Fulton Chain Wild Forest
- Open for Recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Herkimer Office: 315-866-6330 or Email: information.R6@dec.ny.gov
- Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue and Forest Fire): 518-891-0235 (24 hours a day) or dial 911
- State Land Law Enforcement: 518-897-1300
- Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Law Enforcement: 315-785-2231
- Location: Town of Webb in Herkimer County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 5H and 6J
The 16,028-acre Fulton Chain Wild Forest is located along its namesake, the Fulton Chain of Lakes, in the western Adirondack Mountains. Its proximity to the communities of Old Forge, Eagle Bay and Inlet make this part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve very accessible to visitors and year-round residents alike. Although not as remote as other parts of the Adirondacks, the Fulton Chain Wild Forest has many natural and man-made features which make it perfect for various recreational activities.
The abundant water resources on and adjacent to this area include the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Moss Lake and more remote waters like Twitchell Lake. Elevations within the unit range from 1,700 feet to 2,500 feet; the highest relief can be found on the ridge line in the southern part of this unit along Fourth Lake and the NYS Route 28 corridor. Impressive rock faces are found on Bald, Onondaga and Slide-off Mountains as well as to the northwest of Moss Lake. The rest of the terrain can be best characterized by a series of rolling woodlands and rocky hills intersected by many streams, wetlands and beaver meadows in the lower lying areas.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The unit has approximately 19.9 miles of marked foot trails.
- Razorback Pond Trail - (Yellow Markers) 1.9 miles, from the parking lot at the south end of Twitchell Lake to Razorback Pond (0.6 miles on state land, 1.3 miles on private land through a permanent easement).
- Snake Pond Trail - (Blue Markers) 0.6 miles, from Twitchell Road to Twitchell Creek and Snake Pond.
- Safford Pond Trail - (Blue Markers) 5.2 miles, from the Orvis Road parking lot (adjacent to Big Moose Road) to West Pond to Rondaxe Lake (North Shore) Road.
- West Pond Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.2 miles, from the Safford Pond Trail to West Pond.
- Safford Pond Inlet Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.1 miles, Safford Pond Trail to Safford Pond Inlet.
- Goose Pond Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.1 miles, from the Safford Pond Trail to Goose Pond.
- Moose River Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.9 miles, from the Safford Pond Trail to the state land boundary near the Moose River.
- Moss Lake Trail - (Unmarked) 0.1 miles, from the Moss Lake Trailhead to the shore of Moss Lake.
- Moss Lake Circuit Trail - (Yellow Markers) 2.5 miles, from the Moss Lake Trailhead completely around Moss Lake to the point of beginning.
- Bubb Lake-Sis Lake Trail - (Blue Markers) 2.3 miles, from the trailhead/parking area along Route 28 to the Moss Lake Circuit Trail via Bubb and Sis Lakes.
- Vista Trail (AKA Scenic Mountain Trail) - (Blue Markers) 4.4 miles, from the Bald Mountain parking area to the Bubb Lake-Sis Lake Trail. The section of trail from the Cary Lake Road to the Vista Trail (south of Mountain Pond) is delineated with Red Markers. There are also three short spur trails off of the Vista trail that also have Red trail markers; the Fly Pond Spur Trail, Cork Mountain Spur Trail and the Mountain Pond Spur Trail.
- Rondaxe Fire Tower Trail (AKA as Bald Mountain Trail) - (Red Markers) 1.0 miles, from the Rondaxe Road Trailhead and parking area to the summit of Bald Mountain and the Rondaxe Fire Tower.
- Lake Crossover Trail (AKA Third Lake Creek Trail) - (Yellow Markers) 0.6 miles on this unit (5.1 miles in total), South Shore Road near Third Lake Creek to Limekiln Lake Public Campground (involves private land crossings, please stay on the trail).
- F.X. Matt Trail - (Yellow Markers) 2.0 miles on this unit (around 4.0 miles in total), South Shore Road near Inlet.
General Information on Backcountry Camping - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Moss Lake has designated primitive campsites, including two accessible campsites, all scattered around the lake. Privies are located adjacent to most except the paddle-to sites. Camping elsewhere on the Fulton Chain Wild Forest is allowed as long as the chosen site is more than 150 feet from a road, trail or any water body.
General Information on Snowmobiling - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Approximately 9 miles of trails are open to snowmobiling on the Fulton Chain Wild Forest. The Safford Pond Trail, Goose Pond Spur Trail, Moose River Spur Trail, Hollywood Hills Trail (0.1 miles), Third Lake Connector Trail (0.2 miles), Daikers Trail (0.1 miles) and the F.X. Matt Trail (2.0 miles on this unit) are open to snowmobile use.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.
North Central NY 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.
The Fulton Chain Wild Forest has 22 lakes and ponds (totaling 4,058 acres) and 27 streams totaling approximately 18 miles. However, many of these water bodies do not support fish due to the effects of acid precipitation. The most notable fishing destination on the unit is the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Lake trout fishing, both during the summer and ice fishing in the winter, is a very popular activity on Fourth Lake. Other species anglers pursue in these waters include Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, northern pike, tiger musky, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rainbow smelt, rock bass and brown bullhead.
Brook trout can be found in Moss Lake, Sis Lake, Bubb Lake, Quiver Pond and Twitchell Lake. Pond brook trout fingerling stockings can be seen at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/81204.html under the Herkimer County list.
