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-   -   Seward Range/ Cold River Loop (http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=27628)

Tomcat 05-08-2020 11:06 PM

Seward Range/ Cold River Loop
 
The benefits of living 15 minutes from the High Peaks Wilderness. I couldn't travel to do my planned April trip so I settled on this loop around the Seward Range and along the NPT by the Cold River. No black flies yet and I had the entire loop to myself. For what its worth, the gate was open to the Seward TH when I finished the hike. I have the very thorough TR and nearly 100 pics at my website at the link but here are a few photos.

http://www.tomcatsadventures.com/202...iver-loop.html

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8Rxghi5mb...6.20%2B060.jpg

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-fFQN4fm-U...6.20%2B113.jpg

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mSuMBPb6V...6.20%2B104.jpg

Cold River Bob 05-09-2020 06:56 AM

Tom
Great report. Weather permitting I'm heading in there for a week an was wondering if they did anything with the bridges at Seward brook an Calkins brook I see they got all the stuff in there.
Calkins brook the bridge was in the creek an water was flowing over it making it slippery for crossing

Tomcat 05-09-2020 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cold River Bob (Post 281397)
Tom
Great report. Weather permitting I'm heading in there for a week an was wondering if they did anything with the bridges at Seward brook an Calkins brook I see they got all the stuff in there.
Calkins brook the bridge was in the creek an water was flowing over it making it slippery for crossing

Seward was ankle to shin deep. Calkins was only to the bottom of the bridge so you could cross it with no issues as of two days ago. I was surprised at how dry it was for this time of year.

Dave Bourque 05-09-2020 09:03 AM

There are additional replies on the High Peaks Forum.

DuctTape 05-09-2020 09:22 AM

nice! A favorite.

Cold River Bob 05-09-2020 06:46 PM

Tom
another loop that used to be good is when you went down ward brook an met the Npt. head down the trail like you were going to Duckhole , You will come to the horse trail You will have to ford the river , take the horse trail down the other side It was grown in the last time I was on it but you could make out the trail if you look for it. THe Northern lean tos are there, They are my favorite of all the ones on the river It used to be a pretty hike with goof views. You will come out at Shattacks at out Calkinsbrook.

DSettahr 05-10-2020 11:37 AM

Nice photos. This loop is a favorite of mine, and I've done variations on it more times than I can remember offhand.

The Cold River area has definitely seen increased use in recent years, but does largely seem to have escaped much of the particularly high levels of use and impacts that has plagued other areas of the High Peaks (and even broader Adirondack region). I think the 10 mile hike to get into most of the Cold River region keeps most casual backpackers away. (Although I've noticed that illegal tree cutting is starting to be problematic in a few spots, like Duck Hole).

Speaking of Duck Hole- it looks like you skipped it? It's definitely worth a visit, either as a short out and back side trip if you repeat this loop, or even as a destination in its own right (it's about 7 miles from Upper Works to Duck Hole if you wanted to take a 1-2 night trip there in the future). Some consider the ruined dam and drained lake to be a blight but personally I think the area has retained much of it's grandeur. Now you can walk out onto the lake bottom and take in amazing views of the surrounding mountains, and in the summer, the old lake bottom is covered in wildflowers. (And FWIW, even if the state had repaired the dam I'm fairly certain it would've failed anyways... what actually happened is that the water cut a new channel around the dam during Hurricane Irene.)

The Cold River Horse Trail is brushy but worth checking out like Cold River Bob suggests, especially if you like solitude. For the most part, the trail follows old logging roads so the tread is obvious even where the trail is grown in. It's gotten some attention in recent years but it needs a lot more, though. I've stayed at the Northern Lean-tos a few times and they get very little use. On one recent trip there, I found only 3 entries total in the log books since my previous trip there a year prior... and 2 of those 3 entries were from the lean-to adopters.

You can also still find and follow the Petty Cutoff, the old trail that used to connect the NPT and the Horse Trail. It departs the NPT maybe about a quarter mile north of Rondeaus, and follows the Cold River for a bit before crossing it, and ending at the Horse Trail in a clearing about a quarter mile south of the Northern Lean-tos. The trial is shown on the USGS topo maps, and it's not hard to locate either end of it if you keep your eyes peeled. This trail also follows an old logging road for the entire length of the trail so again, the tread is usually obvious... but be warned, the going is thick (it's pretty much a bushwhack at this point).

