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Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

Including Raquette Lake-Forked Lake Canoe Carry, Togus Parcel, Eagle Nest and Bluff Point Conservation Easement Tracts

hikingprimitive campingpaddlingboatingbikingfishinghuntingtrappingsnowmobilingcross-country skiingsnowshoeingfire toweraccessibleparkinghand launchboat launchicon key

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest locator map

The 43,460-acre Sargent Ponds Wild Forest is located in the Central Adirondacks in northern Hamilton County. The gently rolling forested hills are highly visible from State Routes 28N, 28, and 30, the latter two designated as Scenic Highways. The majority of the area lies east of Raquette Lake, north of State Route 28, and west of State Route 30. Its proximity to major highway travel corridors, the Adirondack Canoe Route, and public campgrounds makes it a favorite for a variety of outdoor recreation including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, hunting and camping. Public campgrounds adjoining the property are Tioga Point, Golden Beach, Forked Lake, Lake Durant, Eighth Lake, Brown Tract Pond and Lake Eaton.

Nearby lakes include Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Forked Lake, Lake Eaton, Long Lake, Sargent Ponds and Utowana Lake. Several small islands in interior ponds include Long Island, Osprey Island and other small islands on Blue Mountain Lake, Big Island in Raquette Lake and three small islands in Upper Sargent Pond.

The State owns four Conservation Easements within the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest:

  • Raquette Lake-Forked Lake Canoe Carry: This easement enables the public to pass on and over said lands on foot, skis, snowshoes or horseback. The easement is 20 feet wide and lies between the south shore of Forked Lake and the north shore of Raquette Lake Outlet.
  • The Togus Parcel: A 234.5-acre easement located in the Town of Long Lake, between Plumley Pond and Forked Lake.
  • Eagle Nest: This 1,160-acre easement includes multiple parcels on Utowana Lake, Eagle Lake and Minnow Pond, as well as some of the islands in Blue Mountain Lake.
  • Bluff Point: A 34-acre Conservation Easement in Blue Mountain Lake allows public use of the existing trails to the west (Castle Rock) and to the north (Sargent Ponds). Public use of motor vehicles on the existing trails is not permitted until the year 2080. However, public use of non-motorized mechanized vehicles, such as mountain bikes, is allowed on the trail.

Trail 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 and regulations.

The property's trail system contains a mix of trails marked for both snowmobile and foot travel. Existing trails are concentrated in two areas: the Lake Eaton/Owl's Head area and the Sargent Ponds/Castle Rock area.

A developed 3.1-mile trail leads to the Owl's Head Mountain fire tower.

A foot trail allows access from Maple Lodge Road in Blue Mountain Lake to Castle Rock. Parking is located near the Syracuse University Minnowbrook Conference Center. From the Minnowbrook Conference Center, users hike along the private road and then turn right, entering the Forest Preserve. This trail continues to Upper Sargent Pond via Helms Pond Trail. Located along the northern shore of Blue Mountain Lake, Castle Rock is a unique geologic formation with a marked trail leading to its summit. A large overhanging natural rock shelter and a small cave are located to the south of this formation. Castle Rock can be accessed by an easy hike leading to the 200-foot high rock outcrop. From this vantage point visitors get an excellent view of Blue Mountain and Blue Mountain Lake. A short spur trail from the Castle Rock Loop leads to the shores of Blue Mountain Lake.

Although there are many wide spots and turn-outs at various locations that provide access to the property, there are few developed trailheads that provide visitors with information and safe parking. Many locations only offer a trail sign and a small pull-off in which to park. Trail registers are located at Upper Sargent Pond, Lower Sargent Pond, Castle Rock, Owl's Head Mountain, Lake Eaton and Forked Lake Dam. A register journal is also located at the lean-to on Lower Sargent Pond.

The Bluff Point conservation easement allows public use of the existing trails on the Castle Rock and Sargent Ponds area. Users are also allowed to hike on the Raquette Lake-Forked Lake Canoe Carry easement.

