William C. Whitney Wilderness Area & Round Lake Wilderness
- Open for recreation: year round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 5 Office (M-F 8:30am - 4:45pm): (518) 897-1200 e-mail (Info.R5@dec.ny.gov)
- Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): (518) 891-0235 (24 hours a day) or dial 911
- State Land Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1300
- Fishing, Hunting & Trapping Law Enforcement: (518) 897-1326
- Location: Town of Long Lake in Hamilton County and Town of Piercefield in Franklin County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 6J
- Map: View William C. Whitney and Round Lake Wilderness Area Map (PDF) (1 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The 19,500-acre William C. Whitney Wilderness and the 11,430-acre Round Lake Wilderness Area are part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The two wildernesses are separated by the Sabattis Road. Combined, the wildernesses comprise more than 30,000 acres of numerous flat, low lying lands adjacent to low, rolling hills with only a few mountain summits exceeding 2,100 feet, including 2,170-foot high Mt. Frederica. Water is the main feature of the wildernesses. There are four larger water bodies - 2,300-acre Little Tupper Lake, 1,400-acre Lake Lila, 740-acre Round Lake and 282-acre Rock Pond; a number of smaller water bodies and many miles of streams connecting them.
Trail Information for the Northern Adirondacks provides general information regarding backcountry and seasonal conditions; specific notices regarding closures and conditions of trails, roads, bridges and other infrastructure; and links to weather, state land use regulations, low impact recreation and more.
General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
The Whitney Wilderness contains an extensive and historic system of navigable lakes and streams which are readily accessible by canoe, kayak or other non-motorized boat.
There is a waterway access site at the Little Tupper (Whitney) Headquarters parking area. This site is hand launch only - boats must be carried to the water.
From this put-in site you can explore Little Tupper Lake and, with a short carry on Rock Pond Outlet, paddle into Rock Pond. Some of the carries to other interior ponds consist of unimproved paths. The canoe carries from Little Tupper to Shingle Shanty Brook are signed and marked.
The prevailing winds and shallowness of Little Tupper Lake often results in large waves. During periods of rough weather, canoeists are advised to stay near shore.
Paddle on Round Lake
Six carries allow paddlers numerous opportunities to access the remote waters of the Whitney Wilderness, they can be found:
- Between Lake Lila and the Lake Lila parking area
- Along Rock Pond Outlet
- Between Rock Pond and Hardigan Pond
- Between Hardigan Pond and Salmon Lake Outlet
- Between Little Salmon Lake and Lily Pad Pond
- Between Lily Pad Pond and Shingle Shanty Brook
Access to the waters of Lake Lila can be reached via a 0.25 mile carry from the parking area.
The Round Lake waterway access site into the Little Tupper Lake outlet provides access to Round Lake and the eastern portion of Little Tupper Lake.
Loons are commonly seen and heard on these waters and bald eagles are often seen soaring over them.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
There are 60 designated primitive tent sites in the Whitney Wilderness and 11 in the Round Lake Wilderness. The majority of these tents sites can only be accessed from the water, all are best accessed from the water.
- Little Tupper Lake - 24 sites
- Lake Lila - 24 sites
- Rock Pond - 6 sites
- Rock Pond Outlet - 2 sites
- Hardigan Pond - 1 site
- Little Salmon Lake - 3 sites
- Round Lake - 11 sites
Camping for more than 3 nights is prohibited, except under permit. Contact the local Forest Ranger at 518-505-4151 for a permit prior to your arrival.
Overnight group sizes of eight people or less using no more than three tents are allowed at all tent sites except for those on Lake Lila. Also the overnight group size may be nine people on Lake Lila.
Camping is only allowed at designated campsites in the Whitney Wilderness these are marked with yellow "Camp Here" disks.
A lean-to is located on the western shore of Lake Lila also.
Campers and hikers who prefer more amenities may camp at the nearby DEC Lake Eaton Campground and take day trips into the wilderness.
General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations.
Little Tupper Lake, Round Lake and Rock Pond are the home waters of a unique "heritage" strain of brook trout known as the Little Tupper strain. Largemouth bass now populate all three of these waters and have had a negative impact on the brook trout population.
Sunset on Little Tupper Lake
Regulations are in place to protect the native brook trout. Only artificial lures may be used - the use of bait fish or worms is prohibited on these water bodies.
Catch and release regulation are in effect for brook trout for Little Tupper Lake, Rock Pond and the stream connecting them. All brook trout caught must be immediately returned to the water alive.
Lake Lila contains both smallmouth bass and lake trout. Bass are found in the northeast end where rocky habitat abounds. Lake trout are found in the deep water west of Buck and Spruce Islands.
Adirondack/Lake Champlain 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.
Help Protect Native Adirondack Fish; populations of brook trout, round whitefish and other native Adirondack fish species have severely declined due to introduced fish.
A 13.5-mile foot trail system utilizing former logging roads provides hikers the opportunity to access many of the waters and some of the designated campsites typically reached by paddling.
- Mt. Frederica (2,170 feet) is the only mountain in the area with a trail to the summit. The summit provides views of Lake Lila and other lands and waters to the south and east. There are two starting points for this hike.
- A 4.8-mile hike begins at the Lake Lila Parking Area and travels along a private access road. A trail intersects with road 0.2 mile after the road leaves the lake shore. The trail climbs 400 feet and 1.2 miles to the summit.
- An access site on the western shore of Lake Lila at the site of a former lodge, not far from where the private access road leaves the lake allows paddlers to reduce the length of the hike to 1.6 miles.
