Adirondack Directory - Wilderness

Blue Ridge Wilderness & Wakely Mountain Primitive Area

As edited by IAATAP from the full DEC management report (click here for full report)



The Blue Ridge Wilderness and Wakely Mountain Primitive Area lies in Hamilton County in the towns of Indian Lake (22,296 acres), Lake Pleasant (6,838 acres), Arietta (16,162 acres), Long Lake (1,431 acres) and the Village of Speculator (4,600 acres).  The region consist of a total of 47,117 acres in the Blue Ridge Wilderness and an additional 235 acres for Wakely Mountain Primitive Area.   The highest elevation is 3,598' west of Wakely Mountain (Wakely Mtn. is not officially in the Wilderness, at an elevation of 3,774').


Historians report that in 1771, Agents Joseph Totten and Stephen Crossfield, purchased 1.15 million acres from the Mohawk Nation for King George III.   In 1779, this ownership passed from the Crown to the newly designated State of New York.  The first American industry for this region was logging.  Settlers like William West Durant (Lake Durant) played a prominent role in business with Durant's Forest Park and Land Company (developing Sagamore Lodge, and later selling to Alfred Vanderbilt, and later to donated to the Syracuse University and then portions sold to the State).  Durant's Raquette Lake Transportation sold to Dr. William Seward Webb (Webb, NY).  Durant also sold Lake Kora to Lt. Governor Timothy Woodruff to construct Kamp Kill Kare.  From these lands, the Village of Speculator incorporated in 1925.  


Great Camp Sagamore, elaborate rustic camps, was constructed under the direction of William West Durant to promote recreational development in the late 1870's.  The Sagamore encompasses 1,526 acres and in 1980 was designated National Historical Landmark.  Camp Sagamore is operated from May to October by a not-for-profit organization with a variety of recreational actives and education programs.


Camp Uncas, first built in 1895 by Durant, was later sold to J. Pierpont Morgan, then sold to the widow of Alfred Vanderbilt (Margaret Emerson), who donated to the Memorial Center for Cancer and Allied Diseases.   Years later, Herbert Birrell acquired Camp Uncas, who sold to Adolph Jung, who later sold to the Boy Scouts of America, then sold to Trustees of the Alma Bullowa Memorial Foundation, and later endowed to members of the Sagamore Institute, and in 1980 placed on the State Registers of Historical Places. 


Durant also built Pine Knot.  This region, culturally is very interesting.  For those interested in the history of the region, see cultural report below from the Sagamore Institute.


Titbits:    The values of the Forest Preserve may be described under four categories:  experiential, scientific, symbolic and spiritual, and economic (Wilderness Management, Hendee and Dawson, 2002).  It has experiential value, in that people may visit vast living landscapes and enjoy recreation in areas of great natural beauty. The Forest Preserve is important as a wild place where people may be rejuvenated by reconnecting with the natural world. Wilderness recreation was a major reason for the creation of the Forest Preserve, and it has become increasingly important as a growing population has expanded its influence over the land. The scientific value of the Forest Preserve derives from its character as a protected landscape where natural processes operate with minimal

human influence.


   (Click to Enlarge)




Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, pond or other body of water except at camping areas designated by the DEC".  For full details of camping regulations in our wilderness (click here).  The regulations are suggested reading before going out into the wilderness.  Please practice "leave no trace."  IAATAP maintains a full directory of Camping, to explore nearby camping areas, click here.


     Primitive Tent Sites

  • Sagamore Lake (2)

  • East Inlet at Sagamore Lake (1)

  • Raquette Lake - south side (1)

  • East Side Estelie Mountain (1) near Brook

  • Death Brook (2)

  • Slim Pond (1) 50' of the shore and on Old Road (2)

  • Bear Pond (1)

  • Lower Mitchell Pond (1)

  • Cascade Pond (2)

  • Stephens Pond (1)

  • Cedar River Road/Former Gravel Pit (1)

  • Gould Road (1)

  • Sprague Pond (please DO NOT camp on the islands which could affect nesting loons)

  • Undesignated sites on Wilson and Stephens Pond

  • Wilson Cascade

  • South Inlet Falls (known as the Cascades)


  • Lean to on Cascade Pond

  • Lean-to on Wilson Pond

  • Lean-to on Stephens Pond


  • Wilson Pond Lean-to

  • Cascade Pond Lean-to

  • Stephens Pond Lean-to

  • Wakely Mountain Summit

     Public Facilities:

  • Lake Durant Campground

  • Camp Sagamore (not-for-profit)

Titbits:  DEC regulation requires that groups of ten or more persons camping on state land obtain a permit from a forest ranger. DEC policy prohibits issuing group camping permits to groups wanting to camp on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks that are classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe area. This policy was developed to protect natural resources, the primeval character of the area and exceptional wilderness experiences for all recreationists, and follows Leave No Trace practices.





The Adirondacks is rich in bird life.  Birds associate with marshes, ponds, lakes, and streams are numerous.  There are 5,345 acres (or about 11%) of wetlands in this region.   By the NY State's Unit Management Plan, 27 bird species are associated with the boreal forest in this region; the following species are under study, we have summarized their findings.  Pictures and links provided by Wikipedia.

  • Lowland Birds - The Lowland birds in this area are the Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Pine Siskin, White-winged Crossbill, and Red Crossbill. 

  • High Elevation Birds - The birds that can be found in the higher elevations are the Bicknell’s Thrush, Blackpoll Warbler, Winter Wren, and Swainson’s Thrush. 

  • Boreal Birds - Other Boreal birds in the Blue Ridge and Wakely Mountain Region are the Evening Grosbeak, Blackburnian Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula and the Tennessee Warbler.

