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Fulton Chain Lakes -- and more (9/1 - 9/3)

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  • Fulton Chain Lakes -- and more (9/1 - 9/3)

    My husband and I spent two nights camping at the Eighth Lake Campground on the Fulton Chain. We did quite a bit of hiking in the area, and visited some trailheads to prepare for future trips.

    After setting up camp, we hiked west to Bug Lake. The crossing of the water connecting Seventh and Eighth Lakes was interesting, because the bridge was not quite long enough to span the water. There was a gap of about three feet wide on the east end, where a couple of inches of water depth lay between the bridge and the trail. No big deal, but given how dry weather has been this year, I was surprised.

    As we approached Bug Lake, an unmarked spur trail on the right intrigued us. It looked like a trail to a designated camp, but with no signage or blazes. We followed the trail quite some distance across a couple of wet areas, eventually finding a very nice, large camp site under conifers with a fire pit and "camp here" disk. We didn't realize that Eagle Nest Lake was only a short distance onward, so we returned to the main trail, hiked north until reaching the western shore of Bug Lake, and then returning to camp.

    Temperates dropped into the low forties that night. I had to layer up on jackets both the evening before and the morning after.

  • #2
    Fulton Chain Lakes -- and more (part 2)

    After filling up with a big breakfast of pancakes and scrambled eggs, we drove up Big Moose Road to the trailheads for the Pigeon Lake Wilderness. Parking at the new, large lot serving as the Cascade Lake trailhead, we hiked to the lake and circled it counterclockwise. There are few views of the lake from the south side of the loop, but the trail is a wide road on that stretch and can be hiked very quickly.

    At the eastern end of the lake, we saw the cascade that gives the lake its name. I was amazed to see how tall it was. I had expected something more like a tall rapid, but no, this is an impressive waterfall. There was plenty of water flowing despite the dry weather.

    We returned by the northern shore. The trail here is closer to the lake and gives better views, but is narrower and requires more climbing up and down. We found another very nice site on the west-central part of the northern shore, an open area right on the lake with a beach suitable for swimming and "camp here" disk. The only issue with it is I am not sure it has trees suitable for hammocking near the sight, which is open and grassy.

    Continuing around the loop, we found a side trail off the quarter-mile length of loop on the west side of the lake. This lead some distance to a small site with a "camp here" disk, in the woods well off the lake (no views). It took some hunting around to find, and I think this site probably sees less use than the one on the lake.

    Although we saw many day-hikers on this loop, a look through the register showed very few backpackers entering from this point. Practically every trip list was a day-hike to Cascade Lake and back.

    Reaching the car, we drove north to examine the other two trailheads to Pigeon LWA. Passing the Moss Lake parking lot, we saw that it was quite full. But there were fewer vehicles in the Windfall Pond lot. Again, the trail register showed mostly day-trips, about half to Queer Pond and half to Windfall Pond.

    Continuing to Judson Road, we found minimal roadside parking. We didn't stop, and any trail register is probably at the wilderness boundary, so could not be checked. I have read that overnight parking at this spot is discouraged, so I wonder if many backpackers enter from this point.

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    • #3
      Fulton Chain Lakes -- and more (part 3)

      After a late lunch at our Eighth Lake Campground site, we drove through Inlet to Uncas Road, parked, and hike south into the Moose River Plains towards Black Bear Mountain. This trail is a wide road and can be hiked quickly and easily. After about one mile, we reach an intersection with a rougher but still very nice trail, which led south of west through a lot of muddy area, eventually reaching Black Bear Mountain.

      I could see that sunset was approaching, so I turned around and returned to the car. Hubby continued on, summited, and returned, arriving back at the car around 7:20 PM, pretty close to sunset. We both had headlamps, and all went well.

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      • #4
        The last day of our trip, we checked out of the campground and drove a short distance to Cathedral Pines, hiking the loop through some impressive old-growth pine trees. Near the end of the trail is a monument to a WWII pilot who was lost over Europe. The lovely forest is a fitting place for the tribute.

        We headed for home, but because we are always exploring, we made several stops along the way to check out trailheads for future trips. The first was the Cascade Pond trailhead off CR 19 near Lake Durant. The register here again showed mostly day-hiking use, but also included a strong statement about a bridge needing to be replaced.

        Next stop was the trailhead for Wolf Pond, Vanderwhacker Wild Forest, off Blue Ridge Road. I hadn't realized this site has a small campsite (complete with "camp here" disk), outhouse toilet, and picnic table as well as the trail to the lake with its own lean-to. The register showed a fair amount of day-hiking to the lake, but didn't indicate whether most travelers hauled in boats with them.

        At North Hudson, we turned south on NY 9 to look for a trailhead into Hoffman Notch Wilderness. It took a bit of back-and-forth hunting to find the turnoff and small parking area for Diryglot Hill. We parked and hike the short distance through the tunnel under the Northway to the beginning of the wilderness, but did not see a register there.

        By this time it was afternoon, so we ate lunch and continued home.

        It was a very enjoyable trip, and laid groundwork for several future backpacking trips.

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        • #5
          Sounds like a great time!

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