- Lilypad Pond Trail begins at the Burn Road Parking Area on the Sabattis Road and travels 8.2 miles to the Lilypad Pond paralleling the northern shore of Little Tupper Lake and crossing Charley Pond Outlet.
- Camp Bliss Trail intersects with the Lilypad Pond Trail at the 4.7 mile mark and travels 1 mile to the clearing where Camp Bliss stood on the western shore of Little Tupper Lake, passing the eastern edge of Bum Pond on the way.
- Rock Pond Trail intersects with the Lily Pad Pond Trail at the 5.7-mile mark and travels another 2.8 miles to the eastern shore of Rock Pond.
- Hardigan Pond Trail is a spur trail that intersects with the Rock Pond Trail at the 1 mile mark and travels 1.5 miles to Hardigan Pond, following an old railroad grade shortly before reaching the pond.
General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips with links to rules & regulations.
Bicycles may be ridden on the Sabattis Road (County Highway 10) as far as the old train station site and also on the Lake Lila Road as far as the Lake Lila parking lot. Bicycles are prohibited from riding any trails within the wildernesses.
Hunting and trapping are permitted throughout the two wildernesses except that trapping is prohibited on the 80 acres of the administrative lands of Little Tupper Lake (Whitney) Headquarters.
Much of the land of both wildernesses was timbered in the past and now consists of second growth vegetation that provide food and habitat for many game species.
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.
Except for the trail up Mt. Frederica the trails in these wildernesses were formerly access roads and wood roads. These wide, fairly flat trails are popular with snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
The Lake Lila road is gated during the winter and public motor vehicle traffic is prohibited. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers may use the road but occasionally private landowners travel the roads with motor vehicles to access their lands.
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. Over 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.
General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.
A number of accessible features for people with mobility disabilities are located at the DEC Little Tupper Lake (Whitney) Headquarters site. These include accessible parking, accessible restrooms and an accessible walkway to the docks and boathouse. A floating aluminum dock inside the boathouse allows people with mobility disabilities to board canoes or kayaks.
All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
The William C. Whitney Wilderness Area is readily accessible from New York State Route 30 to the Sabbatis Circle Road (County Route 10) and onto the Sabbatis Road which leads to the Lake Lila Road. The parking areas are located along the latter three roads.
- Round Lake Waterway Access site is located on the north side Sabbatis Road between the Round Lake Parking Area and the bridge over Little Tupper Lake Outlet. A hand boat launch is located here. (44.05470°N, 74.56317°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Little Tupper Lake (Whitney) Headquarters is off the Sabbattis Road, the entrance road is on the left. A hand boat launch and accessible restrooms are located here. (44.04953°N, 74.58306°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Stony Pond Road Trailhead Parking Area is located on the southwest side of the Sabbattis Circle Road/County Route 10 (44.05192°N, 74.55499°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Round Lake Parking Area is located on the north side of the Sabbatis Road near the intersection with the Circle Road. (44.05510°N, 74.56184°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Burn Road Parking Area is on the left side of Sabbattis Road, 1.5 miles west of the headquarters entrance road. (44.05383°N, 74.61555°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Lake Lila Road leaves Sabbattis Road on the left 1.7 miles past the Burn Road Parking Area. The gate on this seasonal road is closed and locked from late fall to late spring each year. (44.06299°N, 74.64494°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Lake Lila Parking Area lies at the end of the Lake Lila Road, 5.6 miles from the Sabbattis Road. A private access road continues past the gate at the end of the parking area, the public should not block the gate. The public can use the access road on foot only. (44.01919°N, 74.72639°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
- Mount Frederica Trailhead is located on the western shore of Lake Lila. (43.99777°N, 74.77457°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations & 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.
All users of the William C. Whitney Wilderness area must follow all State Land Use Regulation and should follows all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.
A State Supreme Court Justice has ruled on the navigability of the waterway that flows through privately owned land between Lilypad Pond and the boundary of State lands on Shingle Shanty Brook. These include Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and Shingle Shanty Brook downstream from Mud Pond Outlet to the boundary of State lands. The court held that the waterway is navigable-in-fact and thus subject to the right of public navigation, meaning that members of the public may travel through the waterway. The right of navigation also includes the right to portage around obstacles, such as the shallow rapids flowing out of Mud Pond. The right of public navigation does not allow use of the private lands for other purposes, such as hiking, picnicking, or camping.
All brook trout caught must be immediately returned to the water alive. Only artificial lures may be used - the use of bait fish or worms is prohibited on all water bodies within the wilderness area.
Horses are only permitted on trails designated for horseback riding.
There are special regulations for the lands and waters around Little Tupper Lake including:
- Camping is allowed at designated campsites only. These are marked with yellow "Camp Here" disks.
- Fires are only allowed in fire rings at designated campsites.
- Trapping is not permitted at Little Tupper Lake (Whitney) Headquarters area.
How We Manage
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the William C. Whitney Stewardship Plan (PDF 128 kb). In addition to management objectives, the SMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
DEC Lands and Facilities
Five Pond Wilderness
Lake Eaton Campground
Gas may be found in the nearby towns of Long Lake & Tupper Lake.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby towns of Long Lake & Tupper Lake.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby towns of Long Lake & Tupper Lake.
Lodging may be found in the nearby towns of Long Lake & Tupper Lake.
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Hamilton County Tourism (leaves DEC website), and Long Lake 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.