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Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest

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Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest locator map

The 91,854-acre Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Most of the unit is contained in one 60,000-acre parcel which includes the name-sake Vanderwhacker Mountain. This rugged, mountainous and forested area also contains many lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. The lands and waters provide an abundant variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Backcountry Information for the Eastern 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

The Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest contains 14.4 miles of designated foot trails, including access to the fire tower on the summit of Vanderwhacker Mountain.

  • Tower Trail extends 2.5 miles and ascends 1,650 feet from the Tower Trailhead to the summit of Vanderwhacker Mountain (3,386 feet). The Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower is located on the summit. The summit is thick with tall firs and birches, so the only views are from the cab of the fire tower. The 360° view includes the High Peaks to the north, the Boreas River valley to the east and the spectacular scenery of the Adirondacks spreads out for many miles in every direction.
  • Boreas River Loop Trail extends 2.0 miles along the Boreas River between two trailheads along State Route 28N. The trail weaves through the Boreas Hardwoods region, with many mature, large diameter northern hardwoods. The trail descends 120 feet from in the first 0.6 mile from the trailhead, then climbs 60 feet in the next 0.5 mile and remains basically level for the remainder of the distance to the bridge over the Boreas River. A 0.75-mile hike that ascends, or descends, 135 feet along the State Route 28N completes the loop.
  • Roosevelt Truck Trail extends 2.0 miles between the Roosevelt Truck Trail 28N Trailhead and the Truck Trail Blue Ridge Road Trailhead.
  • Linsey Marsh Trail extends 2.0 miles from the Lindsey Marsh Trailhead to Lindsey Marsh.
  • Hewitt Pond Trail extends 5.0 miles between the Hewitt Pond Trailhead and the Stony Pond Trailhead and provides access to Hewitt Pond, Barnes Pond, Center Pond, and Stony Pond. From north to south the trail ascends 515 feet in the first two miles, then descends 170 feet in the next 2 miles to the shore of Stony Pond. The trail climbs 155 feet from Stony Pond in 0.5 mile, then descends 100 feet to the southern trailhead.
  • Center Pond Trail extends 0.2 miles from Hewitt Pond Trail, approximately halfway between the Hewitt Pond Trailhead and the Stony Pond Trailhead, to the shore of Center Pond. The trail descends 100 feet to the pond in the last 0.1 mile.
  • Stony Pond Trail extends 1.3 miles from the Hewitt Trail at the outlet of Stony Pond and provides access to Little Sherman Pond and Big Sherman Pond. The trail ascends 80 feet in the first 0.25 mile before descending 180 feet to the northeastern shore of Little Sherman Pond. The trail continues as a designated snowmobile trail only beyond the ponds as it crosses private lands.
  • 29th Pond Trail is a short spur trail off the Stony Pond Trail to the shore of the pond and a designated tent site.
  • Lost Pond Mountain Trail extends 5.0 miles and ascents 800 feet between North Woods Club Road and the Stony Pond Trail. The trail is mainly used as a snowmobile trail.
  • Rankin Pond Trail extends 0.4 mile from its trailhead to the eastern shore of Rankin Pond. The scenic trail ascends 105 feet in the first 0.1 mile before descending 180 feet in the remainder of the distance to the pond.
  • Camp Santanoni-Lake Harris Campground Connector Trail extends 1.5 miles between Camp Santanoni Gatehouse and Lake Harris Campground along the northern shore of Harris Lake.
  • Cheney Pond Trail extends 0.5 mile and descends 140 feet from its trailhead to a hand launch on the shore of Cheney Pond.
  • Vanderwhacker Pond Trail extends 0.75 mile and ascends 185 feet from the Vanderwhacker Pond Trailhead to the shore of the pond.
  • Raymond Brook Trail extends 5.2 miles between the Barton Mine Road Trailhead and the Raymond Brook Trailhead and the trail descends 1,035 feet from Barton Mine Road.
  • William Blake Pond Trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness connects with a network of trails in the wilderness and can be accessed on the opposite side of Barton Mine Road.
  • Oak Ridge Trail extends 1.9 miles from the Raymond Pond Trail to the Schaefer Trail.
  • Schaefer Trail extends 4.5 miles and ascends 2,550 feet from the North Creek Ski Bowl Trailhead to the summit of Gore Mountain (3,586 feet elevation). The trailhead and first part of the trail are located on lands owned by the town of Johnsburg. The remainder of the trail and the summit of Gore Mountain are located on the intensive use classified Gore Mountain Ski Center (leaves DEC website) which is managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (leaves DEC website).
  • Moxham Mountain Trail (2,361 feet) extends 2.3 miles and ascends 1,000 feet from the trailhead to the summit of the mountain. The open summit provides views of the Hudson River Valley, Gore Mountain and the Central Adirondack.

