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Pigeon Lake Wilderness

HikingCampingFishing Paddling Hunting Trapping Cross country skiingSnow shoeing Watchable wildlife Horseback riding Parking and Directionsicon key

Pigeon Lake Wilderness locator map

The 50,100 acres of Pigeon Lake Wilderness is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. It lies between four of the larger bodies of water in the Adirondacks--Big Moose Lake, Stillwater Reservoir, Raquette Lake and the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The area consists of 71 interior lakes and ponds with the largest being 268-acre Shallow Lake. The visual impact of this wilderness area tends to be centered on the many sparkling lakes nestled between the ridges all surrounded by unbroken forests.

Trail Information for the Central and Southern 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.

Featured Activities



General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations. There are approximately 32 miles of hiking trails in the unit.

Constable Pond-West Mountain Trail - (Blue Markers) 12.0 miles from Higby Road/Judson Road intersection to the trailhead on Uncas Road. The top of West Mountain, the highest point in Pigeon Lake Wilderness, is 5 miles one way from the trailhead on Uncas Rd. From the Judson Road (western) end, it can be used to access the Hermitage Trail (0.5 miles), Mays Pond Trail (1.5 miles) and the Chub Lake Trail (2.4 miles).

Windfall Pond-Queer Lake Trail - (Yellow Markers) 3.5 miles, access from Rte 28 to Big Moose Road, from the Windfall Pond Trailhead to the Queer Lake Lean-to Spur trail. Junction trails to Windfall Pond, Chain Ponds, Mays Pond, Chub Lake and Constable Pond.

Queer Lake Lean-to Spur Trail -(Red Markers) 0.5 miles one way, from the intersection of the Chub Lake Trail and the Windfall Pond-Queer Lake Trail south to the Lean-to.

Chain Ponds Trail - (Blue Markers) 2.7 miles, from the western end of the Windfall Pond-Queer Lake Trail southeast to the Cascade Lake Link Trail (1.4 miles)then northeast to the eastern end of the Windfall Pond-Queer Lake Trail (1.3 miles).

Cascade Lake Link Trail - (Blue Markers) 1.0 miles from the Cascade Lake Trail to the Chain Ponds Trail.

Cascade Lake Trail - (Red Markers) 6.0 miles loop from the trailhead on Big Moose Road around the lake and back. Access from Rte 28 to Big Moose Road. There is a waterfall on inlet stream at its eastern end.

Shallow Lake Trail - (Yellow Markers) 1.4 miles, access from Brown Tract Pond Campground or 2.1 miles from Uncas Road. Largest lake in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness.

Ferd's Bog - (Yellow Markers) 0.3 mile nature trail, access from Uncas Rd.

Norridgewock Trail - (Blue Markers) 5.90 miles, from Twitchell Lake to Beaver River.

Gull Lakes Trail - (Blue Markers) 1.2 miles, from Inlet to lean-to on Upper Gull Lake. Access is by boat from Big Moose Lake.

Andy's Creek Trail - (Blue Markers) .5 miles, from Inlet on Big Moose Lake (access by boat) to lean-to on Andy's Creek.

Lower Sister Lake Trail - (Yellow Markers) 3.0 miles, from Inlet on Big Moose Lake (access by boat) to lean-to on Lower Sister Trail

Russian Lake Trail - (Blue Markers) .75 miles, from East Bay of Big Moose Lake (access by boat) to lean-to on Russian Lake.

Hermitage Trail - (Red Markers) 1.35 miles, from West Mountain Trail to the Queer Lake Trail.

Mays Pond Trail - (Yellow Markers) 1.35 miles, from the West Mountain Trail to the Queer Lake Trail.

Chub Lake Trail - (Yellow Markers) 2.5 miles, from the West Mountain Trail to the Queer Lake Trail.



General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations

Designated primitive tent camping sites are available throughout the unit. Although camping sites do not currently appear on the map they will be added in the near future.

  • Big Moose Lake (3 sites)
  • Cascade Lake (3 sites)
  • Chub Lake (1 site)
  • Constable Pond (1 site)
  • Mays Pond (1 site)
  • Queer Lake (3 sites)
  • Raquette Lake (3 sites)
  • Razorback Pond (1 site)
  • Shallow Lake (3 sites)
  • Windfall Pond (2 sites)
  • Windfall Pond Trail (1 site)

At-large backcountry camping elsewhere on the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Forest is allowed as long as the chosen site is more than 150 feet from a road, trail or any water body.

There are also lean-tos on lower Sister lake, Andy's Creek, Upper Gull Lake, Queer Lake and Russian Lake.

