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Bog River Complex

Including Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area, Lows Lake (Bog River Flow) and Big Tupper/Piercefield Flow Conservation Easement

hikingprimitive campingpaddlingboatingbikingfishinghuntingtrappingsnowmobilingcross-country skiingsnowshoeingfiretoweraccessibleparkinghand launchboat launchfishing pierlean-topicnic areapriviesicon key

Bog River Flow locator map
  • Open for Recreation: Year-round, except for Big Tupper Conservation Easement which is open May 1 - Sep. 30; Please see Specific Rules below.
  • Fee: Free
  • Contact Information:
    • DEC Region 6 Potsdam Office (M-F, 8:00AM - 4:30PM), (315) 265-3090; information.R6@dec.ny.gov
    • Backcountry Emergencies: 518-891-0235 or 911 (24/7)
    • Enforcement Matters: 518-408-5850 (24/7)
  • Location: Town of Long Lake in Hamilton County, Town of Tupper Lake in Franklin County, and Towns of Clifton, Colton and Piercefield in St. Lawrence County
  • Wildlife Management Unit: 5F and 6J
  • Map: A map of this property is currently being developed || Google Earth || DECinfo Locator

The Bog River Complex includes almost 25,000 acres of Adirondack Forest Preserve and Conservation Easement Lands within the Adirondack Park. The complex is comprised of:

  • Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest
  • Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area
  • Lows Lake (Bog River Flow)
  • Big Tupper/Piercefield Flow Conservation Easement

The 17,123-acre Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest (WF) affords visitors a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. The most popular destinations include the Mt. Arab fire tower and Horseshoe Lake. Impressive views can be seen from the 2,280-foot Coney Mountain and the 2,176-foot Goodman Mountain. The forest also provides easy access to Tupper Lake and Horseshoe Lake for fishing and boating. Camping in this area provides an excellent base camp opportunity for wilderness canoe trips into surrounding Wilderness Areas.

bog river overlook
Overlook view of the Bog River

Lows Lake (Bog River Flow) offers a unique opportunity to paddle over 14.5 miles of scenic waters with only one short carry around Lows Upper Dam. The lake was created by two dams built by Abbot Augustus Low in 1903 (Lows Lower Dam) and 1907 (Lows Upper Dam). Originally constructed to produce electricity, these structures now provide a quality recreational experience.

The 1,900-acre Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area (formerly part of Hitchins Pond Primitive Area) contains extensive wetlands adjacent to the Bog River and Hitchins Pond and important wildlife habitat, including loon nesting habitat and eagle and osprey habitat. Both of the Lows dams are located within this part of the complex.

The conservation easement lands are private property with an easement held by the DEC on behalf of the people of New York State. Conservation easements allow the forests to remain working forests while also providing public recreation opportunities. Public use is limited, however. Please respect posted signs. For more information about DEC's Conservation Easement Program or public recreational opportunities on the conservation easement lands, contact DEC's Potsdam Office at (315) 265-3090.

The Big Tupper/Piercefield Flow Conservation Easement (CE) includes 4,851 acres and is located on the Piercefield Flow (PDF), a lake formed in a wide section of the Raquette River. Public use is limited to the designated snowmobile trail and the Special Use Area, which is a designated area within 300 feet of Piercefield Flow. Public access to this area is by water only. Please respect posted signs.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

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

There are several trails on Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest:

  • Mt. Arab Trail ascends 700 feet to the Mt. Arab fire tower and observer's cabin on the summit of Mt. Arab and is 1 mile long, with the first 0.7 miles located on the Conifer Emporium Conservation Easement and the rest on the WF. Parking is located along Mt. Arab Road on the easement property.
  • Coney Mountain Trail is 1.1 miles in length and is moderately steep, leading to the top of Coney Mountain. The trailhead is on State Route 30.
  • Goodman Mountain Trail is 1.6 miles to the summit. The first quarter mile of the trail is wheelchair accessible and ideal for families with young children and people with limited mobility. The next half mile is also a gradual slope on an old road bed. The trail then turns up the mountainside, climbing steeply at points to reach the 2,176-foot summit with views of the central Adirondacks.
  • Trout Pond Trail starts at Lows Lower Dam on the edge of the WF and continues 1.3 miles through the neighboring Round Lake Wilderness to Trout Pond.
  • Bridge Brook Pond Trail is a 1.8-mile trail that begins on State Route 421 and continues north to Black Pond and Bridge Brook Pond.
  • Bog River Trail follows several old haul roads through the WF between State Route 421 and the Bog River. Depending on the combination of routes used, loops ranging from 5 to 8 miles are available. This trail ends at Winding Falls on the Bog River.
  • Winding Falls Trail begins on State Route 421 and heads 2.5 miles south to Winding Falls on the Bog River.

