but remains comparatively little used by the public. Most of the area was heavily logged prior to state acquisition and there are a considerable number of old log roads, chiefly in the southern half, where most of the hills are low and gently sloped. These woods trails make comfortable hiking tails that can be enjoyed by all ages.

A number of small ponds afford some attractive camping sites. The second growth hardwoods that predominate allow easy foot travel both on and off the old woods roads and foot trails. This is in contrast to much of the state lands north of the area where the 1950 blowdown and subsequent dense softrwood reproduction has made travel off maintained foot trails quite difficult.

This tract offers great potential to serve the wild forest recreational needs of New York's hikers, horsemen, snowmobiliers, crosscountry skiers and campers, and it is capable of absorbing a considerable degree of public use.

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Vanderwhacker Mountain

The Vanderwhacker track lies both east and west of Route 28N in western Essex County.

The three primary attractions of the area are the lakes and ponds, the Boreas River and Vanderwhacker Mountain. The latter, by virtue of its isolated location, provides perhaps the best view of the High Peaks from the south in the Park. It is also possible to trace the course of the Hudson River from this peak and gain an appreciation of that river's majesty.

The Boreas River, a scenic river designeated by this plan, is one of the most beautiful of the Adirondack rivers. White water stretches interspersed with stillwaters provide the variety of scenes to hold one's appreciation. The Wolf Pond, Durgin Brook and Lester Flow sections of the upper Boreas are well known to bird clubs. These are plant and birdlife communities of unusual interest, particularly in the more boreal forms.

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Wilcox Lake

This area lies south of Route 8 and east of Route 30 in the vicinity of the Hamilton-Warren-Saratoga county lines' convergence and is capable of withstanding considerably more use without destruction of the physical resource or the wild forest atmosphere.

It is an area of rolling hills with a considerable number of attractive brook trout streams. Numerous old log roads provide easy access by foot in the summer and by snowmobiles, skis or snowshoes in the winter. At present the snowmobile trails on this tract probably represent the greatest mileage to be found on any state parcel in the Park.

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