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Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

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Saranac Lakes Wild Forest locator map

The 75,000-acre Saranac Lakes Wild Forest is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The most prominent features of this unit are the many lakes, ponds, and rivers. These waterways are to this unit what mountains are to the adjacent High Peaks Wilderness. The unit's 144 water bodies range from small ponds entirely owned by the State to large lakes with a mix of State Land and private lands.

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.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

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

The Saranac Lakes Wild Forest contains more than 80 miles of hiking trails. Many of the trails lead to remote lakes and ponds.

Overview Map (PDF)

  • Bloomingdale Bog Trail extends 3.8 miles between the Bloomingdale Bog North and the Bloomingdale Bog South Parking Areas. This level, wide trail follows an abandoned railroad bed, providing mostly open views of a significant wetlands complex. The old rail bed continues north into the Debar Mountain Wild Forest

Raquette River Map (PDF)

  • Fernow Forest Trail extends 0.5 miles from the Fernow Forest Parking Area and ascends less than 20 feet. Brochures in the register box contain information that corresponds with numbered stations along this easy interpretive trail which describe the early efforts at professional forest management in this country.
  • Deer Pond Trails can either be hiked as a loop or as an out and back trip. Portions of the trail are on old roads that are smooth and level. The rest is a traditional foot trail. From the Deer Pond Parking Area, the loop is 7.8 miles and the direct route to the pond on the Deer Pond Trail is 2.5 miles. From the Crusher Boat Launch Parking Area, the loop is 7.0 miles long and the direct route going left (west) to the pond is 3.0 miles.
  • Panther Mountain Trail is located across the road from the Panther Mountain Parking Area. The trail ascends 780 feet and 0.6 miles from the trailhead to the summit of Panther Mountain (2,236 feet). The trail starts with a steep climb and arrives at a large open ledge that has views of Panther Pond and the distant High Peaks.
  • Trombley Landing Trail extends 1.6 miles generally south from the Trombley Landing Parking Area over moderate rolling hills. The trail terminates at a lean-to on the Raquette River.

Upper Saranac Map (PDF)

  • Floodwood Mountain Trail ascends 600 feet and 1.6 miles from the Floodwood Mountain Trail Parking Area to the summit of Floodwood Mountain (2,304 feet).
  • West Pine Pond Trail extends 0.5 miles from the West Pine Pond Trail Parking Area to West Pond. The trail is relatively level.
  • Rock Pond Trail extends 0.9 miles from Floodwood Road to Rock Pond.
  • Little Square Pond Trail extends 2.4 miles from the Middle Pond Trail Parking Area to Little Square Pond. The trail travels past Middle Pond and along Floodwood Pond to Little Square Pond. After the trail passes Floodwood Pond, it splits. The trail to the east passes the east side of Little Square Pond and continues to Horseshoe Pond Trail. The Trail to the west connects with the Otter Hollow Trail and continues 2.0 miles to Black Pond.
  • Horseshoe Pond Trail extends 3.0 miles along the west side of Polliwog Pond and Horseshoe Pond, and continues south connecting with the Little Square Pond Trail.
  • Hoel Pond Trail extends 1.7 miles from Hoel Pond Hand Launch Parking Area along the south side of Hoel Pond.
  • Polliwog Pond - The Hoel Pond Polliwog Pond Canoe Carry extends 0.5 miles from the Hoel Pond Hand Launch Parking Area to Polliwog Pond. This trail can also be accessed from the Polliwog Pond Hand Launch.

Scarface Mountain Map (PDF)

  • Turtle Pond Trails are a network of 1.8 miles of trails connecting the Oseetah Trails Parking Area to Turtle Pond and the Jackrabbit Trail.
  • Oseetah Lake Trails are network of 1.6 miles of trails connecting the Oseetah Trails Parking Area to Lake Flower.
  • Jackrabbit Trail is primarily a cross-country ski trail which extends 35 miles, connecting Paul Smiths to Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Keene. This trail crosses into sections of Saranac Lakes Wild Forest.
  • Scarface Mountain Trail ascends 1,500 feet and 3.2 miles from the Scarface Mountain Trailhead to the summit (3,058 feet). At the base of the mountain, there is an additional 2.2 miles of trail on the Scarface Loop Trail.
  • Brewster Peninsula Trails is a compact network of 3.6 miles of trails. The trails traverse gently rolling terrain, winding through a mixed forest and along the shore of Lake Placid.
  • McKenzie Boulders Trail is a short, unmarked trail that goes past a large group of boulders which are just off McKenzie Pond Road. This is a popular location for those who take part in the sport of bouldering.
  • Cobble Hill Trails are near the Village of Lake Placid. The most popular starting points are on private property. The trail ascends 525 feet to summit with views toward the High Peaks and the surrounding area.
  • Loggers Loop Trail System includes 4.6 miles of trails maintained for mountain biking.
  • Cherry Patch Pond Trail extends 1.0 miles connecting the Cherry Patch Pond Trail Parking Area to the Rt. 86 Old Loggers Road Trail Parking Area. The moderately level trail passes by Big Cherry Patch Pond.

