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Old 07-26-2019, 11:55 AM   #11
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,304
Yep, Pharaoh is consistently one of the buggiest spots in the Adirondacks. The shores of any lake or pond during the day often aren't too bad as there is usually a breeze keeping them at bay. But in the woods or after dark, they can be vicious. I've actually hauled a full bug house into the Pharaoh backcountry before just to get some respite without having to rely on the smoke from a fire.

The trails in Pharaoh do actually dry out pretty well, unlike much of the rest of the Adirondacks. But as you noticed, there's also a lot of little ups and downs that add up over longer distances to a level of ruggedness that is at least a little bit greater than what a casual glance at the map might suggest.

Crane Pond does have a reputation for being a bit of a spot where campers are seeking a more... social experience than a true Wilderness one. Solitude isn't exactly a high priority for many who camp there regularly. It's actually not as bad as it was 7 or 8 years ago (it's a bit less of a "full on party spot" than it used to be). Generators definitely aren't permitted there in any case, however.

For that matter, Pharaoh Lake also get a bit crazy. I've counted 85 people camped on Pharaoh Lake in a single evening in the past, with day users putting the total number of people on the lake at one time at well over 100. FWIW, the north shore tent sites tend to be a little bit quieter. The south shore- especially the vicinity of the outlet (Lean-tos 1, 2, 5, and 6 and the nearby tent sites) can get pretty crazy. Granted, Pharaoh is a big lake and it can handle a lot of people- if they spread out, and if they behave themselves. Those are unfortunately sometimes too very big "ifs."

The "back stretch" (Rock and Clear Ponds, plus Grizzle Ocean) tends to stay a bit quieter- relatively speaking, anyways.

For all of the area's issues, there are definitely a lot of qualities to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness that make it an attractive destination nevertheless. The campsites are consistently nice in a way that exceeds (I think) just about any other management unit in the Adirondack Park. Some of the lakes and ponds provide the best backcountry swimming in the Adirondacks also (IMO). And the open forest (mixed hemlocks, pines, and hardwoods) that covers much of the area makes the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness a bushwhacker's paradise.

The key, I think, it to plan visits to the Pharaoh area for late October/early November. After all of the fair weather hikers have hung up their hiking boots for the season, and well after the bugs have all disappeared.

Last edited by DSettahr; 07-26-2019 at 02:24 PM..
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