  • Marsh/Pond/Lake Birds - Birds in the region that are associated with marshes, ponds, lakes and streams include common loon, piedbilled grebe, great blue heron, green-backed heron, American bittern, and a variety of waterfowl. The most common ducks include the mallard, American black duck, wood duck, hooded merganser and common merganser. Other species of waterfowl migrate through the region following the Atlantic Flyway.

  • Birds of Prey - The birds of prey common to the area include the barred owl, great horned owl, eastern screech-owl, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, and broad-winged hawk. 

  • Songbirds - The songbirds are a diverse group in the Adirondacks, and the most common species found throughout the deciduous or mixed forest include the ovenbird, red-eyed vireo, yellow-bellied sapsucker, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, downy woodpecker, brown creeper, wood thrush, black-throated blue warbler, pileated woodpecker and black-and-white warbler.

  • Game birds - Found in this region are turkey, ruffed grouse and woodcock, as well as a variety of waterfowl.   Ruffed grouse and woodcock prefer early successional habitats and their habitat within the area is limited due to the lack of timber harvesting.  Turkey are present in low numbers and provide some hunting opportunities. Waterfowl are fairly common along the waterways and marshes and will provide hunting opportunities.




Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

Golden Eagle - Picture credits to Wikipedia


The golden eagle is a species once found in the Adirondacks.  The last successful nest in New York State was recorded in 1970. Golden Eagles have nested at elevations between 1,500 and 2,600 ft; however, surveys conducted by the New York Habitat Inventory Unit, open habitat suitable for Golden Eagles has decreased at all and is on the "Endangered" list.




Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis canadensis)

The Grouse prefers the boreal acid bog forest where it selects immature or uneven-aged spruce-fir habitat.  Mosses, lichens, and shrubs provide nesting and foraging ground cover in areas where the forest canopy is less dense.  Because their forested wetland habitat is poorly drained, grouse move on to upland summer range to dust and forage.  They and endangered bird of this region.



Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


Bald Eagle - Picture credits to Wikipedia

The bald eagle is currently listed as a threatened species by the federal government and New York. Buckhorn Mountain is believed to have been a center of eagle activity prior to 1970, although no nest sites had been confirmed.  Bald eagles are sensitive to human disturbance; so if you are fortunate to see one, please "Do Not Disturb".  Efforts to reestablish the bald eagle through "hacking" program began in 1981 and 1983.





Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Peregrine Falcon - Picture credits to Wikipedia

In 1974 New York initiated a program to reintroduce the Peregrine Falcon in the state. Peregrines were successfully hacked in the Adirondack Park with the release of the first birds in 1981. It is possible that Peregrines are utilizing the Siamese Pond Wilderness for nesting. Three basic requirements nesting Peregrine Falcons include open country for hunting, sufficient food resources of avian species, and steep, rocky cliff faces for nesting. The falcons typically nest 50 to 200 feet off the ground near bodies of water. Nesting sites for Peregrines usually include a partially-vegetated ledge large enough for it young to move about. The nest is a well-rounded shape that is sometimes lined with grass, usually sheltered by an overhang. Sometimes Peregrines may nest in old Common Raven nests. Human disturbance of a breeding pair may result in nest abandonment! "DO NOT DISTURB" please! Climbers, not it is illegal to climb during their breeding season, and breeders will attack. To report a falcon signings please contact NYSDEC Region 5, Bureau of Wildlife, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, New York 12977, 518-897-1291.





Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

The Northern Harrier is a bird of open country and is associated with wet to mesic habitats.  Bogs and other wetland habitats provided nesting sites for northern harriers in the Adirondacks.  They nest on the ground, either on hummocks or directly on the ground in nests that are woven from grass and stick.


Least Bitten  (Ixobrychus exilis)

Emergent wetlands such as cattail marshes are the preferred habitat for least bitterns in upstate New York.   Nests woven of cattails and various other herbaceous species are usually built by the male and placed from one to four feet above water level.



SPECIAL CONCERN__________________________________________________________


Osprey (Pandion haliates)

Osprey - Picture credits to Wikipedia


The American Osprey is of special concern. Osprey breed near large bodies of water where there is abundant fish populations.  Numerous sightings are within the Adirondack.  Osprey construct their nest in tall dead tress, but also use rocky ledges, sand dunes, artificial platforms, and utility pole cross arms for a tall advantage point. The power company has started to built Osprey poles because they often select power poles causing issues when moving their youth from the endangerment of the power lines.  Breeding was observed on Bull Pond.




Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Common Loon - Picture credits to WikipediaThe Common Loon is a species of special concern and are located through out the Adirondacks  They use small and large freshwater lakes in open and densely forested areas for breeding and nest on lakes (mostly less habited lakes). The Loons will use little shallow coves for nesting which are constructed on the ground at the water’s edge on sand or rock, wherever to avoided predators.  Small islands are their favorite or small peninsular.  They have a beautiful call.



American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

The American bittern is a bird of freshwater emergent wetlands where it typically nests on a grass tussock or among the cattails.  Here it lays its eggs from four to 18 inches above the water in scanty nests made from sticks, grass, and sedges.  Separate paths are made in the tall vegetation for entering and exiting the nest.



Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli)

Bicknell's Thrush - Picture credits to Wikipedia

Bicknell's Thrush utilizes fir waves and natural disturbances as well as edges of ski slopes. They breed in the Adirondacks at elevations greater than 2800 ft. The species is most common on the highest ridges of the Adirondacks, preferring young or stunted dense stands of balsam fir up to 9 ft. in height.   The area of Wakely, Metcalf and Bradley Mountain elevations of over 2,800' have been designated protective for the Thrush.



Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Red Shoulder Hawk - Picture credits to Wikipedia


The Red-shouldered Hawk is listed as species of special concern and believed to exist.  Red-shouldered hawks breed in moist hardwood, forested wetlands, bottomlands and the wooded margins of wetlands, and sometimes close to cultivated fields. They like cool, moist, lowland forests with tall trees for nesting.



Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

Cooper's Hawk - Picture credits to Wikipedia



The Cooper's Hawk is another species of special concern and believed to be in the Siamese Wilderness. Cooper’s hawk enjoys a variety of habitat types, from extensive deciduous or mixed forests to scattered woodlots interspersed with open fields, floodplain forests and wooded wetlands are also used. They construct nests typically at a height of 35 to 45 feet in the trees.





Sharp-skinned Hawk - These hawks prefer open or young woodlands that support a large diversity of avian prey. They use mixed conifer-deciduous forest for nesting.


Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Tall trees with a partial canopy closure for nesting, and woodlands with small, open areas for foraging, are important habitat.   The goshawks prefer dense, mature, continuous coniferous or mixed woods where they typically place their nest 30 to 40 feet off the ground in the crotch of a tree.


Common Nighthawk  (Chordeiles minor)

Two distinct nesting habitats used by common nighthawks are bare flat rocks, and bare ground in open fields and pastures.  Nighthawks also nest in mountainous areas, provided woods are interspersed with clearings or openings.


Veery (Catharus fuscescens)

The Veery prefers moist to wet woodlands and inhabits forests having thick undergrowth.  It is most common in low, wet deciduous and coniferous forests. In mature forests the Veery occupies north-facing slopes or wet depressions where the microclimate is cooler.  The Veery usually nests on the ground, at the base of shrubs, roots, fallen branches or tree sprouts.


Wild Species of Concern___________________________________

These included two species of turtles (common snapping and the painted turtles), two species of snakes (Northern Redbelly, and the Common Garter snake), nine species of frogs and toads (Wood, Mink, Northern Leopard, Green, Pickerel, Bullfrog, Gray Treefrog, Eastern American and the Northern Spring Pepper), and six species of salamanders and newts (Northern Redback, Red-Spotted Newt, Northern Spring, Northern Two-lined, Northern Dusky, and the Spotted Salamander).  These above species are either unprotected at both the State and Federal level or are classified as a protected game species which may be hunted only during their respective open seasons.


SpottedSalamander.jpg Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) - The Spotted Salamander have two rows of yellowish orange spots that run along the back side.  They make their home in hardwood forest area and spend most of its time below the surface, under leaves or burrows; and use nearby ponds for breeding in the Spring.  They have poison glands around their back and neck, to release as protection against their predators.  This toxin is harmless to humans.  They are nocturnal hunters and are on the "Special Concern" list.



Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

The wood turtle is found in well oxygenated  good quality streams with sandy-pebbly substrates that are deep enough so that they do not freeze during hibernation Ideal habitat includes dense alder swamp and forested wetland habitat bordering the streams where the turtles can bask and have protection from predators.  Wood turtles forge for fungi and vegetation.  Wood turtles select both slopes and level sandy open areas for nest sites. They are listed as species of interest because of the long maturity rate (15 years) and high hatchling mortality.


Canada Lynx - A release of 83 Lynx were made between 1989 and 1991.  Mortality has been high.







The Blue Ridge Management Wilderness has 22 lakes & ponds, and many streams.   Below are listed some of the lakes, ponds and streams for hikers and anglers might wish to explore.   Visit our Fishing Directory for more information on other regions.  Also, don't forget the Ice Fishing Season!  Please note that the use of fish as bait is prohibited to curtail the 'bait-pail' introduction of competing and nonnative fish species.  Thanks.




  • Stephens Pond - (65 acres) - brook trout, brown trout, white suckers, brown bullhead - located just off the Northville-Placid trail

  • South Inlet

  • Death Brook Falls

  • Sprague Pond (59.1 acres)- reclaimed in '71, brown trout, fish barrier dam, easy hiking

  • Slim Pond (8.2 acres)- brown trout, brook trout, golden shiner, max. dept 17', headwater to Beaver Creek

  • Sagamore Lake - (166.1 acres), heritage strains of brook trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, longnose sucker, lake whitefish, white sucker, common shiner, creek chub - formerly known as Shedd Lake, a coldwater lake

  • Bear Pond (6.4 acres) (Bear Sportsman Club) - brook trout, white sucker, creek chub, northern redbelly dace

  • Brady Pond (2.7 acres) - no fish, bog pond

  • Wilson Pond (7.7 acres) - brook trout, golden shiner

  • Long Pond (4.5 acres) - no fish, sphagnum pond with max. dept of 13'

  • Cascade Pond (34.8 acres) - brook trout, brown bullhead, creek chub

  • Stephens Pond (64.5 acres)- brown trout, brook trout, white sucker, brown bullhead

  • Rock Pond (39.8 acres) - largemouth bass, tiger musky, yellow perch, pumpkinseed

  • Grassy Pond (8.4) - brook trout, northern redbelly dace

  • Horn Lake - heritage brook trout

  • Home Pond (7.2 acres) - unknown fish species and extensive wetlands

  • Little Tupper Lake - heritage brook trout

  • Windfall Pond - heritage brook trout

  • Dishrag Pond (11.1 acres) - fishless with depth max of 2', headwaters to Brown brook

  • Lower Mitchell Pond (2.2 acre) - brook trout, 80% of shoreline with bog vegetation

  • Middle Mitchell Pond (1 acre) - no fish

  • Upper Mitchell Pond (1 acre) - no fish, bog pond

  • Potter Pond (5.9 acres) - no fish and isolated, 4' depth

  • Wilson Pond - Brook trout, golden shiners, max. depth of 20'

  • Cellar Pond

  • South Inlet

  • Lake Kora

  • Crystal Lake

  • Mohegan Lake

  • Aluminum Pond (8.2 acres) - acidified, no fish


  • Upper Hudson River

  • Raquette River

  • Black Water River

  • South Creek (outlet for Sagamore Lake)

  • Bear Brook

  • Lost Brook

  • Loon Brook

  • South Branch Moose River tributaries

  • Marion River - (scenic)

  • Rock River - (recreational & Scenic)

  • Rock River - designated scenic)

  • Cedar River (recreational and scenic)

  • Bradley Brook

150 years ago before the canal construction, railways and road development, and the tourist expansion, the fish population in this region was pristine.  Today, nonnative specials have been distributed in the Adirondacks that have changed the homogenization of the fish communities.   It is calculated that 65% of these ponds and lakes contain nonnative species.   Brook trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, lake whitefish, round whitefish, cisco, smelt, walleye, yellow perch, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and rock bass were among the species distributed by the State hatcheries.  


