Tooley Pond Tract
In 1999 the State of New York purchased 29,000 acres in fee and an additional 110,000 acres of conservation easements from Champion International Corporation. This acquisition consists of three noncontiguous blocks, known as the Santa Clara Tract, Tooley Pond Tract and Croghan Tract, covering portions of ten towns in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Lewis Counties. The fee lands were purchased for their outstanding natural resource values, significant stretches of high quality recreational water, and other recreational opportunities. The acquisition of a conservation easement on the remaining lands will keep those lands as working forests while providing public recreation opportunities. This web page deals exclusively with the Tooley Pond Tract portion of these lands, and includes information on both the easement and fee pieces because they are so intertwined.
Location and Access
The Tooley Pond tract is located in the northwestern portion of the Adirondack Park in south central St. Lawrence County, within the towns of Clare and Clifton.
From the south or east: Turn north on Tooley Pond Road from NY Route 3, about a mile west of the hamlet of Cranberry Lake. You will enter the parcel approximately four miles north of Route 3.
From the north and west: Tooley Pond Road is located three-quarters of a mile east of the hamlet of Degrasse, along St. Lawrence County Route 27.
Area Maps and Trip Planning
The Tooley Pond Tract can be found on the USGS Brothers Pond, Tooley Pond and Degrasse 7.5 minute topographic maps. Maps are available in many book and outdoor stores or directly from USGS.
- Tips for Using State Lands. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12971 (518) 897-1200.
- Adirondack Waterways. Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, P.O. Box 51, West Chazy, 12992 (518) 846-8016.
- Adirondack Great Walks and Day Hikes. Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, P.O. Box 51, West Chazy, 12992 (518) 846-8016.
- Adirondack Canoe Waters North Flow. Paul Jamieson and Donald Morris. 1998. The Adirondack Mountain Club, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845 (518) 668-4447.
- Northern Region Guidebook. Peter V. O'Shea. 1995. The Adirondack Mountain Club, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845 (518) 668-4447.
- Discover the Northern Adirondacks. Barbara McMartin. 1994. Distributed by North Country Books, 311 Turner St., Utica, NY 13501 (315) 735-4877.
Like most of the northwestern Adirondacks, the Tooley Pond area remained largely unexplored until the second half of the nineteenth century. After iron was discovered in the area in the 1860's, a blast furnace and mine were established just to the west, in Clifton. The community of Clarksboro was founded in 1866 on the shore of the South Branch of the Grasse River near Twin Falls. Clarksboro contained an iron furnace and a water-powered sawmill. Iron mining continued in the region until the 1950's. For much of its history, timber production was the primary use of most of the property. In 1906, the community of Newbridge, also along the South Branch of the Grasse River, was founded for employees of the Robert W. Higbie Lumber Company. A railroad which connected Newbridge to Newton Falls operated until 1919. It later was extended to an inholding on the property to mine iron, from WWII to about 1952.
Land and Waters
The major feature of the area is the South Branch of the Grasse River, but Tooley Pond Mountain and Tooley Pond are also significant. These three features are on forest preserve lands, approximately 6,000 of the 30,000 acres within the Tooley Pond Tract. The predominant naturally occurring vegetative types include northern hardwood, mixed woods and spruce/fir. Elevations range from 1780' at Tooley Pond Mountain to 840' near Degrasse.
Waters in the area comprise portions of the Grasse River and Oswegatchie River watersheds, both part of the greater St. Lawrence River Drainage Basin. The South Branch of the Grasse River is by far the dominant water body of the unit. A meandering 16-mile stretch of this river bisects the tract. Nine other named streams, all tributary to the Grasse River, are also located within the area. In addition to the flowing water bodies, the area contains five named lakes and ponds, covering approximately 100 acres.
The area contains numerous scenic resources. The predominant ones include Tooley Pond Mountain and Tooley Pond, and on the South Branch of the Grasse, Deerlick Rapids, Long Rapids, Brumagin Rapids, Copper Rock Rapids, Rainbow Falls, Flat Rock Falls, Twin Falls, Sinclair Falls and Basford Falls. Visits to these locations are the primary public use of the property.