Camping

primitive camping

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

The area has a diverse mix of camping options available to visitors. There are designated interior camping facilities at Upper and Lower Sargent Ponds, Forked Lake, Long Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Raquette Lake, Utowana Lake and along the canoe carry between Forked Lake and Raquette Lake. Lean-tos are scattered throughout the property. There are also many roadside locations used seasonally by hunters and during the summer by others along North Point Road and at other locations. There is generally an increase in primitive camping during the beginning of trout season and the beginning of the regular big game season.

Backcountry camping is also allowed throughout the property as long as the site is at least 150 feet from a water body, road, or trail, unless the area is posted as "Camping Prohibited." Camping for more than 3 nights or with 10 or more people requires a permit from a forest ranger.

Campers who prefer more amenities may camp at numerous nearby DEC campgrounds.

Paddling

paddling

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

Boaters and users of the area's larger lakes and the Adirondack Canoe Route enjoy the placid scenic backdrop provided by the surrounding landscape. Five miles of the Marion River and the section of the Raquette River lying below Long Lake are classified as Scenic under the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Program.

Buttermilk Falls has long been an attraction for canoe route users carrying along this rough stretch of the Raquette River. Easily accessible from North Point Road, the Falls also serve as an excellent destination for families. A few picnic tables afford visitors a spot to relax while enjoying this beautiful attraction, which is adjacent to the road.

Blue Mountain Lake has long been popular due to its clear waters and numerous small islands and mountain-ringed scenery. From the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake, a route exists heading west into Eagle Lake and Utowana Lake. A half-mile carry (Bassett Carry) continues below the dam at the west end of Utowana Lake following the path of a former railroad. This trail bypasses the rapids on the Marion River and allows the public to continue the trip to Raquette Lake. The Marion River is canoeable in either direction.

The Raquette Lake-Forked Lake Canoe Carry easement provides access for paddlers between the two waterbodies. The easement also allows user to hike, ski, snowshoe or horseback ride on the property.

Boating

boating

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

Trailered boat launches are available on numerous lakes on the property, including Lake Eaton (parking for 12 cars and trailers), Blue Mountain Lake (two private boat launches along State Route 28), Forked Lake (parking for 40 cars and trailers), Raquette Lake (at Golden Beach Campground & Day Use Area), and Long Lake (parking for 60 cars and trailers).

Biking

biking

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

Two of the Adirondack North Country Scenic Byway routes pass near the area. A portion of the 188-mile Adirondack Trail (State Route 30) and the 140-mile Central Adirondack Trail (State Route 28) offer road touring and bicycling opportunities through the Blue Mountain Lake area. Bicyclists could easily gain land access for a day hike into the area from the end of Maple Lodge Road.

Fishing

fishing

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

A variety of lakes, ponds and streams offer fishing opportunities.

Raquette Lake has fishing for smallmouth bass, lake trout, lake whitefish, landlocked salmon (rare), brown bullhead, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, rainbow smelt, and brook trout.

Forked Lake is primarily a warm water fishery, but it has some cold water opportunities. Species include brook trout, lake trout, yellow perch, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, largemouth bass, rainbow smelt, redbreast sunfish and pumpkinseed. Forked Lake is a top fishing water in Hamilton County for large and smallmouth bass. The three tips of the lake are shallow which provides for excellent warm water fishing. The southern end of the lake has the best habitat for smallmouth bass. However, the center of the lake is a deep pocket of water, and that is where most trout and salmon are caught.

Fish found in Blue Mountain Lake include lake trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, landlocked salmon, rainbow smelt, pumpkinseed, and yellow perch. Lake whitefish and redbreast sunfish were formerly common in this lake, but are now seldom caught. Every year the lake is stocked with approximately 510 lake trout and 1,300 landlocked salmon. It is one of the few lakes in Hamilton County that landlocked salmon are stocked in. Surplus brook trout fingerlings are stocked when available in the fall. Ice fishing is permitted here. Eagle Lake is directly connected to Blue Mountain Lake and thus has a similar fish community.

Long Lake has largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, brown bullhead, walleye, black crappie, northern pike, pumpkinseed, white sucker and golden shiner. Quality smallmouth and largemouth bass up to 20 inches roam these waters. Northern pike up to 35 inches have been reported as well. Walleye have been stocked by the lake association and some reaching 20 inches have been reported.

