Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Blue Ridge Wilderness

Wakley Mountain Primitive Area

hikingfiretowercampinglean tofishing hunting trapping rock and ice climbingpaddlingboatingcross country skiing snowshoeing parkinghand launch boat launch icon key

Blue Ridge Wilderness locator map

The 47,177-acre Blue Ridge Wilderness is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. It is named for the ridge which stretches more than seven miles from east to west, bisecting the wilderness. Much of the ridge exceeds 3,000 feet in elevation and there are two peaks above 3,400 feet. A 10-mile section of the famed Northville-Placid Trail passes through the wilderness.

Great Camp Sagamore, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the western boundary of the wilderness.

The 235-acre Wakely Mountain Primitive Area is surrounded by the wilderness and includes the Wakely Mountain Fire Tower, observer cabin, and helipad.

Backcountry Information for the West Central Adirondacks provides general information regarding backcountry and seasonal conditions; specific notices regarding closures and conditions of trails, roads, bridges and other infrastructure; and links to weather, state land use regulations, low impact recreation and more.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

There are a number of trails for hiking which provide access to mountains, ponds, river banks and other natural features. The majority of the Blue Ridge Wilderness is remote and without trails.

  • Wakely Mountain Trail (3,744 feet) extends 3.0 miles and ascends 1,600 feet from the trailhead on Cedar River Road in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest to the summit of the mountain. Most of the ascent is in the last mile of the trail. The summit is wooded and does not provide a view of the area. However unobstructed 360-degree views are found in the cab of the fire tower.
  • Northville-Placid Trail is a 133-mile trail through the Adirondacks. The southern terminus of the section of trail in the Blue Ridge Wilderness is located near Wakely Pond. The trail continues south along Cedar River Road into the Moose River Plains Wild. The northern terminus of this section of the trail near the DEC Lake Durant Campground. The trail sets in a southwest/northeast orientation for the 11.6 miles of moderate elevation changes that lie between the two trailheads.
  • Camp Sagamore Trails System
    • 3.8-mile Sagamore Lake Trail is a loop trail around the shores of Sagamore Lake.
    • 1.5-mile Cascades Trail follows the western bank of the South Inlet of Raquette Lake.
    • 1.6-mile Powerhouse Trail follows the eastern bank of the South Inlet of Raquette Lake.
  • Wilson Pond Trail is a 2.9-mile trail from an unpaved parking area on the south side of Route 28 near Eagle Lake to Wilson Pond and the Wilson Pond Lean-to.
  • Cascade Pond Trail extends 3.5 miles from the trailhead on Durant Road to intersect with the Northville-Placid Trail north of Stephens Pond. Cascade Pond and the Cascade Pond Lean-to are 2.8 miles from the trailhead.
  • Wilson Pond-Cascade Pond Cross-over Trail is an unmarked 1.6-mile trail connecting the Wilson Pond and Cascade Pond Trails.
  • Sawyer Mountain Trail (2,160 feet) is the only other designated trail in the Blue Ridge Wilderness that leads to the summit of a mountain. The 1.1-mile trail steadily ascends 600 feet from the trailhead to an overlook near the summit.
  • Sprague Pond Trail extends 0.4 mile to Sprague Pond, a scenic pond stocked with brown trout.

Fire Tower

firetower

General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers.

The 70-foot tall Wakely Mountain Fire Tower is the tallest fire tower in the Adirondacks. The cab of the fire tower is open to the public. Those who take the long climb are rewarded with panoramic views of the central Adirondacks. Nearby are the observer cabin and helipad.

The current steel fire tower was constructed in 1916, replacing the wooden fire tower constructed in 1911. The AerMotor Model # LL‐25 tower is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. It is one of four fire towers of this model that remain standing today, and the only one with a portion of the original steel ladder still attached to the tower structure.

The fire tower was staffed and used for fire observation until 1988. It is maintained with the Friends of Wakely Mountain Fire Tower organization.

Camping

camping
lean to

General Information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

There are two designated primitive tent sites and three lean-tos all associated with ponds in the wilderness.

