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Hiking in Adirondack Park
Moose River Plains
The 50,000+ acre Moose River Plains Wild Forest is bounded on the north by the Pigeon Lakes Wilderness Area, Raquette Lake and the Blue Ridge Wilderness, on the east and the south by the West Canada Lakes Wilderness and the private lands of the Adirondack League Club, and on the west by the Fulton Chain Lakes and NY 28.
It is the largest block of remote lands in the Adirondacks readily accessible by motor vehicle and includes the Red River, the South Branch of the Moose River and the 675 acre Cedar River Flow. The DEC has proposed numerous changes in the area including closing some primitive campsites, moving some campsites, updating some campsites and creating new campsites as well as other changes.
You can read the Draft Unit Management Plan from the NY DEC that discusses the many changes being proposed by the DEC in this spectacular area.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest offers many recreational opportunities, including hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, canoeing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and primitive camping. Miles of marked trails and numerous lakes and ponds make this unit an ideal destination for adventure enthusiasts with varied interests and abilities.
The most popular destinations within this wild forest include hiking to the fire tower on Wakely Mountain (although the actual tower is located on Wakely Mountain Primitive Area), Cedar River Flow, Icehouse Pond, Limekiln Lake, Helldiver Pond, Beaver Lake, Mitchell Ponds, Bear Pond, Sly Pond, Rocky Mountain, Black Bear Mountain, Squaw Lake and Lost Ponds. The famed Northville-Placid Trail crosses the wild forest near Cedar River Flow. Look below for more info on the hiking trails in this area.
This land was purchased from the Gould Paper Company. The past logging activity and road development have had a major influence on the natural resources of the area plus the use by the general public.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest terrain varies from flat herb and grass plains of Moose and Red Rivers to the adjoining forested ridges and mountains. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) administers over 40 miles of roads, 27 miles of trails, a fire tower on Wakely Mountain and nearly 140 primitive campsites. There are also numerous state campgrounds in the area including Eighth Lake, Limekiln Lake and Brown Tract Pond.
Season and vehicle use restrictions apply. Public vehicular traffic along the Moose River Plains Road is welcome usually from Memorial Day to the close of deer hunting season each year. The speed limit is 15 MPH and I would suggest you don't go any faster unless you want to destroy your car. There are rocks sticking out of the road, sometimes when you least suspect it.
There are two entrances for the main Moose River Plains Road, one near Inlet off Limekiln Road and the other at Wakely Dam Recreational Area at the end Cedar River Road. There are a few main side roads that branch off the main Moose River Plains Road. These branch roads include Rock Dam Road, Otter Brook Road and Indian Lake Road.
Mountain bike and foot traffic is welcome year-round. There is an entrance gate registration required. Travel is restricted to passenger cars and trucks up to and including one-ton capacity. It is recommended that after October 1 and if there is snow is on the ground, all vehicles entering the area, unless four-wheel drive, should have tire chains. RVs and trailers are permitted Memorial Day - Labor Day respectively. No motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles are permitted on the Moose River Plains Road.
Wildlife is abundant. Visitors may be rewarded with sights of black bear, white-tailed deer, beaver, otter, mink, red and gray fox and bobcat. I even read reports of a moose being spotted in the area. Bird watching is popular in the area as well offering glimpses of warblers, flycatchers, great blue heron, common loon and a variety of raptors and owls.
If your looking to get away from it all and really experience the wilderness close to your vehicle, come and explore Moose River Plains Wild Forest, it may become your favorite place in the Adirondacks. Spend a day, night, weekend or a week and check out the numerous hiking opportunities below to explore the Plains further.
Check out our Camping in Moose River Plains page to get more info and tips on some of the best campsites and locations to assist in planning your visit to one of favorite places. Check out the video below featuring a drive in Moose River Plains including stops at a few of the many campsites.
Cedar River Flow Area - This beautiful 675 acre plot was originally designed as a route for timber transfer. Shortly after DEC purchased the property, they replaced the log and timber dam with a steel and concrete structure. Today, the area serves as a favorite car top boat launching site, primitive camping area and coldwater fishery. Some call this area the most scenic in all of New York.
This area is also known as the Wakely Dam Recreational Area.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest serves primarily as a remote hiking ground offering backcountry camping, fishing and hunting opportunities. From several different roads, a variety of trails are offered. Below is a list of some of the trails in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest. Also look for some maps below.
Hiking in Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Trails off Moose River Plains Road (Most trails have yellow discs.)
Sly Pond Trail is a 7.2 mile trail that climbs a portion of Little Moose Mountain before descending to Sly Pond. The pond is one of the highest bodies of water in the Adirondacks. There are two trailheads for this long trail, one off Moose River Plains Road that requires a ford of the South Branch of the Moose River and off Otter Brook Road. Expect blow downs and a challenging adventure.
