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Hiking in Adirondack Park
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness
The 46,283 acre Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is located in Warren and Essex Counties in the towns of Schroon, Ticonderoga, Horicon and Hague. The wilderness is located east of US 9 and I-87, south of NY 74, north of NY 8 and west of NY 9N. This is easily the most popular recreational area in the East-Central Adirondacks.
There are over 60 miles of hiking trails and fourteen lean to's located in the wilderness, making this a very popular destination for outdoor adventurers. With all the trails you can create a loop that fits your schedule. You can also use Putnam Pond State Campground as a base for your adventure.
The most popular hikes include Pharaoh Mountain, Treadway Mountain, Goose Pond, Crab Pond, Rock Pond, Gull Pond, Pharaoh Lake, Clear Pond, Grizzle Pond to name just a few. It's a large area to explore, so expect to take more than just a few days to see it all.
Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is also famous for the attempted "closing" of Crane Pond Road by the state. The road penetrates nearly two miles into the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, ending at Crane Pond. However, motorized vehicles are not allowed in Wilderness Areas of the Adirondacks and in 1989 the NY DEC placed boulders across the road to block vehicle entry. Soon the boulders were moved to the side and today some vehicles still use the road, although the road has become rough over the years. This story continues to be a heated debate.
We'd recommend a hike to Treadway Mountain. It's a long 3.9 mile one way hike from Putnam Pond Campground with an elevation change of nearly 900 feet. Your rewarded with spectacular views from it's rocky summit. It's a mountain that gets overlooked and deserves more attention. If you take a boat across Putnam Pond, your hike to the summit from the landing is only 2.3 miles one way.
Look below for some info on the many trails in this wilderness as well as a map and some pictures. You can get more info on hiking in this area with trail maps of the Adirondacks from Adirondack Park Bundle- Trails Illustrated Map. Read about a hike in this wilderness from the AndyArthur.org website.
Hiking Trails in Pharaoh Lake Wilderness
Note: The numbers next to the trail names corresponds with the numbers on the map below of the hiking trails in the wilderness area.
Crane Pond Road (36) - This dirt road is one of the major northern access points for the wilderness. The road is suppose to be closed to vehicles, however the road remains open as access is not blocked. The road travels two miles to Crane Pond. At 0.9 miles is the trailhead for Goose Pond Trail (37).
The road gets much rougher from here. At 1.6 miles a section of road could be flooded by the northeastern end of Alder Pond. At 1.7 miles the Long Swing Trail (38) from NY 74 is on the left. The west end of Crane Pond is reached at 2.0 miles. The Pharaoh Mountain Trail (40) starts off the road.
Goose Pond Trail (37) - The trail has yellow trail markers as it leaves Crane Pond Road. At 0.1 miles cross a high plank bridge over the outlet of Alder Pond. At 0.2 miles the trail crosses a wet area over a couple of moss covered logs. At 0.3 miles the trail climbs gently uphill, levels and then climbs again over rocks as well as roots.
The trail now travels gently downhill and at 0.6 miles passes a campsite near the edge of the pond. Across the pond is a view of Pharaoh Mountain. You may see loons in the area.
Long Swing Trail (38) - This blue marked trail leaves a small parking area off NY 74 and enters the woods. At 0.3 miles the trail crosses a stream on a bridge. You may notice some enormous yellow birch trees in this area. At 0.7 miles the trail crosses a beaver pond outlet with Blue Hill in view. At 1.7 miles the trail crosses a stream on rocks. At 2.3 miles the trail passes an enormous red oak tree. At 2.8 miles the trail ends at Crane Pond Road, however DEC signs has the trail continuing to Pharaoh Lake.
Tubmill Marsh Trail (39) - This trail travels 6.4 miles from NY 74 entering the northern section of the wilderness, connecting to numerous trails leading to the many ponds in the region and ending at the Pharaoh Mountain Trail. It is a popular trail with backpackers exploring the area and is sometimes referred to as the Short Swing Trail.
From NY 74 the trail passes above a wetland with beaver activity. At 0.3 miles cross a bridge. At 1.0 miles the trail reaches the junction with two private trails from the Pyramid Lake Camp. The trail passes in between Ragged Mountain and Bear Mountain and then by Potter Mountain. At 2.2 miles a side trail leads 0.1 miles to Tubmill Marsh Lean To.
