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Old 04-22-2021, 06:43 PM   #5
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,374
I sat down with the map and wrote up a more detailed list of conditions based on my memory from my last trip through there (summer 2019):

From the Santanoni Gatehouse to the turn off with the direct route to Moose Pond is in excellent shape- this stretch is maintained for administrative motor vehicle access as well as horse-drawn carriage/cart access to Great Camp Santanoni on Newcomb Lake. The public is welcome to hike and ride bikes also.

From there to Moose Pond itself is in decent shape- there is some moderate blowdown but the route otherwise is a wide old road. Things start to get a bit brushy the closer you get to Moose Pond but the route is never not obvious. As previously mentioned, the short side trip down to Moose Pond is worth the added distance- this is a very pretty and (seemingly) remote body of water that gets few visitors.

North of Moose Pond is where the fun really begins. The trail does get brushy and there are some decent blowdowns, but the route follows an old logging road at least as far as Calahan Brook and the route is obvious until that point. There is a designated tent site at Ermine Brook, but it's not the greatest site ever. It's basically a grassy clearing about 100 feet north of the Ermine Brook crossing that the trail passes right through the middle of.

Between Calahan Brook and the junction with the Cold River Horse Trail is where things really get dicey. The trail leaves the old logging road (or the logging road ends, I've never been able to figure out either way on any of the 4 times I've hiked through here). It then joins another old logging road at one of the aforementioned newly-signed junctions. It then passes through the other newly-signed junction. On the north side of the hill due east of the crossing of Moose Pond Stream (where the lean-tos are located) is the stretch where the tread pretty much entirely disappears.

Once you hit the junction with the Cold River Horse Trail, it's pretty much smooth sailing from there- you're on a well-established old logging road all the way up to Shattuck Clearing.

If you're thinking about adding on the side trip down the Cold River from Shattuck Clearing to Pine Point, be aware that this trail is really well overgrown and gets super brushy in spots- it's just about gone in quite a few sections.

The NPT does have some beaver meadows to deal with between Shattuck Clearing and Long Lake. There is at least 1 reroute around one of the meadows, but FWIW I was able to hike through the meadow on dry ground the last time I went through there (spring 2020).

The trail along Long Lake tends to stay back pretty far from the lake- to get good views you have to take side trails out to the lean-to sites spread along the shoreline. Some of these side trails are marked and obvious, others... not so much. I think the motorboat crowd that frequents these lean-tos in the summer has a bad habit of tearing down lean-to signs when they are posted on the NPT itself to try to cut down on the number of hikers who come wandering into "their" campsites looking for space to stay.

If you had an extra night I'd suggest going by way of Newcomb Lake rather than cutting straight up to Moose Pond. Great Camp Santanoni is pretty neat and worth a visit, and there's a bunch of fairly nice designated tent sites located on the southeast shore of Newcomb Lake in the vicinity of the great camp. The two lean-tos on Newcomb Lake are also really nice. However, I will add that the cross-over trail connecting the north end of Newcomb Lake with the direct trail to Moose Pond is also in pretty rough shape. Someone from the DEC put up new markers on this also a few years ago but there's nevertheless a few spots here and there where it can be a real challenge to follow.
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