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Hiking in St Lawrence County Northwestern Adirondacks
Hiking in St Lawrence County
Hiking in Adirondack Park
Northwestern Adirondacks

Five Ponds
Wilderness

 

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The Cranberry Lake region is one of the largest remote areas remaining in the state. Cranberry Lake is the northern gateway to the 107,230 acre Five Ponds Wilderness, while Stillwater Reservoir is the southern gateway to this remote wilderness. There are well over fifty miles of marked hiking trails to explore in this remote wilderness. The very popular Cranberry 50 crosses over the wilderness.

Five Ponds Wilderness contains some of the best remote wilderness in the Adirondacks. Most of the hiking trails are located in the northern section of the wilderness, leaving much of the area without trails. The remoteness of the area and heavy beaver activity provide more rugged trail conditions than on the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest to the northeast. The terrain is low, rolling and interspersed with many small ponds. Swampy areas and small brooks are numerous.

The High Falls Loop is a very popular hike in Five Ponds Wilderness. Due to the size and remoteness of the wilderness, many of the popular hikes are overnight backpacking adventures. There are twelve shelters located within the wilderness. There are many FREE primitive campsites located along the shores of Cranberry Lake that are only accessible by boat. There are many campsites located through out the wilderness. The Oswegatchie River is a dominant feature in the wilderness. There are many bushwhacking adventures available.

The Cranberry 50 is a challenging fifty mile loop hike of Cranberry Lake. The loop utilizes the trails in the area to create a huge loop that circles the lake. It is a project of Five Ponds Partners and they offer a brochure with map. They also offer a patch for those who complete the challenging hike. Be sure to have good compass and map skills before attempting your adventure in the remote Five Ponds Wilderness, especially any bushwhack. We also suggest looking at a good GPS devise such as Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator.

Bear Pond Primitive Corridor

The Bear Pond Primitive Corridor consists of two rights of ways that provides access to two inholdings within Five Ponds Wilderness and Pepperbox Wilderness. It begins at the intersection of Bear Pond Road and Buck Pond Road, which is with the boundary between Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest, Five Ponds Wilderness and Pepperbox Wilderness. From this point the Primitive Corridor follows Bear Pond Road to the inholding at Bear Pond.

The westerly fork of the Primitive Corridor leaves Bear Pond Road and follows a rough road to the inholding at Loon Hollow Pond. The boundary between Five Ponds and Pepperbox Wilderness Areas follows Bear Pond Road to the road leading to Loon Hollow Pond and then along that road to the private inholding. The Bear Pond Primitive Corridor is open for public motor vehicle use to the gate at the intersection with Old Upper South Pond Road. Beyond this point motor vehicle access is limited to private access only.

Tied Lake Primitive Corridor

The Tied Lake Primitive Corridor consists of a private right of way that leads to an inholding within the Pepperbox Wilderness. It begins along the Bear Pond Primitive Corridor just west of the bridge over Greggs Lake Outlet. The corridor travels south past Hog Pond and Tied Lake then continues to the private inholding. The Tied Lake Primitive Corridor is open to public motor vehicle use up to the gate at Tied Lake. Beyond that point motor vehicle access is limited to private access only. These two corridors gives visitors the opportunity to drive or bike into the wilderness and get closer to certain destinations like The South Ponds or Gregg Lake.

Some of the trails located within Five Ponds Wilderness

The High Falls Loop (red) (15 miles) - This trail begins at the parking lot on the South Shore road in the hamlet of Wanakena at the start of the Dead Creek Flow Trail. This is probably the most popular hike in Five Ponds Wilderness.

Sand Lake (blue) (7.3 miles) - This trail begins at the southwest corner of the High Falls loop and crosses the only bridge over the Oswegatchie River within this wilderness. Beaver flooding is very common along the beginning of the trail. The trail runs southwest past Five Ponds and Wolf Pond, ending at the very remote Sand Lake. Sand Lake is as far from civilization as you can get in the Adirondacks. There are shelters located at Big Shallow, Little Shallow, Wolf Pond and Sand Lake.

