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WildYogiInTheWoods 06-13-2015 01:52 PM

Where to start planning a backpacking trip?
Hi all-

I'm planning a backpacking trip over fourth of July weekend… I know, holiday's are crowded everywhere! But we have to use "free" days off when we can get them.

I could use some advice on planning our trip… I've seen lists of different regions, suggested hikes, etc, but I'm not even sure how to pick which part of the park to hike in! We'll be arriving some time probably late Thursday morning/early afternoon, hike for a few hours Thursday, all day Friday & Saturday, and head back on Sunday. We're in decent shape, but probably don't want to kill ourselves due to the long drive back, and straight to work (early) Monday. Would prefer not to use a shuttle, so loops are great. Some lakes would be nice.

I'd love some advice on where to start our planning, what areas you recommend, even your favorite specific routes.

Thank you!

dundee 06-13-2015 03:49 PM

Grab some ADK guidebooks or Bill Ingersol's "Discover" series and read about the various areas of the park. You can pick places near your location, areas with ponds/lakes or areas of deep forest, whatever. ADK used to/still does ? publsih the ADK Sampler II by Bruce Wadsworth. If it's out of print, you can probably find it on amazon, ebay/ Bruce has a great gear checklist in the book.

Like you said, certain areas will be packed with people so take a tent. a stove is highly recommended as firewood is non-existant in most places. The High Peaks and Pharaoh Lake areas are the most used in the park and will be crowed, but you may find a secluded spot even in these locations on a holiday w/e; you don't never know!

Justin 06-13-2015 06:42 PM

Where to start...
Welcome WildYogIntheWoods,
I agree, guidebooks are a great source of info for the Adirondacks, especially for those little known campsites that many folks seem to seek this time of year, which usually is something that most folks here are not really willing to share publicly...for obvious reasons. My best advice is to check out a few maps & guidebooks, pick an area, maybe ask a few more specific questions about a certain area, have fun & enjoy, and pleaee keep it clean!
Another good place to start planning any camping trip is the NYSDEC website...
Good luck! :thumbs:

WildYogiInTheWoods 06-14-2015 08:51 PM

Thanks for the advice & book recommendations. I'm trying to find descriptions of the different regions of the park (including the overviews of the "Discover" series), so I can purchase an area-specific guide & map. I definitely get that the High Peaks region is the most popular… why is that? Is it simply the attraction/challenge of so many peaks to scale? Or is the scenery best there?

As a side note, as my libraries selection of Adirondack books is terrible, so I will probably also pick up a used copy of the ADK Sampler II. I googled it, and it comes up on about 4 hits as a "free download" if you create an account. I'm not going to do it, as the web addresses, and the whole thing really, feels really shady, and not entirely legal!

Brookie hunter 06-14-2015 09:08 PM

Go to that has some descriptions of all the areas of the park including maps, find a general area you like then get the guidebooks for the area and do some more research on it.

dundee 06-15-2015 07:31 AM

[QUOTE=WildYogiInTheWoods;232927]Thanks for the advice & book recommendations. I'm trying to find descriptions of the different regions of the park (including the overviews of the "Discover" series), so I can purchase an area-specific guide & map. I definitely get that the High Peaks region is the most popular… why is that? Is it simply the attraction/challenge of so many peaks to scale? Or is the scenery best there?


I generally stay away from the Wild Forest areas of the park. Some use of motor vehicles are allowed in these areas and they are sometimes overrun by illegal ATV use.

Wilderness Areas alloow no vehicle use and, IMO, more scenic.

The High Peaks has more trails than any other area, big mountains with sweeping views, more lean-tos and tentsites and the challenge of climbing the 46 peaks over 4,000' draws many people. Don't staw away from the High Peaks, but remember, you almost always have to share everything. You also must take a bear canister into the Eastern High Peaks and no campfires are allowed there.

Boreal Fox 06-15-2015 05:02 PM

I would recommend the Wilderness areas of the ADKs as they are the most wild and primal-feeling parts of the park where you can see nobody days (on July 4th weekend last year my partner and I had High Falls all to ourselves) except for the local indigenous populations of wild animals.

WildYogiInTheWoods 06-17-2015 02:21 PM

Thanks Boreal Fox! That's exactly the kind of advice I'm looking for. Narrowing it down!

WildYogiInTheWoods 06-17-2015 02:54 PM

I've read through everything I can find online about the regions, and I'm at a loss! Of course they all sound great to me. Seriously, how do you decide where to go in a place this big and beautiful? I'd rather just buy one guidebook as it will likely be awhile before I can get back here.

I came across this advice in another thread:

"A non-high peaks option would be camping in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area with hikes up Pharaoh Mt. Treadwell or just doing loops from camp."

What do you think about that? Is that going to be a crazy busy area? Are we missing the beauty of the High Peaks? I'm thinking hiking in a bit with packs, then doing peaks/etc from a base-camp would be great, as my husband's not feeling in tip-top shape for this trip (i.e. he doesn't want to carry his pack up a mountain).

Any advice on how to choose a region, or suggestions for a specific wilderness area… or specific 3 day 3 night hike would be much appreciated!

dundee 06-17-2015 06:15 PM

Do ALL the areas, but not all in one day! ;) Pharaoh will be busy and chances are you will not have anywhere to yourselves.

I don't know where you're coming from (your home base camp) , that may make a difference. You probably don't want to drive forever.

A tent is pretty much needed these days and you'll want it to keep the bugs out at night.