There are several trails off of Lows Lake and on neighboring areas like the Five Ponds Wilderness. The Big Deer Trail off the far western end of the lake passes Big Deer Pond and the Fishpole Pond Trail heads north toward Cranberry Lake off Grass Pond at the northwestern end of the lake.

On the Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area, Upper Dam Road which forms part of the northern boundary of the unit can be used for hiking, cross-country skiing and biking. The 0.5-mile Hitchins Pond Overlook Trail begins at Lows Upper Dam.

On Big Tupper CE, hiking is allowed only within the Special Use Area, which is a designated area within 300 feet of Piercefield Flow. Public access to this area is by water only.

Camping

primitive camping

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

Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest

There are 25 designated primitive campsites in the WF. Most of the sites have pit privies, although remote campsites on Bridge Brook Pond and Tupper Lake do not. Two of the campsites located along the Otter Brook Road are accessible, one with an accessible privy. There are also two lean-tos on Tupper Lake, located at Black Bay and Eagle Landing.

accessible campsite
Accessible campsite in Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest

Backcountry camping is also allowed throughout the WF as long as the site is at least 150 feet from a water body, road, or trail, unless the area is posted as "Camping Prohibited." Camping for more than 3 nights or with 10 or more people requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Lows Lake

On the shores of Lows Lake, 39 numbered campsites have been constructed and designated (site number, fire ring, and round yellow marker) for public use on a first-come, first-served basis. Most of the lake is bordered by the Five Ponds Wilderness, although there are some private landowners. Please respect private property.

If you choose to camp at sites other than those designated, you are responsible for:

  • Knowing that you are on state lands and not trespassing on private lands
  • Camping at least 150 feet from any road, trail, or body of water
  • Cleaning up your site to remove traces of use

Pole, Gooseneck, and Frying Pan Islands, shown on the Lows Lake map, are reserved by deed for Hiawatha Boy Scout Council's exclusive use during June, July, and August. For the public, camping on these islands is prohibited throughout the year. Three landings on the south shore of the lake that are shared with Hiawatha Boy Scout Council, known as Virgin Timber, Boone's and Moose Bay, may be used by the public for camping throughout the year, but a permit is required from a Forest Ranger for use during June, July, and August.

Camping is restricted to parties of nine or less. Campers are encouraged to limit their number to six persons or less to reduce the impact on sites. Users wishing to stay at one location for more than three nights, or to use Virgin Timber, Boone's or Moose Bay landing during June, July, or August, must obtain a permit in advance from a Forest Ranger by calling DEC's Potsdam office at (315) 265-3090. Group permits for parties of ten or more will NOT be issued for this area.

Users of this area are advised not to trespass on adjacent private lands. The road to Lows Upper Dam from Sabattis is private property, as is a large amount of the shoreline above the Lows Upper Dam.

Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area

Five campsites are located on the shores of Hitchins Pond and are available for public use on a first-come, first-served basis. Each has a fire ring and pit privy.

big tupper lean-to
Big Tupper lean-to

Big Tupper Conservation Easement

Big Tupper CE features a lean-to campsite on the northern shore of the Piercefield Flow in the Special Use Area. Camping on the property is restricted to this site only.

Campers who prefer more amenities may camp at the nearby Cranberry Lake Campground & Day Use Area.

Paddling

paddling

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

From below Lows Lower Dam to the confluence with Round Lake Outlet, the Bog River provides a canoe route with several rapids which is only useable in the spring. This section of the Bog River forms the southern boundary of Horseshoe Lake WF. There are three canoe carries located on the north side of the river at Split Rock Falls, Winding Falls, and near the junction of the Bog River and Round Lake Outlet.