The long approach from the south (by way of Newcomb Lake/Moose Pond) is also an excellent hike for those desiring of solitude. This trail does get brushy as well but it's not as bad as the Cold River Horse Trail. Moose Pond is beautiful and quiet- there's 2 very nice designated tent sites on the south shore (one of which has gorgeous views). Moose Pond gets a decent amount of hunting pressure in the fall, but the rest of the year it's pretty quiet. Newcomb Lake is super popular with the day visiting crowd (due in part to the daily tours at Great Camp Santanoni) but gets light to moderate camping pressure at best, and also has a number of nice sites (2 lean-tos plus 8 designated tent sites).

10 years ago this fall I did a 60 mile variation on this loop, as a lollipop route of sorts, starting and ending in Newcomb. It remains to date one of my top 5 backpacking trips that I've ever undertaken. Funny enough, my thru-hike of the Susquehannock Trail System, which you mention this trip was a last-minute replacement for due to COVID-19, is also in my top 5.

Dayjon 05-13-2020 11:15 AM

Really enjoyed reading this. You definitely captured the appeal, and I will certainly consider checking this area out in the future. One question though: could you at all paddle the Cold River? From the pictures it looks a little too shallow. Looking at maps, if you went all the way down Wolf Lake Rd. to where it meets the NPT, it looks like you could carry a kayak in there without much hassle, but I'm wondering if it would be even worth it.

Tomcat 05-13-2020 11:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cold River Bob (Post 281419)
Tom
another loop that used to be good is when you went down ward brook an met the Npt. head down the trail like you were going to Duckhole , You will come to the horse trail You will have to ford the river , take the horse trail down the other side It was grown in the last time I was on it but you could make out the trail if you look for it. THe Northern lean tos are there, They are my favorite of all the ones on the river It used to be a pretty hike with goof views. You will come out at Shattacks at out Calkinsbrook.

I'm sure at some point I'll take a look at that trail. I like the idea of little traffic on it.

Tomcat 05-13-2020 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dayjon (Post 281451)
Really enjoyed reading this. You definitely captured the appeal, and I will certainly consider checking this area out in the future. One question though: could you at all paddle the Cold River? From the pictures it looks a little too shallow. Looking at maps, if you went all the way down Wolf Lake Rd. to where it meets the NPT, it looks like you could carry a kayak in there without much hassle, but I'm wondering if it would be even worth it.

There are a lot of falls that would need portage and I'm not sure about passing through the Cold River Canyon. I think it's not for more experienced white water kayaker. Maybe someone else could chime in with better beta.

Tomcat 05-13-2020 11:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DSettahr (Post 281426)
Nice photos. This loop is a favorite of mine, and I've done variations on it more times than I can remember offhand.

The Cold River area has definitely seen increased use in recent years, but does largely seem to have escaped much of the particularly high levels of use and impacts that has plagued other areas of the High Peaks (and even broader Adirondack region). I think the 10 mile hike to get into most of the Cold River region keeps most casual backpackers away. (Although I've noticed that illegal tree cutting is starting to be problematic in a few spots, like Duck Hole).

Speaking of Duck Hole- it looks like you skipped it? It's definitely worth a visit, either as a short out and back side trip if you repeat this loop, or even as a destination in its own right (it's about 7 miles from Upper Works to Duck Hole if you wanted to take a 1-2 night trip there in the future). Some consider the ruined dam and drained lake to be a blight but personally I think the area has retained much of it's grandeur. Now you can walk out onto the lake bottom and take in amazing views of the surrounding mountains, and in the summer, the old lake bottom is covered in wildflowers. (And FWIW, even if the state had repaired the dam I'm fairly certain it would've failed anyways... what actually happened is that the water cut a new channel around the dam during Hurricane Irene.)

The Cold River Horse Trail is brushy but worth checking out like Cold River Bob suggests, especially if you like solitude. For the most part, the trail follows old logging roads so the tread is obvious even where the trail is grown in. It's gotten some attention in recent years but it needs a lot more, though. I've stayed at the Northern Lean-tos a few times and they get very little use. On one recent trip there, I found only 3 entries total in the log books since my previous trip there a year prior... and 2 of those 3 entries were from the lean-to adopters.