Interesting historical notes cite that in the year 1909, “The messenger (railroad) is obliged to take the fish to the next applicant on his route if applicants for fish failed to meet messengers. Often the applicants were not on hand to meet the messenger because certain persons who occupy summer homes in the Adirondacks or some other resorts apply for fish which have to be sent after those persons have returned to their winter homes.”    The wooden “Adirondack” railroad car was replaced by a steel car in 1928. The railroad car’s primitive fish cans gave way to oxygen tanks around 1938. Trucks came into fashion for fish delivery around 1921, and the fish car was finally abandoned following World War II. Some of the trucks were mounted with steel oxygen tanks by 1933.  Today, fish hatchery are placed throughout the Park, and helicopter aerial stocking is in the preferred mention after full survey of our lakes and ponds.  Brook trout are principal fish in this region.  Acid precipitation has had minor impacts in this region; and only Potter Pond has failed.  Aluminum Pond was restocked, and Bear Brook suffers from acid during the snow melt.




Horse Trails

New York Codes Rules and Regulations (“NYCRR”) §190.8(n) authorizes the use of state owned lands by horses and equestrians.  However, the use of horses on designated foot trails is prohibited unless the trail is also specifically designated as a horse trail. Horse trails in a Wilderness area to:  “those that can be developed by conversion of appropriate abandoned roads, snowmobile trails, or state truck trails.”  Visit our Adirondack Horseback Directory for other areas.




All Terrain Bicycles


The use of all-terrain bicycles (ATB's) has become an increasingly popular recreational activity in portions of the Adirondack Park.  Recent regulatory changes prohibit bicycle use in wilderness, primitive, and canoe areas.  In wild forest areas ATB's are permitted on all unposted roads or trails. 




Hunters enjoy pack & paddling into the region for weeks of hunting and trapping.    The hunting species in this region is the big game of the common white-tailed deer and black bear.  Smaller species for hunting include the coyote, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel, skunk, grey squirrel, bobcat, snipe, rail, cow, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, certain waterfowl and snowshoe hare can be hunted.  

Muskrat, beaver, weasel, river otter, mink, fisher, American marten, skunk, raccoon, coyote, red fox, gray fox, and bobcat may also be trapped.

This region has surveyed 16 deer years, or wintering areas, important to maintaining deer population.  The areas in the region are significantly smaller and should be protected.  Common inhabitants include the white-tailed deer, moose, black bear, coyote, raccoon, red fox, gray fox, bobcat, fisher, American marten, river otter, mink, striped skunk, long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel, beaver, muskrat, porcupine, snowshoe hare; and various shrew, varied mouse species and lemmings.

The moose, elk, wolf, eastern cougar, Canada lynx, bald eagle, golden eagle, and peregrine falcon all inhabited the Adirondacks prior to European settlement.  All of these species were extirpated from the Adirondacks, mostly as a result of habitat destruction during the nineteenth century.  Projects for re-establishing the Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and Canada Lynx have been implemented.   The Canada Lynx mortality was very high due to vehicle collisions and was not successful.  The wolf and cougar are considered extirpated.  The Moose population has been absent in this region.




Hiking Trails


The backcountry acreage is enormous and the Adirondacks has the largest trail system in the nation with more than 2,000 miles.  Enjoy the glory of hiking the Adirondacks, nature's solitude, unbroken forest, lakes and mountains and take the path less taken.  Focus on your senses.  Visit our Adirondack Hiking Guide


The DEC trail classification system is outlined in the Forest Preserve Policy Manual. This classification system recognizes four trail classifications as outlined below:



Class 1:

Trail Distinguishable: Minimal biological or physical impacts, slight loss of vegetation and/or minimal disturbance of organic litter

Class 2:

Some Impacts: Tail obvious, slight loss of vegetation cover and/or organic litter pulverized in primary use areas, muddy spots or tree roots, or water action evident.

Class 3:

Moderate Impacts: Vegetation cover and/or organic littler pulverized within the center of the tread, exposed rocks and trees or small mud holes, but little evidence of widening beyond the maintained width of the trail.

Class 4:

Extensive Impacts: Near complete or total loss of vegetation cover and organic litter, rocks or tree roots exposed and roots damaged, or ruts more than 20cm (7.8 inches) deep, or widening caused by muddy areas or water action consistently.

Class 5:

Very Extensive Impacts: Trail to bedrock or other substrate, or tree roots badly damaged, or some ruts more than 50 cm (19.5 inches) deep or large areas (over 50%) of bank erosion, or mud holes so extensive that the trail is outside of its maintained width.

Marked Trails (11.5 miles)

NYSDEC Foot Trail Disk

Most trails are marked with color coded disks affixed to trees as shown (see left). Trail guides and maps correspond to these markers. Trail register boxes are generally located near major access points and parking areas. Although out state-maintained trails are marked, hikers are encouraged to consult topographical maps or other guides when planning to venture into the backcountry.  The region has only 11.5 miles of marked trails and the public is mostly confined to these designations, namely Wilson Pond, Cascade Pond, Stephens Pond and Sawyer Mountain.  The Northville-Lake Placid Trail does traverse through at Stephens Road to Lake Durant Campground.