The lower Bog River between the confluence with Round Lake Outlet and Bog River Falls at Tupper Lake provides about 1.8 miles of flat water canoeing. Users can enter the river on the west bank at the Bog River Falls Day Use Area off State Route 421 at the southern end of Tupper Lake.

Raquette Pond, Tupper Lake, and Piercefield Flow, all connected, also offer opportunities for short trips to picnic or fish.

Lows Lake offers spectacular opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. The area begins the access to a wilderness canoe route leading from the Bog River above Lows Lower Dam into and across Lows Lake to the western shore in the Five Ponds Wilderness.

bog river paddling
Paddling on Bog River Flow

Lows Lake can be accessed from the Lower Dam Hand Launch on the Bog River. Paddlers must pass through Hitchins Pond, carry around the Upper Dam and then paddle the Bog River to the lake. Public motorboat use is prohibited on Lows Lake but private shore owners may use motor boats on a limited basis. For the more adventuresome, a carry of about 3.5 miles from the west end of Lows Lake to the Oswegatchie River will be rewarded with an approximately 16 mile trip down that river to Inlet, with only a short carry above High Falls. Many beaver dams occur around High Falls.

Keep in mind that winds don't have to be exceptionally strong to create whitecaps on Lows Lake. During periods of rough weather, paddlers are encouraged to keep to the northern shoreline as it is generally the more protected route. Paddlers can stay out of the main body of water along this route by using a short carry between campsites 19 and 23, and crossing the causeway west of site 25.

On Hitchins Pond in the Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area, non-motorized boats can be used but motor boats are not allowed.

Big Tupper CE is located on the Piercefield Flow, which is open to paddling. The water is accessed at the nearby Town of Piercefield Boat Launch (leaves DEC website) on NY Route 3.

Boating

boating

General information on boating includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules and regulations and lists of DEC boat launches by county.

Motor boats are not allowed on Horseshoe Lake or Lows Lake, but Tupper Lake has a trailered boat launch with parking for 35 cars and trailers.

On Big Tupper CE, a number of hidden stumps in Piercefield Flow has restricted the use of large motor boats. The water is accessed at the nearby Town of Piercefield Boat Launch (leaves DEC website) on NY Route 3. This is a trailered boat launch which accommodates the approach to the water's edge of small and light trailered boats. Boats may then be pushed on or off trailers.

Biking

biking

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

Within the Horseshoe Lake WF, biking is allowed on any of the designated roads and trails.

On the Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area, Upper Dam Road forms part of the northern boundary of the unit and can be used for hiking, cross-country skiing and biking.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules and regulations.

The area's most popular sport fishery is the Tupper Lake - Raquette Pond complex. It is very accessible and provides year-round angling opportunity targeting northern pike, walleye, small and largemouth bass, panfish, and lake trout. Black Pond and Bridge Brook Pond are popular brook trout fisheries. Survival and growth of stocked brook trout in these waters is good.

bog river fishing
Fishing on Bog River Flow

Fisherman at Horseshoe Lake (PDF) can find tiger muskellunge, walleye and brook trout. The lake also supports a population of smallmouth bass, yellow perch, white sucker and brown bullhead. Like the other large lakes in the area, Horseshoe Lake is used by anglers for ice fishing as well as during the open water season. Reports of Horseshoe Lake ice anglers catching tiger muskellunge up to 16 pounds are not uncommon.

Stream fishing opportunities are limited in the area, however the lower Bog River is stocked annually with brook trout.

On Lows Lake, anglers can hope to find brook trout, largemouth bass and brown bullhead. Historically a brook trout fishery, largemouth bass were introduced in the 1980s and really took off. Brook trout can still be found where tributaries enter the lake, although in relatively low numbers. Largemouth bass ranging in size from 1-5 pounds are common. Try fishing the bog margins during early evening. While this water may not have top quality angling opportunities, the wilderness experience could be well worth the time.

Hitchins Pond in the Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area is known for largemouth bass.

