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Silver Lake Wilderness

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Silver Lake Wilderness locator map

The 106,770-acre Silver Lake Wilderness is the southernmost and fourth largest wilderness in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Its namesake Silver Lake lies in the center of the wilderness along the Northville-Placid Trail which bisects the wilderness. The current state record brook trout was taken in Silver Lake in 2013. The West Branch Sacandaga River loops around and through the wilderness. The wilderness has many rolling hills with four mountain summits exceeding 3,000 feet (Dugway, Swart, Hamilton and Speculator Mountains) and an abundance of streams, rivers and wetlands.

Hamilton Stream Lean-to

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 is one main designated trail and one spur trail in this unit. Twenty-three miles of the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) pass through the wilderness between Upper Benson and Piseco. The trail can be accessed from four trailheads, all of which include parking areas. The trailheads from north to south are:

  • State Route 8 NPT Trailhead
  • West River Road NPT Trailhead
  • Godfrey Road NPT Trailhead
  • Benson Road NPT Trailhead (built in 2014)

The Northville-Placid Trail north of Godfrey Rd was re-located to reduce roadside walking and improve the trail experience. The seven mile re-route skirts around Woods Lake and connects with the existing trail near the North Branch of West Stony Creek.

The new trailhead and parking area is located on Benson Road (County Highway 6) near Woods Lake. The Godfrey Road spur trail remains open as a foot trail to access Silver Lake lean-to, Rock Lake, or any other destination within Silver Lake Wilderness.

Although a long distance trail many people use the Northville-Placid Trail to access the wilderness for day trips. The Whitehouse Trailhead is used for short hikes across a unique suspension bridge over the West Branch of the Sacandaga River. Other popular destinations from Whitehouse include Big Eddy, Mud Lake, and Hamilton Lake Stream.

Popular destinations from the Benson Trailhead include Woods Lake, Rock Lake, and the North Branch of West Stony Creek.

Although there is only one main hiking trail within Silver Lake Wilderness, many unmarked herd paths, such as those at the North Branch Parking area, exist and are mainly used as access points for hunters. These paths are not officially marked or maintained.

Camping

camping
lean to

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

All designated primitive tent 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.

There are 33 designated primitive tent sites in the wilderness.

Spy Lake has seven sites along its shore, all accessible by boat only. The only legal access is a 2.0-mile carry via a trail from Route 8.

Ten sites are located along, or accessed from, the West River Road - most on the banks of the West Branch Sacandaga River.

Four designated primitive tent sites are located on the Woods Lake and two designated sites are located on Chub Lake. The remaining sites are found along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Silver Lake, Mud Lake, and Hamilton Lake Stream along the Northville-Placid Trail each have a lean-to on their shores.

Campers and hikers who prefer more amenities may camp at the nearby DEC Sacandaga Campground and take day trips into the wilderness.

Fishing

fishing

General Information on Fishing including fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.

All waters within the Silver Lake Wilderness are open to fishing. Anglers may use the same trailheads and trails as hikers, the same hand launches as paddlers, and the same campsites as campers to access and fish these waters.

The region provides an abundance of opportunities for anglers. Many anglers travel to the area to fish the West Branch of the Sacandaga River which provides 18 miles of fishing in the wilderness. The current state record brook trout was caught in Silver Lake in 2013.

In addition to these locations, there are a number of other small ponds and lakes in the region that are designated as Adirondack Brook Trout Waters and have been reclaimed or stocked.

Adirondack brook trout are found in Grant Lake, Mud Lake, Owl Pond, Canary Pond, Brown Lake, Silver Lake and Rock Lake.

The West Branch Sacandaga River is currently stocked with brown trout and brook trout.

The periphery of the unit also has two easily accessible lakes that are frequented by the public-Spy Lake and Woods Lake.

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 includes 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 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.

A majority of the big game hunting use occurs along the West River Road, also known as the Whitehouse Road.

Due to its large size, general lack of facilities and plentiful access, hunters and trappers appreciate the high degree of solitude afforded.

An unmarked trail enters the wilderness from a parking area from the North Branch Parking Area along Route 10. The trail travels upstream along the West Branch Sacandaga River and then the North Branch Sacandaga River to the interior of the wilderness. The trail is not maintained.

Paddling

paddling

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

There are a number of paddling opportunities within the wilderness. The most prominent destination is the West Branch Sacandaga River which can be accessed from several points along West River Road and State Route 10. Chub Lake has two designated campsites that may be accessed from the West Branch Sacandaga River.

Two other highly accessible waters that lend themselves to paddling are Spy Lake and Woods Lake, both of which also have primitive tent sites on their shores.

Paddlers can access the West Branch Sacandaga River at the Chub Lake Parking Area at the bridge over State Route 10. Parking is available on either side of the river on the east side of the road.

A little more than 1 mile south on State Route 10, the North Branch Parking Area is located on the east side of the road very near another bridge over the river. A path leads from the parking area to the river.

After putting in at either of these locations, paddlers can take out approximately 8 miles downstream (north) at an informal take out site on the east side of State Route 10.

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

Ice falls near Pinnacle Mountain

The cliffs on Chub Lake Mountain are popular with climbers. The cliffs can be accessed from the North Branch Parking Area on State Route 10.

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

Biking

biking

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

Although not in the wilderness, the West River Road does provide an opportunity for biking and offers many scenic qualities as it runs parallel to the West Branch Sacandaga River.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

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

There is a designed snowmobile trail from the Route 8 parking lot to Spy Lake. This trail is mostly on private land.

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.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular winter activities on the Northville-Placid Trail.

Wildlife

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. Over 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

Numerous trailhead parking areas, parking areas, informal pull-offs and roadside parking spots provide access to the wilderness.

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

  • North Branch Parking Area is located along State Route 10. (43.2514°N, 74.5176°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Chub Lake Parking Area is also located along State Route 10 on either side of the bridge. (43.2553°N, 74.5353°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • West Branch Sacandaga River Take-out is located on the east side of State Route 10. (43.3223°N, 74.5380°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • North Vly Parking Area is also along State Route 10 and is used by hunters to access the wilderness. (43.3480°N, 74.5333°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • River Road Parking Area is located off State Route 30. (43.3130°N, 74.2561°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Blackbridge Road Parking Area is located off the West River (aka Whitehouse Road) and is mainly used for access by hunters. (43.3617°N, 74.3263°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • State Route 8 NPT Trailhead Parking Area is located near the community of Piseco. (43.4296°N, 74.4952°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • West River (Whitehouse) Road NPT Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of the road. (43.3726°W, 74.4334°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Godfrey Road NPT Trailhead Parking Area provides access to the NPT via what is now a spur trail. (43.2548°W, 74.3451°N) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
  • Benson Road NPT Trailhead Parking Area (built in 2014) is located a short distance east of the former Woods Lake Trailhead. (43.2486°N, 74.3069°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

The wilderness can also be accessed from roadside pull-offs along State Route 30, State Route 8, State Route 10, West River Road and the Gilmantown Road.

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 other backcountry users.

All users of the Silver Lake Wilderness Area 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.

How We Manage

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Silver Lake Wilderness Area 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

State Lands & Facilities

Gas may be found in the nearby communities of Northville, Speculator and Wells.

Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Northville, Speculator and Wells.

Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Northville, Speculator and Wells.

Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Caroga Lake, Northville, Piseco, and Speculator.

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.