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Hiking in Adirondack Park

Black River Wild Forest West-Central Adirondacks
Hiking in Adirondack Park
West Central Region
Black River Wild Forest


Sand Lake
Falls

 

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The main feature of this hike is the small and remote Sand Lake Falls in the Black River Wild Forest of the Adirondacks. There is a lean to as well as tent sites at this seldom visited scenic place along the wild Woodhull Creek. The shortest distance to the falls is 4.7 miles from North Lake, although the last leg of the trail was poorly placed and takes hikers through an open wetland. The preferred route to the falls is from the Bear Creek Parking Area.

The other option to hike to Sand Lake Falls is from the Bear Creek Parking Area at the end of Bear Creek Road off NY 28. There is a really rough road known as Mill Creek Road that leads from the parking area. We DO NOT recommend driving this rough road and you will see why as you walk/bike it. It is 6.4 miles from the Bear Creek Parking Area to the Sand Lake Falls Lean To (DEC sign says 7.2 miles). It is 3.4 miles along Mill Creek Road to reach the Sand Lake Falls Trail. You could bike the old woods road if you wanted. The Sand Lake Falls Trail starts at the end of Mill Creek Road at a private land inholding.

Sand Lake Falls from Bear Creek Parking Area

This is the preferred route by hikers to Sand Lake Falls, although it is nearly two miles longer. Starting from the Bear Creek Parking Area, pass by the large kiosk and follow the woods road. At 0.2 miles reach the junction of the Chub Pond Trail on the right. The dirt road is still good, but quickly becomes a quagmire by the second junction at 0.5 miles on the left of the gated Bear Creek Trail also known as the Woodhull Trail. Continue straight on Mill Creek Road.

At 2.2 miles reach a four way junction. The trail to the left is part of the Bear Creek Trail, while the trail on the right is the Gull Lake Trail. Continue straight on Mill Creek Road. At 2.7 miles reach the junction on the left of the Bear Creek Trail aka Woodhull Trail. If you decide to take the Bear Creek Trail instead of the rough road it will add only 0.4 miles on your trip. Continue straight on the rough Mill Creek Road.

At 3.4 miles reach the end of Mill Creek Road. The Sand Lake Falls Trail continues straight, while to the left is the trail to Bear Lake/Woodhull Lake. You are following blue DEC markers along an old woods road. At 6.4 miles the trail reaches the Sand Lake Falls Lean To. The falls are not visible from the shelter, however they are only about 100 feet away. There are paths that lead to the top of the falls as well as to the large pool at the base of the falls. This is a beautiful place in a remote spot in the Adirondacks.

Sand Lake Falls from North Lake

The first problem with this route to the falls is finding parking. There is no real pull off along the narrow dirt road at the start of the trail. Popular campsites are along the lake that you will find filled with campers all summer long. A small parking area at the start of the dirt road is usually packed in the summer as well with kayakers and picnickers.

The Sand Lake Trail starts off the North Lake Loop Road, 0.3 miles from the main North Lake Road at a DEC sign. The trail is a nice wide dirt road. You'll quickly pass a yellow gate. This foot trail is also a snowmobile trail in the winter. This is not the way to hike to Sand Lake Falls! You will be fighting boggy, wet sections of trail. You just might find yourself knee deep in muck! Reach the Sand Lake Lean To at 4.7 miles. The DEC sign at the start of the trail at North Lake says its 3.9 miles to the shelter. It is 4.7 miles, with the last mile of fighting through wetlands and boggy soils.

Bear Creek Trailhead Directions: From Utica take NY 12 North to NY 28 North at Alder Creek. In Woodgate at the blinking light turn right off NY 28 onto Bear Creek Road. Drive to the end of the road to the large parking area on the left. The GPS coordinates of the large parking area is N43 32.463 W75 06.101.

North Lake Trailhead Directions: From Utica take NY 12 North to NY 28 North at Alder Creek. After crossing the Forestport Reservoir turn right off NY 28 and then right on Woodhull Road. Soon veer left on North Lake Road. At North Lake, veer left onto North Lake Loop Road. There is a large kiosk and a small parking area as soon as you start on the road. It's 0.3 miles along the dirt road to the start of the trail on the left. There is no good parking near the trailhead.  The GPS coordinates of the start of the trail is N43 31.521 W74 56.812.

DEC sign off North Lake Loop Road

Trail from North Lake starts as a nice wide old woods road

 

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