Foot Trails 

  • The Wakely Mountain Trail (Class IV, .05 miles) starts from a parking lot on the west side of Cedar River Road, which is about 1.5 miles west  Indian Lake. The trail proceeds 3.0 miles west to the Wakely Mountain fire tower at the summit.  Large parking area off Cedar River Road.

  • The Northville-Lake Placid Trail (Class IV, total 3.5 miles) crosses the Blue Ridge Wilderness. Coming from the north, the trail starts on the south side of Route 28/30, 2.6 miles east of the junction of Routes 28 and 30 in the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake. (Note:  There are paved parking lots on both sides of the Route 28/30 right-of-way that can accommodate 15 to 20 cars.)   From the parking area the trail proceeds southeast 0.2 miles along old Route 30 through the Blue Mountain Wild Forest to the Lake Durant Campground.  It continues 0.3 miles south over campground roads to a State truck trail.  The truck trail proceeds west another 0.3 miles to a junction with a foot path.  The foot path leads west another 0.1 miles to a trail register on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail.  The trail proceeds west another 0.3 miles to the Blue Ridge Wilderness boundary, which is not marked.  From the boundary the trail proceeds south to Stephens Pond and on toward the former McCane’s Resort.  The trail passes through private lands for 0.8 miles and emerges onto Cedar River Road approximately 5.4 miles west of its junction with Route 28/30.  (Note:  The new owner of the former McCane’s Resort allows only through hikers to cross his land, and only until the trail is relocated.  Parking is not allowed.)

  • The Sawyer Mountain Trail (Class IV, 1.1 miles), a attractive family-oriented trail, leaves Route 28/30 2.2 miles west of its intersection with Cedar River Road, 6.0 miles east of the intersection of Routes 28 and 30 in Blue Mountain Lake.  The trail goes 1.1 miles to an overlook on Sawyer Mountain. The paved parking area on the shoulder of Route 28 can accommodate seven cars.

  • The Cascade Pond Trail (Class III, total 3.5 miles) begins in the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake on an unpaved road near the western end of Lake Durant.  The unpaved road is reached by following  Hamilton County Road 19, or Durant Road, a one-mile-long, paved residential road, crossing from Route 28 to Route 28/30.  Two-tenths mile from the eastern terminus of Durant Road the narrow, unpaved road with a Department sign leads 0.1 mile to the Cascade Pond trailhead.  From the trailhead, the Cascade Pond trail leads 100 yards west to the Blue Ridge Wilderness boundary, which is not marked.  The trail to the pond is 2.7 miles long.  The parking area, large enough for three cars, is muddy and not well defined.  The pond is popular for brook trout, and there is a lean-to on the pond.

  • Sagamore Lake Trail:  The unmarked trail around Sagamore Lake is an old forest road whose surface over much of its length is relatively level, firm and free of obstacles. However, occasional relatively steep pitches, exposed roots and rocks, and the thick turf of grasses that has grown over much of the surface of the former road.  At 3.5-miles, the complete loop is moderately long.  The major bridge over East Inlet has large gaps between planks and no railing.  A smaller bridge along the southeast shore would have to be replaced. 

  • Wilson Pond Trail (Class III and 2.9 miles) starts from Route 28 at a point 2.7 miles west of the junction of Routes 28 and 30 in Blue Mountain Lake.  The trail continues 2.7 miles to Wilson Pond, for a total trail length of 2.9 miles.  Unpaved parking available.  There is a lean-to on the pond, and anglers seek out the brook trout here on Wilson Pond often.

          Unmarked trails (4.8 miles)

  • Sprague Pond Trail - The trail from Cedar River Road to Sprague Pond is about 0.4 miles long.  It is a former road with gentle grades and a relatively firm and stable surface that leads to the water’s edge.   There is a gate at the entrance.  The trail surface is much smoother than most Adirondack trails, there are numerous roots, rocks and short steep pitches.  The last 200 feet to the pond is rocky and would present the most significant obstacles to people with mobility impairments.

  • Death Brook Falls Trail: (Class II, .3 miles) There is a former road leading about one-third mile from Route 28 to a scenic waterfall known as Death Brook Falls.  The trail has a relatively hard surface with few obstacles and no bridges.

  • Slim Pond - (Class II, 2.5 mile trail) start at the pull off on Route 28 in Blue Mountain Lake.  Slim Pond is stocked with brook and brown trout and anglers can park on the side of Route 28 and follow the path (old road).  Also access by staying at the Golden Beach Campground. Through Finch, Pruyn & Co. via deeded easement starts at Cedar River Road to the base of Metcalf Mountain.

  • Wilson Pond-Cascade Pond Crossover Trail (Class I, 1.6 miles) connecting Cascade Pond trail with Wilson Pond trail along old stage coach route from Indian Lake to Blue Mountain Lake.

  • Foot trail easement in Indian Lake from Route 28 across private land to points in Crystal Lake.

  • Sagamore Lake Store - 3.5 miles of Class II trails from the west end of the bridge at Sagamore outlet

  • Powerhouse (Class II, 1.5 miles) -  Starting on east side of South Inlet and proceeding from Sagamore Road, past old Sagamore hydroelectric complex to cascade marking navigable terminus of South Inlet of Raquette Lake.  Former carriage road.

  • Crossover (Class II, .07 miles) connecting Powerhouse trail with Sagamore Lake trail.  Part former skid roads, part foot trail.

  • Big Slope (Class II, .5 miles)- connecting Sagamore Lake trail with Powerhouse trail.  Former carriage road with switchbacks converted into skid trail.  Long fairly steep grade.

  • Blue Ridge (Class II, 1.5 miles) - Loop extension of Sagamore Lake trail.