All designated primitive tents sites, campsites and lean-tos are available on a first come - first served basis and cannot be reserved. Designated campsites are marked with a yellow "Camp Here" disc. Designated tent sites are for tents only. Tents or small campers can use designated campsites. There are no hook-ups for water or electricity at campsites.

Two designated primitive tent sites are found on Sprague Pond.

Cascade Pond, Wilson Pond and Stephens Pond each have a lean-to along their shores.

Campers and hikers who prefer more amenities may camp at the nearby DEC Lake Durant Campground or Golden Beach Campground.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

All waters within the Blue Ridge Wilderness are open to fishing. Anglers may use the same trailheads and trails as hikers, the same hand launches as paddlers, the same boat launches as boaters and the same camp sites as campers to access and fish these waters.

Numerous waters provide the opportunity for trout fishing. Cascade Pond, Grassy Pond and Wilson Pond are stocked with brook trout. Sprague Pond and both Lower & Upper Mitchell Ponds are stocked with brown trout. Slim Pond and Stephens Pond are stocked with both brook and brown trout.

Warmwater gamefish are also present in some waters. Lake Durant and Rock Pond contain largemouth bass and tiger muskellunge; tiger muskellunge are stocked is Lake Durant.

Sagamore Lake is the only water with smallmouth bass.

Wild brook trout are present in the headwater streams such as the inlets to Sagamore Lake and Rock Pond and portions of Bear Creek.

A section of the Cedar River containing brook trout and brown trout lies just to the south of the wilderness. DEC stocks this section of the Cedar River with brook trout. There are four small (less than a mile) and one long, 2.3 miles, sections of easement lands open to public fishing. The largest section connects with forest preserve lands at the upstream end providing more than four continuous miles of public fishing.

Parking areas identified below are just roadside pull-off sites. No formal access trails have been developed at this time however, "herd paths" have begun to form at some locations. Otherwise anglers will have to bushwhack the short distance from the road to the river as described below. Anglers should carry and use a map and compass to avoid getting lost. Access trails will be marked and constructed in the future.

The public only has rights to access the river and fish on the easement lands. Please pay attention to Public Fishing Right signs and property boundary signs. Do not trespass on other private lands or onto the conservation easement lands that do not provide public access rights.

Map of Cedar River Public Fishing Section 1 || Printable Version (PDF 574 KB)

Section 1: Two parking areas have been created with paths to the river. Parking Area 1 is at the Boundary of the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and the Easement. Parking Area 2 is a the snowplow turnaround area. Please park in provided area at the snowmobile turnaround. Please stay on the paths as they are easements over private land. The fishing corridor is 33 feet from each side of the riverbank.

Anglers can fish from both banks of the river however there is no crossing available to get to the southeast bank. Anglers will need to wade across the river.

This section adjoins a 2 mile stretch of river on forest preserve lands upstream to Wakely Dam. This provides almost 4.3 continuous miles of public fishing. The Cedar River Road along the forest preserve lands is seasonally maintained and may not be accessible during early trout season.

Section 2: Currently there is no legal access to this section. DEC will provide information about the section and how to access it when a parking area and an access trail are developed.

Section 3: Currently the only access is from the state lands at the downstream end of this 0.3-mile section of public fishing. Anglers can park along the road bordering the state lands, or at the parking area at the Sprague Pond Trailhead, and bushwack across state forest preserve lands to the river bank. Be sure vehicles are completely off the road and remember to stay on state forest preserve lands when entering or leaving. Once at the river anglers, can fish upstream along the section or downstream on state forest preserve lands.

Anglers can fish from both banks of the river however there is no crossing available to get to the south bank. Anglers will need to wade across the river.

A 0.3-mile section of the river between Section 3 and Section 4 is state forest preserve land. The two sections and the forest preserve combine to provide 1.1 continuous miles of public fishing.

