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Hiking in Lewis County
Hiking in Adirondack Park
West Central Adirondacks
Independence River Wild Forest
The most popular trail in Independence River Wild Forest is the Beach Mill Pond Trail. It's not popular for the former pond, but for Gleasmans Falls. The falls are modest in height, but pass through a narrow gorge with the trail offering views from along the cliffs straight above. They are well worth a trip to visit. The hike to the falls is 2.9 miles and 3.1 miles to above the "high falls". The Beach Mill Pond Trail is 7.1 miles long and ends at the "West Bridge" over the Independence River.
From the trailhead the yellow marked trail heads south and descends the creek bank, then crosses the creek. Reach a trail register (be sure to sign for your safety and for the DEC to track the amount of visitors) then the old road climbs gently toward the remains of Beach Mill Pond. The dam and mill are long gone.
The well used trail gradually travels toward the Independence River and at 2.5 miles cross Second Creek near where it reaches the Independence River. Soon after crossing Second Creek, the falls can be heard in the distance. The trail reaches solid rock and approaches the gorge at 2.9 miles near a campsite. Now you are following in and out along the cliffs before reaching the highest falls at 3.1 miles. The highest of Gleasmans Falls is only ten feet high.
Beyond the waterfalls the trail is generally unused, however is still marked. The trail can be very difficult to follow through this section. At 5.3 miles you'll cross Pine Creek on a bridge and soon turn right. Be sure to follow the yellow trail markers. The trail turns east and then crosses Third Creek heading south. After a small hill the trail heads toward the Independence River and joins an old road.
The old road fords the river as the trail turns and follows the north bank of the river for the next 0.4 miles. The trail ends at 7.1 miles at the Independence River West Bridge and the junctions of the Fish Trail plus the Panther Pond-Independence River Trail.
The Fish Trail goes 2.2 miles south to a parking area on the very rough Stony Lake Road, which is only accessible by 4x4 trucks. The Panther Pond-Independence River Trail goes 5 miles north to a trailhead at the end of seasonal dirt Smith Road. The Panther Pond Lean To is located one mile south of the Smith Road trailhead on the pond.
Directions: From Lowville; turn east on River Road and 4.1 miles to Watson. Turn left on Number Four Road and go 2.7 miles then turn right on Loson Road. After 0.4 miles turn right on McPhilmy Road crossing Erie Canal Road and continue on dirt road. Turn left on unmarked Beach Mill Road and go three miles to barrier/trailhead parking. Be sure to veer left where Cleveland Lake Road goes right. The GPS coordinates of the trailhead is N43 48.459 W75 16.646.
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