The following trails are developed for use by snowmobiles in the winter but are also open for hiking:

  • Cheney Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail extends 9.5 miles between Irishtown Road and Blue Ridge Road. There is no bridge over the Boreas River near the southern end of the trail. During low water conditions, crossing by rock hopping may be possible.
  • Stony Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail extends 5.8 miles between Irishtown Road and the Stony Pond Trailhead.
  • Lost Pond Mountain Trail extends 5.0 miles and ascends 800 feet between North Woods Club Road and the Stony Pond Trailhead.

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 35-foot tall Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower, a steel Aeromotor LS40 tower, was constructed in 1918 replacing a wooden fire tower constructed in 1911. The fire tower was staffed from then until 1971. The fire tower was restored in 2003-2004 with help from the Friends of Vanderwhacker and Student Conservation Association and is open to the public. The fire tower is on the New York State Register of Historic Places and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The 60-foot tall Gore Mountain Fire Tower, a steel Aeromotor LS40 tower, was constructed in 1918 replacing a wooden fire tower constructed 1909. The fire tower was blown over in a fierce storm in 1919 but returned to service in 1920. After this the tower was continually staffed during the fire season until 1988. The tower now houses several pieces of communication equipment used by DEC, State Police and other public agencies. The fire tower is not open to the public.

The summit of Gore Mountain is part of the intensive use classified Gore Mountain Ski Center (leaves DEC website) which is managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (leaves DEC website). The fire tower can be accessed from North Creek Ski Bowl via the Schaeffer Trail or by hiking approximately one mile from the Gore Mountain Ski Center Gondola.

Paddling

paddling

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

Only non-motorized boating is permitted in Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

  • Cheney Pond Hand Launch provides access to Cheney Pond and a flatwater section of the Boreas River named Lester Flow. There are many class IV and class V rapids and steep elevation changes on the Boreas River below Lester Flow Dam.
  • Oliver Pond Hand Launch provides access to Oliver Pond.
  • Muller Pond Hand Launch provides access to Muller Pond.

Camping

camping

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

There are six designated campsites, 38 designated primitive tent sites and two lean-tos in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest. All 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.

  • Six designated campsites are located along Moose Pond Road.
  • Vanderwhacker Mountain Tent Site is located near the Tower Trailhead.
  • Boreas River has three designated tent sites along it. Two are near the State Route 28N Bridge that can be accessed from the Boreas Pond Loop North Trailhead and one is located 0.25 mile south of the Newcomb/Minerva town line on the east side of 28N.
  • 29th Pond Tent Site can be accessed from the Stony Pond Trailhead via the Stony Pond Trail and the 29th Pond Spur Trail.
  • Stony Pond Lean-to is located near the shore of Stony Pond can be accessed from the Stony Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail. The lean-to was recently moved off the shore and reconstructed with new base logs, floor and roof.
  • Cheney Pond has three designated tent sites, two on the shore of the pond and one at the overlook west of the pond, and a lean-to on the shore of the pond. All can be accessed from the Cheney Pond Trailhead via the Cheney Pond Trail and the Cheney Pond Hand Launch.
  • Lester Dam Tent Site is located on the banks of the Boreas River (Lester Flow) and can be accessed from the Cheney Pond Trailhead via the Cheney Pond Trail, Cheney Pond Trail and a paddle down Lester Flow or via the Lester Flow Trail.
  • Oliver Pond has two designated tent sites on its shore that can be accessed from the Oliver Pond Hand Launch via water.
  • Boreas River has two designated tent sites near the Blue Ridge Road Bridge.
  • Six designated sites are located along North Woods Club Road, three near the bridge over the Boreas River, one near Huntley Pond and two in between. Three of these are campsites and three are tent sites.
  • Huntley Pond had four designated tent sites on its northern shore in the Hudson Gorge Wilderness that can be accessed from the Huntley Pond Trailhead.
  • Two accessible tent sites are located along the Roosevelt Truck Trail from the Roosevelt Truck 28N Trailhead by motor vehicle by people with disabilities with a Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit. Four wheel drive pick-ups or other high clearance vehicles are recommended. The tent sites have a firm, level surface with accessible picnic tables and accessible privies.
  • Newcomb Lake has three designated tent sites on its eastern shore north of Camp Santanoni's Main Camp Area that can be accessed from the Newcomb Lake Road Trailhead via the Newcomb Lake Road and Trail.
  • Deer Creek Tent Site and Sunnyview Farm Tent Site are located along Fourteenth Road.

