Independence River Wild Forest
Three Lakes and Big Moose Easement Tracts
- Big Otter Lake Road is wet, muddy and rough, it is not suitable for use by most passenger vehicles
The Icicle Horse Trail is wet and muddy for much of the year, and may not be suitable for all horses
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- DEC Lowville Office: (315) 376-3521 or information.R6@dec.ny.gov
- Backcountry Emergencies: (518) 891-0235 or 911 (24/7)
- Enforcement Matters: 1-877-457-5680 (24/7)
- DEC Lowville Office: (315) 376-3521 or information.R6@dec.ny.gov
- Location: Towns of Greig and Watson in Lewis County; and the Town of Webb in Herkimer County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 6J
- Maps: Independence River Wild Forest Map West (PDF 2.3 MB) || Independence River Wild Forest Map East (PDF 1.8 MB) || Otter Creek Horse Trails || Stillwater Reservoir || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The Independence River Wild Forest is comprised of 78,600 acres of Forest Preserve lands on the western boundary of the Adirondack Park. Rolling slopes, numerous water bodies and wetlands characterize the unit. This unit contains an abundance of water with more than 80 individual ponds and lakes, ranging in size from less than 1/2-acre to the 6,200-acre Stillwater Reservoir. Two major recreation areas are Stillwater Reservoir and Otter Creek Horse Trails.
DEC does not plow seasonal access roads in the winter; some are designated snowmobile trails. The local municipalities do plow the following roads, which provide access to winter outdoor recreation activities: Number Four Road, Stillwater Road, Necessary Dam Road, Big Moose Road, Sand Pond Road and Partridgeville Road.
The 3,210-acre Three Lakes Easement Tract is privately owned land with a conservation easement which restricts development, allows for the continued harvest of forest products and permits specific public recreation opportunities. Public access and recreation opportunities are limited to what is described on this web page. Any other access or recreational activity is prohibited and can result in trespassing charges.
The 25,985-acre Big Moose Easement Tract is privately owned land with a conservation easement which restricts development, allows for the continued harvest of forest products and permits specific public recreation opportunities. Currently, public access and recreation on the Big Moose Easement is limited to the trail to and summit of Stillwater Mountain and a snowmobile trail in the winter. Any other access or recreational activity is prohibited and can result in trespassing charges.
General Information on Horseback Riding - including safety tips and rules & regulations.
The Otter Creek Horse Trails are a 65-mile system of interlocking horse trails located on the Independence River Wild Forest and the adjacent Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests. Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses and out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate.
The trail system uses a series of old, sandy roads and wooded trails to traverse a beautifully diverse area with the trails winding their way along spirea flats and wooded areas, accessing picturesque Adirondack ponds and following or crossing Otter, Little Otter, Beaver Meadow, Chase, Burnt and Crooked Creeks and the Independence River.
The Otter Creek Assembly Area is located in the adjacent Independence River State Forest and provides many amenities for horseback riders including:
- Three parking areas and an overflow parking area for vehicles and horse trailers
- Free at-large primitive camping (no electricity)
- 100 roofed tie stalls
- A pavilion for picnicking
- Two stud stalls
- Potable water system for the horses
- A bathroom with sink and toilets - but no showers
NOTE: The water is turned on in mid-May and turned off after Columbus Day/Canadian Day Weekend. Port-a-johns are available on-site during the summer season.
Immediately upon arrival at the Assembly Area each camping party shall complete all required information on a self-issuing camping permit (PDF 170 KB). Place the DEC portion of the camping permit in the drop box at the registration kiosk. Display the other portion on the dashboard of the vehicle identified on the camping permit at all times. The form can be downloaded from this page ahead of time, but cannot be fully completed until arrival at the Assembly Area to determine site availability. This is not a reservation!
Horses may not be run, galloped or cantered in the assembly area. Horses remaining in the assembly area overnight must be tethered in a DEC covered tie stall, with the exception that those horses remaining overnight in an area designated as overflow and day use may be tethered to, or harbored in their trailers. Please sign in at the trailhead register at Parking Lot 1. It is important for search and rescue and funding purposes.