The adjacent Brown Tract Pond Campground has 90 tent and trailer sites, picnic area with tables and fireplaces, flush toilets, trailer dump station, and recycling center. There are no showers. The campsites offer privacy; they are large and well forested. Camping equipment from tents to 30' RVs can be accommodated. The campground offers a variety of recreational opportunities including: Canoeing and boating (only non-motorized boats), fishing, hiking, swimming and bicycling.



General information on paddling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

There are abundant paddling opportunities in Pigeon Lakes Wilderness.

There are two established hand boat launches in the unit:

  • Big Moose Lake (there is a hand launch off of Higby Road that is maintained by the Town of Webb). This is a large lake where the conditions can get very rough in ill weather, but generally it is a calm and a pleasant paddle.
  • Upper Brown Tract Pond from campground. The boat launch is located inside the campground, a day-use fee is required for use.

These lakes do not have established boat launches and portage is required for access:

  • Queer Lake
  • Cascade Lake
  • Lower Sister Lake
  • Upper Sister Lake
  • Constable Pond
  • Shallow Lake
  • Russian Lake



General information on fishing includes fishing tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations. You can ensure of continued good fishing opportunities in the future by fishing responsibly. If you have never been fishing but want to try, it's easy to learn how to fish.

Due to the negative effects of acid precipitation, angling opportunities for Brook Trout on the unit appear to be limited. For those wishing to try, Cascade Lake and Queer Lake provide the best chance to catch trout. Warm-water species can be found on Upper Brown's Tract Pond. The use or possession of baitfish is prohibited on all lands, lakes, ponds and streams of the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area.

Brook trout, lake trout and a variety of other species including smallmouth bass can be found on the adjacent Raquette Lake.

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.

Hunting & Trapping


General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules and regulations.

Hunters and trappers may use the parking areas, roads, seasonal access roads, trailheads, and trails used by hikers, and hand launches used by paddlers to access the lands and waters in this area.

The area is open for hunting and trapping though not notable for any particular species. Deer and bear are most commonly pursued game. Small game hunting and trapping opportunities are also abundant.

Cross-County Skiing & Snowshoeing

Cross Country Skiing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations.

The 6-mile long Cascade Lake Trail is the only designated cross-country ski trail on the unit and can be accessed at the Cascade Lake trailhead parking area.

Snowshoeing are cross country-skiing are available on all hiking trails throughout the unit. If snowshoeing on the Cascade Lake Trail, please be courteous to any skiers and avoid walking on ski tracks.

Watchable Wildlife

Watchable wildlife

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 species of birds and mammals 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 so it is not unlikely to catch site of wildlife during your trip.

More information on Adirondack Flora and Fauna (Leaves DEC Website) from the SUNY ESF Adirondack Ecological Center.

You can protect wildlife and wildlife habitat when viewing them.

Wildlife Found in the Adirondacks

Ferd's Bog is designated an "Important Bird Area" by the National Audubon Society. The bog is also a Watchable Wildlife Area and home to boreal birds that are rare in New York State. Tamaracks, pitcher plants and many other bog plants abound here.

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

General information on horseback riding includes safety tips and rules and regulations.

The Cascade Lake Trail (6 miles) is a designated horse trail and can be accessed at the Cascade Lake trailhead parking area. 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.


Located in the west central Adirondacks in the Towns of Inlet and Long Lake, Hamilton County, and Web, Herkimer County, road access to the Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area is primarily from secondary roads off of State Route 28. Developed trailheads are located on Big Moose Road and on Uncas Road and Brown Tract Ponds Campground located on Uncas Rd.

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

  • Cascade Lake Trailhead and Parking Area: Along Big Moose Road, approximately 1.3 miles north of its intersection with State Route 28, hamlet of Eagle Bay. (43.7785°N, 74.8259°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Windfall Pond Trailhead and Parking Area: Along Big Moose Road, approximately 3.3 miles north of its intersection with State Route 28, hamlet of Eagle Bay. (43.8030°N, 74.8478°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Brown Tract Campground is located on Uncas Round is Raquette Lake. (43.8107°N, 74.6939°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Big Moose Lake boat launch is located off of Higby Road. (43.8273 N, 74.8386 W) Google Maps (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 Pigeon Lake Wilderness 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.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the 1992 Pigeon Lake Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) (PDF, 7 MB). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Gas, dining opportunities, lodging, food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Old Forge, south into Oneida County at Boonville or Forestport or east to Blue Mountain and Indian Lake. Nearby Raquette Lake offers stays at Great Camp Sagamore and scenic boat excursions with dining on board.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Hamilton County Dept. of Economic Development & Tourism (leaves DEC website), and Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce (leaves DEC website) 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.