Campers who prefer more amenities may camp at the nearby Eagle Point Campground, Lake Harris Campground, or Scaroon Manor Campground, and take day trips into the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

Fishing

fishing

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

All waters within the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest are open to fishing. Anglers may use the same trailheads and trails as hikers, the same hand launches as paddlers and the same camp sites as campers to access and fish these waters.

  • Hewitt Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Hewitt Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Barnes Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Hewitt Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Center Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Hewitt Pond Trailhead or the Stony Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Stony Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Stony Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Big Sherman and Little Sherman Ponds contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Stony Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail and the Stony Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Twenty-ninth Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Stony Pond Trailhead via the Hewitt Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Balfour Lake contains brown trout and rainbow trout. It can be accessed from a hand launch on its shore. Ice fishing is allowed.
  • Cheney Pond contains brown trout and can be accessed from a hand launch on its shore.
  • Rankin Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from the Rankin Pond Trailhead via the Rankin Pond Trail. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Oliver Pond contains brook trout and can be accessed from a hand launch on it shore. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.
  • Muller Pond and its outlet contain brown trout and be accessed from a hand launch on its shore. Ice fishing is allowed.
  • Horseshoe Pond contains northern pike, yellow perch, brown bullhead, and redbreast sunfish, and can be accessed from the Horseshoe Pond Road. Ice fishing is allowed.
  • Vanderwhacker Pond contains brown trout can be accessed from Vanderwhacker Pond Trailhead via the Vanderwhacker Pond Trail.
  • Boreas River contains brown trout, brook trout, and smallmouth bass in some portions and can be accessed from the Cheney Pond Trailhead via the Cheney Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail; the Cheney Pond Hand Launch via Cheney Pond and Cheney Pond Outlet; and the Blue Ridge Road, State Route 28N and North Woods Club Road bridges.
  • North Creek contains brook trout and rainbow trout and can be accessed via the areas with public fishing rights along Peaceful Valley Road (PDF 342 KB).
  • The Hudson River contains brown trout and rainbow trout and can be accessed from the end of the Fourteenth Road and via the areas with public fishing rights along State Route 28 (PDF 310 KB).
  • Minerva Stream contains brook trout and brown trout and can be accessed near the junction of Irishtown Road and the Irishtown-Cheney Pond Snowmobile Trail.
  • 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

All the lands and waters of the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest are open to hunting and trapping. Hunters and trappers may use the parking areas, roads, seasonal access roads, hand launches used by paddlers, trailheads, and trails used by hikers. Hunters can park on the shoulders of seasonal access roads provided vehicles are out of the travel lane.

Big game hunters enjoy the pursuit of white-tailed deer and black bear. Small game and waterfowl hunting are also popular. Many species of furbearers are present on the lands and waters of the wild forest.

Biking
biking

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

Biking is allowed on all trails used by hikers.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

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

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest contains more than 25 miles of designated snowmobile trails, including the following:

  • Cheney Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail extends 9.5 miles between Irishtown Road and Blue Ridge Road. There is no bridge over the Boreas River near the southern end of the trail. Stony Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail extends 5.8 miles between Irishtown Road and the Stony Pond Trailhead.
  • Lost Pond Mountain Trail extends 5.0 miles and ascends 800 feet between North Woods Club Road and the Stony Pond Trailhead.

The trails above serve to connect snowmobilers to communities and the larger network of snowmobile trails in the region. Other trails shorter than 0.9 mile include:

  • Horseshoe Pond Snowmobile Trail
  • Charley Hollow Snowmobile Trail
  • Thilo Snowmobile Trail

Cross-country skiers and snowshoers may also use snowmobile trails. Snowmobilers should slow down when approaching and passing skiers or snowshoers.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross country skiing snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails. The following trails are popular with cross-country skiers.

  • Raymond Brook Trail extends 5.2 miles between the Barton Mine Road Trailhead and the Raymond Brook Trailhead and the trail descends 1,035 feet from Barton Mine Road. The William Blake Pond Trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness connects with a network of trails in the wilderness and can be accessed on the opposite side of Barton Mine Road.
  • Oak Ridge Trail extends 1.9 miles from the Raymond Pond Trail to the Schaefer Trail.
  • Roosevelt Truck Trail extends 2.0 miles between the Roosevelt Truck Trail 28N Trailhead and the Truck Trail Blue Ridge Road Trailhead.
  • Linsey Marsh Trail extends 2.0 miles from the Lindsey Marsh Trailhead to Lindsey Marsh.
  • Stony Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail extends 5.8 miles between Irishtown Road and the Stony Pond Trailhead.
  • Cheney Pond-Irishtown Snowmobile Trail extends 9.5 miles between Irishtown Road and Blue Ridge Road.
  • Lost Pond Mountain Trail extends 5.0 miles and ascends 800 feet between the North Woods Club Road and the Stony Pond Trailhead.