In accordance with Agriculture and Markets Rules and Regulations Part 64, horse owners may be required to produce a current negative Coggins certificate. In addition, out-of-state horse owners may be required to produce a 30-day health certificate. You must bring your own horse care utensils. Please take out what you bring in.
General Information on Paddling - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Flatwater paddling opportunities exist on many water bodies in the Independence River Wild Forest.
Francis Lake Hand Launch provides an accessible pathway and dock suitable for launching a canoe, kayak or small boat into the 120-acre Francis Lake. There are two campsites on the lake. It is located in a quiet wooded setting off of Stillwater Road. Loons are frequently seen on the lake.
Payne Lake Hand Launch provides an accessible pathway and dock designed for use with mobility devices and is suitable for launching a canoe, kayak or small boat onto the 19-acre Payne Lake. The small lake is located in a quiet area and is stocked annually with brook trout and provides visitors with fishing opportunities.
Paddlers can launch at the Stillwater Reservoir Boat Launch to access the 6,200-acre Stillwater Reservoir. There are 46 primitive campsites along the shores of the reservoir including two accessible campsites. Paddlers should use caution on this water. Due to its size and east-west orientation, high winds often create large waves. The water also receives heavy use by motorboats. Paddlers should stay close to shore during periods of high winds.
Stillwater Reservoir boat launch
Paddlers can access 280-acre Moshier Reservoir from the Necessary Dam Road Hand Launch just below the Stillwater Dam and paddle the nearly 3-mile length of the reservoir and back.
General information on Boating - including safety tips with links to rules & regulations and lists of DEC boat launches by county.
Boating on the 6,200-acre Stillwater Reservoir is a popular summer activity. Boaters can launch at the Stillwater Reservoir Boat Launch. There are 46 primitive campsites along the shores of the reservoir including two accessible campsites. Camping is free but campers are required to register at the boat launch.
General Information on Hiking - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
A 100 plus-mile network of trails and roads are available for hiking. The trails gently rise and fall through a variety of woodland and open habitat with many ponds and lakes serving as a destination point or scenic view along the trail. The trails highlighted here are some of the more popular.
Hiking is allowed on the 65-mile Otter Creek Horse Trail System.
Independence River Area Trail Network (11.4 miles of trail)
Beach Mill Trail extends 4.2 miles along the north bank of the Independence River from a trailhead at the end of Beach Mill Road.
Panther Pond Trail extends 5.0 miles to the Panther Pond Lean-to from a trailhead at the end of Smith Road; and the
Fish Trail extends 2.2 miles to the Independence River from a trailhead at the end of the Stony Lake Road.
All three trails meet immediately north of a footbridge on the Fish Trail on the north bank of the Independence River.
Gleasmans Falls is a popular destination from the Beach Mill Trailhead - 5.8 miles roundtrip.
Big Otter Lake Trail Network (16.3 miles) is mainly accessed from the Pine Lake Trailhead at the end of Partridgeville Road near Otter Creek and Creek and Drunkard Creek Trailhead at the end of Steam Mill Road.
The trail network from the Pine Lake Trailhead includes:
- Big Otter Lake Trail extends approximately 5 miles to North Inlet of Big Otter Lake, this includes 3 miles on Big Otter Lake Road.
- Pine Lake Trail extends 3.5 miles to Pine Lake, the Pine Lake Lean-to and Pine Creek Trail.
- Pine Creek Trail continues east 2.5 miles to Big Otter Lake connecting with Lost Lake Trail near Pine Lake and Big Otter Lake East Trail and Big Otter Lake West Trail at its terminus. Lost Lake Trail and Big Otter Lake East Trail enter the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness and its network of trails.
- Pine Creek Trail continues west 2.8 miles to Pico Mountain Trail.
- Pico Mountain Trail leaves the Pine Lake Trail approximately 0.3 mile from the trailhead and extends 3.7 miles to Drunkard Creek Trailhead.
