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Off to see Hamilton in the Silver Lake Wilderness

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  • Off to see Hamilton in the Silver Lake Wilderness

    While nowhere near as popular as the current smash Broadway musical of the same name, my walk to the Hamilton Lake Stream (HLS) from Piseco was also a rewarding experience. Not one to waste a brilliant mid-August day, I hied myself up to the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT) trailhead located next to the Town of Arietta Highway Department garage and across Route 8 from Casey’s General Store (landmarks familiar to most NPT thru-hikers).

    A new DEC trailhead sign advertised the HLS lean-to as being 3.8 miles distant. That checked with my map, but another marker at the nearby sign-in register said my destination was 5 miles away. One of those signs had to be in error. Rather than spend my day in the woods pondering contradictory mileage, I decided to find out for myself.

    Generations of thru-hikers have traversed this well-marked, well-maintained and well-trod route (Photo One), so it has that comfortable feel of an old wilderness foot highway. Stepping briskly while humming songs about that guy Hamilton, I soon arrived at lovely Buckhorn Lake (Photo Two), 1.3 miles from the trailhead. After a photographic pause for the cause, I moved on to my next checkpoint – Priest Vly (Photo Three) 1.5 miles away. This lovely marsh revealed a U.S. Geological Survey bench mark and some easily-startled wood ducks.

    Allowing for my plodding old-guy’s pace, the HLS lean-to (Photo Four) appeared within 1 ¾ hours and four miles on a mostly dry trail. Occasional streams and rivulets were easily rock-hopped, and I managed the trail’s gradual ups and downs. Perched on a pretty bluff, the lean-to is clean, quiet and in good shape.

    Five to ten minutes past the lean-to are Hamilton Lake Stream and a neat footbridge spanning this water feature (Photo Five). There is also an unauthorized campsite alongside the stream here. I noticed a few loose boards and rusty cables on the bridge (Photo Six), so indulged myself with a short “Indiana Jones” reenactment before heading back to the lean-to for lunch.

    Hamilton Lake Stream is one of several creeks in this region that feed the West Branch of the Sacandaga River. The source of this outlet, the aforementioned Mr. Hamilton’s Lake, is on private property about 3.2 miles northeast of the bridge.

    An uneventful jaunt back to the trailhead and that maddeningly-incorrect mileage marker signaled the end of a lovely (if hot) day in the Silver Lake Wilderness, always a favorite hiking destination. And any time I can walk part of the historic NPT is a plus in my book. This day-hike destination has enough variety to warrant another visit soon – perhaps with the seasonably-employed Tick Magnet.
    Attached Files
    "I don’t like being outdoors, Smithers. For one thing, there’s too many fat children." -- C. Montgomery Burns

  • #2

    Wish I could have been on the trail with you, but Affairs of State take precedence over...Affairs of State.
    Tick Magnet


    • #3
      Great way to spend the day, thanks for sharing!
      My brother-in-law & I camped there a couple years ago in the pouring rain.
      Good times were had non the less, thanks for the memory!


      • #4
        Essentially did the same trip but from the other direction just a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

        Until next well.