Map of Cedar River Public Fishing Sections 2, 3, 4 & 5 || Printable Version (PDF 472 KB)

Section 4: Currently the only access is from the state forest preserve lands at the upstream end of this 0.5-mile section of public fishing. Anglers can park along the road bordering the state lands, or at the parking area at the Sprague Pond Trailhead, and bushwack across state forest preserve lands to the river bank. Be sure vehicles are completely off the road and remember to stay on state forest preserve lands when entering or leaving. Once at the river anglers can follow the section downstream or fish the state forest preserve lands upstream.

Anglers can fish from both banks of the river however there is no crossing available to get to the south bank. Anglers will need to wade across the river.

A 0.3-mile section of the river between Section 3 and Section 4 is forest preserve. The two sections and the forest preserve combine to provide 1.2 continuous miles of public fishing.

Section 5: Currently there is no legal access to this section. DEC will provide information about the section and how to access it when a parking area and an access trail are developed.

Adirondack/Lake Champlain Fishing provides information on fishing in the Adirondacks and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.

Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish; populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species have severely declined due to introduced fish.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

General information on hunting and general information on trapping include how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.

Hunters and trappers may use the parking areas, roads, seasonal access roads, trailheads, and trails used by hikers, boat launches and hand launches used by boaters and paddlers to access the lands and waters in this area. Hunters can park on the shoulders of seasonal access roads provided vehicles are out of the travel lane.

Former logging roads in the northwestern part of the unit serve as pathways to interior camping opportunities for big game hunters. Camp at least 150 feet from roads, trails, and water. A camping permit is required for groups larger than 10 people, or stays of more than three nights in one spot. Contact a forest ranger for camping permit information. Hunters may get permits from the local forest ranger to camp in the backcountry for extended periods of time during the big game season.

Rock & Ice Climbing

rock and ice climbing

General information on rock and ice climbing includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations

New York State recently purchased the parcel of land between the Cedar River Road and the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. The cliffs on the south side of the mountain are now open for rock climbing.

No trails or parking facilities have been developed at this time. Climbers park along the Cedar River Road and herd paths to the cliffs have begun to develop.

All climbers should check guidebooks or other sources of information about climbing these cliffs. Inexperienced climbers should consider hiring a climbing guide.

Due to peregrine falcon nesting activity some climbing routes are closed during the nesting season. Learn more about peregrine falcons and Adirondack rock climbing.

Paddling

paddling

General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

Sagamore Lake can be accessed from a waterway access site on the western shore of the lake, it involves a 300-foot carry from the parking area. The lake and its East Inlet make a great paddle.

The South Inlet of Raquette Lake leads to a series of attractive cascades historically referred to as South Inlet Falls. There are a number of locations to launch canoes and kayaks onto Raquette Lake and access South Inlet including:

  • Waterway access site on the south side of Route 28;
  • Town of Long Lake Boat Launch in the hamlet of Raquette Lake; and
  • DEC Golden Beach Campground (day use fee required).

Paddlers may access Lake Durant and Rock Pond from the Lake Durant Campground Boat Launch (day use fee required) at the eastern end of the water or from a waterway access site on the Cascade Pond Trailhead access road.

Other waters that may be accessed by paddlers willing to carry their canoe or kayak some distance are Sprague Pond, Cascade Pond, and Stephens Pond.

Boating

boating

General information on boating including safety tips with links to rules & regulations and lists of DEC boat launches by county.

The area is accessible from the navigable waters of South Inlet and Lake Durant.

Motorboats may travel from Raquette Lake up South Inlet to a landing which leads to a series of attractive cascades historically referred to as South Inlet Falls. The southeastern shore of south inlet is the wilderness boundary.

Boats can launch into Raquette Lake from a number of sites including the Town of Long Lake Boat Launch in the hamlet of Raquette Lake; several private marinas (launch fees required), and the small boat launch at the DEC Golden Beach Campground (a day use fee is required).

Boats have access to Lake Durant from the DEC Lake Durant Campground Boat Launch.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing
snowshoeing

General Information on Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

The Camp Sagamore Trail System provides good opportunities for cross-country skiing.

Wildlife Viewing

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

The Adirondacks contain large tracts of wildlife habitat with some boreal, bog, alpine and other unique habitats. Many birds (Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon) and mammals (Moose, Black Bear) are unique to the Adirondacks or are mainly found here. More than 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.