You can also still find and follow the Petty Cutoff, the old trail that used to connect the NPT and the Horse Trail. It departs the NPT maybe about a quarter mile north of Rondeaus, and follows the Cold River for a bit before crossing it, and ending at the Horse Trail in a clearing about a quarter mile south of the Northern Lean-tos. The trial is shown on the USGS topo maps, and it's not hard to locate either end of it if you keep your eyes peeled. This trail also follows an old logging road for the entire length of the trail so again, the tread is usually obvious... but be warned, the going is thick (it's pretty much a bushwhack at this point).

The long approach from the south (by way of Newcomb Lake/Moose Pond) is also an excellent hike for those desiring of solitude. This trail does get brushy as well but it's not as bad as the Cold River Horse Trail. Moose Pond is beautiful and quiet- there's 2 very nice designated tent sites on the south shore (one of which has gorgeous views). Moose Pond gets a decent amount of hunting pressure in the fall, but the rest of the year it's pretty quiet. Newcomb Lake is super popular with the day visiting crowd (due in part to the daily tours at Great Camp Santanoni) but gets light to moderate camping pressure at best, and also has a number of nice sites (2 lean-tos plus 8 designated tent sites).

10 years ago this fall I did a 60 mile variation on this loop, as a lollipop route of sorts, starting and ending in Newcomb. It remains to date one of my top 5 backpacking trips that I've ever undertaken. Funny enough, my thru-hike of the Susquehannock Trail System, which you mention this trip was a last-minute replacement for due to COVID-19, is also in my top 5.

I skipped Duck Hole but have the NPT thru hike high on my priority list for the year. I'll have to check out the trail on the other side of the river some day. I like the idea of solitude in the High Peaks.
Thanks for sharing the STS pics. I hopefully will hit that before the heat of summer is in full swing.

Cold River Bob 05-13-2020 11:43 AM

The river is to rocky an as a rule it is just about dry in the warmer months. As for the canyon there is a waterfall that drops into it, there is no shore once you go over it for a long ways.
As for the Wolf lake road is not open to the public.

DSettahr 05-13-2020 12:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dayjon (Post 281451)
Really enjoyed reading this. You definitely captured the appeal, and I will certainly consider checking this area out in the future. One question though: could you at all paddle the Cold River? From the pictures it looks a little too shallow. Looking at maps, if you went all the way down Wolf Lake Rd. to where it meets the NPT, it looks like you could carry a kayak in there without much hassle, but I'm wondering if it would be even worth it.

The subject of Wolf Lake Road comes up every so often on these forums (and other Adirondack-related message boards). The reality is that this is not a public road. The portions of it where it crosses state land are closed to public motor vehicle use- it's currently a hiking and horseback riding trail only (and indeed, the portions of the old road on state lands have deteriorated far behind anything that could be considered "drivable"). To the south of the Cold River, where it crosses onto private property, the road is gated and not open to public access (whether by foot or vehicle). This property is owned by Syracuse University and is managed by SUNY ESF. There's a lot of sensitive research projects that are undertaken on the property, hence why public access is not permitted and the property is posted against trespass (even though other SU/ESF properties do permit public access).

Unfortunately, not every map communicates the status of this road accurately. Google Maps is a particularly bad offender in this regard.

Regarding paddling the Cold River: The bulk of the river is too shallow during most of the year to be navigable. It is navigable during the spring runoff but it requires advanced whitewater paddling experience to undertake safely. It has been paddled by expert whitewater paddlers before (I believe even from Duck Hole down the full length of the river). However, due to the challenge of getting boats into the upper reaches of the Cold River drainage, paddlers running the river have been few and far between. There is a smashed up aluminum canoe that can be found along the river not far from the Ouluska Lean-to that is a testament to a failed attempt to run the river.

You can paddle upstream on the river for some distance from where it joins the Raquette River, but just how far you can get depends very much on the water level. It's flat water to a point just downstream of Pine Point (the end of the poorly maintained trail that follows the river downstream from Shattuck Clearing), but in particularly low flows you can be dragging bottom even to get to the Calkins Creek lean-to. In moderate to high flows you can paddle just about to Pine Point but you'll be working against a decent current. The last few hundred feet to Pine Point the river transitions to more of a swift water flow with a strong current, so it's not uncommon to get out and walk upstream on this last stretch to access the old trail. Above Pine Point is generally more trouble than it is worth to travel upstream by boat.

Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, by Paul Jamieson and Donald Morris does have an entry for the Cold River, if you're interested in more information.

DSettahr 05-13-2020 12:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tomcat (Post 281454)
I'll have to check out the trail on the other side of the river some day. I like the idea of solitude in the High Peaks.

Just make sure that your map and compass skills are up to the challenge. Like I said, it does follow an old road most of the way so the tread is usually pretty obvious, but it does otherwise get thick in spots. There's also a few not-very-well marked junctions on the old logging road network that you have to contend with. Hikers have missed these junctions in the past and ended up losing the trail.

The DEC has made efforts to try to work on this trail but there's still a ways to go. A few years ago they flew a crew into Duck Hole with a week's worth of supplies... the plan was that the crew would spend the week cutting the trail open again. In that week, they made it less than a mile from the northern terminus (at the Cold River ford).

A DEC employee did go through last year and put up about 4 or 5 trail markers per mile in either direction on the horse trail (before this, you could go several miles at a time on the horse trail without seeing a single marker) so now at least you've got something to keep you fairly confident you haven't taken a wrong turn. The NPT also got new markers in either direction from Long Lake to Placid last year as well- even this trail was getting a bit sparse with regards to markers on some stretches (you actually have a photo of one of the new markers in your post).

Currently, the confusing junctions on the Cold River horse trail have flipped-over trail markers with sharpied arrows drawn on, but the arrows have already started to fade (so if you see a blank trail marker, it's a good spot to stop and carefully evaluate your surroundings before proceeding). I know that the previously unmarked junctions on the horse trail to the south, to Moose Pond, got new wooden DEC signs with the yellow arrows last summer also- so maybe the similarly confusing junctions on the Cold River horse trail will also get wooden signs soon.

Dayjon 05-13-2020 04:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cold River Bob (Post 281455)
The river is to rocky an as a rule it is just about dry in the warmer months. As for the canyon there is a waterfall that drops into it, there is no shore once you go over it for a long ways.
As for the Wolf lake road is not open to the public.

What about paddling north from Long Lake into the Raquette and then turning into the Cold River?

DuctTape 05-13-2020 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dayjon (Post 281464)
What about paddling north from Long Lake into the Raquette and then turning into the Cold River?

Read post #13. He details the mouth of the river there.

snapper 05-14-2020 09:48 AM

I would echo DSettahr's words about paddling up the Cold River from the Raquette. For many years I led trips for a college program and visited this section of the river many times. Some years the current was strong enough as you approached Pine Point that your paddlers needed some strength to reach the landing point; either that or they'd have to get out and wade up the rest of the way. In other years the water level would be low enough that you'd be doing a lot of wading as soon as you were upstream of the Calkin's Creek shelter. It's a beautiful area but not always easy to reach once you get above the lean-to.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper

DSettahr 05-14-2020 10:33 AM

It's probably also worth mentioning that where the Cold River joins the Raquette River, there's a lot of swampy terrain, backwaters, and side channels. It's a pretty easy area to get turned around in, especially if you manage to get off of the main channel and no longer have the current to help navigate by. Folks have gotten lost here before- the DEC has conducted a few searches over the years for missing paddlers who ended up on the backwaters and just kept going around and around in circles trying to find their way out.

On a somewhat related note, one of these years I'd like to get back there in spring when the water is high, and Lost Channel is navigable (without having to drag your boat over numerous beaver dams along the way).

Festus 05-14-2020 07:09 PM

A friend of mine paddled it from Duck Hole out. He dragged his white water kayak in on skis in the winter and paddled it in Spring at high water. He had a blast and said it was great...

Cold River Bob 05-15-2020 09:04 AM

Festus
Was the friend you are talking about named Mike?
Years ago I had someone by that name wanted to know all about the falls that went into the canyon an if there was any shore there. I told him the canyon went on for quiet a long ways so if he dumped it no way out. He also wanted pictures of the Cold in high water Which I have. I've seen it so high that it was at the base of the bridge by Cr 4, If you have been there you can see where it cut in.


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