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Fulton Chain Wild Forest

HikingFishing Primitive Camping Horseback RidingCross-country SkiingSnowshoeingSnowmobilingbikingCanoeingHuntingTrappingAccessible FeaturesParkingfire towerPicnic Table icon key

Fulton Chain Wild Forest locator map

The 16,028-acre Fulton Chain Wild Forest is located along its namesake, the Fulton Chain of Lakes, in the western Adirondack Mountains. Its proximity to the communities of Old Forge, Eagle Bay and Inlet make this part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve very accessible to visitors and year-round residents alike. Although not as remote as other parts of the Adirondacks, the Fulton Chain Wild Forest has many natural and man-made features which make it perfect for various recreational activities.

The abundant water resources on and adjacent to this area include the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Moss Lake and more remote waters like Twitchell Lake. Elevations within the unit range from 1,700 feet to 2,500 feet; the highest relief can be found on the ridge line in the southern part of this unit along Fourth Lake and the NYS Route 28 corridor. Impressive rock faces are found on Bald, Onondaga and Slide-off Mountains as well as to the northwest of Moss Lake. The rest of the terrain can be best characterized by a series of rolling woodlands and rocky hills intersected by many streams, wetlands and beaver meadows in the lower lying areas.

Featured Activities



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

The unit has approximately 19.9 miles of marked foot trails.

  • Razorback Pond Trail - (Yellow Markers) 1.9 miles, from the parking lot at the south end of Twitchell Lake to Razorback Pond (0.6 miles on state land, 1.3 miles on private land through a permanent easement).
  • Snake Pond Trail - (Blue Markers) 0.6 miles, from Twitchell Road to Twitchell Creek and Snake Pond.
  • Safford Pond Trail - (Blue Markers) 5.2 miles, from the Orvis Road parking lot (adjacent to Big Moose Road) to West Pond to Rondaxe Lake (North Shore) Road.
  • West Pond Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.2 miles, from the Safford Pond Trail to West Pond.
  • Safford Pond Inlet Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.1 miles, Safford Pond Trail to Safford Pond Inlet.
  • Goose Pond Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.1 miles, from the Safford Pond Trail to Goose Pond.
  • Moose River Spur Trail - (Red Markers) 0.9 miles, from the Safford Pond Trail to the state land boundary near the Moose River.
  • Moss Lake Trail - (Unmarked) 0.1 miles, from the Moss Lake Trailhead to the shore of Moss Lake.
  • Moss Lake Circuit Trail - (Yellow Markers) 2.5 miles, from the Moss Lake Trailhead completely around Moss Lake to the point of beginning.
  • Bubb Lake-Sis Lake Trail - (Blue Markers) 2.3 miles, from the trailhead/parking area along Route 28 to the Moss Lake Circuit Trail via Bubb and Sis Lakes.
  • Vista Trail (AKA Scenic Mountain Trail) - (Blue Markers) 4.4 miles, from the Bald Mountain parking area to the Bubb Lake-Sis Lake Trail. The section of trail from the Cary Lake Road to the Vista Trail (south of Mountain Pond) is delineated with Red Markers. There are also three short spur trails off of the Vista trail that also have Red trail markers; the Fly Pond Spur Trail, Cork Mountain Spur Trail and the Mountain Pond Spur Trail.
  • Rondaxe Fire TowerRondaxe Fire Tower Trail (AKA as Bald Mountain Trail) - (Red Markers) 1.0 miles, from the Rondaxe Road Trailhead and parking area to the summit of Bald Mountain and the Rondaxe Fire Tower.
  • Lake Crossover Trail (AKA Third Lake Creek Trail) - (Yellow Markers) 0.6 miles on this unit (5.1 miles in total), South Shore Road near Third Lake Creek to Limekiln Lake Public Campground (involves private land crossings, please stay on the trail).
  • F.X. Matt Trail - (Yellow Markers) 2.0 miles on this unit (around 4.0 miles in total), South Shore Road near Inlet.


primitive camping

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

Moss Lake has designated primitive campsites, including two accessible campsites, all scattered around the lake. Privies are located adjacent to most except the paddle-to sites. Camping elsewhere on the Fulton Chain Wild Forest is allowed as long as the chosen site is more than 150 feet from a road, trail or any water body.



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

Approximately 9 miles of trails are open to snowmobiling on the Fulton Chain Wild Forest. The Safford Pond Trail, Goose Pond Spur Trail, Moose River Spur Trail, Hollywood Hills Trail (0.1 miles), Third Lake Connector Trail (0.2 miles), Daikers Trail (0.1 miles) and the F.X. Matt Trail (2.0 miles on this unit) are open to snowmobile use.



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

Anglers may use the same trailheads and trails as hikers, the same hand launches as paddlers and the same camp sites as campers to access and fish these waters.

The Fulton Chain Wild Forest has 22 lakes and ponds (totaling 4,058 acres) and 27 streams totaling approximately 18 miles. However, many of these water bodies do not support fish due to the effects of acid precipitation. The most notable fishing destination on the unit is the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Lake trout fishing, both during the summer and ice fishing in the winter, is a very popular activity on Fourth Lake. Other species anglers pursue in these waters include Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, northern pike, tiger musky, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rainbow smelt, rock bass and brown bullhead.

Brook trout can be found in Moss Lake, Sis Lake, Bubb Lake, Quiver Pond and Twitchell Lake. List of Herkimer County pond brook trout fingerling stocking

An accessible fishing pier has been installed at Quiver Pond.