- Silver Mine Trail extends 8.4 miles to an intersection with East Bridge Trail and Mount Tom Trail.
Sunday Creek Trail extends 0.5 mile along Sunday Creek from Moshier Falls Trailhead. The 0.5-mile Pepperbox Trail provides access to Pepperbox Wilderness over the Beaver River.
Sunday Lake Trail extends 0.3 mile from Sunday Lake Road off of McCarty Road to Sunday Lake.
Red Horse Trail in the Five Ponds Wilderness extends 5.3 miles from a trailhead on the shores of Big Burnt Lake on the north side of Stillwater Reservoir to Clear Lake. Trout Pond Lean-to and Salmon Lake Lean-to are located along the trail. The trailhead is accessible from the water only.
Halfmoon Lake Trail extends 1 mile from a trailhead at the end of Halfmoon Lake Road off of Number Four Road to Halfmoon Lake and a designated primitive campsite.
Shingle Mills Falls on Otter Creek is located on at the end of the 0.1 mile trail from the trailhead at the end of Shingle Mills Fall Road off of the Partridgeville Road.
Stillwater Fire Tower Trail ascends 1.2 miles and 550 feet from the trailhead on Big Moose Road to the summit of Stillwater Mountain (2,264 feet). The summit provides views of Stillwater Reservoir and the surrounding area. The fire tower on the summit will be renovated and open to the public in the summer of 2016. The Observer's Cabin is located along Big Moose Road opposite the trailhead.
The fire tower and most of the trail are located on Big Moose Conservation Easement (private land). The public is allowed to use the fire tower trail but may not trespass on lands off of the trail or summit. The trail and summit are closed to public use from the second Tuesday in October through December 20th.
Hiking is allowed on the two snowmobile trails on Three Lakes Easement Tract which can be accessed from McCarthy Road or Balsam Flats Road.
General Information on Fire Towers - includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers.
Located within Independence River Wild Forest, Stillwater Fire Tower was first built for the New York State Adirondack Survey in 1882 conducted by Verplanck Colvin, State Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey. Colvin established survey markers on the summits of many of the Adirondack High Peaks which he used in his survey of the wilderness. The triangulation station on Stillwater Mountain is station number 77.
The 47-foot Aeromotor LS-40 fire tower boasts 45-mile views from the cab. The first New York State Conservation Commissioned Tower was a wooden structure built in 1912. Today's metal structure was built in 1919. It was staffed by fifteen individual fire observers from 1912 until it closed in 1988. The fire tower and most of the trail are located on Big Moose Conservation Easement (private land). The public is allowed to use the fire tower trail but may not trespass on lands off of the trail or summit. The trail and summit are closed to public use from the second Tuesday in October through December 20th.
General Information on Backcountry Camping - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Numerous designated campsites are available throughout the area, many can only be accessed by water. Eight campsites have accessible features.
The 6,200-acre Stillwater Reservoir provides remote camping opportunities on 46 campsites located on the shores and islands of the reservoir. In addition, the area offers a multitude of other recreational opportunities including boating, paddling, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The area is a popular outdoor recreation destination in all four seasons.
Camping is allowed in designated campsites only. Campsites are available on a first come-first served basis and cannot be reserved. Two campsites Site #43 and Site #44 can be accessed by motor vehicle via Big Moose Road. The remaining 44 campsites can only be accessed from the water. Sites #35 and #44 are accessible campsites.
The following sites have a maximum group size limit of 6 people: Site Numbers 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 43, 45 & 46
The following sites have a maximum group size limit of 8 people: Site Numbers 1, 3, 4, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 23, 27, 30, 31, 33, 34, 41, 42 & 44 (accessible)
Stillwater Reservoir camping reservation kiosk
Three sites have been designated as large group sites with a maximum group size limit of 20: Site Numbers 20, 26 & 37
All campers must register at the registration kiosk located at the Stillwater Reservoir Boat Launch. Campers planning to spend more than three nights or with a group of 10 or more people must obtain a permit from the local Forest Ranger. Contact DEC Ray Brook Dispatch at 518-897-1300 for the name and contact information of the local Forest Ranger.