Directions

State Route 28 and State Route 28/30 provide the main access to the Blue Ridge Wilderness, with the Cedar River Road and the Sagamore Road providing the secondary access. Seven trailheads with parking areas, Camp Sagamore and a number of roadside pull-offs provide access.

The only area maintained for parking is the large former log landing on the west side of Sagamore Road, across from Camp Sagamore. This parking area is used by both Sagamore guests and those visiting nearby Forest Preserve lands. It can accommodate approximately 40 cars.

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Trailheads

  • Wakely Mountain Trailhead has an unpaved parking area along the Cedar River Road shortly before the Cedar River Gate. (43.7314° N, 74.4728° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Sugar Loaf Mountain Roadside Parking is the section of Cedar River Road in the general area of the mountain where climbers park. (43.7524° N, 74.4592° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Northville-Placid Trail Blue Ridge South Trailhead also is along the Cedar River Road just a short distance northeast of the Wakely Mountain Trailhead near Wakely Pond. (43.7392° N, 74.4629° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Northville-Placid Trail Blue Ridge North Trailhead has a paved parking area along State Route 28/30 on the west side of the road. (43.8416° N, 74.3863° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Stephens Pond Trailhead,also along the Northville-Placid Trail, is located within the DEC Lake Durant Campground; those using this parking area are required to pay a day use fee. (43.8375° N, 74.3874° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Sprague Pond Trailhead has a pull-off site along the Cedar River Road; there is another pull-off on the other side road just before the trailhead. (43.7910° N, 74.3818° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Sawyer Mountain Trailhead is along State Route 28/30. (43.8106° N, 74.3218° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Cascade Pond Trailhead is at the end of a short roadway off Durant Road/County Route 19. (43.8479° N, 74.4240° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Wilson Pond Trailhead has a pull-off site along State Route 28. (43.8438° N, 74.4753° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Cascades Trailhead is on the Sagamore Road, north of the bridge over South Inlet. (43.7721° N, 74.6381° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Powerhouse Trailhead is on the Sagamore Road, south of the bridge over South Inlet. (43.7694° N, 74.6360° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Camp Sagamore Parking Area is a large parking area on the Sagamore Road. It provides parking for those accessing the Sagamore Trail System and guests of the Camp Sagamore. (43.7635° N, 74.6311° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Boat Launches

  • Lake Durant Boat Launch is located in the DEC Lake Durant Campground. (43.8392° N, 74.3848° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Lake Durant Hand Launch is located on the Cascade Pond Access Roadway. (43.8442° N, 74.4314° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Golden Beach Boat Launch is for small boats and is located at the DEC Golden Beach Campground. (43.8163° N, 74.5982° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • South Inlet Waterway Access Site is located along State Route 28. (43.8071° N, 74.6097° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Town of Long Lake Boat Launch is located in the hamlet of Raquette Lake on the southwestern shore of the lake. (43.8132° N, 74.6567° W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Sagamore Lake Hand Launch is located 50 feet off the Sagamore Lake Trail on the western shore of the lake near the outlet. The site is for the hand‐launching of non‐motorized boats only. (43.7684° N, 74.6270° W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Rules, regulations and outdoor safety

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Adirondacks to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other backcountry users.

All users of Blue Ridge Wilderness must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Great Camp Sagamore prohibits hunting and trapping within a described area of approximately 100 acres around the property. However, hunters may carry their guns and bows through the safety zone for the purpose of hunting on Forest Preserve lands. Hunters may camp on Forest Preserve lands at designated campsites or anywhere at least 150 feet from roads, trails, or water. Contact Great Camp Sagamore to inquire about room availability.

Only non-motorized boats are allowed on Sagamore Lake.

How We Manage Blue Ridge Wilderness and Wakely Mountain Primitive Area

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Blue Ridge Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

DEC Lands and Facilities

Gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Indian Lake and Raquette Lake.

Lodging and dining opportunities may be found in the nearby communities of Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake and Raquette Lake.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website) and Hamilton County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC Website) for information on outdoor guides.