Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- General Information: DEC Region 5 Northville Office: 518-863-4545 (M-F, 8:30AM to 4:45PM); Info.R5@dec.ny.gov
- DEC Emergency & Enforcement Dispatch: 518-897-1300 or 911 (24 hours a day) to report: Lost, Injured, and Stricken People/Forest Fires/State Land Fishing, Hunting, Trapping Violations
- Location: Towns of Arietta, Lake Pleasant and Wells in Hamilton County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 5H
- Map: Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands Map (PDF 3.2 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The 36,000-acre Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Tracts are part of the conservation easement lands of the Adirondacks. Located north and west of the village of Speculator, the 14,330-acre Perkins Clearing Tract is west of State Route 30 and the 21,650-acre Speculator Tree Farm Tract is east of State Route 30.
The easement lands are mainly a mix of flatlands, low hills, and a few mountains. The Jessup River, Miami River, Kunjamuk River and Sacandaga River offer outstanding opportunities for water-based recreation.
A system of dirt roads provides public motor vehicle access to the easement lands and adjacent forest preserve lands. Some of these roads are rough and only high four-wheel drive trucks and other high clearance vehicles use those roads or section of roads identified on the map. Many roads on these lands are not open for public motor vehicle access. Please stay on designated roads when traveling by motor vehicle.
The easement lands are privately owned and logged. Expect to see logging trucks, skidders, and other logging activity. Certain access roads may be closed when logging operations are active.
There are currently more than 100 leased camps scattered throughout the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands. The public is prohibited from entering the camps and one-acre of land around the camp. Please respect the rights of the landowner and their lessees.
Alerts: Trail Information for the Central and Southern 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.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Hikers can use any of the roadways open to public. The roads within these easement lands provide access to trailheads and parking areas for hiking trails on adjacent forest preserve lands.
Perkins Clearing Tract
- The Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead provides parking and access to the Pillsbury Mountain Trail in the Jessup River Wild Forest.
- The Little Moose Pond Trailhead provides access to Little Moose Pond in the West Canada Lake Wilderness via a 2-mile trail that climbs 460 feet, dropping just 60 feet at the end of trail to the pond. There is a small pull-off area for parking.
- The Otter Lake Trailhead provides parking and access to Otter Lake in the West Canada Lake Wilderness via a 1.75-mile trail that climbs 290 feet to the shore of the lake.
- The Spruce Lake Trailhead provides parking and access to the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) in the West Canada Lake Wilderness via a 1-mile spur trail which climbs 170 feet before connecting with the NPT. The NPT reaches Spruce Lake 2 miles beyond the junction climbing another 370 feet in the first mile and then dropping 190 feet to the lake shore in the last mile.
Speculator Tree Farm Tract
- The Cisco Creek Trailhead provides parking and access from the south to the Rock Pond/Long Pond Trail and the Kunjamuk Trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.
- The Kunjamuk Cave Trail can be accessed via the Speculator Loop Mountain Bike trail. The Kunjamuk Cave Trail is open to hikers, cyclists and motor vehicles in the summer and fall. An informal parking area is located just east of the trail to the shallow but historic Kunjamuk Cave.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Camping is allowed only in 14 designated camp sites. Small trailered campers can be used in the designated roadside sites.
There are also a number of designated campsites on nearby Forest Preserve lands.
Perkins Clearing Tract
- Two designated campsites are located along the Perkins Clearing Road.
- There are two designated campsites south of Old Military Road that are accessed by short access road.
- There are ten designated campsites on the shores of Mason Lake at the northern end of the Perkins Clearing Road in the adjacent Jessup River Wild Forest.
- A tent site is located is located on the Otter Lake Trail in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness.
Speculator Tree Farm Tract
Five campsites are located along Old Route 8. Two are located between Kunjamuk Cave Trail and Fly Creek Road, two are located between Fly Creek Road and Robb's Creek Road, and one is on Jessup River Wild Forest lands along the Sacandaga River.
- Two designated campsites along Fly Creek Road are located between the intersection with Pine Creek Road and the intersection with Elm Lake Road.
- Two designated campsites are located along Robbs Creek Road.
- A designated campsite is located off Pine Creek Road just above the intersection with Fly Creek Road.
General information on paddling includes safety tips with links to rules & regulations and lists of DEC boat launches by county.
The village of Speculator hand launch site on the Sacandaga River is located at the Speculator Ball Field Parking Area. Paddlers can access paddle routes on both the Sacandaga River and Kunjamuk River.