Designated roadside campsites are located along:
- Big Moose Road has two campsites, both along the shore of Stillwater Reservoir, which are identified above.
- Basket Factory Road has ten campsites, one of which is an accessible tent site.
- Shingle Falls Road Campsite is located near the intersection with Partridgeville Road.
- Bailey Road has three campsites.
- Smith Road has ten campsites, one of which is an accessible tent site.
- McCarthy Road has an accessible tent site.
- Necessary Dam Road has an accessible tent site.
- Branaugh Road has an accessible tent site that can be accessed by Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit holders using a motor vehicle.
Additionally designated campsites are located on
- Francis Lake
- Halfmoon Lake
- Evies Pond
- Little Otter Lake
- Pitcher Pond
- Catspaw Lake
Two lean-tos are also located in the area. The one on Panther Pond is approximately a mile from Panther Pond Trailhead, at the end of Smiths Road. The other is located on Pine Lake, approximately 1.5 miles from the trailhead off Partridgeville Road.
Two lean-tos are also located along the Red Horse Trail in the nearby Five Ponds Wilderness: Trout Pond Lean-to and Salmon Lake Lean-to. The Red Horse Trailhead is located on the north shore of Stillwater Reservoir (Burnt Lake) and is accessible from the water only.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.
Fishing is allowed on all of the numerous ponds and lakes and many miles of streams and rivers subject to fishing regulations.
The Independence River and many other small steams contain wild native brook trout populations.
Otter Creek is stocked with brown trout.
Little Otter Lake and Payne Lake are stocked with brook trout.
Shallow water bodies like Francis Lake and Catspaw Lake have warm water species like pickerel, yellow perch and bullhead.
Ice fishing is allowed on Stillwater Reservoir, Moshier Reservoir and Francis Lake.
North Central NY Fishing provides links to top fishing waters, public fishing rights, stocking and maps of larger waters in this part of the state.
Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species that have severely declined due to introduced fish.
This is a popular area for big game hunters seeking white-tailed deer and black bear.
All the lands and waters within Independence River Wild Forest and the Three Lakes Easement Tract are open to hunting and trapping.
Hunters and trappers may use the parking areas, roads, seasonal access roads, trailheads and trails used by hikers and horseback riders, boat launches used by boaters and hand launches used by paddlers to access the lands and waters in this area.
General Information on Biking - including how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations.
No roads or trails are specifically designated for biking; however, biking is permitted on all roads, on all seasonal access roads and trails used by used by hikers and horseback riders.
Cyclists should respect other recreationists using roads and trails. Some horses may be skittish around bicycles.
General Information on Snowmobiling - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
There are 68 miles of designated snowmobile routes in the Independence River Wild Forest, which connect to the surrounding snowmobile network in Herkimer and Lewis Counties.
Snowmobile trail maps are available from the local Snowmobile Association and various online vendors.
The Sand Pond Road Parking Area and Stillwater Reservoir Parking Area may be used to park vehicles with snowmobile trailers.
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
General Information on Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Centennial Recreational Ski Trails (4.9 miles) are designated for cross country skiing and can be accessed from the South Trailhead on Steam Mill Road or the North Trailhead on Partridgeville Road.
Centennial Scoot Trail (3.2 miles) is the major through trail connecting the two parking lots. The trail gently rolls through mixed hardwood and coniferous forests from the South Trailhead. The trail intersects part of the old historic Glenfield and Western railroad system about 1 mile from the trailhead. The Bear Ridge Trail's southern intersection is located approximately 1.6 miles north of the trailhead, after which skiers will find themselves on a high bank overlooking a stream. The Bear Ridge Trail's northern intersection is located 0.5 mile south of the North Trailhead. The section of trail between the northern trailhead and the Bear Ridge Trail includes some easy up and down hill sections and a steep climb/descent at either end of the section. The trail between these hilly sections follows the edge of an open beaver meadow, crosses an old beaver dam/man made impoundment, and crosses two small bridges and streams.