Enjoying the Tooley Pond Tract
The river from the east boundary to New Bridge (where Tooley Pond Rd. crosses the S. Branch of the Grass) is relatively inaccessible except where Spruce Mountain Road crosses. The falls and rapids are relatively well dispersed on this section from the east boundary to just above Rainbow Falls. That makes this upper section of the river very suitable for canoeing. It can be accessed by taking the Spruce Mtn. Road off Tooley Pond Rd., driving north about a mile to a parking/water access site just before the bridge over the river. Upriver, there is a carry around Deerlick Rapids and then it is flatwater to the boundary of the easement, with a couple of designated campsites along the way. Down river, there is a campsite about ¼ mile below the Spruce Mtn. Rd. Bridge, carries around Long and Brumagin Rapids, as well as at the very scenic Copper Rock Falls. There is a campsite and takeout just above Rainbow Falls at First Brook. The section below Rainbow Falls has numerous waterfalls and rapids spaced fairly close together and is easily accessible from Tooley Pond Rd. This makes it more suitable for expert kayakers, and for shoreline users, such as anglers and hikers, interested in exploring the falls and the fishing holes.
Fish and Wildlife
The area's ponds and rivers appear to support brook trout, brown trout, pumpkinseed, white sucker and/or brown bullhead, along with non indigenous fish species, such as golden shiner and yellow perch. At present, fish are not being stocked in the unit.
Wildlife are also plentiful throughout the Tooley Pond Tract. A visitor to this area may likely see or hear white-tailed deer, black bear, coyote, fisher, snowshoe hare, and an occasional moose. Along the river corridors, muskrat, mink, raccoon and otter abound. Osprey and bald eagle can occasionally be seen soaring high above or perched on a tree limb along the edge of a pond or stream. Loon have been known to nest in the area. Raven, gray jay and eagle frequent the area as well. In the more boreal forests, one can find songbirds, warbler, flycatcher, three-toed woodpecker and the rare spruce grouse.
Natural hazards, such as over-hanging trees, log jams, waterfalls, rocks, rapids and boulders are present. At different water levels a given section of river may be easier or more difficult to pass through. Visitors are advised to assess each situation based on their own abilities to navigate portions of the river. It is recommended that guidebooks be obtained and read carefully before canoeing, kayaking, rafting or boating any part of the river.
Special Public Use Restrictions And Rules And Regulations
The following apply to the Tooley Pond Tract:
- Public motor vehicle access to these lands is restricted to signed, designated access roads or public highways. Snowmobile use is permitted on designated roads or trails.
- No public hunting is permitted on the easement portion of the tract from September 1 to January 1 of each year, thru 2014. The forest preserve lands have no hunting restrictions other than the standard NYS hunting regulations.
- During the northern zone regular big game deer hunting season, which is from the second to last Saturday in October through the first Sunday in December, public use of the easement portion of the tract is restricted to designated Access Corridors that provide access to adjacent Forest Preserve lands.
- Public hunting, fishing and trapping are permitted except for the period(s) described above.
- Please do not to trespass on adjacent private lands. The perimeter of Easement lands are generally marked with yellow paint blazes and signed with Easement signage, or with Forest Preserve signage if the easement land is adjacent to Forest Preserve.
Important Guidelines for Outdoor Recreationists
The Adirondack Forest Preserve's forests, mountains, lakes and rivers offer numerous opportunities for recreational pleasure, nature appreciation and an escape from the urban world. To help maintain the natural character of the Forest Preserve for your enjoyment and those that follow, please observe these simple guidelines:
- Plan Ahead - Plan your trip according to routes and time available, carrying the latest guidebooks and maps. Check weather forecasts before you depart. Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Park in designated areas only. Sign all trail registers.
- Prepare for Emergencies - Even for day trips, each party should carry a waterproof bag or pack with minimum emergency essentials: a basic first aid kit, pocketknife, space blanket, waterproof matches, rain gear, extra protective clothing, high energy food snacks, a whistle for signaling, a flashlight with extra batteries, a water rescue throw-bag, and at least 30 feet of rope. Bring sun screen and insect repellent. Dress for the weather. An approved, wearable, personal flotation device is required for anyone aboard a boat, kayak or canoe.