Lake Eaton is heavily stocked with coldwater fish, but it has a good population of smallmouth bass. Fish found within this lake include lake trout, landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, yellow perch, and rainbow smelt.

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

huntingtrapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 5F and 6J

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

Trappers and game hunters can hope to find black bear, deer, raccoon, marten, fisher, weasels, mink, river otter, striped skunk, coyote, red fox, gray fox, woodchuck, bobcat, beaver, opossum, muskrat, porcupine, Eastern cottontail, snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

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

This activity is very popular in the neighboring community of Indian Lake. The frozen water surface of Blue Mountain Lake is utilized by some snowmobilers for riding and to access ice fishing shanties. A snowmobile trail developed in the nearby Blue Mountain Wild Forest provides a snowmobile connection between the two communities. Even though the marked DEC trail currently ends at the DOT parking area, snowmobilers can legally ride into the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake by riding the outside scraper banks of the State highway.

While there was a snowmobile trail that led to Upper Sargent Pond for a short period of time, permission was revoked for snowmobiling over the private land section.

A designated snowmobile corridor trail (Corridor Trail 8B) connects Raquette Lake to Long Lake through the center of the property via North Point Road.

DEC is drafting a new unit management plan for the wild forest that would make alterations to the snowmobile trail system to get the trails off the lakes and roads as much as feasible.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiingsnowshoeing

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

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails. No trails are specifically marked as cross-country ski trails within the area. Occasional skiing activity can occur on the marked hiking trails or on the frozen water surface of Blue Mountain Lake.

Fire Tower

fire tower

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

At 2,748 feet elevation, the Owl's Head Mountain fire tower provides exceptional views of the Central Adirondacks and the High Peaks to the northeast. There is a 3.1-mile trail beginning along Endion Lane.

Wildlife

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

Mammals that can be found on the property include black bear, deer, raccoon, bats, marten, fisher, weasels, mink, river otter, striped skunk, coyote, red fox, gray fox, woodchuck, bobcat, beaver, opossum, muskrat, porcupine, Eastern cottontail, and snowshoe hare. A variety of reptiles and amphibians are also present, including snakes, turtles, salamanders and frogs. Several protected and threatened bird species may be present, including common loon, great blue heron, osprey, bald eagle, golden eagle, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, peregrine falcon and spruce grouse. Other birds that can be found are a variety of waterfowl, marsh birds, owls, hawks and song birds.

Accessible Features

accessible

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

The Long Lake Boat Launch off State Route 30 on the east shore of Long Lake has designated accessible parking with an accessible privy and path to the loading dock. It has a hard surface ramp with parking for 60 cars and trailers.

Directions

Although there are many wide spots and turn-outs at various locations that provide access to the property, there are few developed trailheads that provide visitors with information and safe parking. Many locations only offer a trail sign and a small pull-off in which to park.

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

Parking Areas and Trailheads

  • Parking area near Eagle Lake off State Route 28 (43.84336°N, 74.47673°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Owl's Head Mountain trailhead on Endion Lane (43.963536°N, 74.452741°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Hand Launches and Boat Launches

  • South Pond hand launch and parking area (43.918508°N, 74.443147°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Raquette River hand launch (43.907504°N, 74.504711°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Long Lake boat launch with parking for 60 cars and trailers (43.97876°N, 74.41668°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Long Lake hand launch at the southern end of the lake, with two lean-tos and a primitive campsite (43.924719°N, 74.475284°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Forked Lake boat launch with parking for 40 cars and trailers (43.892408°N, 74.592974°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Forked Lake Campground & Day Use Area hand launch with parking for 40 cars and trailers (43.904926°N, 74.527843°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Lake Eaton Campground & Day Use Area hand launch with parking for 12 cars and trailers (43.987461°N, 74.461663°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Golden Beach Campground & Day Use Area hand launch with parking for 50 cars and trailers (43.816009°N, 74.598057°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

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 Sargent Ponds Wild Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulation and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Sargent Ponds Wild Forest

DEC is developing a management plan which will describe the management activities for these lands. In addition to management objectives, the UMP will contain detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Gas, food and supplies, dining opportunities and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Blue Mountain Lake and Raquette Lake.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce (leaves DEC website) and Hamilton County Department of Economic Development and 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.