Elm Lake on the Speculator Tree Farm Tract
It is approximately 1.5 miles down the Sacandaga River to the mouth of the Kunjamuk River. Almost 4 miles up the Kunjamuk is Elm Lake. A paddle to the north side of Elm Lake and back to the launch site makes this a 12-mile round trip. Paddlers will need to portage over or around beaver dams and other obstacles.
Paddlers can also stay on the Sacandaga River and paddle the length of Duck Bay to a picnic spot and hand launch site. This provides an almost 5-mile round trip flatwater experience. Beyond the hydropower dam which creates Duck Bay, the river flows through a series of rapids, cascades and waterfalls.
The Kunjamuk Hand Launch on the Pine Lakes Road provides paddlers direct access to the Kunjamuk River.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.
The Perkins Clearing Tract provides a number of opportunities for cold water angling, while warm water angling opportunities exist in waters on the Speculator Tree Farm Tract.
On the Perkins Clearing Tract, the Jessup River is stocked with brook trout and brown trout. The Miami River has a naturally sustained population of brook trout.
Little Moose Pond, Otter Lake, and Spruce Lake contain brook trout. They are located in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness but are accessed from the Perkins Clearing Tract.
On the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, Kunjamuk Creek, Elm Lake and the section of the Sacandaga River between Lake Pleasant and Christine Falls contain smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and chain pickerel.
The Sacandaga River below the dam is stocked with brown trout.
Anglers can access waters using any of the hand launches used by paddlers.
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.
Big game hunting is popular on the easement lands, but habitat for grouse and woodcock is also present. Hunting and trapping are allowed on the conservation easement lands that are open to the public, except for the one acre envelope around the numerous leased camps. The public is prohibited from entering the camps and the one acre of land around the camp.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations.
Bicycles are permitted on all roads and trails open to the public within the conservation easement lands. Bicycles are not allowed in the nearby wilderness forest preserve lands.
The Town of Lake Pleasant has designated an all-terrain bicycle (ATB) trail system on a portion of the Speculator Tree Farm Tract. The trail system can be accessed from the parking area at the Speculator Ball Field Parking Area.
The trail system consists of two bike loops which are wide, hard-packed logging roads that vary in terrain. The outer loop is 13.7 miles long, and the inner Kunjamuk Cave loop is 7.2 miles long.
On the Perkins Clearing Tract, the Town of Lake Pleasant has designated and signed the Perkins Clearing Road as an ATB route.
Parking lots used to access the trail system have kiosks with information about the trails, including detailed trail maps.
General information on horseback riding includes safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Horses are permitted on all roads and trails on the easement lands. Horses are prohibited on designated foot trails and on snowmobile or cross-country ski trails with snow cover.
Horse trailers can be parked and unloaded at the Brister Brook, Sled Harbor and Perkins Clearing parking areas.
Be sure to review the general information on horseback riding prior to arriving at the tracts.
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.
Approximately 3.5 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails are designated on the Speculator Tree Farm Tract. The trail begins in the Village of Speculator at the Ball Field parking area and follows the designated bike trails. There is a 7.2-mile short loop and a 13.7-mile loop; both include portions of the Elm Lake Road and are ungroomed.
All roadways open to the public are open to skiers and snowshoers, however, most of these roads are designated snowmobile trails. People skiing or snowshoeing should be aware of snowmobiles and move to the side to let them pass.
The roadways are not plowed, so accessing nearby forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands must be done by starting at exterior parking areas or by using a snowmobile to get to interior start points. Snowmobiles can only travel on designated snowmobile trails.
General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Snowmobiling is a popular activity on and around the conservation easement lands. Designated and groomed snowmobile trails on these lands connect with snowmobile trails on forest preserve and private lands that are part of the trail system connecting the communities of Piseco Lake, Lake Pleasant, Speculator, Indian Lake and Wells.
Almost 35 miles of designated snowmobile trails are located on the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands, including sections of two corridor snowmobile trails, C4 and C8, and all or part of four secondary snowmobile trails.
There are a number of locations to park vehicles with snowmobile trailers and access the trails on the conservation easement lands:
Oak Mountain Ski Center Parking Area provides access to the village of Speculator Snowmobile Trail System which accesses the Speculator Tree Farm snowmobile trail system.
Speculator Ball Field Parking Area provides access to Kunjamuk Snowmobile Trail and the Speculator Tree Farm snowmobile trail system.
Perkin Clearings Road Snowmobile Trailer Parking Area is a small parking area that provides access to the Perkins Clearing Snowmobile Trail System.