Lost Ponds Trail offers a hike leading to a still water area on Summer Stream, continuing to a fishing pond and a pleasant picnic spot.
Pine Grove Creek Trail is an old trace off the main Lost Ponds Trail that leads just over two miles to the headwaters of Pine Grove Creek. The old trace is no longer maintained and requires a major bushwhack.
Helldiver Pond Trail is a short 0.15 mile pleasant walk on a recently built accessible trail that provides pond access for fishing or kayaking from a small dock. A newly created small parking area at the end of a side road also has a recently built accessible campsite #61 with a new accessible port-a-potty.
Mitchell Ponds Trail is 2.9 miles in length that travels along a former timber road, continuing between two ponds and ending at a natural rock dam on the pond outlet. It is a 1.9 mile hike to Upper Mitchell Pond and an accessible camping area.
Mitchell Ponds Cliffs is a bushwhack to a spectacular view of the ponds from cliffs overlooking Mitchell Ponds.
Moose River Cliffs is a tough bushwhack on Mitchell Ponds Mountain to cliffs that overlook the South Branch of the Moose River with views south to Beaver Lake and on to the West Canada Lakes Wilderness.
Fawn Lake Trail follows an old logging road a short distance to the scenic lake. There is a small brown gate for the old road just prior to mile marker 1. This is the perfect leg stretcher for those exploring the area.
Benedict Creek Trail is an old snowmobile trail that once traveled along the creek. Hikers can still explore this no longer maintained and unmarked trail with a sense of adventure. Access is at the end of a short spur road past campsite #67 at an old gate. The spur road is at a sharp bend in the Moose River Plains Road. Camp at this campsite and you'll sure to feel like your in a remote area.
Bear Pond Trail is an unmarked trail that is better left for experienced bushwhackers. Access is from the "Loop Road" off the main Moose River Plains Road.
Cellar Pond Trail travels along an old logging road and ascends 2.3 miles to a remote pond located between Cellar Mountain and Wakely Mountain. This trail is no longer maintained and we noticed the parking area on the main Moose River Plains Road has become overgrown (Aug 2010).
Payne Brook Trail is a 1.3 mile long trail that was a former road that is no longer maintained. The trail is usually wet.
Bradley Brook Trail is a bushwhack to a former logging road that follows Bradley Brook to an old logging camp and on to Sumner Stream. Some say the old road is what remains of the 1812 Albany Road, built for the war. It's said that you can find the old road from bushwhacking from the back of Campsite 17.
Butter Brook Trail is no longer maintained, but the trail starts from a spur road that leads to campsites near Silver Run. There is a barrier at the stream, but no bridge. You'll need to ford Silver Run here where the stream, although shallow, is nearly sixty feet wide with slippery rocks. The trail goes on to what some believed was the remains of the old 1812 Albany Road and on toward Little Moose Lake.
Wilson Ridge Trail was a former private road that traveled 3.2 miles toward the former Little Moose Lake Club. A gate marks this old road from Moose River Plains Road. We are unsure if it is maintained.
Seventh Lake Mountain Trail is a newly constructed snowmobile trail finished in 2013 that begins off Moose River Plains Road and ends along Sagamore Road with access points off NY 28 near Seventh Lake, Eighth Lake Campground and Eighth Lake. The trail can be utilized by hikers and bikes during the spring, summer and fall.
Northville-Placid Trail follows the road east into the Wakely Dam Recreational Area and also heads south to a scenic campsite on the Cedar River Flow then on into the West Canada Lakes Wilderness. From the Wakely Dam Recreational Area the trail heads north following Cedar River Road briefly before turning left after Wakely Pond onto the old Gould Road. The trail is marked with blue discs.
Trails off Rock Dam Road
White Pond Trail is a 1.7 mile hike leading to White Pond. The trail becomes faint but continues on toward Limekiln Lake. The trail is also accessible from the Limekiln Lake Campground by boat.
Rock Dam Trail travels for 1.4 miles ending at a long rock formation across the confluence of the South Branch of the Moose River and the Red River. (Both trails have yellow discs.)
Trails off Otter Brook Road
Icehouse Pond Trail runs less than 0.4 mile to a kettle bog pond. There are no markers, however the trail has been recently made an accessible trail with a nice accessible campsite near the pond. There is an accessible open air privy available and an accessible fishing spot. The trail is easy to follow.
Beaver Lake Trail is 2.1 miles starting at a parking area and road barrier at a bridge over Otter Brook along a side road just west of the Moose River Bridge. The trail follows an old road to the northern shore of the lake. Trail has some yellow discs. The trail travels by some huge white pines.
