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Hiking in Adirondack Park
Central Adirondacks

Wilcox Lake
Wild Forest

 

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The 124,643 acre Wilcox Lake Wild Forest is located in the southeastern part of the Central Adirondacks. Nearby communities include Stony Creek, Thurman, Bakers Mills, Day, Wells, Hope Falls, and Northville. Wilcox Lake Wild Forest is bounded on the north by NY 8, on the east by the Hudson River, on the south by the Adirondack Park Blue Line, and on the west by NY 30.

This wild forest offers many recreational opportunities, including hiking to the fire tower on Hadley Mountain, camping on Wilcox Lake, and ice fishing on Garnet Lake. There are over 80 miles of marked trails available to explore, giving countless opportunities for hiking adventures in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. This area of the Adirondacks does not see as many visitors compared to others, except for the overly popular hikes to Hadley and Crane Mountains. According to the DEC and information gathered from trail registers, most visitors to Wilcox Lake Wild Forest are those just driving through the area to get to more popular destinations or just day hikers. There are very few that backpack or camp in this wild forest.

Crane Mountain at 3,254 feet is the highest point in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. Other notable mountains include Mount Blue (2,940 feet) and Kettle Mountain (2,799 feet) in the northern section. Baldhead Mountain (2,870 feet), Moose Mountain (2,831 feet), Long Tomís Ridge (2,766 feet), Hadley Mountain (2,680 feet), and Spruce Mountain (2,650 feet) in the east. Harrington Mountain (2,618 feet) and Georgia Mountain (2,444 feet) on the western side. Many of the mountains offer open, rocky summits and spectacular views.

The summits of many of the mountains burned in intense fires during the early 1900s and still have somewhat open summits of bare rock that give visitors excellent views. A partial list of these open peaks that offer sweeping vistas includes Crane Mountain, Baldhead Mountain, Hadley Mountain, Mount Blue, and Huckleberry Mountain. Of these mountains, most remain trail less and offer moderately difficult bushwhacking opportunities to adventuresome hikers.

The notable exceptions are Hadley and Crane Mountain, the two most popular destinations in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest and among the most visited sites in the southern Adirondacks. The Hadley Mountain Trailhead is accessed by a well maintained road, while the summit is reached with a relatively easy 1.3 mile hike. Plus the summit has a restored fire tower. The exposed summit and tower offer 360 degree panoramic views of the surrounding mountains as well as Great Sacandaga Lake. Hadley is more visited, however, many say Crane Mountain has more spectacular views.

Pine Orchard is a stand of large diameter, 200 to 250-year-old white pine on a ridge in this wild forest. This is a hike that is recommended and can be accessed from the end of Dorr Road. Vehicle access to the main parts of Wilcox Lake Wild Forest is generally excellent from all directions; however access to some of the smaller disjointed pieces in the eastern and southern parts of the wild forest is limited or nonexistent, especially those parcels in the Kayaderosseras Range south of the Great Sacandaga Lake.

Major points of access to the main part of Wilcox Lake Wild Forest include NY 8 in the northwest; NY 30, Windfall Road, Dorr Road, and Pumpkin Hollow Road in the southwest; Creek Road and Hope Falls Road in the south; Tower Road, Roaring Branch Road, and Bakertown Road in the southeast; West Stony Creek Road, Mud Pond Road, and Garnet Lake Road in the east; and Bartman Road and Armstrong Road in the north.

There are four shelters, Lizard Pond Lean To, Murphy Lake Lean To, Wilcox Lake #1 Lean To and Wilcox Lake #2 Lean To, available for those looking for overnight backpacking adventures as well as 75 designated campsites. There are many roadside campsites along NY 8 and Hope Falls Road. There is a popular state campground at Sacandaga

Here is a list of where the designated campsites are located: Bennett Lake (1), Crane Mountain Pond (3), Cod Pond (1), Eagle Pond (1), Fish Pond (1), Fox Lair (6), Garnet Lake - roadside (3), Garnet Lake - boat access only (6), Bakertown Road (6), Hope Falls Road (6), Indian Pond Trail at Madison Creek (1), Kibby Pond (3), Little Joe Pond (2), Middle Lake (5), Murphy Lake (3), Nate Davis Pond (1), Oregon Trail at North Bend (1), NY 8 (11), Pine Orchard Trail (2), Wilcox Lake-Willis Lake Trail (3), River Road (2), Round Pond (2), West Stony Creek Road at Baldwin Spring (2), West Vly (1) and Wilcox Lake (2).

There are 18 parking areas that hikers can use to explore Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. Here is a list of the designated DEC parking areas with vehicle capacity (xx): Baldwin Spring (10), Bakertown Road at Harrisburg Outlet Ford (3), Bartman Road (15), Crane Mountain Trailhead on Ski Hi Road (15), East Stony Creek/Tenant Falls Trailhead on Hope Falls Road (6), Fox Hill Road (3), Garnet Lake on Garnet Lake Road (7), Georgia Creek-Moose Mountain Trailhead on NY 8 (15), Girards Sugarbush Trailhead on NY 8 (15), Kibby Pond on NY 8 (3), Hadley Mountain Trailhead on Tower Road (15), Mud Pond Road (8), Mud Pond Trailhead (2), Murphy-Middle-Bennett Lakes Trailhead on Creek Road (12), Murphy Lake/Pine Orchard Trailhead on Pumpkin Hollow Road (12), Oregon/Cod Pond Trailhead on NY 8 (6), St. John Lake Trailhead on Bakertown Road (6).

There are also undesignated pull offs on state land along Bartman Road, Bakertown Road, Glen Creek Road and West Stony Creek Road that also get used for parking to explore Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. Look below for destinations and trail maps of Wilcox Lake Wild Forest.

 

Destinations in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest

Hadley Mountain Crane Mountain Kibby Pond
Eagle Pond Cod Pond Albia Pond
Palmer Lake Spruce Mountain Bennett Lake
Middle Lake Murphy Lake Moose Mountain (NY 30)
Tenant Creek Falls Rand Mountain Buck Mountain
East Stony Creek Tri-County Corner Wilcox Lake
Willis Lake New Lake Pine Orchard
Jimmy Creek Waterfall Upper Jimmy Creek Falls Baldwin Springs
Stewart Creek Little Joe Pond Harrington Mountain
North Bend Fish Ponds Paint Mine
Huckleberry Mountain Garnet Lake Mud Pond
Round Pond Lizard Pond Mount Blue
Baldhead Mountain Moose Mountain Bearpen Peak
Long Tom Ridge Indian Pond Trail Lens Lake
Middle Flow Roundtop Arrow Trail

Many of the hiking trails are designated snowmobile trails

some of the maps above courtesy of AndyArthur.com.

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