  • Cascades (Class II, 1.5 miles) - Starting on west side of South Inlet and proceeding from Sagamore Road to cascade marking navigable terminus of South Inlet of Raquette Lake.  Former carriage road.

        Gifted easements (click on thumb nail)


       Water Access

  • From Raquette Lake up South Inlet via motor boat.  Use public boat launch from town or marinas.  Small non-motorized can be launched at Gold Beach Campground.

  • Lake Durant Campground boat launch, or small boats from Cascade Pond Trailhead, or hand launch from many points along the road.

  • South Inlet - small boats, canoes, kayaks may be  hand-launched from the waterway access site on Route 28.  Paddle to South Inlet Falls.

       Archaeological Sites

  • Marion River Carry - landing dock, engine house, old water tank, bridge remains from the Raquette Steamboat Line

  • Cedar River-Indian Lake Hydroelectric Plant - now a vacation cabin, but was a concrete dame, canal, wood stave penstock and wood frame powerhouse

  • Camp Pine Knot Farm Site - wires, earthenware, glass

  • Sagamore hydroelectric plant - concrete dam on South Inlet, channel w/steel ribs of he former penstock, remains of turbines and other hardware.

  • South Inlet Boathouse - logs & rock supports remain underwater for the boathouse owned by Durant

  • Milking Barn/Carriage & Hay Shed/Sugar Shack - of "farm meadow" on the north side of Sagamore Lake

  • Lineman's Cabin - remains of a seasonal farm on the north shore of Sagamore Lake

  • George's Camp/Gazebo - remains of a structure on the south side of Sagamore Lake

  • Gloria's Lean-to - ruins near Blue Ridge trail

  • Well - used to water horses, now called Big Slope trail

  • Fish Camp - former camp for Mossy Maxon (guide for Kill Kare & Sagamore), built by Durant around 1893, located 3 miles east of Lake Kora

  • Camp on Aluminum Pond - ruins

  • Camp on Bear Pond - ruins

  • Roads around Sagamore Lake and Kamp Kill Kare - served as carriage roads


     Follow those have gone before:



Titbits: Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC has adopted a regulation prohibiting the use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this new regulation.






Snowmobiling is a major recreational industry in NYS attracting many users to areas with suitable snow cover within the Adirondack Park.   While DEC snowmobile trails do not cross frozen waters a few of the lakes in the area are utilized by snowmobilers to access the marked trails.  In such cases the public must determine if the ice is safe. 







Cross Country Skiing

Skiers also follow the unmarked Cascades, Powerhouse, Big Slope and Crossover near Sagamore.  The Cascade Pond trail has been a destination for skiers , and Slim Pond trail is enjoyed by skiers and snowshoers (see hiking for details).  Sagamore Trails used by hunters, hikers and cross-country alike.  Trails of the Cascades, Powerhouse, Big Slope, Blue Ridge (Farm Meadow) and Sagamore Lake trails.  The Cascade trail is excellent for people with mobility impairments.


(Click thumbnail to enlarge)


Rock Climbing

Sugarloaf Mountain has a fairly smooth bar rock cliff and rises at an angle less than vertical making climb uniformity of the face, lack of cracks and only a few anchors installed, not many climbers have used this.  Access to the cliffs at Cedar River Road and walk to the base through leased land - need to get landowner permission.







  • Fishing barrier dam

  • Camp Sagamore on outlet

  • Rock dam on outlet of Mohegan Lake


  • Golden Beach Campground Gate

  • Sprague Pond


  • East Inlet Sagamore Lake

  • Cascade Pond Outlet

  • Rock Pond

  • Foot Bridge below Stephens Pond

     Parking Areas

  • Route 28

  • Parking at the trailheads

      Vehicle Access

  • Route 28

  • Route 28/30

  • Cedar River Road

  • Sagamore Road

  • Gould Road (3 spur roads)

     Scenic Vistas

  • Route 28 is designated scenic byway "Central Adirondack Trail.

  • Sawyer Mountain - views of the High Peaks to the east and Wakely Mountain, Panther Mountain and Blue Ridge Wilderness.

  • Wakely Mountain Fire Tower


  • Lake Durant

  • Sawyer Mountain

  • Wakely Mountain


  • Wakely Mountain Fire Tower - Constructed in 1911 out of wood, and later a steel tower was erected in 1916.  In 2003, the tower was listed on NY's National Registers of Historical Places.

  • Helipad - summit of Wakely Mountain

  • Great Camp Sagamore Ruins



Titbits:   The Wakely Mountain fire tower is one of 10 steel towers purchased from AerMotor of Chicago by New York State in 1916 and erected on mountain tops for fire detection purposes. These towers were distinctive in having ladders running up their sides rather than internal stairways. A stairway was added to Wakely in 1930. Of the original 10, Wakely is one of four remaining. (The other three are Cathead, Hadley and Woodhull.)  The Wakely tower retains more of the original ladder structure than any of the others. With a height of 69 feet six inches to the floor of the cab and 78 feet two inches to the top of roof, Wakely is the tallest of the original 10 steel towers, the third tallest tower now standing within the Adirondack Park, and the fourth tallest ever erected in the Park.




Cultural Values

Adapted from information provided by Michael Wilson of the Sagamore Institute and reported by DEC Mgt. Report


William West Durant was a proponent of recreational development in the central Adirondack region. Using the wealth he inherited from his father, Durant built three Great Camps: Pine Knot, Uncas, and Sagamore in Townships 40, 5 and 6 of the Totten  and Crossfield Purchase. Except for 16 acres including the camp buildings and a two-acre lot on Mohegan Lake Road, all of the original 1,550-acre estate of Uncas, Durant’s second Great Camp, are now within the Moose River Plains Wild Forest. Camp Sagamore, his last Great Camp, is on the edge of what is now the Blue Ridge Wilderness, which includes all but 18 acres of the 1,526 acres that once were attached to Sagamore.  The significance of Camps Sagamore and Uncas as cultural resources in the context of the history of the Forest Preserve lands that now surround them is demonstrably rooted first in changing American attitudes toward wild nature, which propelled the construction of Sagamore and Uncas in direct relation to the creation of New York State’s Forest Preserve; and second in a sequence of specific events which document 130 years of growing public commitment to the protection of the public domain, and then of Camp Sagamore itself.