At 3.2 miles the trail turns right and goes around Honey Pond. At 3.4 miles reach the junction with the Lilypad Pond Trail (45). The Lilypad Pond Lean To is located near the intersection. At 3.8 miles pass an old side trail to Treadway Mountain. At 4.2 miles there are views of Horseshoe Pond and then side trails leading to the pond.
After crossing the inlet to Crab Pond, the pond comes into view. The trail follows along the southern shore of the pond and at 4.9 miles is the junction of the Crab Pond Spur Trail (39A). At 5.4 miles reach Oxshoe Pond and then at 5.6 miles reach Oxshoe Pond Lean To. It's a real nice view from the lean to.
At 5.9 miles the trail reaches the shoreline of Glidden Marsh and the junction on the left of the Glidden Marsh Trail (41). The Tubmill Marsh Trail turns right and after crossing a bridge ends at 6.4 miles with the junction of the Pharaoh Mountain Trail (40).
Crab Pond Spur Trail (39A) - This red marked trail travels 0.4 miles from Crab Pond to the Glidden Marsh Trail (41).
Pharaoh Mountain Trail (40) - This trail travels over the 2551 foot summit of Pharaoh Mountain. This red marked trail starts at the western end of Crane Pond at the end of Crane Pond Road (36). The trail crosses the outlet of Crane Pond on a plank bridge and soon reaches a trail register. This first section of trail is also referred as the Long Swing Trail.
At 0.7 miles reach the junction with the Glidden Marsh Trail (41) as the Pharaoh Mountain trail veers right, passing a beaver pond and Glidden Marsh on the left. The trail begins ascending at 1.9 miles and soon it will become steeper, where the trail is eroded down to bare rock. At 2.8 miles there is a view as the trail is on an open ridge of bare rock.
The trail passes by the site of the former observer's cabin and then reaches the summit at 2.9 miles. The views are outstanding with the high peaks, Lake Champlain, Vermont all in view. The trail continuing across the summit and then down the eastern side of the mountain is a pleasant, lightly used trail. At 3.5 miles there is an overlook featuring the rocky face of Treadway Mountain.
You'll find blueberries along the open rock in season. At 3.7 miles the clearing ends and soon you'll see Pharaoh Lake below. The trail comes close to the shoreline of Pharaoh Lake at 4.5 miles. The trail turns right and follows the shore of the lake.
At 5.3 miles reach a junction with the Lean To Spur Trail (40A) that travels 0.2 miles to Pharaoh Lake Lean To #5 and a scenic point on the lake. There are great views from the tip of the point. Back on the main trail, Pharaoh Lake Lean To #6 can be seen through the trees at 5.7 miles. The outlet of the lake and the junction with the Mill Brook Trail (50) are at 6.2 miles.
You can find out more info on Pharaoh Mountain, which is the most popular hike in the wilderness.
Glidden Marsh Trail (41) - This trail connects the Crane Pond area with the Pharaoh Lake area and the Grizzle Ocean Trail (47). This trail is also referred to as the Long Swing Trail (as you'll see with the DEC signs along the trail). The yellow marked Glidden Marsh Trail begins at a junction of the Tubmill Marsh Trail (39), 0.4 miles east of the Pharaoh Mountain Trail (40) and 1.1 miles from the end of Crane Pond Road (36).
From the Tubmill Marsh Trail junction the trail follows along the shore of Glidden Marsh. At 0.6 miles reach the junction with the Crab Pond Spur Trail (39A) on the left. The trail climbs gently as it travels along the eastern side of Pharaoh Mountain. At 2.1 miles the trail starts a steep descent toward Pharaoh Lake and comes near the shore at 3.1 miles, where the trail turns left.
The trail swings around Split Rock Bay on Pharaoh Lake. At 3.7 miles reach Pharaoh Lake Lean To #4. There are nice views of the lake from the broad point in front of the lean to. There is a side trail that leads 0.3 to Wintergreen Point that has real nice views. At 4.4 miles the trail reaches the junctions of the Grizzle Ocean Trail (47) and East Shore of Pharaoh Lake Trail (51), which marks the end of the Glidden Marsh Trail.
Otter Pond Trail (42) - This short 0.3 mile trail access is only via boat from NY 74 on Eagle Lake. The trail is well marked with dark blue markers, but the start can easily be missed.