When traveling on designated snowmobile trails, skiers and snowshoers should be alert for snowmobiles. Move to the side of the trail to allow snowmobiles to pass.

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.

Accessible Features

accessible recreation

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

Roosevelt Truck Trail can be accessed by motor vehicles for people with disabilities with a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit. Four wheel drive pick-ups or other high clearance vehicles are recommended. Two accessible tent sites are located along the Roosevelt Truck Trail can be accessed from the Roosevelt Truck 28N Trailhead The tent sites have a firm, level surface with accessible picnic tables and accessible privies.

Three Camps Road and Carpenter Hill Road are open to public motor vehicle use by people with disabilities with a Motorized Access Permit for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit.

Directions

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

All Google Map links leave DEC website.

Parking Areas and Trailheads

  • Tower Trailhead Parking Area is located along the Moose Pond Road off State Route 28N. (43.8794°N, 74.0592°W) Google Maps
  • Boreas River Loop Trailhead North Parking Area is located near the intersection of Moose Pond Road and State Route 28N. (43.8917°N, 74.0144°W) Google Maps
  • Boreas River Loop Trailhead South Parking Area is located along State Route 28N. (43.8811°N, 74.0123°W) Google Maps
  • Roosevelt Truck 28N Trailhead Parking Area is located along State Route 28N. (43.9139°N, 74.0196°W) Google Maps
  • Roosevelt Trail Blue Ridge Road Trailhead is located along Blue Ridge Road. (43.9434°N, 74.0043°W) Google Maps
  • Linsey Marsh Trailhead is located along State Route 28N. (43.8795°N, 74.0100°W) Google Maps
  • Hewitt Pond Trailhead at the end of the Hewitt Pond Road off State Route 28N. (43.8691°N, 73.9879°W) Google Maps
  • Stony Pond & Lost Pond Trailheads Parking Area is located along State Route 28N. (43.8329°N, 74.0158°W) Google Maps
  • 29th Pond Trailhead Parking Area is located along State Route 28N. (43.8274°N, 74.0159°W) Google Maps
  • Rankin Pond Trailhead is located along State Route 28N. (43.8379°N, 74.0012°W) Google Maps
  • Huntley Pond Trailhead is located along the North Woods Club Road (43.8324°N, 74.1069°W) Google Maps
  • Raymond Brook Trailhead is located along State Route 28 (43.7116°N, 74.0048°W) Google Maps
  • Barton Mine Brook Trailhead is located along the Barton Mine Road (43.6965°N, 74.0620°W) Google Maps
  • North Creek Ski Bowl Trailhead is located off Ski Bowl Road. (43.6973°N, 73.9929°W) Google Maps
  • Moxham Mountain Trailhead is located along Fourteenth Road. (43.7703°N, 74.0136°W) Google Maps
  • Camp Santanoni Gate House Trailhead Parking Area is located on the Newcomb Lake off State Route 28N. (43.9732°N, 74.1646°W) Google Maps
  • Harris Lake Campground Trailhead is located at the end of Campsite Road off State Route 28N. (43.9792°N, 74.1366°W) Google Maps
  • Cheney Pond Trailhead Parking Area is located along Blue Ridge Road. (43.9403°N, 73.9868°W) Google Maps
  • Vanderwhacker Pond Trailhead is located along the Blue Ridge Road. (43.9465°N, 74.0089°W) Google Maps

Hand Launches

  • Cheney Pond Hand Launch can be accessed from the Cheney Pond Trailhead via the Cheney Pond Trail. (43.9361°N, 73.9804°W) Google Maps
  • Oliver Pond Hand Launch is located along Hoffman Road. (43.8260°N, 73.9034°W) Google Maps
  • Muller Pond Hand Launch is located along Hoffman Road. (44.8352.°N, 73.8885°W) Google Maps

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace principles (Leaves DEC website) 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 Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices.

How We Manage Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan. 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 can be obtained in North Creek, Portersville and Schroon Lake.

Food and other supplies can be obtained in Newcomb, North Creek, Pottersville, Schroon Lake, and Wevertown.

Dining is available in Newcomb, North Creek, Pottersville, Olmstedville and Schroon Lake.

Lodging is available in Newcomb, North Creek, Olmstedville, Schroon Lake and Wevertown.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website) and Schroon Lake Region (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.