Mason Lake Pull-Off provides access to the Mason Lake Road which is a designated snowmobile trail.
Brister Brook Snowmobile Trailer Parking Area provides access to the extensive snowmobile trail network on Speculator Tree Farm.
Be aware of that cross country skiers and snowshoers may use some of the trails. Slow down when passing them.
Visitors can picnic at a table beside the Elm Lake Road shortly before the Cisco Brook Trailhead Parking Area.
There is a picnic area overlooking Duck Bay along State Route 30 a short distance south of the village of Speculator. There is also a picnic area along the shores of Mason Lake north of the village. Picnic areas may also be found in the parks in the village.
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. One of the largest concentrations of moose in New York can be found on these lands.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
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.
Both the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm Tracts are accessed from State Route 30. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
Parking Areas and Trailheads
Pillsbury Mountain Trailhead is located at the end of the Old Military Road. (43.5871°N, 74.4853°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Sled Harbor is a large undesignated parking area at the intersection of Old Military Road and Jessup River Road. (43.5750°N, 74.4737°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Little Moose Pond Trailhead is located along the Jessup River Road. (43.5352°N, 74.5369°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Otter Lake Trailhead is located towards the end of the Jessup River Road. (43.5271°N, 74.5554°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Spruce Lake Trailhead is located at the end of the Jessup River Road. (43.5234°N, 74.5627°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Mason Lake Pull-off is located along Route 30 south of the Mason Lake Road. (43.5993°N, 74.4163°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Perkins Clearing Road Snowmobile Trailer Parking Area is located on the west side of State Route 30, opposite and a bit south of the intersection of Jessup River Road. (43.5352°N, 74.3845°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Cisco Creek Trailhead is located at the northern end of the Elk Lake Road. (43.6041°N, 74.3103°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Oak Mountain Ski Center Parking Area is located off the Elm Lake Road. (43.5133°N, 74.3602°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Speculator Ball Field Parking Area is located off State Route 8/30 across from the public beach on Lake Pleasant. (43.4961°N, 74.3595°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Brister Brook Snowmobile Trailer Parking Area is located off the east side of State Route 30. (43.5179°N, 74.3755°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Speculator Ball Field Parking Area located off State Route 30/8 across from the public beach on Lake Pleasant has a hand launch site. (43.4961°N, 74.3595°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
The Duck Bay Picnic Area along State Route 30/8 southwest of Speculator includes a hand launch site. (43.5012°N, 74.3364°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 the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement lands 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.
Be aware that the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands are privately owned; public access and recreation is allowed with restrictions. Users of these lands must:
- Only travel on roads and corridors designated open to the public;
- Not travel beyond any closed gates (whether locked or not);
- Park in designated parking areas only - don't block gates or roadways;
- Expect to see logging trucks, skidders and other logging activity; and
- Be aware that much of these lands are leased to private sports groups that have access and recreation rights that the public does not have - please respect the rights of the lessees.
Lessees have exclusive use of their cabins and a one-acre area around each one. In addition, two large areas on the north and south sides of the Speculator Tree Farm Tract are leased by outdoor clubs and are not open to the public. The map shows the locations of these "posting leases."
Interior roads are closed to motor vehicle traffic each winter and are reopened after the spring mud season.
Stay at least 500 feet from timber-harvesting operations and logging vehicles. Roads and trails may be closed where timber harvesting operations are underway.
Public use of ATVs is prohibited on the roads, trails and lands of the conservation easement. However, the public may see ATVs being utilized on the property. Camp leaseholders are allowed to use ATVs along their designated ingress and egress routes and their one-acre exclusive use areas, but nowhere else.
Camping and campfires are permitted only at designated campsites. Camping permits must be obtained to stay at one site more than three nights or for groups of 10 more people.
Snowmobiles are prohibited from entering adjacent wilderness lands or other forest preserve lands unless on a designate snowmobile trail. Snowmobile routes may change to avoid timber harvesting operations.
How We Manage Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easements
DEC manages public recreation on these lands in accordance with the terms of the easement and the Recreation Management Plan, which is currently under development.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
Jessup River Wild Forest
West Canada Lake Wilderness
Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Speculator, Indian Lake and Piseco.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Speculator, Indian Lake and Piseco.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Speculator, Indian Lake and Piseco.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Speculator, Indian Lake and Piseco.
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Hamilton County Tourism (leaves DEC website) and the Speculator Chamber of Commerce (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.