Otter Brook Pond Trail aka Cedar Lakes Trail, has orange discs and travels 9 miles along a former timber road providing access to a portion of the northern boundary of West Canada Lake Wilderness Area. Marked intersections lead to Lost Ponds and Cedar Lakes.
Trails off Indian Lake Road
Three very short trails lead to their respective body of water from along Indian Lake Road and then the Indian Lake Trail from the vehicle barrier: Squaw Lake Trail (0.7 mile), Muskrat Pond Trail (1.7 miles) and Indian Lake Trail (2.4 miles). This woods road will become part of the official North Country Trail. Barriers are set up 0.3 miles prior to Squaw Lake, turning this former road into a hiking trail.
Trails off NY 28
Rocky Mountain Trail is a short, steep 0.5 mile hike to the open 2225 foot summit of Rocky Mountain with spectacular views. Follow the yellow DEC discs.
Black Bear Mountain has a few options on how to hike to the open ledges on the 2548 foot summit with panoramic views.
Uncas Trail is the old road that once traveled in the area. Used in the winter as a snowmobile trail, hikers enjoy the trail during the summer and fall. There are multiple trail heads including one in Eighth Lake Campground as well as another near the Sagamore Historic Great Camp. A very popular section of the trail takes hikers to Bug Lake and Eagles Nest Lake.
Arnold's Rock Trail connects the Seventh Lake Trail with the Uncas Trail.
Seventh Lake Trail is a tough trail to access with its western end on a private road with no parking and it's eastern end at Arnold's Rock and the Arnold's Rock Trail, which leads to the Uncas Trail. The trail travels along the shore of the lake passing a two lean tos along the shore as well as Arnold's Rock.
Cathedral Pines Trail is probably the shortest trail in the Adirondacks at only 600 feet long. This short loop takes you through a stand of great white pines.
Tobes Trail is a popular biking/walking path that travels from Inlet through Eagle Bay and Old Forge to Thendara along an old railroad bed. You may notice the trail as you drive along NY 28 in the area as the trail runs parallels the highway for the most part. Most of the trail is located in Fulton Chain Wild Forest.
Mohegan Lake Road is a restricted road that allows hiking and biking from the Great Sagamore Camp to Mohegan Lake.
Trails from Limekiln Lake State Campground
Old Dam Nature Trail takes hikers on a loop around a beaver meadow on Limekiln Creek. The trail starts from campsite 87 at Limekiln Lake State Campground.
Limekiln Creek-Third Lake Creek Trail starts out from the Limekiln Lake State Campground as a DEC Nature Trail and travels 5.6 miles to South Shore Road. The trail passes a couple of waterfalls.
Limekiln Trail is a cross country ski trail used by hikers in the summer months, especially to create a long loop hike using the Limekiln Creek Trail above and a side trail for a 5+ mile loop. The main trail runs 4.7 miles from Fern Park to the Limekiln Creek Trail with a couple of spur trails, one of which travels to the campground.
Trails from Brown Tract Pond Area
Shallow Lake Trail travels from Brown Tract Pond Campground crossing the Sucker Brook Bay Trail entering Pigeon Lake Wilderness and ending at remote Shallow Lake.
Sucker Brook Bay Trail travels along an old road from Brown Tract Road, 3.1 miles to Sucker Brook Bay on Raquette Lake. A spur trail extends 0.2 miles to Brown Tract Pond State Campground. The West Mountain Trail shares the path briefly. Hikers can access Shallow Lake from this trail.
West Mountain Trail begins off Brown Tract Road and takes hikers five miles to the 2902 foot summit of West Mountain in Pigeon Lake Wilderness. A steep 950 foot ascent over the last mile awaits you on this remote mountain with fine views of Raquette Lake.
Wakely Mountain Primitive Area
This primitive area encompasses 120 acres along the south side of the upper portion of Wakely Mountain. Visitors will find the 3.2 mile red marked Wakely Mountain Trail a challenge as they climb a steep trail to the 3744 foot summit of Wakely Mountain. Hikers are rewarded with the tallest fire tower in Adirondack Park offering fabulous 360 degree views.
The trailhead is off Cedar River Road just north of the Wakely Dam area, south of Wakely Pond.
You'll find information on some of the trails above from these great books:
Directions from Inlet to the Moose River Plains Road: Reaching the western gate, turn south on Limekiln Road from NY 28 about 1 mile east of Inlet. Travel about 2 miles to the entrance. Reaching the eastern gate, travel 12 miles on Cedar River Road, which begins about 2 miles west of Indian Lake along NY 28.
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