Purchase a Trail Supporter Patch to provide funding for maintenance of trails and facilities.

Boating

boating

General information on boating including safety tips with links to rules and regulations and lists of DEC boat launches by county.

There are numerous boating opportunities in this unit. Motorboats are allowed on most the waters in this unit, but many ponds are difficult to reach with a motorboat. On Lake Colby, there is a 10 hp motor restriction. On Little Clear Pond, no motors are allowed and there is no fishing.

Boat launches with hard surface ramps are available at the Saranac Inn Boat Launch (Upper Saranac Lake), Second Pond Boat Launch (Lower Saranac Lake), Crusher Boat Launch (Raquette River), Lake Placid Boat Launch, and Lake Flower Boat Launch.

Hard Surface boat launches are also available at DEC's Fish Creek Pond Campground & Day Use Area and Rollins Pond Campground.

Paddling

paddling

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

With 144 water bodies, the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest is a popular destination for paddling. The waterways provide plenty of opportunities for day trips or extended multi-day trips on several waterbodies. Canoes and kayaks can access the water at Ampersand Bay (Lower Saranac Lake), Axton Landing, East Pine Pond, Follensby Clear Pond, Hoel Pond, Indian Carry (Upper Saranac Lake), Lake Colby, Little Clear Pond, Mirror Lake, Polliwog Pond, and South Creek (Middle Saranac Lake). Additionally, canoes and kayaks can access the water at boat launch sites.

On Lake Colby, there is a 10 hp motor restriction. On Little Clear Pond, no motors are allowed and there is no fishing.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing including fishing tips with links to seasons, rules and regulations.

There are an amazing variety of angling opportunities in this unit, from remote brook trout ponds, to large lake trout and land-locked Atlantic salmon lakes, to largemouth and smallmouth bass waters, and some excellent stream fishing for trout. The Saranac Lakes Wild Forest contains great examples of what the Adirondacks has to offer in terms of fishing. Lake Colby and Lower Saranac Lake are particularly popular fisheries that can provide excellent angling opportunities. Note that no fishing is allowed on Little Clear Pond.

A pamphlet is available with maps of state lands and public fishing rights that depicts the Public Access for Fishing the West Branch Ausable River (PDF).

Please be aware that the use of baitfish is prohibited in many of these waters (check the fishing regulations) and that care should be taken to help prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.

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

huntingtrapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 5F & 6F

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

Deer and bear hunting in this unit is big woods hunting with good access due to the proximity to main roads. As with most of the Adirondacks, bucks live longer so the average antler size is larger than most other areas of the state. Antlerless harvest is restricted to archery and early muzzleloader seasons. Bears can usually be found foraging on beechnuts or black cherries early in the season.

Small game hunting for snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey is also good in this unit, especially in areas where the forest has been disturbed by blowdown, or around wetland areas.

Trapping for forest-dwelling species like fisher, American marten, and coyote is excellent in this unit. Areas near waterways are also good for mink and beaver.

Camping

primitive camping

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

Camping is a very popular activity in this unit. During the peak use periods it may be difficult to find an open campsite.

There are a variety of camping opportunities available. Most of the campsites provide a backcountry camping experience. Many of the campsites are on a waterbody and can only be reached by watercraft. Popular camping areas include Follensby Clear Pond, Floodwood Pond, Upper Saranac Lake, and the Raquette River.

Some of the campsites in the unit provide for a roadside camping experience. Most of these are located along Floodwood Road and at Little Green Pond.

At-large backcountry camping is also permitted throughout the property. However, camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trails unless otherwise noted.

The campsites on Lower Saranac Lake and Middle Saranac Lake are part of the Saranac Lake Islands Campground & Day Use Area.

Three DEC campgrounds are conveniently located for those visitors who prefer to stay at a developed facility: Fish Creek Pond Campground & Day Use Area, Meadowbrook Campground & Day Use Area and Rollins Pond Campground.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiingsnowshoeing

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

All hiking, mountain biking, and snowmobile trails are also available in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular on the Deer Pond Loop and on the Brewster Peninsula Trail Networks.

Connery Pond Road is unplowed in the winter, providing a wide, level trail for cross-county skiing and snowshoeing. The road extends 0.6 miles from the Connery Pond Parking Area to Connery Pond. Skiers and snowshoers looking for a longer trip can continue on the additional 2.7 miles to Whiteface Landing.