Clear Pond Trail (43) - This trail starts between campsites 38 & 39 in Putnam Pond Campground and offers hikers an opportunity to make a complete circuit around Putnam Pond, as well as access to several small ponds in the area. When this trail is combined with the Grizzle Ocean Trail (47), it's possible to make a complete loop around Putnam Pond. This trail is marked with yellow markers up to the end of Clear Pond and then blue markers up to the junction with the Grizzle Ocean Trail (47).
Starting from the campground the trail reaches the Bear Pond Trail (44) at 0.4 miles. At 0.5 miles a side trail heads north to a scenic spot on Heart Pond. Soon the trail follows the shoreline of North Pond and crosses a bridge at 1.1 miles. At 1.5 miles reach the shore of North Pond. The Rock Pond Spur Trail (43A) is reached at 1.7 miles. The main trail turns left here and reaches Little Rock Pond Lean To at 1.9 miles.
Rock Pond Lean To is reached via Rock Pond Spur Trail in 0.4 miles. The spur trail comes back to Clear Pond Trail at 2.0 miles. The spur is 0.5 miles long. At 2.1 miles reach the junction of the Lilypad Pond Trail (45).
The trail reaches Clear Pond at 2.7 miles and a junction where hikers have a choice of which direction to travel around the pond. The West Clear Pond Trail (43B) is on the right and is shorter by 0.1 miles, reaching the main trail in 0.6 miles. The main trail goes left along the east side of the pond. At 3.1 miles you reach Clear Pond Lean To. Behind the lean to is the Putnam Pond to Clear Pond Trail (43C) that travels 0.6 miles to the shore of Putnam Pond.
Reach the junction of the trail from the west side of the pond at the pond outlet at 3.4 miles. Travel by Mud Pond and at 3.6 miles reach the junction of the Treadway Mountain Trail (46) on the right. At 4.4 miles reach the Grizzle Ocean Trail. Heading left leads to Putnam Pond parking lot in 1.4 miles.
Bear Pond Trail (44) - This trail starts off the Clear Pond Trail (43) at Heart Pond and travels north along the eastern shore of the pond. At 1.0 miles the trail crosses an open rocky area with blueberry bushes. The trail turns left at 1.2 miles and soon reaches a campsite along the east shore of Bear Pond.
There are a lot of signs of beaver activity around the pond. At 1.5 miles cross an inlet stream and leave the pond. The trail crosses over Bear Pond Mountain, gaining 350 feet in elevation, at 2.2 miles. At 2.8 miles the trail reaches the junction of the Lilypad Pond Trail (45) on the right and the Rock Pond Spur Trail (43A) on the left in 0.2 miles.
Lilypad Pond Trail (45) - This red marked trail, also known as the Rock Pond to Lilypad Pond Trail, begins from Clear Pond Trail (43) and heads north following the western shore of Rock Pond. The trail passes a nice campsite as it follows the shore. This section of the trail is marked on some maps as the South Rock Pond Trail (45B).
At 0.7 miles reach Rock Pond Outlet and the junction of the North Rock Pond Trail (45A). This trail follows the north shore of the pond and features a bluff overlook of the pond, a few campsites, then reaches the Bear Pond Trail (44) at 0.6 miles. The trail ends at the Rock Pond Spur Trail (43A) at 0.8 miles. You can complete a two mile loop around Rock Pond if you wish.
Back on the main trail, your following the outlet stream and may hear the sounds of a waterfall at 1.2 miles. The trail descends toward the waterfall, where there is a short side trail that heads to the falls. The trail follows along a wetland before climbing and reaching Lilypad Pond Lean To at Lilypad Pond at 1.8 miles. The trail ends at 1.9 miles with the junction of the Tubmill Marsh Trail (39).
Treadway Mountain Trail (46) - This mountain features a large open rocky area on the summit with spectacular views including the High Peaks. Blueberries grow profusely along the upper sections of the trail. It is possible to cross Putnam Pond via boat and eliminate 3.2 miles of hiking from this otherwise long 7.8 mile round trip hike from the campground. Don't let the length of the hike deter you!
The start of the trail is 1.4 miles on the Grizzle Ocean Trail (47) from the campground, then 0.4 miles north on the Clear Pond Trail (43). At the junction the Treadway Mountain Trail goes left. The trail right leads 0.2 miles to Putnam Pond and a landing for the canoe short cut.