The 4th throws a monkey in the wrench; it's just busy in the woods. Another w/e???

stripperguy 06-17-2015 07:22 PM


You have to ask yourself if you would prefer more water or more mountain. The high peaks are beautiful, but as you've been told, they will be busy. If staying overnight, a bear canister is required in the eastern high peaks zone, and no fires are allowed. Keep in mind, many of the trails are muddy, rugged and steep.

There are plenty of other mountains to climb, some with views just as spectacular as the high peaks.

There are also thousands of lakes, ponds and streams (I'm not exaggerating), with plenty of smaller mountains to enjoy. If you have a canoe, bring it, IMO the best of the ADK's is seen from a canoe. There are also outfitters that will rent you a boat and even run a shuttle for you. There are many wilderness lakes and ponds, with all the solitude you could want, as well as great swimming and natural beaches. And wait, there's more!! Some fun climbs have water only access to the trailheads...

Sooo, would you rather do more mountains, or spend more time on/near water?

WildYogiInTheWoods 06-17-2015 09:18 PM

Stripperguy, that second photo really makes me want to paddle! I'll have to make it back some day for that though, my husband's not much of a swimmer, so he gets a little squirrely on the water!

But we both love to be near water (& I'll take a dip)… so I would say smaller mountains with lots of water around would be perfect. Don't really need to bag a bunch of peaks on this trip.

Dundee to answer your question we're coming from Indiana… a looooong drive any way you slice it! I know another weekend would be much better… but we're banking days off for a big trip (to India) in the fall, so we have to use free days off whenever we can get them!

dundee 06-18-2015 06:14 AM

Indiana? Holy Crap! You'll need a vacation just because you drove all that way to go on a vacation!

Maybe you can go for Rock or Clear Ponds in the Pharaoh area. You're bound to run into other folks and find the lean-tos occupied, but there are good tensites on both ponds and they have great swimming with clear water. You can make a daytrip up Treadway Mt. from Clear; you could from Rock Pond, too, it's just a little farther.

You could try for Middle Settlement Lake in the Ha-De-Ron-Da Wilderness Area. Lean-to and tentsite, good swim.

Boreal Fox 06-18-2015 10:49 AM

If you're coming from Indiana then the western Adirondacks may be ideal. The Five Ponds and the West Canada Lakes wilderness areas are incredibly beautiful and plenty of old growth forest still in the western parts. Lots of grouse, woodcock, beavers, bears, moose, and other forest friends.

stripperguy 06-19-2015 08:06 AM

Are you still there, wildyogi?
A loop through part of the west canada's could be just the ticket. Easy access via dirt roads, then about a 15 mile loop through some beautiful and history filled wilderness. You could take a side trip to French Louie's cave, a very cool spot that few visit. Many great lakes and ponds along the loop.You can loop the dirt road on the way out, there is a good climb to a fire tower on Wakely Mt, it's a tall one!! (the tower)
There are multiple online topo maps for you to study, like here.

WildYogiInTheWoods 06-19-2015 09:53 AM

I'm still here, thanks stripperguy :)

West Canada is exactly what I was thinking! Glad to hear I might be on the right track. Sounds like Eastern (Pharaoh) has everything but is pretty heavily used, and SW (Ha-de-ron-dah) and NW (Five Ponds) are lovely & quiet, but no major peaks. (At least that's what the description on the "Discover the Adirondacks" books main page says.) West Canada might be the best of both worlds… yes?

I'm open to other suggestions, but I think I'll nab the guide & map for the West Central region and nail this trip down!

Dundee, yeah it's gonna be a haul! Good thing I like road trips. ;) Indiana is kind of a dead zone when it comes to great hiking opportunities… If you want actual mountains the Smokies are the only thing within a reasonable drive (6 hours to the closest parts). We've done them many times though, and they are incredibly crowded on holidays (it's consistently the most visited national park).

PS- Stripperguy, where is that first pic from?

Bark Eater Too 06-19-2015 10:15 AM

+1 for West Canada. Beautiful and remote. Enjoy!

stripperguy 06-19-2015 02:56 PM

That's the view from Noonmark...
Here is a link to photos from a trip I did to Cedar Lakes, we carried and paddled, there is even more to see when hiking.

WildYogiInTheWoods 06-19-2015 09:53 PM

Thanks for sharing your trip photos! Wilderness paddling is definitely something I'd like to experience… I've been holding out on Pictured Rocks Natl. Lakeshore in Michigan in order to go by boat. Looks like I'll have to be heading back to the Adirondacks as well.

One more question before I dive into West Canada… Does one need a vehicle with AWD to plug along the dirt roads towards the trails? Or will my trusty compact car (Honda Fit) be sufficient?

Also (sorry that's 2), a bear canister isn't needed in this part of the park, right? Just Eastern High Peaks? I know I'll have to get one eventually, but I need to replace some other gear & I like to spread out financial pain & suffering.

stripperguy 06-20-2015 08:07 AM

On most of the roads in the Moose River Plains (where you'll start your hiking loop), any ordinary car is OK. Even on some of the lesser maintained roads, I've seen some pretty low clearance cars parked at the Pillsbury Mt. trailhead.
Bear canisters are only required in the Eastern High Peaks zone.
Will you promise to take photos and share your impressions of the ADK's? I believe the ADK park is one of New York's greatest treasures, more so than almost any national park.

And don't worry about asking too many questions, we're here to help.

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