Jackrabbit Trail is primarily a cross-country ski trail that extends 35 miles, connecting Paul Smiths to Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Keene. Sections of this trail cross into Saranac Lakes Wild Forest.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

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

Snowmobiling is allowed on designated snowmobile trails in Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. Routes C7, C7B, S70, and S70B cross the property. Snowmobile maps are available from the local snowmobile association.

Biking

biking

General information on biking including how-to and safety tips with links to rules and regulations.

Many of the hiking trails in the unit allow mountain bikes. The best mountain biking trails are:

  • Loggers Loop Trails features 4 miles of trails on Saranac Lakes Wild Forest and additional trails on private property. They are located east of the Village of Lake Placid and south of Big Cherry Patch Pond. Access these trails from trails on the adjacent private golf course. Please respect the private property by staying on marked trails.
  • Brewster Peninsula Trails are 3.6 miles of interconnecting trails and a dirt access road. Some sections of trails are rough with lots of roots and rocks.
  • Trombley Landings Trail extends 1.5 miles following an old truck trail. It's a combination of easy singletrack and narrow woods road with moderately rolling hills. The trail ends at a lean-to on the Raquette River.
  • Deer Pond Loop Trails are 7.8 miles of trails recommended for advanced and intermediate riders. The terrain includes technical singletrack sections and moderate climbs.
  • Scarface Loop Trails at the base of Scarface Mountain features 2.2 miles of wide singletrack trails with short climbs. The trails have many tree roots crossing them.
  • Bloomingdale Bog Trail follows an old rail bed. The trail is mostly flat with tree roots crossing it.
  • Oseetah Lake Trails and Turtle Pond Trails make up 3.4 miles of interconnected dirt roads and singletrack trails. It has generally flat terrain with minor climbs.
  • Little Square Pond Trail offers more than 8 miles of connected trails from the Middle Pond Trail Parking Area. These trails are in rough condition with tree roots and wet areas present. A description of the different trails is in the hiking section above.

Wildlife

General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

Common loons inhabit many of the water bodies in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. 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.

Accessible Features

accessible

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

The boat launches at Lake Placid, East Pine Pond, Lake Colby, Lake Flower, Second Pond (Lower Saranac Lake), Raquette River, Indian Carry (Upper Saranac Lake), Saranac Inn (Upper Saranac Lake) and the southern end of Follensby Clear Pond have been designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Each has designated parking and connecting pathways to the ramp or dock.

Lake Colby, Lake Flower, Raquette River, Second Pond and Saranac Inn have accessible privies.

The Lake Placid boat launch has an accessible comfort station, which also serves the adjacent Mirror Lake hand launch.

Directions

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest has numerous parking areas, 11 hand boat launches and 5 boat launches to use for accessing the area. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Parking Areas and Trailheads

  • Bloomingdale Bog Parking Area (north) is on Bloomingdale Road, 1.8 miles west of the intersection with State Route 3. (44.413177°N, 74.121517°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Bloomingdale Bog Parking Area (south) is located off State Route 86, 1 mile north of Saranac Lake. (44.362671°N, 74.150728°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Brewster Peninsula Trails Parking Area is located off Peninsula Way Road in Lake Placid. (44.299041°N, 73.994623°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Cherry Patch Pond Trail Parking Area is located on State Route 86, east of the Village of Lake Placid. (44.296575°N, 73.943285°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Cobble Hill Trail Parking Area is located on State Route 86, east of the Village of Lake Placid. (44.29280°N, 73.95056°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Connery Pond Parking Area is located at the intersection of State Route 86 and Connery Pond Road. (44.301473°N, 73.934771°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Deer Pond Parking Area is located on State Route 30, 1.75 miles north of the intersection with State Route 3. (44.261394°N, 74.349027°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Fernow Forest Parking Area is located on State Route 30, 0.75 miles north of the intersection with State Route 3. (44.249754°N, 74.346356°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Floodwood Mountain Trail Parking Area is located off Floodwood Road, 6.2 miles west of State Route 30. (44.34491°N, 74.445074°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Middle Pond Trail Parking Area is located on Floodwood Road, 3 miles west of State Route 30. (44.341875°N, 74.388138°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Oseetah Trails Parking Area is located on State Route 86 east of the Village Saranac Lake. (44.305071°N, 74.111352°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Panther Mountain Parking Area is located on State Route 3, 1.4 miles east of intersection with State Route 30. (44.230722°N, 74.335349°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Route 86 Old Logger's Road Trail Parking Area is located on State Route 86, east of the Village of Lake Placid. (44.29160°N, 73.95498°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Scarface Mountain Trailhead is located on County Route 32, 0.2 miles south of State Route 86. (44.298201°N, 74.083397°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Trombley Landing Trailhead is located at the intersection of State Routes 3 and 30, east of Tupper Lake. (44.243983°N, 74.357807°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • West Pine Pond Trail Parking Area is located on Floodwood Road, 5 miles west of State Route 30. (44.34518°N, 74.421116°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Hand Launches