The red marked trail leaves the Clear Pond Trail (43) and the trail follows the south shore of Mud Pond. At 0.2 miles cross a stream on a log. At 1.2 miles the trail becomes rocky and then bare rock at 1.3 miles. Follow the red paint on the bare rock! At 1.5 miles the trail climbs and arrives in a thick growth of blueberry bushes.
The trail goes back into the woods at 1.6 miles and then there is a view to the east at 1.7 miles. At 2.0 miles reach a false summit before reaching the true 2240 foot summit at 2.1 miles. Spend some time exploring the large summit and the spectacular views that surround you.
Grizzle Ocean Trail (47) - This yellow marked trail begins on the west side of the parking lot at Putnam Pond State Campground. The trail immediately crosses a couple of bridges and a side trail on the right leads to Putnam Pond. At 0.3 miles pass through a muddy area, then cross a brook. At 1.2 miles reach the junction of an unmarked side trail on the right that heads to Putnam Pond and soon after crosses a brook on a plank bridge.
At 1.4 miles reach a stream with a bridge. On the other side is the junction of the Clear Pond Trail (43) on the right. For those who want to do the Putnam Pond circuit hike, this is the trail you'll want. The main trail heads left toward Grizzle Ocean. At 1.6 miles cross a stream on rocks and at 1.8 miles the blue marked Grizzle Ocean Lean To Spur Trail on the left travels 0.2 miles to a lean to and then continues on around Grizzle Ocean as the Grizzle Ocean Circuit Trail (47A).
The main trail continues to a long wooden walkway crossing the outlet of Grizzle Ocean at 2.0 miles. The trail turns left at the end of the walkway and at 2.1 miles reaches the junction of the red marked Grizzle Ocean Circuit Trail (47A). This trail circles around the pond, reaching the lean to in 0.9 miles. A complete circle around the pond is 1.4 miles.
Continuing on the main trail, at 2.2 miles there is a small pond on the right. At 2.5 miles a stream is crossed on rocks and then crossed again. At 2.8 miles reach a wet area, which is the start of a stream that the trail soon follows downhill. At 3.3 miles is a very muddy area. At 3.7 miles cross a bridge and at 3.8 miles reach a small stream falling down through the rocks from Devil's Washdish.
At 3.9 miles you'll may see Wolf Pond through the trees. Cross an inlet to the pond at 4.0 miles and then another at 4.1 miles. At 5.1 miles cross a stream. Soon a waterfall may be heard on the left. At 5.2 miles reach Pharaoh Lake and the junctions of the Glidden Marsh Trail (41) aka Long Swing Trail on the right as well as the East Shore Pharaoh Lake Trail (51) on the left.
Berrymill Flow from the North (48) - The start of this blue marked trail is near the exit of the parking area in the Putnam Pond State Campground. The beginning of the trail takes hikers uphill along an old tote road. At 0.6 miles cross a stream and then at 1.5 miles cross a clearing as well as another stream. You may encounter some beaver activity in this area. At 2.0 miles reach the marked side trail on the right that leads to the Berrymill Flow Lean To. Maps call this Berrymill Pond, however the signs on the trail call it Berrymill Flow.
Berrymill Flow from the South (48A) - The start of this trail is from a small parking area off West Hague Road. The trail starts out following yellow markers and then reaches a fork at 0.3 miles where the trail heads right following blue markers. At the fork is the junction of the Springhill Ponds from the South Trail (53), which goes left.
A gradual climb continues from the fork and becomes steeper at 1.2 miles before leveling at 1.3 miles. At 1.5 miles pass a wetland then cross a couple of bridges and a stream. A junction on the left for Berrymill Flow is at 3.0 miles and the shore of the pond at 3.1 miles. The trail turns right and passes an old lean to site at 3.2 miles. At 3.4 miles reach the end of the trail near a cove.
Lost Pond Trail (49) - This popular trail is located off the road that leads to the Putnam Pond State Campground. This yellow marked trail takes hikers and anglers to and around Lost Pond. From the trailhead sign follow the old road and at 0.4 the trail forks left off the old road. At 1.0 miles cross a stream with huge boulders on a plank bridge.
