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Camping in Hoffman Notch Wilderness

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  • Camping in Hoffman Notch Wilderness

    I'm interested in exploring the Hoffman Notch Wilderness, visiting many of the trails and ponds, and bushwhacking some of the trailless peaks.

    Since there aren't any official campsites shown on DEC maps, I wondered if anyone had suggestions for general areas that are good for 150 ft rule camping there, or that should be avoided.

    I would use a hammock rather than a tent in this wilderness, which gives me additional site flexibility. Hammocks work fine on slopes or in rocky terrain. But even a hammock won't work in dense forest with trees close together and heavy underbrush.

    I've only visited Hoffman once briefly, checking out the trailhead and beginning of trail near Diryglot. I have not even visited the parking areas on the south side yet.

  • #2
    If I remember correctly, Bailey Pond and Big Pond are supposed to have 1 designated tent site each. Both each have an obvious established site, but during my last visits neither site was marked with a "Camp Here" disc. It's been a few years so this may have changed.

    No designated sites up in the notch itself. I did it as an overnight thru trip maybe 6 or 7 years ago and found my own spot 150+ feet off somewhere in the vicinity of Big Marsh.


    • #3
      The 46ers volunteer trail crew cleared the trail from Blue Ridge road to the south end of Big Marsh last weekend. We had permission to use chain saws and cut numerous large trees which had been down for years. The notch is interesting with beautiful cascades but it is not steep or narrow. Going from N to S, the terrain opens up south of the notch before Big Marsh and would have plenty of opportunities for camping as you are intending. We didn't see any side trails or campsites.


      • #4
        I did the trip about 3 weeks ago, but did not get all the way to Big Marsh. The trail is moderately difficult and slowed me down more than I planned. I ended up camping about 300 ft off the trail, away from the water, in a pleasant unofficial site.


        • #5
          Did you visit from the South end or the North end?

          There are lots of great places to see in there...


          • #6
            I've been to Big Pond via canoe through the beaver flooded outlet.
            It's a short carry frpm trailhead to the beaver flow, and another short carry from that flow to Big Pond. That flow has a very large and active great blue heron rookery.
            There's a very nice campsite on the Northern lobe of Big Pond, there's a spur trail leading to it from the Hoffman Notch trail, and some faded yellow disks directing you to the campsite.
            Don't remember if there's a "Camp Here" disk, but the campsite is easily more than 150 ft from water or trail.

            Here's a look at the site
            If you plan to visit when the water is soft, I would definitely paddle and carry in.



            • #7
              I parked at Loch Muller and hiked in from the south. The trail got tougher and wetter as I went north, and I finally decided that I didn't want to push farther and wasn't confident of getting a good campsite. So I went back south and camped about a mile and a quarter from the south entrance. I had a pleasant night, although the temperature dropped to 29F in the hour or so before dawn. I was warm most of the night at 32F, but apparently 29F is pushing the limits of my system.

              I checked the intersection with the trail to Big Pond, but found that the bridge there is out. Some building materials nearby suggested that it will be rebuilt in 2023. Several bridges on the main Big Marsh trail have already been built and are very nice.

              When entering, I chatted briefly with a gentleman who was day-hiking up to Bailey Pond. He apparently lived nearby. Since there were two pickups parked there, in addition to my car and the car of the chap to whom I was talking, I asked him whether the wilderness saw much use, and he said there were people back there every weekend. However, my (possibly wrong) impression was that there is far more day-hiking, dog-walking, and probably hunting, rather than overnight backpacking.


              • #8
                Stripperguy, that looks like an interesting route. Thanks for pointing it out. Did you portage on the north or the south side of the stream connecting the pond to the beaver flow?


                • #9
                  I did a TR about it here somewhere…
                  My son and I did both, and clearly the south side was better with informal paths along the stream.
                  Big Pond is a pretty spot, but is rather small.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by VermontDacker View Post
                    Apparently 29F is pushing the limits of my system.
                    Tis the season - a few of the cottage vendors have quality hammock gear on sale. I was amazed at how a decent underquilt makes the difference. We regularly hammock camp down to single digits F. Brief overview below with the next steps I would take to get it below 0F.
                    • Standard gathered end hammock 11' long (box stores sell 9' and there is a difference.)
                    • 3/4 Synthetic underquilt rated for 20F. We take 'em down to maybe 15F and then double up. May upgrade to 0F full length
                    • Winter tarp (doors). Looking into possibly one that goes to ground
                    • Down top quilt rated for 10F. Eventually may switch to synthetic and go lower
                    • SOL breathable reflective bivvy.
                    • Wind sock that covers whole rig. Current one is 50/50 mesh so we face mesh down. Should upgrade to winter version (smaller mesh window)
                    • Fleece PJ's, neck gator and a hat, primaloft packable jacked comes to bed with me in case I need it.
                    • Chem body warmer or hot water bottle
                    • Winter appropriate stove so you have hot food morning and night
                    We were out near Colden in Feb22 at about 9F. Biggest problem was you would have needed dynamite to get me out of this cozy nest the next morning.
                    Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees


                    • #11
                      I was using my Hammock Gear Circadian hammock (the hammock in the Wanderlust package) with Hammock Gear Economy 20F quilts top and bottom, a UGQ Outdoor Winterdream tarp with doors that snap closed, and wearing thick dry socks, simple polyester long underwear, clean dry synthetic shirt, light gloves, a balaclava, and a Sierra Designs Whitney down jacket. (It has a hood, but I didn't wear the hood.)

                      I've generally been a warm sleeper, and was surprised that this system wasn't enough to keep my feet and butt warm. It wasn't a great hang, with the butt closer to the ground than ideal, and I think I may be losing some of my cold tolerance as I get older. An earlier trip camping on Rock Pond in Pharaoh Lake Wilderness also left me feeling cold in a tent at a much higher temperature.

                      I'll have to think about the best way to get a little more warmth in my system without adding a lot of weight or cost. I don't usually backcountry camp if the temperatures is expect to be much below 32F, so I don't need a major upgrade. I have thought about doing some winter camping, but for that I would go to ground and use my -5F sleeping bag and a tent.

                      The cheapest option would probably be to make a 50F underquilt from a cheap $50 Amazon down throw, and layer that with the 20F underquilt. I already have an unmodified down throw that could be layered with the top quilt.


                      • #12
                        Great rig. The one thing I did not see that we swear by, and is super cheap, is bringing heat in with you. Chem body warmer or hot water bottle truck. Of course, as you point out, neither will solve the cold butt syndrome, We also put a hat over the balaclava. Used to tell the scouts - your toes are cold? Put on a hat! But I think our December trip just went to ground too / frontcountry
                        Last edited by tenderfoot; 11-26-2022, 06:03 PM.
                        Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees


                        • #13
                          I want to experiment with adding a CCF eggshell pad under my butt, in addition to the underquilt. That would be an additional R value of 2. Only trouble is getting it to stay in place in the hammock. (I already own it, so no cost to experiment.)

                          I've also considered getting a synthetic 3/4 Jarhead underquilt of 3.6 oz Apex from Arrowhead Equipment for only $115 and 16 oz. In summer I would just use the 3/4 Jarbridge. In spring and fall, I use the 20F full-length Incubator. In winter, I would layer the Jarbridge with the Incubator.

                          Maybe down booties would be enough additional boost to keep my feet warm.

                          If I could sleep toasty warm in the hammock at 25F, that would be good enough for me.