  • Ampersand Bay Hand Launch (Lower Saranac Lake) is located on Ampersand Bay Road in the Village of Saranac Lake. Parking for 10 cars. (44.32588°N, 74.15492°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Axton Landing Hand Launch is on Coreys Road, 2 miles south of the intersection with State Route 3. (44.20333°N, 74.326316°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • East Pine Pond Hand Launch is located off State Route 30, 5 miles east of Floodwood Road. Accessible. Parking for 5 cars. (44.339609°N, 74.411803°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Floodwood Pond Hand Launch is located on the north shore of Floodwood Pond off Floodwood Road. (44.339176°N, 74.405359°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Follensby Clear Pond Hand Launch #1 is located on State Route 30, 2 miles south of the Hamlet of Saranac Inn. Parking for 6 cars and trailers. (44.319836°N, 74.335788°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Follensby Clear Pond Hand Launch #2 is located on State Route 30, 3 miles south of the Hamlet of Saranac Inn. Accessible. Parking for 10 cars. (44.310394°N, 74.346825°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Hoel Pond Hand Launch is located on Hoel Pond Access Road (dirt road), off Hoel Pond Road, 0.3 miles north of the intersection with Floodwood Road. (44.346892°N, 74.344406°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Indian Carry Hand Launch (Upper Saranac Lake) is located on State Route 3, 8 miles east of the Village of Tupper Lake. Accessible. Parking for 18 cars. (44.238847°N, 74.314137°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Lake Colby Hand Launch is located on State Route 86, 2 miles north of the Village of Saranac Lake. Accessible. Parking for 30 cars; 10 hp motor restriction. (44.348889°N, 74.14489°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Little Clear Pond Hand Launch is located off State Route 30, 3 1/2 miles southwest of the Hamlet of Lake Clear Junction. Parking for 50 cars and trailers. No motors permitted. No fishing. (44.355725°N, 74.291624°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Mirror Lake Hand Launch is located across from the Lake Placid Boat Launch. There is a 50-yard carry to the dock at Mirror Lake from the parking area. (44.29624°N, 73.97762°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Moose Pond Hand Launch is located on the northern end of the pond at the end of Moose Pond Road, 1.5 miles south of River Road/County Route 18. (44.378955°N, 74.059687°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Polliwog Pond Hand Launch is located on Floodwood Road, 1 mile west of State Route 30. (44.339985°N, 74.350881°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • South Creek Hand Launch (Middle Saranac Lake) is located on State Route 3, 10 miles west of the Village of Saranac Lake. Parking for 20 cars. (44.244114°N, 74.268286°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Boat Launches

  • Crusher Boat Launch (Raquette River) is located on State Routes 3 and 30, 4 miles east of the Village of Tupper Lake. Accessible. Parking for 20 cars and trailers. (44.239315°N, 74.387817°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Lake Flower Boat Launch is located on State Route 86 in the Village of Saranac Lake. Accessible. Parking for 20 cars and trailers. (44.32335°N, 74.126163°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Lake Placid Boat Launch is located off State Route 86, in the Village of Lake Placid on Mirror Lake Drive. Accessible. Parking for 25 cars and trailers. (44.297678°N, 73.978372°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Saranac Inn Boat Launch (Upper Saranac Lake) is located at the intersection of County Route 46 and Back Bay Road, off State Route 30. Accessible. (44.345045°N, 74.320920°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Second Pond Boat Launch (Lower Saranac Lake) is located on State Route 3, 3.5 miles west of the Village Saranac Lake. Accessible. Parking for 75 cars and trailers. (44.288310°N, 74.185164°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations & Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) 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 Saranac Lakes Wild Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulation and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Specific Rules

  1. Don't Move Firewood. The insects it carries could kill the forests you love.
  2. Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species. They may ruin the waters you love.
  3. If you build a fire, do so with care and use wood from dead and downed trees only. Never leave a fire unattended. All fires must be extinguished with water, and the coals must be raked until cool to the touch.
  4. Motorboats are not allowed on Little Clear Pond or Little Green Pond.
  5. Fishing is not allowed on Little Clear Pond or Little Green Pond.
  6. Organized groups of 20 or more require a permit from a forest ranger.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the 2019 Saranac Lake Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) (PDF, 10 MB) and the 2012 Second Pond Boat Launch UMP (PDF). In addition to management objectives, the UMPs contain 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 may be found in the nearby communities of Bloomingdale, Gabriels, Lake Placid, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake. Food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Bloomingdale, Gabriels, Lake Placid, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake. Dining opportunities may be found in the nearby communities of Bloomingdale, Gabriels, Lake Clear, Lake Placid, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake. Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Bloomingdale, Gabriels, Lake Clear, Lake Placid, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (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.