Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement
The 40,000-acre Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands are located just north of the Village of Speculator and Route 8 in the towns of Arietta, Lake Pleasant and Wells in Hamilton County. The 14,332 acre Perkins Clearing Tract lies west of Route 30 and the 21,648 acre Speculator Tree Farm Tract lies east of Route 30.
There are some restrictions for public access and recreation on the conservation easement lands which are described in the Rules and Regulation section below.
Be aware that the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands are privately owned, actively timbered, and leased camps with 112 cabins are present on the lands. Public access and recreation is allowed with restrictions. Users of these lands must:
- 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."
Forest Preserve Lands vs Conservation Easement Lands
There are different requirements for recreating on the conservation easement lands and the adjacent (or nearby) forest preserve lands. Users must be aware of which lands they are recreating on and the rules and regulations that apply. The maps depict the type of land and their boundaries. The boundaries of forest preserve lands are signed. Do not trespass on private lands that are not part of the conservation easement.
Approximately 36,000 acres of the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands are open for public recreation activities including: camping, canoeing, hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hunting, trapping and fishing.
All recreational activity on the conservation easement lands must comply with the special rules and regulations for this conservation easement and with state land use regulation.
Visitors to Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm should be properly prepared and equipped for a remote, wildlands experience. Visitors should expect to assume a high degree of responsibility for their own welfare and for environmentally sound use of the area. Know safe hiking practices, camping & hiking rules, how to avoid getting lost (191 kb PDF), state land use regulation and current trail conditions.
Use the links in the right column to obtain important information for recreating on these lands.
Report back country emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Emergency Dispatch at 518-891-0235.
Currently there are few hiking opportunities within the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands. Hikers are welcome to use any of the roadways open to the public or to bushwhack the lands open to the public. Currently trails or a trail system have not been developed on these lands. However, a number of popular hiking trails on adjacent forest preserve lands do begin on the conservation easement lands.
The Cisco Creek trailhead parking area in the Speculator Tree Farm Tract is located at the northern end of the Elk Lake Road. It provides access from the south to the Long Pond Trail and the Kunjamuk Trail in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area.
Undesignated trails to Dug Mountain Brook Falls and Indian Clearing in the Jessup River Wild Forest may be accessed from the end of the Cannon Brook Road on the Speculator Tree Farm Tract.
The trailhead for Pillsbury Mountain in the Jessup River Wild Forest is located at the end of the Old Military Road in the Perkins Clearing Tract.
The trailhead to a spur trail which connects to the Northville-Lake Placid Trail and provides access to the Spruce Lake in the West Canada Lake Wilderness is located at the end of the Jessup River Road in the Perkins Clearing Tract.
Camping is restricted to designated campsites only, 6 primitive tent sites have been designated. Two campsites are located along the Perkins Clearing Road in the Perkins Clearing Tract. Two campsites are located along Old Route 8/30 in the Speculator Tree Farm Tract. One designated campsite is located along Fly Creek Road. And one designated campsite is located along Robbs Creek Road.
Observe all campfire safety practices. Use only dead and down wood. Don't leave garbage in the fire pit.
Better yet, carry a portable stove. Stoves heat more quickly, are easier to clean and do not leave blackened rocks and partially burned firewood. They are useful in wet rainy weather.
Regulation prohibits the import of firewood into New York unless it has been treated to kill pests. The new regulation also limits the transportation of untreated firewood to less than 50 miles from its source.
Bringing your firewood with you? Most people don't realize they move bugs along with their firewood. You could be spreading diseases or insects that can quickly kill large numbers of trees. Our forests are at risk from the transport of firewood infested with tree killers.
Here's how you can help STOP THE SPREAD of these pests:
- Leave firewood at home-do not transport it to campgrounds or parks.
- Only purchase firewood that has been harvested in New York State or treated for pests.
- Burn all firewood brought to the campsite.
See Frequently Asked Questions for more information on firewood regulation.
A four mile flatwater paddle on the Jessup River begins at the crossing on the Perkins Clearing Road and continues downstream into the Jessup River Wild Forest. Paddlers may end the trip at the Route 30 crossing or continue downstream to Indian Lake. A trail near the mouth of the river leads to Dug Mountain Falls. Portages over or around log jams, beaver dams and other obstacles may be required. This is best paddled when water levels are high, either during the spring or extended periods of rain.
A public launch site on the Sacandaga River at the "Ball Field" in Speculator, along Route 30 opposite the public beach in Speculator, provides the opportunity to paddle both the Sacandaga River and Kunjamuk River in and along the Speculator Tree Farm Tract.
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 northside of Elm Lake and back to the launch site makes this a 12 mile round trip. Portages over or around beaver dams and other obstacles may be required.
Paddlers can also just stay on the Sacandaga River and paddle the length of Duck Bay to a picnic spot. This provides an almost 5 mile round trip flatwater experience. Shortly beyond the open waters of Duck Bay, the river flows through a series of rapids, cascades and waterfalls.