Bear Ridge Trail (1.6 miles) at its northern end drops down a small hill, crosses a bridge and then climbs a steep hill to the top of a knife like gravel ridge (esker). The trail follows the ridge in a southern direction, providing views into spruce-fir swamps on either side. 1.2 miles south of its northern intersection the trail intersects with the old Steam Mill Trail and turns sharply to the west. The trail is quite gentle for the next 0.95 mile to the southern intersection with the Centennial Scoot Trail.
The trails can be used to form a 6.7 mile loop from the Steam Mill Trailhead or a 4.2 mile loop from the Patridgeville Road 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.
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. More than 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.
Numerous accessible recreation facilities are located in the Independence River Wild Forest. These include:
Otter Creek Horse Trail system features accessible bathroom facilities and mounting platforms at the Assembly Area. There is an accessible picnic pavilion at the main lot with reserved parking.
In addition, there are 2 accessible mounting platforms at scenic overlooks to allow users to dismount and enjoy the view, one at Catspaw Lake and the second along Elbow Trail.
Accessible Boat Launches and Hand Launches
Stillwater Reservoir Boat Launch features an accessible loading dock, restrooms and pavilion. The lake is popular with boaters and anglers who fish for smallmouth bass, brook trout and splake.
Francis Lake Hand Launch features an accessible pathway and dock suitable for launching a canoe or small boat into Francis Lake. It is located in a quiet wooded setting off the Stillwater Road. Loons are frequently seen on the lake.
Payne Lake Hand Launch features an accessible pathway and dock designed for use with mobility devices and is suitable for launching a canoe or small boat onto Payne Lake. The small lake is located in a quiet area and is stocked annually with brook trout and provides visitors with fishing opportunities.
Mount Tom Road, a 0.3 mile road at the end of the Stony Lake Road, is only open to motor vehicles operated by people with a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit.
Branaugh Road, a 0.3 mile road off the Sand Pond Road, is only open to motor vehicles operated by people with a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit.
Basket Factory Road Campsite is a roadside primitive tent site which features an accessible privy, picnic table, tent pad and fire ring. The surface of the campsite is a firm stable surface suitable for mobility devices.
Branaugh Road Campsite is located near Sand Pond on Branaugh Road and can be accessed using motor vehicles only by people with a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) permit. The roadside campsite features an accessible privy, picnic table, fire ring and tent pad, with a view of Sand Pond in a secluded setting.
McCarthy Road Campsite is a roadside campsite which features an accessible privy, picnic table, tent pad and fire ring. The surface of the campsite is a firm stable surface suitable for mobility devices.
Smith Road Campsite is a roadside campsite which features an accessible privy, picnic table, tent pad and fire ring. The surface of the campsite is a firm stable surface suitable for mobility devices.
Necessary Dam Road Campsite is located at the end of the road near Moshier Reservoir. The campsite features an accessible privy, picnic table, tent pad and fire ring. The surface of the campsite is a firm stable surface suitable for mobility devices.
Stillwater Reservoir Campsite #35 is located on the southern shore of the reservoir. The campsite features an accessible privy, picnic table, tent pad and fire ring.
Stillwater Reservoir Campsite #44 can be accessed from a reserved parking spot along the Big Moose Road via a short trail with a firm stable surface suitable for mobility devices. The campsite features an accessible privy, picnic table, tent pad and fire ring. The site is in a wooded area overlooking the reservoir.
