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Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest

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Watson's East Triangle locator map

The Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest contains 13,417 acres of State owned Forest Preserve lands. It is located within the Town of Webb, Herkimer County and the Town of Croghan, Lewis County. This Wild Forest is bounded on the east by the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, the south by the Pepperbox Wilderness Area, the north by the Aldrich Pond Wild Forest and on the west by the Oswegatchie Easement Lands and several smaller private parcels. The western edge of the unit is approximately 12 miles east of the Village of Croghan.


The terrain of this unit is generally described as rolling hills with elevations ranging from 2025 feet above sea level at an unnamed hill in the vicinity of Moncrief Creek to 1,060 feet above sea level along the Soft Maple Reservoir. Detailed topographical information can be found on the Oswegatchie SE and SW, Stillwater and Soft Maple 7.5 minute quadrangle maps and also on the Number Four 7.5x15 minute quadrangle map.


Camping on this unit has always been very limited, other than that which is associated with hunting. Twelve designated campsites can be found on this unit. Many of these sites are at locations once occupied by former lease hunting camps. These sites are heavily used during the big game hunting season.

Watson's East Triangle Sign


Access to the Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest is via the Long Pond Road from the Village of Croghan. At the end of the Long Pond Road, the Bear Pond Road continues across the Oswegatchie Tract easement and then into and through the Wild Forest. Several spur roads provide access to ponds or locations popular for camping. The northern portion of Watson's East Triangle can be accessed via the Bald Mountain Road on the Oswegatchie Tract Easement. The Bear Pond Road also provides access to the Bear Pond and Tied lake Primitive Corridors as well as the Five Ponds and Pepperbox Wilderness Areas.

Bear Pond Primitive Corridor

The Bear Pond Primitive Corridor is located in the Town of Webb, Herkimer County, and consists of two rights‐of‐ways providing access to two in-holdings within the Five Ponds and Pepperbox Wilderness Areas. It begins at the intersection of the Bear Pond Road and the Buck Pond Road, which coincides with the boundary between the Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest, Five Ponds Wilderness Area and the Pepperbox Wilderness Area. From this point the Primitive Corridor follows Bear Pond Road to the in-holding at Bear Pond. The westerly fork of the Primitive Corridor leaves the Bear Pond Road and follows a rough road to the infolding at Loon Hollow Pond. The boundary between Five Ponds and Pepperbox Wilderness Areas follows Bear Pond Road to the road leading to Loon Hollow Pond and then along that road to the private infolding. The Bear Pond Primitive Corridor is open for public motor vehicle use to the gate at the intersection with Old Upper South Pond Road. Beyond this point motor vehicle access is limited to private access only.

Tied Lake Primitive Corridor

The Tied Lake Primitive Corridor is in the Town of Webb, Herkimer County, and consists of a private right‐of‐way to an infolding within the Pepperbox Wilderness Area. It begins along the Bear Pond Primitive Corridor just west of the bridge over the Greggs Pond outlet. The corridor runs south past Hog Pond and Tied Lake and continues to the private in‐holding. The Tied Lake Primitive Corridor is open to public motor vehicle use to the gate at Tied Lake. Beyond this point motor vehicle access is limited to private access only.


The Watson's East unit is located within the DEC Wildlife Management Unit J. Primary wildlife related usage has historically centered around big game hunting, primarily for deer, although bear hunting, small game hunting and furbearer trapping are also possible activities.


The Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest stocked brook trout ponds ‐ Mud, Buck and Wolf Ponds ‐ support an estimated 1,500 to 3,500 angler trips per year based on Adirondack brook trout pond angler use rates. Mud Pond is likely the most popular of the three due to its roadside location and ease of access. Wolf Pond is considered the best of the three. It is also readily accessible via the Bear Pond Road.

Opportunities for stream fishing are readily available on the area. The small size and remoteness of most of the area's streams, however, coupled with the small sizes of the wild brook trout which inhabit these waters, make them generally unattractive to anglers.

Mountain Biking

Biking on the Forest Preserve lands occurs on open motor vehicle roads and snowmobile trails in addition to the numerous trails and old roads throughout the unit which are suitable for bicycles. However, use of this area by bikers is minimal.

Snowmobile Trails

The trail system provides a connecting link between the Croghan‐Belfort and Number Four Road‐Brantingham areas of Lewis County and the Star Lake area of St. Lawrence County. Main corridor trails cross both easements and a portion of the Forest Preserve Lands. The Steam Sleigh Trail and The Bald to Buckhorn Trail, located on recently acquired land and classified Forest Preserve lands, provide connections between the trail system on the two easements. Both the Steam Sleigh Trail and the Bald to Buckhorn Trail are designated as Class II Community Connector trails.

Canoeing/ Kayaking

Picture of Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River in winterThe Middle Branch of the Oswegatchie River provides some of the most challenging white water canoeing and kayaking in the Adirondacks. Although limited to times of high water, a trip down the Middle Branch will challenge the most experienced paddler with Class IV and V rapids.


The entire management unit has a long history of lumbering. At the site of the Old Number 1 Camp, are the remains of a sawmill and associated buildings. There is also an old steam boiler which was used to power the sawmill. The boiler, which weighed nearly 16 tons, was brought to the area by T.B. Basselin, a prominent early lumberman. As the timber supply within one area became depleted the boiler was relocated and another mill constructed. A wooden dam exists on the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River creating Mud Pond. This dam was used for Sweet's Sawmill during the 1800s. Historical recreational uses of the area have revolved mostly around hunting and fishing. The road system on these areas provided access for hunting in remote areas and access to many lakes and ponds.


DEC manages these lands in accordance with management activities described in the Watson's East Triangle Wild Forest Unit Management Plan. A unit management plan was completed in December of 2010. This document outlines the Unit's natural and man-made resources and proposes management actions based on the condition of these resources and their ability to sustain use.

Important Phone Numbers

Forest Fire, Search and Rescue: (518) 891-0235 (24 hours a day) 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.

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