- Keep Parties Small - This reduces your impact on river environments and on the experiences of others. You will also increase your chances of seeing wildlife in and adjacent to the rivers and wetlands.
- Camping - Camping is permitted at designated sites only. Respect other campers by keeping noise to a minimum and keeping your site clean. Carry a tent in case interior lean-tos are full. A DEC camping permit is required if there are 10 or more persons in your group. Regardless of group size, all persons camping at one location more than three consecutive nights must possess a camping permit. These are issued by area Forest Rangers free of charge on a first-come first-served basis.
- Trails and Carries - River corridors are narrow strips of land bordering each river, and there is little room to disperse human impacts. Stay on designated carries (portages) and avoid making new trails. Designated carries provide safe routes around rapids, waterfalls, and other river hazards.
- Fires - No fires are permitted, except for cooking, warmth or smudge. Choose bare level ground, clear away leaves and twigs for three feet and lay stones in a fire ring. Use only dead and down wood. Be sure fires are extinguished, DEAD OUT, before you leave. 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 come in handy during wet rainy weather. Be careful with cigarettes and matches. Don't leave garbage in the fire pit. Report unattended fires to the local Forest Ranger.
- Water Supply - Wash dishes and yourself away from and below sources of water. Dispose of waste water away from streams and springs. Do not drink untreated water. Boil, filter, or chemically treat all water from natural sources to avoid microbiological contamination.
- Pack It In, Pack It Out - Leave the woods cleaner than you found them. Bring a garbage bag to carry out trash. Burying refuse is prohibited.
- Properly Dispose of Human Waste - Use a pit privy if one is provided. If not, bury all human waste under four inches of soil Stay 150 feet away from (and below) any water source.
- Take Nothing But Pictures - Enjoy but do not remove or deface plants, animals, fossils, minerals or other materials. Do not drive nails into trees, or peel birch bark.
- Firearms - Do not discharge a firearm in a parking or camping area or across a road open for traffic.
- Accidents or Emergencies - In case of an accident, at least one person should remain with the injured. Others should carefully note the location and contact the local Forest Ranger to report a lost or injured companion.
- If you get lost - If lost, keep calm, stay where you are and keep warm. If you think you can find your way out, following streams downhill will nearly always lead you to habitation. A large smoky fire is the best means to signal your position.
- Pets - As trail use increases, owners with dogs should consider fellow hikers so that restrictive measures will not be necessary to control pets. When others approach, leash your dog and keep him quiet. Keep him out of sources of potable water. Remove droppings from the trail and campsite area.
- Be Considerate of Others - Practice good river etiquette. Slower parties should keep to the right, if possible, and allow faster groups to pass. Groups from the same party should avoid spreading across the entire width of the river and maintain a tight group when encountering others. All river users should respect anglers on the river and not cross over fish lines or disrupt their fishing holes.
- Storage of Boats and Canoes - Boats and canoes may not be left stored on State land for more than 24 hours. All watercraft must be removed from State lands at the completion of each trip.
In Case of Emergency
Forest Fire, Search and Rescue: (518) 891-0235 (24 hours a day)
Ray Brook Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1326 or dial 911
Comments and Suggestions
These are public lands and waters owned by all of us and are a significant natural heritage for future generations. The Department of Environmental Conservation would like your suggestions on how to improve the management of this area. Please send your comments to:
NYS DEC - Bureau of Public Lands
6739 US Hwy 11
Potsdam, NY 13676
For General Information:
If you require more information on the Tooley Pond Tract, river conditions, backcountry information and permits, or on any lands administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation, or for Forest Fire, Search or Rescue during office hours, consult the office listed below. Normal office hours are Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 4:45 pm.
NYS DEC - Bureau of Public Lands
6739 US Hwy 11
Potsdam, NY 13676
If you require additional information regarding the fishing and hunting regulations and licenses and other DEC programs, consult the office listed below. Normal office hours are Monday - Friday 8:30 am to 4:45 pm.
DEC Region 6 Headquarters
State Office Building
Watertown, NY 13601