PREVENT THE INTRODUCTION AND SPREAD OF AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES
- INSPECT your fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to it.
- DRY your fishing and boating equipment before using it on another body of water.
- CLEAN your fishing and boating equipment if it cannot be dried before its use in another body of water.
More information on how you can avoid spreading aquatic invasive species.
The Perkins Clearing Tract provides a number of opportunities for coldwater angling, while warmwater 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 the Miami River has a naturally sustained population of brook trout.
Kunjamuk Creek, Elm Lake and the section of the Sacandaga River between Lake Pleasant and Christine Falls, all on the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, contain smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, chain pickerel and panfish.
The Sacandaga River below the falls is stocked with brown trout.
On the Speculator Tree Farm Tract, Elm Lake contains smallmouth bass and chain pickerel.
Anglers should check the current fresh water fishing regulations for and know the statewide regulation and the regulations pertaining to specific waters.
Hunting & Trapping
There are currently 112 leased camps scattered throughout the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands. These camps are referred to as one-acre "envelope leases" as the public is prohibited from entering the camps and one acre of land around the camp.
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 leases.
Hunters and trappers must comply with all applicable State laws and regulation.
All-terrain bicycle on a trail in Speculator Tree Farm Tract
Bicycles are permitted on all roads and trails open to the public.
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 consists of two bike loops, the outer loop is 13.7 miles long, and the inner or "Kunjamuk Cave" loop is 7.2 miles long. Trail signs along both loops reference a large parking known as the "Ball Field" located in the Village of Speculator, on Route 30 opposite the public beach. The Town has also designated four miles of ATB trails north of Oak Mountain.
The Town has also 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.
Horses are permitted on all roads and trails on the conservation easement lands. Horses are prohibited on designated foot trails and on snowmobile or cross-country ski trails with snow cover. Horse owners must comply with all state land use regulation including possessing current negative Coggins certificates.
Skiing & Snowshoeing
Cross country skiing and snowshoeing is available in the winter.
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.
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.
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 & 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:
- The parking area at the Oak Mountain Ski Center - snowmobilers can where users can use the Village of Speculator Trails to access the Speculator Tree Farm snowmobile trail system;
- The Speculator Ball Field parking lot off Route 8/30 at the southern end of the village - snowmobilers can use the Kunjumuk Trail to access the Speculator Tree Farm snowmobile trail system;
- A small parking area near the southern entrance of the Perkins Clearing Road; and
- The parking area along Route 30 at Mason Lake is just a short distance south of the Mason Lake Road which is a designated snowmobile trail.
Be aware of that cross country skiers and snowshoers may use some of trails. Slow down when passing them.
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
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.
6 designated campsites, two parking lots and two trailheads
Neighboring DEC Lands & Facilities
Jessup River Wild Forest
Siamese Pond Wilderness
West Canada Lake Wilderness
The Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands is mainly a mix of flatlands, low hills, and a few mountains. The two largest bodies of water in the general area - Whitaker Lake and Owl Pond - are not open to public access. Whitaker Lake is on private land and Owl Pond, and the lands surrounding it, are closed to the public.
The Jessup River, Miami River and Kunjamuk River stretch along the landscape of each tract and each river truly offer outstanding opportunities for water-based recreation. The Sacandaga River winds along the southern boundary of the Speculator Tree Farm Tract between State Highway Route 30 and Old Route 8. In addition, Speculator Tree Farm Tract is home to a few small water bodies including Elm Lake and the Pine Lakes.
The highest feature on the Perkins Clearing Tract is 2215 feet high Davis Mountain. While the Speculator Tree Farm Tract's most prominent feature is 3,200 feet high Dug Mountain. The broad shoulders of this mountain extend in all directions, with its southern arm largely within the boundary of easement lands open to public access. However, the true summit of Dug Mountain actually lies just across the boundary on privately owned lands.
Most all of the wildlife species found in the Adirondacks may be found in the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm conservation easement lands. These include black bear, beaver, bobcat, coyote, white-tailed deer, fisher, red and grey fox, snowshoe hare, a wide variety of fur bearers, waterfowl, upland birds, wild turkey, numerous amphibian, reptile and insect species and a multitude of song birds. One of the largest concentrations of moose in New York can be found on these lands.
Rules and Regulation
Motor vehicles may be driven only on roads designated for public motor vehicle use.
Do not park in front of gates or otherwise block roads and trails.
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.
All terrain vehicles (ATVs) are prohibited on roads designated for public motor vehicle use. Lessees may use only on designated ingress and egress routes and their one-acre exclusive use areas.
Camping is 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.
Campfires are permitted at designated campsites only.
Bicycles are permitted on all roads and trails.
Snowmobiles are only permitted on roads and trails designated for snowmobile use. Obey trail signs.
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.
Horses are prohibited on designated foot trails and on snowmobile or cross-country ski trails with snow cover.
Horse owners must comply with all state land use regulation (#2493) including possessing current negative Coggins certificates.
