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Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness Hiking Guide

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Hiking in Herkimer County
Hiking in Adirondack Park
West-Central Adirondacks
 
Ha-De-Ron-DahWilderness

Middle Branch
Lake

 

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Middle Branch Lake is located in the 26,600 acre Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness in the western foothills of the Adirondacks, just west of the popular tourist destination of Old Forge. There is a lean to located on the lake, which makes this a very popular destination in this wilderness. This popular hiking destination in the Adirondacks is easily accessed off NY 28.

There are two routes to reach Middle Branch Lake. One of the routes begin from the large parking area off NY 28 (which is maintained all year round), locally known as the Scusa Trailhead. The parking area is located 5.7 miles north of McKeever and 2.8 miles south of Thendara. It is a huge "rest area" off of NY 28 that you can't miss. This the trailhead that most hikers use to enter the wilderness. The GPS coordinates of the parking area is N43 40.610 W75 03.104 for those who have a GPS devise.

Scusa Trailhead Route to Middle Branch Lake

From the parking area, cross NY 28 to get to the 0.6 mile Scusa Access Trail, which is marked with red DEC plastic discs. There is a steep climb almost immediately as you walk into the Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness. This trail is #77 on the map below. After 0.6 miles of hiking you reach the yellow marked Brown's Tract Trail. Turn right on the yellow Brown's Tract Trail and in 0.2 miles you'll turn left onto the red marked Cedar Pond Trail (#74 on map below). In 0.3 miles reach the junction of the yellow marked Grass Pond Trail on the right, which leads 0.5 miles to the pond. Continuing on the Cedar Pond Trail for 1.2 miles you'll reach the junction of the yellow marked Middle Settlement Lake Trail (#73 on map below) and the junction of the yellow marked Middle Branch Lake Trail (#72 on map below).

The yellow marked Middle Settlement Lake Trail takes you 1.5 miles to the Middle Settlement Lake Lean To. Turn right onto the Middle Branch Lake Trail. After 0.8 miles you'll reach the red marked Middle Branch Lake Lean To Trail. Turn left and travel 0.2 miles to the lean to. This lean to is located on the lake and you'll immediately see why this is a popular camping destination. It is a 4.8 mile one way hike to reach the lean to via the Scusa Trailhead Route.

Thendara Route to Middle Branch Lake

Another option to reach Middle Branch Lake is from a trailhead that is off a side dirt road from NY 28. From the south/west or coming from McKeever, turn left just prior to the Adirondack Railroad bridge over NY 28 onto Herreshoff Road. If you are driving from the north/east or coming from Old Forge on NY 28, turn right just after going under the Adirondack Railroad Bridge onto Herreshoff Road. Take the road to the end where there is a good size parking area. The road is plowed in the winter, allowing winter access into the wilderness. The GPS coordinates of the parking area is N43 42.396 W75 00.103 for those who have a GPS devise.

Follow the gated road past the State Land Access sign that will lead to another gate and trail register in 0.4 miles at the boundary of the Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness. You are following the blue marked Big Otter Lake Trail (#69 on map below), which was once a formerly a forest access road that was open to motor vehicles. After 1.0 miles of hiking from the parking area you reach an open area around Indian Brook. In another 0.5 miles you'll reach the junction of the yellow marked East Pond Trail (#71 on map below) on your right. That trail travels 2.8 miles to the remote East Pond.

Continue on the blue marked Big Otter Lake Trail and in 0.7 miles reach the junction of the seldom used Moose River Mountain Trail, which leads to the 2208 foot summit and the site of the former fire Tower. There are no views from this mountain, only the clearing of where the fire tower once stood. Continue on the blue marked Big Otter Lake Trail for another 2.7 miles where you reach the junction of the yellow marked Middle Branch Lake Trail (#72 on map below).

Turn left onto the Middle Branch Lake Trail. In 0.7 miles you reach the junction of the red marked Middle Branch Lake Lean To Trail. You will take the red marked trail 0.2 miles to the Middle Branch Lake Lean To. This route is a 5.8 mile one way hiking trip to Middle Branch Lake. It is one mile longer than the first option above (from the Scusa Trailhead), however you miss the steep ascent at the start of the hike. The longer route has better grades for hiking.

Look below for a few maps, pictures (coming soon) and video (coming soon) of this popular destination in the Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness. 

 

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