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gearhead 02-10-2020 05:17 PM

Short swing trail
Hey guys, I'm going up to pharaoh lake wilderness in may for a three nighter with my son. I think I'm going to come up Thursday afternoon and hike in to tubmill marsh leanto. The question I have is if that leanto is full are there any spots to camp nearby? I know there are none by the leanto but what about down the trail? The next day I'm going to pharaoh lake leanto 3,4 and Saturday we will head to rock pond with sunday the hike out back to short swing trailhead. I'm guessing we will be coming in the dark so I want to make sure I can get a camping spot without to much trouble.

DSettahr 02-10-2020 09:20 PM

There's no established tent sites (designated or otherwise) anywhere near the lean-to. You might see an old fire pit or two down near the shore of the marsh, but this would be an illegal spot to camp (within 150 feet of the water and not at a designated site). If the lean-to is taken you can probably find a primitive site to make work- the woods are pretty open there and it wouldn't be too terribly hard to find something that complies with the 150 foot rule.

I will say that this is probably the least-used lean-to in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness- and with good reason. The marsh is a horrible water source (the water is grimy and mucky), and it's a solid walk to the next nearest water source (Rock Pond Brook to the south). Also, the lean-to gets horrendously buggy in the summer- it's set far enough back off the marsh that any breezes that do pick up during the day don't typically quite make it to the lean-to.

Honey Pond does have a small, established tent site but it's also an illegal site- too close to the water and not designated. Also, the last time I was there, the tent site was just about in the water thanks to beaver activity.

The Lilypad Pond lean-to is a much nicer place to camp than Tubmill Marsh- but there's also no overflow tent sites here, either, and this lean-to is moderately more popular.

Another possible alternative- Arnold Pond is a steep but short climb from the same trailhead, albeit on the north side of the road (Route 74). There is a designated tent site at the pond (it's the fairly obvious site at the end of the trail). If you arrive at the Short Swing Trailhead and see cars there, and/or see a group signed in for Tubmill Marsh, you might consider this option instead. From what I remember, though, the surface of this site is mostly exposed bedrock so if you don't have a free-standing tent, setting up here could be a challenge.

Personally, though, if I were prioritizing visiting Rock Pond, I'd probably hike in from the Putnam Pond side- the trail is a bit shorter and easier, and you can also make a loop out of it by continuing around Putnam Pond. If you have time you could also add Treadway Mountain to your itinerary which provides fantastic views.

If you go this way, Heart Pond has 1 small but nice designated tent site on the east shore, and Bear Pond has a nice designated tent site on the south shore. There's also 3 designated tent sites on Rock Pond in addition to the 2 lean-tos- 1 just north of the Rock Pond Lean-to, 1 on the north shore, and 1 on the west shore (just north of the outlet). Clear Pond has 1 designated tent site on the west shore, and Grizzle Ocean has 1 designated tent site on the east shore (a bit hard to find but it's set uphill and away from the pond on the opposite side of the trail).

I hope this is helpful. Good luck!

Justin 02-11-2020 08:34 AM


Originally Posted by gearhead (Post 280275)
Hey guys, I'm going up to pharaoh lake wilderness in may for a three nighter with my son. I think I'm going to come up Thursday afternoon and hike in to tubmill marsh leanto. The question I have is if that leanto is full are there any spots to camp nearby?

I say you’d have a pretty good chance the lean-to would be unoccupied arriving on a Thursday. Like D mentioned not many people really camp there, but some do. Every time I pass by there on a weekend it is open.

DSettahr 02-11-2020 10:13 AM


Originally Posted by gearhead (Post 280275)
Hey guys, I'm going up to pharaoh lake wilderness in may for a three nighter with my son.


Originally Posted by DSettahr (Post 280278)
When are you planning this trip for? Are you planning this trip for this time of year (winter), or are you getting started early on planning a summer trip?

Well, apparently my reading comprehension skills are failing me. I blame the lower case "m" in "May." :) (In reality it was probably posting after a long day at work.)

Depending on when in May... don't underestimate Pharaoh bugs. Black flies at least go away at night, but by late May the mosquitoes are typically already starting to come out in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness- and they just get worse once the sun sets. Once the mosquitoes are out, bug nets are a "must have" for lean-to camping in the Pharaoh area, IMO.

If you went in early May you might beat the bugs entirely.

I will also add that RE: the Tubmill vs Putnam approach: In May, the falls on the outlet of Rock Pond will be going pretty good, and if you went from Putnam you might miss them (unless you were willing to add a side trip down the outlet to the falls and back). Later on in the summer, the falls slow to a trickle and aren't really worth adding effort to see (or planning your trip around for that matter), but in May they'll likely be impressive.

The falls are located at the marker on this map. If the leaves are out, they can be hidden from the trail and easy to miss- but you'll probably hear them in May. If hiking from Lilypad Pond, the trail will descend steadily for about half a mile, then make a gentle turn to the right before ascending again. Just as the trail is starting to make the climb up to Rock Pond, look for a moderately well-worn but unmarked side trail to the left- this will lead about 100-200 feet or so to the base of the falls.

I did essentially the same trip you're looking at nearly 10 years ago. To date, my friend and I are the only people I've ever seen camped at the Tubmill Marsh Lean-to, despite having hiked through there numerous times in the years since. You do see the occaisional entry in the log book from groups camping there but it definitely gets little use (for the reasons I posted above). I agree with Justin- I think your chances of getting the lean-to on a Thursday night are pretty good at any time of the year- but bring a tent anyways as you can never be 100% sure (even if the parking lot is empty, there's always another way someone could've hiked in).

gearhead 02-11-2020 01:17 PM

Sounds like a plan. I figured I could find a spot in the woods if needed. As far as the bugs go I have lots of experiance with them that's why I climbed the 46 in May and October. I thru hiked the NPT in May and caught a few black flys but from my experiance there is a big diffrence between early and late May in the ADK'S. This trio sounds lime it will be a great time. Thanks again for the help.

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