At 1.1 miles the trail passes the outlet of the pond and at 1.4 miles you should see the pond, then the junction for the loop around the pond. Turn right to go around the pond, then at 1.8 miles cross a rocky stream. At 2.0 miles reach an outcropping of boulders. This is a popular picnic spot, soon after pass a campsite with a fire ring. Another campsite is reached at 2.2 miles. Blueberries are thick in this area.
The trail climbs steeply up through boulders along the side of Abe's Hill. At 2.5 miles pass another campsite and then reach the loop at 2.6 miles, marking the end of the trail.
Pharaoh Lake via Mill Brook (50) - This is the most popular trail into the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness from the south. This trail takes you directly to the south end of Pharaoh Lake and giving you access to other sections of the wilderness. The official trailhead is at the end of Pharaoh Lake Road where the road reaches the wilderness boundary and a parking lot.
The access to the road into the wilderness isn't blocked (although it could be at anytime in the future) and one could drive on the extremely rough road another 1.1 miles to Mill Brook. I wouldn't recommend this, however there is another small parking lot at Mill Brook.
The trail heads north across Mill brook on a plank bridge into an open area. This open area is often flooded with knee deep water for about 0.1 miles. After the wet area ends the trail enters the woods following an old tote road. At 1.2 miles the trail bears right and crosses a stream on a bridge. A side trail before the bridge on the left leads to a campsite overlooking a beaver pond and wetland.
At 2.4 miles on the left is the end of the Sucker Brook Trail (55). The footbridge over the outlet to Pharaoh Lake is crossed at 2.5 miles. Just beyond the bridge is the junctions of the Pharaoh Mountain Trail (40) and the East Shore Trail (51).
East Shore of Pharaoh Lake (51) - This trail follows along the east shore of Pharaoh Lake with nice views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The trail passes by three lean to's. The trail starts at the junction of the Mill Brook Trail (50) and the Pharaoh Mountain Trail (40).
From the trail junction the trail goes right uphill crossing a clearing and entering woods on the east side of the lake. At 0.4 miles reach Pharaoh Lake Lean To #1 with nice views across the lake. Soon pass the unmaintained side trail to Whortleberry Pond (53) on the right. The trail soon passes open rock and at 0.7 miles Pharaoh Lake Lean To #2 is set back in the woods on the left.
Views of the lake and Pharaoh Mountain as the trail reaches the fork for Springhill Ponds Trail (52). Bear left to continue along the east shore of the lake and in 0.1 miles reach a side spur trail that leads to a scenic point on the lake at the site where #3 lean to once was. More nice views across the lake as the trail crosses a couple of rocky bluffs.
At 1.3 miles there is a nice panoramic view of the lake, the islands and the mountains. Reach the path that leads to Pharaoh Lake Lean To #3 at 1.9 miles where there's more great views and a popular swimming area. At 2.3 miles cross the outlet from Wolf Pond on a bridge. There's a nice view of Wintergreen Point across the lily filled bay. At 2.4 miles the trail reaches the junction of the Glidden marsh Trail (41) straight and the Grizzle Ocean Trail (47) on the right.
Springhill Ponds Trail (52) - The red marked trail leaves the East Shore of Pharaoh Lake Trail. This trail does not get much traffic and tends to be wet in sections as well as not as well maintained. The trail is tough to follow at times and leads to another trail that takes hikers to the large Springhill Pond after 4.4 miles.
Springhill Ponds from the South (52A) - This trail forks from Berrymill Flow from the South (48A) and reaches the main trail at 3.0 miles, then it's another 0.4 miles to the larger Springhill Pond.
Whortleberry Pond Trail (53) - This short 0.3 mile trail takes hikers from the East Shore Trail (51) to Whortleberry Pond. This pond is popular with bird watchers.
Sucker Brook and Desolate Brook Trail to Pharaoh Lake (54) - This is a horse trail that is very remote and hard to follow. The trail has yellow markers and travels 7.5 miles to Pharaoh Lake.
Spectacle Pond Trail (55) - This is a beautiful woods walk to a nice pond off East Shore Road. The trail travels 1.3 miles to the pond and then ends at 1.7 miles at a scenic spot with a view of Pharaoh Mountain.
Gull Pond Trail (56) - This short trail is wet in places as it travels 0.5 miles, climbing to a rocky outcrop overlooking the pond. No camping is allowed at the overlook.
Map above courtesy of Andy Arthur.org
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