Licenses are required for hunting, fishing and trapping.
Only portable tree stands are permitted and they must be removed daily.
Firearms may not be discharged within 500 feet of any lease cabin.
Importing firewood into New York State that has been treated to kill pests is prohibited. Also the transportation of untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source is prohibited.
Please do not trespass on leased camps or adjacent private land. The boundaries of the Forest Preserve lands are signed.
DEC Forest Rangers are responsible for search and rescue, wild land fire suppression and enforcing state land use laws and regulations. DEC Environmental Conservation Officers are responsible for enforcing hunting, fishing, trapping and pollution laws and regulation.
Perkins Clearing Tract
The Perkins Clearing Tract is accessed by taking the Perkins Clearing Road, located along State Highway Route 30, found north of the Village of Speculator. The Perkins Clearing Road provides interior access to the Old Military and Jessup River Roads.
Speculator Tree Farm Tract
The Speculator Tree Farm Tract is accessible several ways. The Elm Lake Road extends northeast from the intersection of State Highways 8 & 30 in the Village of Speculator and provides access to the northernmost portions of the Speculator Tree Farm Tract. South of the Village of Speculator along State Highway 30, the Old State Highway 8 & 30 provides access to the southernmost portions of the Speculator Tree Farm Tract.
Other Sources of Information
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council and Hamilton County Tourism can both provide information about recreating in this area and other amenities. The Adirondack Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce also provides Snowmobile Trail Conditions. Use the links provided near the bottom of the right column to access their websites.
Numerous guide books are available with information on the lands and waters in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.
Maps are available for downloading from this web page. Use the links at the top of the page to view the map or download a map for printing. The DEC State Land Interactive Mapper can be used to print maps showing state lands, trails and facilities for this area or any location within New York State.
There are also excellent printed maps and computer map programs from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Geographic and other sources. These are sold in outdoor retail shops, bookstores and on the internet. Use the USGS Maps link in the right column to order their maps online.
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.
These lands had until recently been in International Paper ownership and managed for timber for the last 100 years.
There is a long history of people using International Paper Company Lands on both the Speculator Tree Farm and Perkins Clearing areas for a variety of recreational activities. In the past, the property was managed as a FWMA Cooperator Area with the assistance of DEC. More recently, a permit system was first instituted for the Speculator Tree Farm tract. For a modest fee, about $10 dollars a day, the general public was allowed to use the property for recreational purposes but was prohibited from riding ATVs, camping, or building fires. With the exception of the Jessup and Kunjamuk rivers, snowmobile trails, and public roads, existing recreational facilities are largely self-contained within the Property.
Public use on the Property include snowmobiling, hunting, fishing (from banks, wading, and from watercraft), trapping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing on groomed trails, walking and hiking, mountain biking, wildlife observation, canoeing/kayaking, and scenic auto touring.
Overall, general public use of the Property has been estimated to be light to moderate. Fall (hunting seasons) and winter (snowmobiling season beginning mid-December) are the busiest times, although recreational use is spread throughout the year.
In 2005, the people of the State of New York acquired a conservation easement on lands then owned by International Paper Company. The easement limits subdivision and development on the property, requires that forestry be practiced sustainably and provides public recreation rights which are specific to each parcel.
In 2006, International Paper Company sold nearly all of their Adirondack timberlands, including the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement lands to the Lyme Timber Company, current landowner.
DEC has developed Interim Recreational Management Plan Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands which provides guidance on the types, locations and restrictions on recreation activities and facilities on these lands.
Currently, DEC is developing a Recreational Management Plan for the conservation easement lands. The Recreational Management plan will:
- Provide detailed descriptions of the property;
- Identify relevant public recreation opportunities and limitations;
- Discuss how public access and recreation will be implemented and managed;
- Identify public recreation facilities that already exist on the easement lands; and
- Identify new public recreation facilities and improvements to be constructed and maintained on the property.
The Recreational Management Plan preparation process and resulting document will provide a means for discussing and clarifying pertinent issues, clearly stating management goals and mechanisms, and providing a protocol to resolve concerns. If you are interested in participating in the public input process for the Recreational Management Plan, e-mail DEC using the link at the bottom of the right column.
Recreation Management Plans are intended to assess the recreational resources present within a Conservation Easement, identify opportunities for recreational use and consider the ability of the resources and ecosystems to accommodate public use. Recreation Management Plans are developed by DEC in accordance with the terms of the conservation easement agreement and in cooperation with the landowner.
Important Phone Numbers
Forest Fire, Search and Rescue: (518) 891-0235 (24 hours a day) or dial 911
State Land Regulation/Backcountry Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1300
Environmental Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1326 or dial 911
Turn in Poachers and Polluters: 1-844-DEC-ECOs (1-844-332-3267) - call the TIPPs hotline to report any environmental violations or report it online.
More about Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement:
- Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm Map - Map showing conservation easement areas of the Perkins Clearing and Speculator Tree Farm