Wolf Pond Trail (yellow) (3.5 miles) - This trail leaves the Sand Lake Trail 0.5 mile from Wolf Pond and continues to Buck Pond. Wolf Pond outlet provides a wide expanse of lowland that is usually wet and must be crossed on beaver dams. The remainder of the trail to Cage Lake is on high ground, but beaver activities on Hammer Creek often necessitate trail relocation beyond Cage Lake. At Buck Pond, it joins the Buck Pond Primitive Corridor.

Buck Pond Primitive Corridor (8.5 miles) - This undeveloped roadbed is used by the owners of Buck Pond to reach their property. From Buck Pond, it follows old logging roads until it meets the roadbed of the logging railroad constructed by the Post and Henderson Company around 1905. About 1.2 miles north of Little Otter pond, the route uses old logging roads again. Beyond this juncture it forks with the northern road continuing on to Youngs Road south of the hamlet of Star Lake. The Left fork leads to private property; but, before reaching the former state boundary line, it meets the Boundary Line Trail. Deep ruts are found in several places, especially at Little Otter Pond. Beaver activity is usually evident at Little Otter Pond Outlet.

Boundary Line Trail (yellow) (0.6 mile) - This trail shortened access from Youngs Road to Buck Pond Road. A parking lot is available at Youngs Road.

Cowhorn Junction Trail (yellow) (1.8 miles) - This trail connects the High Falls Loop with Cowhorn Junction. It provides access to the Cat Mountain Trail and passes Cat Mountain and Bassout Ponds.

Cat Mountain Trail (red) (0.7 mile) - This trail ends at the summit of Cat Mountain, where a fire tower once stood. Excellent views from the summit.

Sixmile Creek Trail (blue) (5.3 miles) - This trail is accessible from West flow, passes the Olmstead Pond Loop and Cowhorn Pond and ends at Cowhorn Junction.

Cowhorn Pond Trail (yellow) (0.2 mile) - This short trail leads from Sixmile Creek Trail to the Cowhorn Pond lean-to.

Olmstead Pond Loop (yellow) (3.2 miles) - This loop begins on the Sixmile Creek Trail approximately 0.5 mile from West Flow. It passes Spectacle and Simmons ponds and joins the former Olmstead Pond Trail at the Olmstead Pond lean-to and continues to rejoin the Sixmile Creek Trail.

Darning Needle Pond Trail (yellow) (2.4 miles) - This trail provides access to Darning Needle Pond from Chair Rock Flow. It follows Chair Rock Creek and is subject to beaver activity.

Canoe Carry (3.5 miles) - This trail provide access for canoeists carrying between Lows Lake and the Oswegatchie River. Canoeists may enter the Bog River at Lows Lower Dam and paddle up the slow-moving river about 14.5 miles to the west shore of Lows Lake, where the canoe carry leads to Big Deer Pond and the upper reaches of the Oswegatchie River. The route continues downstream to Inlet, where it becomes un-navigable. Although beaver dams are often encountered, the only major obstruction is High Falls. Two minor rapids might not be navigable during periods of low water.

 

Destinations in Five Ponds Wilderness

High Falls Loop Cranberry 50 Red Horse Trail
Shallow Pond Jackson Pond Raven Lake
Slim Pond Evergreen Lake Soda Pond
Muskrat Pond Diana Pond Bear Pond
Ginger Pond Brindle Pond Grassy Pond
Sand Lake The South Ponds Alice Brook
Cage Lake Wolf Pond Buck Pond
Five Ponds The Plains Janacks Landing
Cowhorn Pond Glasby Pond Cat Mountain Pond
Cat Mountain Bassout Pond High Falls
Olmstead Pond Darning Needle Pond Fishpole Pond
Grass Pond Peaked Mountain Lake Simmons Pond
Spectacle Ponds Sliding Rock Falls Grass Pond Mounain
Big Deer Pond Frederica Mountain Negro Lake

Start of the Cage Lake Trail south of Star Lake

 

 

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