On Big Tupper CE on Piercefield Flow (PDF), fishing is allowed from shore within the designated Special Use Area.

North Central NY 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.

Special angling regulations apply to the waters in St. Lawrence County. See the freshwater fishing regulations guide for more information.

Hunting and Trapping

huntingtrapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 5F and 6J

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

The unit is heavily hunted, especially during archery, muzzleloading and the early part of big game season because of easy road access and the availability of roadside campsites. Game species that can be found here include deer, bear and possibly moose, as well as small game species like varying hare and woodchuck. There are a variety of furbearers including coyote, bobcat, beaver, muskrat, river otter, fisher, mink, raccoon, and red fox.

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

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

The following snowmobile trails are located within the Wild Forest:

  • Otter Brook Rd. from State Route 421 to the Five Ponds Wilderness/private land boundary (8.5 mi.)
  • Lower Dam Rd. (0.7 mi.)
morning on hitchens pond
Morning mist on Hitchins Pond

Also passing through the WF is the 119-mile long Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor. It is open for snowmobiling from December 1 through April 30 between the hours of 6:00 am to 12 midnight only when it is covered with snow and ice. Snowmobiles are prohibited between May 1 and November 30 on this corridor.

Big Tupper CE features one established snowmobile trail, C7, which cuts across the property and is open to public use. The snowmobile trail is open to snowmobiling as conditions permit. The trail is maintained by the St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association (leaves DEC website).

Cross-country Skiing and Snowshoeing

cross-country skiingsnowshoeing

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

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

Fire Tower

firetower

General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers.

A restored fire tower and the former observer's cabin are located on the 2,545-foot summit of Mt. Arab. The view from the top offers endless stretches of forests. The parking area and trailhead for the fire tower are located on the neighboring Conifer Conservation Easement but the fire tower itself is located on the WF.

The Friends of Mt. Arab (leaves DEC website) is a volunteer group that has partnered with the DEC since 1997 to help restore and maintain the Mt. Arab fire tower, observer's cabin, and hiking trail. They sponsor a summit steward who is on duty Friday through Monday during the summer and early fall months (Memorial Day to Columbus Day) to greet visitors to the fire tower and relate the natural history of the area.

a view of the self contained unit camping site
Site 7 on Horseshoe Lake is designed for a trailer

Wildlife

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

A variety of habitats exist for bird watchers and naturalists along public access roads. Wetlands, including bogs, provide some especially unique habitats often harboring less common species. Likewise, enjoy remote and roadless tracts to view or hunt wildlife.

Rich marsh communities include rare plant species and provide prime breeding grounds for a variety of birds. Bald eagles can be spotted in the area throughout the year and golden eagles use the area during migration. Other NYS threatened, endangered and special concern bird species that use the area include common loon, spruce grouse, northern harrier, osprey, Cooper's hawk, common nighthawk, and vesper sparrow. Wildlife watchers can also look for deer, black bear, coyote, bobcat, beaver, muskrat, river otter and possibly moose.

Accessible Features

accessible

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

Horseshoe Lake features an accessible fishing pier and two accessible campsites (#7 and 8), one of which is designed for a camping trailer. Both sites have an accessible surface, picnic table, tent pad, and fire ring and they share an accessible privy.

Fishing pier overlooking Horseshoe Lake
Accessible fishing pier on Horseshoe Lake

Bog River Picnic Site has an accessible parking space, picnic table, fireplace and privy. The picnic site is in a wooded setting overlooking Tupper Lake close to Bog River. The surface of all features is suitable for use with mobility devices.

The Goodman Mountain Trail is partially accessible and also has an accessible parking area and kiosk. The first 1400' of the 1.6-mile long trail to the summit of Goodman Mountain is accessible. The surface of the trail is blacktop, as a portion of the trail is established on an old roadbed which once connected to Tupper Lake. The grade reaches 10% in some locations, but level resting areas are provided at suitable intervals along the way. The accessible portion of the trail ends overlooking a small woodland stream. After this the grade and surface become more severe.

The Tupper Lake boat launch has accessible parking, accessible privy and paths to boat ramp loading docks and separate hand launching dock.