An accessible fishing pier has been installed at Quiver Pond.
Third Lake Creek and the Moose River, which is adjacent to this unit, provide stream fishing opportunities.
Hunting & Trapping
The area is open for hunting and trapping though not notable for any particular species. Most commonly pursued species are deer and bear, however, please note that hunting these big game species is closed within the area bordered by New York State Route 28 and South Shore Road.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General Information on Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing - includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
- The Moss Lake Circuit Trail is an officially designated novice ski trail, 2.5 miles.
- The Lake Crossover Trail is an intermediate ski trail, 0.6 miles on this unit (5.1 miles total).
- Snowshoeing is available on all trails throughout the unit; however, if using any of the designated cross-country skiing trails listed above please do not walk in the ski tracks and yield to those skiers using the trail.
An accessible wildlife viewing platform is located at Moss Lake. Elsewhere throughout this unit, and the Adirondacks as a whole, you are likely to encounter wildlife. 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. Please be respectful of wildlife and do not feed them, especially bears.
Hand carry boat launches are located at Moss Lake and Twitchell Lake. Other water bodies within this unit can be accessed informally. Additional canoeing and kayaking opportunities can be found at the Fourth Lake Day Use Area and on the adjacent Moose River.
Mountain biking is allowed on the following specified trails only: Safford Pond Trail, Moss Lake Circuit Trail and the Lake Crossover Trail. If mountain biking, please be careful of, and yield to, other users of the trail.
Fire Tower/Scenic Vista
The Rondaxe Fire Tower Trail, better known as Bald Mountain, is easily the most popular destination on the Fulton Chain Wild Forest. The spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the Fulton Chain of Lakes and the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, from the rocky outcrops and the restored fire tower at the summit reward those who complete the one mile hike to the top.
Moss Lake has picnic tables at some of the campsites located closest to the parking lot/registration book for the public to use. Another option for picnicking would be the adjacent Fourth Lake Day Use Area.
The only designated horse trail on the unit is the 2.5 mile long Moss Lake Circuit Trail.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
Quiver Pond is located on the South Shore Rd, between Old Forge and Inlet. A section of shoreline has been modified to provide a firm stable surface suitable for wheelchair access. A reserved parking space is provided as well. This location offers shoreline fishing for species such as brook trout, which are stocked there annually.
State Route 28 to Old Forge. In the center of town, take South Shores Acres Road, County Route 118, five and a half miles to Quiver Pond on the right.
Moss Lake Picnic Area and Campsites
Moss Lake features 2 accessible campsites, each complete with a picnic table, privy, fire ring and tent pad. An observation deck with built-in benches located on the lake shore can be reached by an accessible trail and provides a spectacular view of the lake, frequently including nesting osprey and loons. While sign-in is conducted in the upper parking lot, an additional parking area at the accessible trail-head is designated as reserved accessible parking only.
Take Rt 28 from Old Forge north 9 to 10 miles to Eagle Bay. From State Route 28 in Eagle Bay take Co Rt 1 north 2.2 miles.
Trailhead Parking Areas are located throughout the unit. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
- Twitchell Lake Parking Area: Along Twitchell Road at the southern end of Twitchell Lake (N43.840861, W74.893438) Google directions to this Parking Area. (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
- Orvis School House Parking Area: Along Big Moose Road, east of the hamlet of Big Moose (N43.818629, W74.883648) Google directions to this Parking Area. (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
- Moss Lake Parking Area: Along Big Moose Road, north of the hamlet of Eagle Bay (N43.778445, W74.825839). Note that the second parking lot to the north is for accessible parking only. Google directions to this Parking Area. (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
- Bubb Lake-Sis Lake Trailhead Parking Area: Along New York State Route 28, west of the hamlet of Eagle Bay (N43.766093, W74.844349). Google directions to this Parking Area. (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
- Bald Mountain Parking Area: Along Rondaxe Road, east of the hamlet of Old Forge (N43.745616, W74.899619). Google directions to this Parking Area. (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
- Third Lake Creek Trailhead Parking Area: Along South Shore Road, between the hamlets of Old Forge and Inlet (N43.726135, W74.887012). Google directions to this Parking Area. (Leaves DEC website. Hold down the "Shift" key when clicking the link to open it in a new window.)
Most trailhead parking areas provide registration books. Please take the time to sign in and out.
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Adirondacks to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts other backcountry users.
How We Manage Fulton Chain Wild Forest
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Fulton Chain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan completed in 1990. In 2006, a UMP amendment was completed to allow for the construction of the Quiver Pond Accessible Fishing Pier and the formal designation of a snowmobile trail that was omitted when the original UMP was completed.
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. If you have any questions, or would like to obtain a copy of the plan or the amendment, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities and Other Information
Gas, dining opportunities, lodging, food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Old Forge or south into Oneida County at Boonville or Forestport.
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (Leaves DEC website)
Herkimer County Chamber (Leaves DEC website)
Old Forge Visitors Center (Leaves DEC website)
Inlet, NY (Leaves DEC Website)
TOBIE Trail (Leaves DEC Website)
Black River Wild Forest
Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Pigeon Lakes Wilderness Area
Nicks Lake Campground
Alger Island Campground
Limekiln Lake Campground
Fourth Lake Day Use Area
Numerous guide books and printed maps 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.
Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (http://www.nysoga.org/) (Leaves DEC Website) for information on outdoor guides.