The Forest Preserve and Camp Sagamore share a common, nationally prominent distinction: the Department of Interior’s National Park Service first declared the Forest Preserve a National Historic Landmark in 1963, and then Sagamore a National Historic Landmark in 2000. An effort has been initiated to seek National Historic Landmark status for Camp Uncas, which is a similarly exceptional example of original American resort architecture. Both the Forest Preserve and these early wilderness retreats represent profound changes in American attitudes toward wilderness. During the first half of the 19th century, when the national economy was still primarily agricultural, the wilderness was regarded as a foe to be conquered, or at best a resource to be exploited. But philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, painters like Thomas Cole and poets like William Cullen Bryant were all shaping public attitudes toward wilderness as the sign of God’s presence, and the true source of national identity.

Within three decades following the Civil War, when the nation transformed into an urban-industrial society, wild nature was rehabilitated as a source of physical and recreational as well as spiritual renewal.  As the remaining, proximate wilderness for the nation’s first large metropolitan centers, the Adirondack region became the focus of conservation measures, not only as a source of dependable water for canal systems and urban-industrial uses, but also as a resort for scenic and recreational tourism.

Camp Uncas was built in 1893-95, followed by the construction of Camp Sagamore in 1897-99, during a 15-year period following the creation of the Forest Preserve when more than a third of the region’s woods and waters were acquired by some fifty-five private recreational preserves. Uncas and Sagamore were designed by William West Durant, the scion of an Adirondack transportation and recreational development empire founded by his father, Thomas Clark Durant, whose fortune derived from his aggressive entrepreneurship as vice president and general manager of the Union Pacific Railway, and creator of the infamous Credit Mobilier financing scheme. Durant created Uncas as his summer home, but finding himself in need of cash, sold it in 1895 to J. Pierpont Morgan. Sagamore was the last, largest, and most sophisticated of the numerous luxurious, wilderness retreats young Durant built or promoted from 1876, and which brought the Raquette Lake area international prominence as the preferred vacation site of some of America’s wealthiest Gilded Age families.  As financial mismanagement was bringing about the collapse of his empire, Durant sold Sagamore to newlywed Alfred G. Vanderbilt in 1901, and it continued to serve as that family’s Adirondack retreat  following Vanderbilt’s death on the Lusitania in 1915 until his widow, the social hostess Margaret Emerson, donated the Camp to Syracuse University in 1954.

Sagamore Institute’s current 18-acre inholding is the result of three negotiations with New York State which span the entire history of the Forest Preserve, and characterize over a century of growing public commitment to its protection.  The first began in the late 1870s, when the Durants’ original development plans focused on Township 40, in which Raquette Lake was to serve both as a hub for their water transportation lines and the focal point for summer resort land development. Under growing public criticism for its disposal of public lands to the benefit of lumber, railroad, and other entrepreneurial interests, however, New York State increasingly became a buyer rather than a seller of Adirondack lands, and to the frustration of the Durants and many others had by 1881 appropriated most of Township 40 at tax sales.  Not only did most subsequent attempts to wrest these valuable lands from the State fail, but a growing conservation movement stiffened its resolve:  in 1883 the legislature prohibited further sales of public lands in the ten Adirondack counties, and by 1885 another law designated these lands a Forest Preserve, to be “forever kept as wild forest lands” governed by a special three-man commission rather than the Land Office. So William West Durant focused his development plans on adjoining lands, and within three years managed to purchase partof Township 5, and all of Townships 6 and 34, which encompass Blue Mountain Lake and the Eckford Chain, and comprise most of today’s Blue Ridge Wilderness.

By 1897, when the expenses of building both Camp Uncas in Township 5 and neighboring Camp Sagamore in Township 6 within just five years had drained his resources, Durant negotiated the sale of nearly all Township 6—23,872 acres—to New York State, not at the ten dollars per acre that he sought, but still at a higher price than the State had yet paid for adding prime forest lands to the Forest Preserve.  Moreover, after the sale closure in October, it emerged that not only was a 1,526-acre estate around Durant’s Camp Sagamore and Shedd Lake excluded from the sale, also excluded were Camp Uncas and its 1,550-acre preserve around Mohegan Lake, recently acquired from Durant by J. Pierpont Morgan, and another 1,027-acre inholding surrounding Sumner Lake.  The owner of this valuable parcel, entirely surrounded by lands that were now to be “forever kept as wild forest lands” by a unique, three-year-old constitutional amendment, was Timothy L. Woodruff, who was not only Lieutenant Governor, butch airman of the Forest Preserve Board that had met at Sagamore in July to inspect the land and negotiate the purchase price with Durant. By August Woodruff had taken possession of his privileged new estate, and was cutting a road to the site of an 1888 Durant hunting cabin on Sumner Lake called both Camp Omonson and Bear Camp.

Within a year Woodruff had developed a luxurious, artful rustic compound which he named Kamp Kill Kare, renaming the lake Kora after his wife.