Third Lake Creek and the Moose River, which is adjacent to this unit, provide stream fishing opportunities.

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.

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.

The area is open for hunting and trapping though not notable for any particular species. Most commonly pursued species are deer and bear, however, please note that hunting these big game species is closed within the area bordered by New York State Route 28 and South Shore Road.

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.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing

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

  • The Moss Lake Circuit Trail is an officially designated novice ski trail, 2.5 miles.
  • The Lake Crossover Trail is an intermediate ski trail, 0.6 miles on this unit (5.1 miles total).
  • Snowshoeing is available on all trails throughout the unit; however, if using any of the designated cross-country skiing trails listed above please do not walk in the ski tracks and yield to those skiers using the trail.

Wildlife Viewing

An accessible wildlife viewing platform is located at Moss Lake.

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



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

Hand carry boat launches are located at Moss Lake and Twitchell Lake. Other water bodies within this unit can be accessed informally. Additional canoeing and kayaking opportunities can be found at the Fourth Lake Day Use Area and on the adjacent Moose River.



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

Electric bicycles (E-bikes) of any class are not allowed on trails and roadways where public motorized access is prohibited.

Biking is allowed on the following specified trails only: Safford Pond Trail, Moss Lake Circuit Trail and the Lake Crossover Trail. If mountain biking, please be careful of, and yield to, other users of the trail.

Fire Tower

fire tower

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

The Rondaxe Fire Tower Trail, better known as Bald Mountain, is easily the most popular destination on the Fulton Chain Wild Forest. The spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the Fulton Chain of Lakes and the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, from the rocky outcrops and the restored fire tower at the summit reward those who complete the one mile hike to the top.


picnic table

Moss Lake has picnic tables at some of the campsites located closest to the parking lot/registration book for the public to use. Another option for picnicking would be the adjacent Fourth Lake Day Use Area.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

The only designated horse trail on the unit is the 2.5 mile long Moss Lake Circuit Trail. 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.

Accessible Features

accessibile facilities

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

a view of the accessible campsiteQuiver Pond

Quiver Pond is located on the South Shore Rd, between Old Forge and Inlet. A section of shoreline has been modified to provide a firm stable surface suitable for wheelchair access. A reserved parking space is provided as well. This location offers shoreline fishing for species such as brook trout, which are stocked there annually.


State Route 28 to Old Forge. In the center of town, take South Shores Acres Road, County Route 118, five and a half miles to Quiver Pond on the right.

Moss Lake Picnic Area and Campsites

a view of the observation deck.

Moss Lake features 2 accessible campsites, each complete with a picnic table, privy, fire ring and tent pad. An observation deck with built-in benches located on the lake shore can be reached by an accessible trail and provides a spectacular view of the lake, frequently including nesting osprey and loons. While sign-in is conducted in the upper parking lot, an additional parking area at the accessible trail-head is designated as reserved accessible parking only.


Take Rt 28 from Old Forge north 9 to 10 miles to Eagle Bay. From State Route 28 in Eagle Bay take Co Rt 1 north 2.2 miles.


Trailhead Parking Areas are located throughout the unit. All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

  • Twitchell Lake Parking Area: Along Twitchell Road at the southern end of Twitchell Lake (43.840861°N, 74.893438°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Orvis School House Parking Area: Along Big Moose Road, east of the hamlet of Big Moose (43.818629°N, 74.883648°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Moss Lake Parking Area: Along Big Moose Road, north of the hamlet of Eagle Bay (43.778445°N, 74.825839°W). Note that the second parking lot to the north is for accessible parking only. Google directions to this Parking Area. (leaves DEC website)
  • Bubb Lake-Sis Lake Trailhead Parking Area: Along New York State Route 28, west of the hamlet of Eagle Bay (N43.766093°N, 74.844349°W). Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Bald Mountain Parking Area: Along Rondaxe Road, east of the hamlet of Old Forge (43.745616°N, 74.899619°W). Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Third Lake Creek Trailhead Parking Area: Along South Shore Road, between the hamlets of Old Forge and Inlet (43.726135°N, 74.887012°W). Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Most trailhead parking areas provide registration books. Please take the time to sign in and out.

Rules, Regulations and 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 Fulton Chain Wild Forest 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.

Planning and Management

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the 1990 Fulton Chain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) (PDF, 10 MB). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more. The UMP was amended in 1993 (PDF) to designate bicycle trails in the unit, and again in 2006 (PDF) to propose a snowmobile trail and accessible fishing pier.

DEC is asking the public for input prior to developing a revision to the Fulton Chain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP). The Fulton Chain Wild Forest UMP public informational meeting will be held on June 12, 2019 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the gymnasium of the town of Webb's Park Avenue Building, 183 Park Avenue, Old Forge, NY 13420.

In addition, a 45-day public comment period will open on June 12, and end on July 29, 2019. Comments can be submitted by mail to Michael Marsh, DEC Senior Forester, at the NYSDEC Herkimer address or by email at or by phone (315) 866-6330. When complete, a draft of the UMP revisions will be released for another public comment period.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities and Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Gas, dining opportunities, lodging, food and other supplies may be found in the nearby communities of Old Forge or south into Oneida County at Boonville or Forestport.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council (leaves DEC website), Herkimer County Chamber (leaves DEC website), Old Forge Visitors Center (leaves DEC website), Inlet, NY (leaves DEC website) and TOBIE Trail (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.