All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
Trailheads and other Parking Areas
Otter Creek Horse Trails Assembly Area is located off the Chase Lake/Erie Canal Road. (43.7457°N, 75.3146°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Branaugh Road Parking Area is located on Branaugh Road off of Sand Pond Road and provides access to an accessible campsite. (43.7511°N, 75.2922°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Sand Pond Road Parking Area is located at the intersection of Sand Pond Road and Confusion Flats Road. (43.7502°N, 75.2992°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Evies Pond Parking Area is located on Evies Pond Road off of Lover's Lane which is off of Stony Lake Road. (43.7792°N, 75.2715°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Catspaw Lake Trailhead Parking Area is located on Catspaw Lake Road off of Van Arnam Road. (43.7069°N, 75.2963°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Shingle Mills Fall Parking Area is located on Shingle Mills Fall Road off of the Partridgeville Road. (43.7208°N, 75.2653°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Smith Road Trailhead Parking is located at the end of Smith road off Number Four Road and provides access to an accessible campsite. (43.8333°N, 75.1595°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Beech Mill Road Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of Beech Mill Road. (43.8073°N, 75.2752°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Stony Lake/Mt. Tom Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of Stony Lake Road (43.7750°N, 75.2057°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Centennial Recreational North Trailhead Parking Area is located on the Partridgeville Road. (43.7131°N, 75.2241°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Centennial Recreational South Trailhead Parking Area is located on Steam Mill Road. (43.6859°N, 75.2473°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Pine Lake Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of Partridgeville Road. (43.7249°N , 75.1790°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Big Otter Lake Parking Area is located at the end of Big Otter Lake Road which continues beyond the Patridgeville Road. (43.7218°N, 75.1264°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website) NOTE: Big Otter Lake Road is in extremely rough condition and requires four-wheel drive and high clearance. The public is encouraged to park at the Pine Lake Trailhead Parking Area and hike the road.
Drunkard Creek Trailhead Parking Area is located at the end of Steam Mill Road (White Pine Lane). (43.6823°N, 75.1972°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Halfmoon Lake Road Trailhead Parking is located on Halfmoon Lake Road off of Number Four Road. (43.8307°N, 75.2534°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Moshier Falls Trailhead Parking Area is located on Moshier Road off of Stillwater Road. (43.8677°N, 75.1409°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
McCarthy Road Parking Area is located on McCarthy Road off of Stillwater Road and provides access to an accessible campsite. (43.8635°N, 75.1156°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Sunday Lake Trailhead Parking Area is located off of McCarthy Road off of Stillwater Road. (43.8582°N, 75.1070°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Basket Factory Road Parking Area is located at the end of Basket Factory Road off of Stillwater Road, provides access to an accessible campsite. (43.8615°N, 75.0670°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Red Horse Trailhead is located on the shores of Burnt Lake, a bay on the north shore of Stillwater Reservoir, and can only be reached via water. (43.8608°N, 75.1691°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Stillwater Reservoir Boat Launch is located at the end of Stillwater Road and includes accessible features. (43.8899°N, 75.0365°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Necessary Dam Road Hand Launch is located at the end of Necessary Dam Road, just west of the Stillwater Boat Launch. (43.8968°N, 75.0546°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Payne Lake Accessible Hand Launch is located on the Cleveland Lake Road off of Beech Mill Road. (43.7951°N, 75.2956°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Francis Lake Accessible Hand Launch is located off Stillwater Road. (43.8608°N, 75.1691°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations & 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.
In addition to the State Land Use Regulation, horseback riders and others must follow all special regulations pertaining to the Otter Creek State Forest (leaving DEC website) and the Otter Creek Trail System and Assembly Area (leaves DEC website).
How We Manage Independence River Wild Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Independence River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan which is being revised. If you have questions, would like to obtain a copy of the original UMP or suggestions on area management to be incorporated into the revised UMP, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. DEC is developing a Recreation Management Plan which will guide future management of public recreation on the Three Lakes Easement Tract.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
- Croghan Tract Conservation Easement
- Five Ponds Wilderness
- Fulton Chain Wild Forest
- Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness
- Independence River State Forest
- Otter Creek State Forest
- Pepperbox Wilderness
- Pigeon Lake Wilderness
- Stillwater Reservoir
Gas, food, dining and lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Beaver River Station, Brantingham, Croghan, Glenfield, Lowville, Lyons Falls, Port Leyden, Stillwater and Turin.
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Herkimer County Chamber (Leaves DEC website) and Lewis 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.