Thus are the origins of three private landholdings near the boundary between today’s Blue Ridge Wilderness and Moose River Plains Wild Forest, Camps Uncas, Sagamore and Kill Kare, closely linked to the formative processes of the Forest Preserve and the adoption of successively stronger measures to protect it not only from private exploitation, but from dissipation by public agencies and legislatures alike.  By voting in 1894 to amend the State Constitution with Article VII, Section 7, the citizens of New York augmented the “forever wild” language of the 1885 Forest Preserve legislation with the enjoinder that Forest Preserve lands “shall not be leased, sold, or exchanged, or betaken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”  Such thorough, uncompromising protection of the Adirondack watersheds served to thwart much overt corruption in public land sales and trades.  However, the potential for enhancing the value of protected, private inholdings made venal conflicts of interest that characterized the Woodruff-Durant deal in Township 6 a great temptation.  Constitutional protection certainly contributed to a moral climate in which Woodruff’s exclusive acquisition was belatedly investigated as possible malfeasance by a special State commission and the popular press.

Cultural changes over the next century only deepened the convictions of New Yorkers that its public domain must be protected from exploitation.  By the time New York State seized the opportunity to purchase the Sagamore acreage from Syracuse University forthe Forest Preserve in 1975, an eighty-year history of more than a hundred rejections by voters of all legislative measures to significantly diminish constitutional protection, and the growing vigilance of guardian organizations, had resulted in ever stricter applications of the “Forever Wild” article.  At this point State acquisition invoked the statutory policies of the APSLMP of 1972, which mandated the destruction of Sagamore’s twenty seven buildings as “non-conforming uses” in the Forest Preserve. Deploring such an erasure of cultural history, historic preservationists throughout the state intervened to arrange for the transfer of title to eight acres and 16 buildings of Sagamore’s lower complex from Syracuse University directly to the newly formed Preservation League of New York State, who in turn sought a third party to purchase and assume stewardship of the buildings.  By this means the strictures of (now) Constitutional Article XIV were circumvented, preserving the portion of Camp Sagamore deemed most architecturally significant through its indirect purchase by a non-profit, educational organization which became Sagamore Institute, while title to 1,517 acres of the original estate passed directly from the university to the State for inclusion in the Forest Preserve. 

Valid objections were raised to this circumvention of constitutional protection.  The exclusion of land and structures from a State purchase resulted in both cases—the 1897Durant-Woodruff sale and the 1975 Syracuse University sale—in compromising the State’s goal to eliminate in holdings and to consolidate the Forest Preserve.  Mitigating circumstances certainly include the differences in motive between acquiring a private vacation retreat with a market value enhanced by State land protections and historic preservation for public educational purposes. Moreover, among the many restrictions permanently attached to Sagamore’s deed were the provisions that the buildings and infrastructure, after twenty years of deferred maintenance in a harsh climate, were to be maintained in good condition or the Preservation League of New York State might repossess them without compensation; at least some public access must be permitted; and that the property could not ever be resold for more than the original purchase price and the costs of subsequent improvements.  Of greater validity, however, was the objection that Sagamore’s exclusion from the State purchase set a precedent that could be invoked in other Forest Preserve acquisitions for less meritorious purposes, and on more advantageous terms. As a result the obstacles to saving all of Sagamore increased significantly.

In 1977, only two years after the sale of Sagamore, the opportunity arose to add the Camp Uncas lands to the Forest Preserve. The 16 acres comprising the complete Camp Uncas building complex were separated from the rest of the 1,550-acre estate.  The Sagamore Institute considered acquiring Uncas for its proximity and historical relationship to Sagamore, but was not in a position to accept the significant additional responsibility. The directors of the organization were able to personally acquire Uncas as their residence, to house Sagamore Institute staff and volunteers, and to provide access to members of the public who participate in Camp Sagamore programs.

By 1980 the attention that Sagamore and other Adirondack Great Camps were receiving had made it clear that their cultural significance was not confined to the architecture and social history of the rich and famous; the generations of artisan craftsmen and families who comprised the year-round caretaking communities were an essential part of their history.  The exclusion of the eleven service buildings in Sagamore’s upper, caretaking complex from the 1975 sale was now regarded as an error, but disagreement over other conflicts between environmental conservation and historic preservation elsewhere in the Forest Preserve left only one solution: a special constitutional amendment. This challenging process required first the passage through two legislative sessions of a bill calling for the exchange of more than 200 acres deemed an important acquisition to the Forest Preserve, and purchased by Sagamore Institute, for the 10 acres and buildings of Sagamore’s caretaking complex. Then a coalition of advocacy groups, with the Preservation League again providing leadership, had to mount a campaign to persuade voters throughout the state to support this measure to reunite Camp Sagamore in a public referendum.  On November 8, 1983 the amendment to “Save Sagamore” won the support of 62 percent of New York’s voters, more than any of the eight propositions on the statewide ballot that year. Although this was a long, complex, and arduous process of public decision-making, in this case it served two complementary purposes: Camp Sagamore’s cultural significance and the importance of constitutional protection for the Forest Preserve were at once brought to statewide attention.

The terms in which Sagamore is designated a National Historic Landmark focus primarily on the recognition that the Camp is the most “sophisticated” prototype of a new resort architecture that “exerted a strong and lasting influence on the design of rustic buildings developed in the national and state park systems in the twentieth century,” beginning with Old Faithful Inn (1901) at Yellowstone, the world’s first National Park in 1872.  As “the first and fullest application of a rustic aesthetic in American buildings,” the artful use of indigenous materials created buildings in many Adirondack Camps that are in visual harmony with their woodland settings, appear to have grown out of the ground, and that declared in their day a new affinity with wilderness.  “We belong here, living a simple life close to nature,” the architecture asserts.  That this ideal was an elaborate, nostalgic, and picturesque illusion, however, is nowhere clearer than in the sheer scale—Sagamore had more than fifty buildings in its heyday—the municipal-grade infrastructure; social structures involving laborers, skilled craftsmen, guides, servants, guests and owners; and the worldly recreational pursuits of these single-family “trophy” camps.





Adirondack Mountain Club


Lake George


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