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Northville - Placid Trail 

Cold River & Duck Hole


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This section of the Northville Placid Trail can't be reached by driving to either the start or finish points of the section.  This section is located within a remote area of the High Peaks Wilderness that can only be accessed by hiking.  Your hiking in the Cold River Valley with the Seward Mountains to your north and the Santanoni Mountains to your south.  Seven of the "ADK 46ers" are located near this area.  You are truly in the High Peaks, although the trail does not venture toward any of the mountains.

Some call the walk along the Cold River as one of the most scenic of the whole trail with a grand finale of reaching Duck Hole.  Duck Hole was created by a dam built over 100 years ago.  It was one of many dams that were built in the Adirondacks to help combat forest fires.  The dam structure is in bad shape and soon Duck Hole will be just a memory.  A bridge over the dam was removed a short time ago. 

There are many who hope that the state and federal government will step in to save the dam, thus saving this scenic spot along the Northville-Placid Trail.  Duck Hole was also the former site of a ranger station.  There is much history in this area, although it is in a "forever wild" wilderness. 

This section starts at Shattuck Clearing as the Northville Placid Trail crosses Moose Creek on a suspension footbridge.  The trail crosses the Cold River on another suspension footbridge at 0.5 miles.  There are two lean to shelters in this area.  The trail now runs along the north bank of the Cold River.  At 1.75 miles reach "Big Eddy" of the Cold River.  This is a great fishing spot for trout.

At 2.9 miles the trail goes past a wet area then reaches Millers Falls and the Seward Lean To at 3.5 miles.  The Ouluska Lean To is reached at 5.4 miles and soon the trail begins to move away from the river.  At 6.2 miles reach the Rondeau Hermitage, where Noah John Rondeau lived off the land from 1929 to 1950 as a hermit.  He would play violin to those that did visit him.  In 1947, Rondeau was flown to the National Sportsmen's Show in New York City by helicopter, where he was a huge hit and started a series of appearances at similar shows throughout the country.

In 1950, the Conservation Department closed the Cold River area to the public after a big blow down from a late hurricane leveled the forest, forcing Rondeau from his home at age 67. He then lived around Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Wilmington, NY.  Besides the sportsmen's shows, he worked for a time at Frontiertown and at the North Pole in Wilmington as a substitute Santa Claus, but he didnít return to a hermit life, and eventually went on welfare.  He died on August 24, 1967 at the age of 84.

The trail reaches more wet areas as it crosses a stream at 7.5 miles and another at 8.15 miles.  You'll cross the outlet to Mountain Pond at 8.45 miles and soon the trail runs near the south, then west shore of the pond.  At 9.2 miles reach the junction of the Ward Brook Trail that leads over ten miles to Coreys.  This is a popular trail for those hiking the Sewards as part of the 46er requirements.

The trail is now following an old road and comes to a couple of lean to shelters (Cold River #1 & #2) as well as crosses Moose Creek (not the same creek as mentioned earlier) at 9.6 miles.  The Cold River comes back to your right and the Cold River Horse Trail comes in on your right at 9.9 miles.  At 10.75 miles you'll reach the beauty of Duck Hole.  There are two lean to shelters located in the area. 

Although located nearly six miles from Upper Works trailhead (closest trailhead), Duck Hole is a very popular destination.  It is located 12.2 miles from Averyville Road along the Northville Placid Trail and over 22 miles along the NPT from Long Lake.  Preston Ponds, located south of Duck Hole is also a very popular destination.

If you visit the area, you'll see why it's so popular.  Below are a few maps and a detailed description of this scenic section of trail.  The landscape at Duck Hole changed forever in 2011 as the old dam was destroyed during a Tropical Storm.  After the flood waters receded, the water that once was at Duck Hole disappeared.

Be sure to check out Guide to Adirondack Trails: Northville Placid Trail 4th Edition for more information on the Northville-Placid Trail.  Also check out the NY DEC website at Adirondack Trail Information for updated trail conditions.  If you have any updates for us please contact us at or if you'd like to share any pictures of this fantastic hiking trail.

Mile Elevation Description (Shattuck Clearing to Duck Hole)
0.0 1668 ft

Leave Shattuck Clearing over suspension bridge over Moose Creek. 

0.5 1671 ft

Cross Cold River on suspension bridge.  Trail follows near north bank of the Cold River.  Two Lean To shelters close by.

1.75 1737 ft

Big Eddy on the Cold River.

3.5 1832 ft

Seward Lean To and Miller's Falls.

5.4 1880 ft

Ouluska Lean To

5.7 1914 ft

Trail moves away from the Cold River.

6.2 1937 ft

Rondeau Hermitage.

6.25 1955 ft

Old county line marker.  Leave Essex County, enter Franklin County.

7.5 1953 ft

Cross stream

8.15 2024 ft

Cross stream

8.45 2129 ft

Cross Mountain Pond outlet.

8.55 2199 ft

Mountain Pond is off to the left.

9.2 2184 ft

Ward Brook Trail junction.

9.55 2087 ft

Two Lean To shelters close by.

9.6 2066 ft

Cross Moose Creek

9.9 2114 ft

Cold River Horse Trail junction.

10.75 2162 ft

The former Duck Hole.  Junction of Bradley Pond Trail.   Two lean to shelters.  Turn left.  End of section.

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