Directions

Several major roads run through the Bog River Complex, providing access to various areas - State Route 3 on the northern end, State Route 30 to the east, and State Route 421 through the middle of Horseshoe Lake WF.

Parking Areas and Trailheads

  • Mt. Arab Parking Area and Trailhead for the Mt. Arab firetower (44.213689°N, 74.596110°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Coney Mountain Parking Area and Trailhead on Route 30 - parking for 3 cars with 1 accessible (44.099408°N, 74.529139°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Goodman Mountain Trail Parking Area and Trailhead on Route 30, just south of the intersection with State Route 421 - parking for 10 cars with 1 accessible (44.115134°N, 74.536393°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Lows Lower Dam Parking Area on Lower Dam Road - parking area for 20 cars (44.115900°N, 74.626414°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Bog River Day Use Area on the south end of Tupper Lake off of State Route 421 (44.128608°N, 74.545324°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Bridge Brook Pond Parking Area and Trailhead on Route 421 (44.137960°N, 74.591632°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Horseshoe Lake Parking Area on the south side of the lake - parking for 10 cars with 2 accessible and an accessible fishing pier (44.124585°N, 74.620971°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Hitchins Pond Overlook Trailhead which can be accessed from Lows Upper Dam (44.110523°N, 74.670757°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).

Hand Launches and Boat Launches

  • Horseshoe Lake Hand Launch on the western shore of the lake on State Route 421 (44.134720°N, 74.629941°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Bog River Flow Hand Launch off of Lower Dam Road (44.11558°N, 74.62622°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Lows Lake Hand Launch on the far western end of the lake (44.074°N, 74.822°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).
  • Tupper Lake Trailered Boat Launch on Route 30 in the Hamlet of Moody, 2 miles south of Village of Tupper Lake - parking for 35 cars and trailers (44.195351°N, 74.483582°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website).

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

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of the Bog River Complex must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Specific Rules for Big Tupper Conservation Easement

  1. Public Recreation is restricted to designated hiking trails, designated snowmobile trails, parking areas, and the designated Special Use Area. Please respect posted signs.
  2. Special Use Area is the designated area within 300 feet of the Piercefield Flow. It is open to fishing, hiking, nature observation, camping and picnicking.
  3. Special Use Area is accessible by water only.
  4. Public motor vehicle access to these lands is restricted to signed, designated access roads or public highways. Access roads may be closed seasonally.
  5. Snowmobile use is permitted on designated trails.
  6. Hunting by the public is not allowed.
  7. Fishing by the public is allowed only within the designated Special Use Area and only from May 1 to September 30.
  8. Please do not 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.

Special Conditions on Lows Lake

This area supports one of the largest loon nesting populations in New York, and users are warned to be especially careful not to disturb their nesting sites.

Bears are common and users are advised to take extra precautions to keep their food stored away from the campsite.

Be especially careful with fires. If you require an open fire, clear away flammable material as necessary to prevent spread. Burn only dead wood from trees that are already down. At undesignated sites, build a stone fire ring, but scatter the stones when you leave. Be sure the fire is completely extinguished and debris is removed from the ashes before departing. Leaving an unattended fire is a violation of Environmental Conservation Law.

Call DEC's Potsdam office at (315) 265-3090 for information on trails.

Planning and Management

DEC manages Horseshoe Lake Wild Forest, Eastern Five Ponds Access Primitive Area and Bog River Flow (Lows Lake) in accordance with the management activities described in the Bog River Complex Unit Management Plan (UMP) (PDF). 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.

The UMP was amended in 2009 (PDF) to extend floatplane use on Lows Lake, and again in 2014 (PDF) for a parking area and trail to the summit of Goodman Mountain, and to designate a hiking and ski trail along the Bog River.

DEC is developing a recreation management plan for the Big Tupper/Piercefield Flow Conservation Easement which will describe the management activities for public recreation on these lands.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Gas can be found in the nearby communities of Long Lake and Tupper Lake.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Long Lake and Tupper Lake.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Cranberry Lake, Long Lake and Tupper Lake.
Lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Cranberry Lake, and Tupper Lake.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Franklin County Tourism (leaves DEC website), St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce (leaves DEC website) and Tupper 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.