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Old 06-10-2016, 06:39 AM   #1
Josh Seeley
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Favorite Lean To in Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

I know this is a definite favorite area of the Adirondack Park for many of us. I have done a fair amount of backpacking in this area years ago, but have not been in a long time. Would anyone be so kind and generous, as to be willing to share your favorite spots in this area? Swim spot? Favorite View? Etc.

What is your favorite lean to in this area? If I recall correctly, Oxshoe Pond is a nice one. has anyone ever stayed at Tubmill Marsh or Lillypad Pond? Do tell...

Anything else? Anything recent? Crowds? Bugs? Mud? (Yes, yes, and yes?!)

Thanks!
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:56 AM   #2
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Oxshoe for me. You look across at the rock wall and, on a still day, you can't whee the wall ends and the water begins.
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Old 06-10-2016, 07:03 AM   #3
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I'm not much for lean-tos, but Split Rock is probably my favorite and usually visit every fall. Tubmill least favorite...no view no swimming & buggy as hell! Lilypad is nice, but not great for swimming. Many great memories at Clear Pond, Rock Pond, Little Rock, & Watch Rock Point. Not a big fan of Grizzle lean-to. Berrymill is unique and dosen't seem to get over used. Oxshoe is gorgeous & great for swimming with the rock ledge directly across, but it's super popular.
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Old 06-10-2016, 01:34 PM   #4
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When you say Split Rock... Would that be Rock Pond (north) or little Rock Pond (south)? I can certainly check both out!

DSETTAHR... Have any thoughts here? I know you're an ADK leanto guru.

Other than the normal regulation, anything special is this area with regard to pitching a tent?

Thanks!
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Old 06-10-2016, 01:44 PM   #5
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When you say Split Rock...
Pharaoh Lake #4, AKA Split Rock Bay lean-to.

As for DSettahr... Not sure if he'll be responding here anytime soon, but you may run into him in the area.

Last edited by Justin; 06-10-2016 at 01:56 PM.. Reason: 4, not 5 sorry.
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Old 06-10-2016, 01:56 PM   #6
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Thank you brother! Much appreciated.
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:07 PM   #7
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The "Watch Rock" leanto is no more.
On a vantage point overlooking the lake.
Many of you may not know that it ever existed.
Jim
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:20 PM   #8
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The "Watch Rock" leanto is no more.
On a vantage point overlooking the lake.
Many of you may not know that it ever existed.
Jim
Yeah the old lean-to out on Watch Rock Point proper burnt down sometime in the late 80s or early 90s I believe. I've never stayed there, but I remember being in it as a kid on several ski trips with my father. Today, the double-wide lean-to a couple hundred yards from the point is commonly referred to as the Watch Rock lean-to, or Pharaoh Lake #5, and it is another very popular location.
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:42 PM   #9
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Yeah the old lean-to out on Watch Rock Point proper burnt down sometime in the late 80s or early 90s I believe. I've never stayed there, but I remember being in it as a kid on several ski trips with my father. Today, the double-wide lean-to a couple hundred yards from the point is commonly referred to as the Watch Rock lean-to, or Pharaoh Lake #5, and it is another very popular location.
Yep,
After the "wilderness" act the presence of a caretaker and the demolition of the cabin at the outlet was deemed not to fit the definition of "wilderness".
Not to mention that the wood road to Pharaoh was used by generations of genuine Adirondackers who were better caretakers than the newbies who burned the leanto at Watch Rock, burned holes in the floor in other leantos and distributed their garbage in other sites.
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Old 06-10-2016, 04:53 PM   #10
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Jim, I feel your pain man!
We've chatted about it a few times now.
Just curious...When was your last visit to Pharaoh Lake?
I've personally seen the change from my visits as a kid in the '80s right on up to the present day. My last visit was this past April. Thankfully there are many of us who visit the area often & try to do the right thing like cleaning up trash & chatting with others about proper backwoods etiquette. But I agree, if you're gonna close the road, then close the road all the way. That extra mile of hiking may (or may not) help deter a few of those inconsiderate individuals who abuse the place, which is mostly near that southern end in my experience.
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:29 PM   #11
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Jim, I feel your pain man!
We've chatted about it a few times now.
Just curious...When was your last visit to Pharaoh Lake?
I've personally seen the change from my visits as a kid in the '80s right on up to the present day. My last visit was this past April. Thankfully there are many of us who visit the area often & try to do the right thing like cleaning up trash & chatting with others about proper backwoods etiquette. But I agree, if you're gonna close the road, then close the road all the way. That extra mile of hiking may (or may not) help deter a few of those inconsiderate individuals who abuse the place, which is mostly near that southern end in my experience.
Justin,
I'm an old timer,
My kids all learned to swim at Pharaoh in the 60's.
My last vist there was in the 70's right after the "wilderness act".
i was disgusted at the amount of garbage left there by supposed environmentalists.
I'm ranting, excuse me.
Jim
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:53 PM   #12
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No worries, Jim.
Thanks for your reply.
Be well my friend.
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Old 06-13-2016, 04:17 PM   #13
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Thanks, Justin.
I feel like the old timer who sat around the stove when the youngsters were out hunting.
But my memories are accurate.
Thanks for the respect.
jim
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Old 06-14-2016, 11:18 PM   #14
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All of the Pharaoh Lake Lean-tos are heavily used. I've counted more than 80 people camped on the lake in a single night, and the UMP for the area indicates that Pharaoh Lake is the most popular backcountry destination in the Adirondacks outside of the High Peaks Wilderness Area. #5 is by far the most popular lean-to, followed by #1 and #3. If you want good odds at being able to stay in any lean-to at Pharaoh Lake, though, you typically either need to go mid-week or get an early start on Friday (or possibly even Thursday). There are 11 designated tent sites on the lake in addition to the 6 lean-tos, and I know that the DEC is also working on getting a few more tent sites designated to handle periods of high use. Pharaoh also gets a good share of larger groups that tend to fully take over lean-tos, so even though they are supposed to be shared, realistically, this isn't always easy to do there.

#5 in particular is an area that the DEC has put a lot of effort into in recent years. In addition to repairing the roof, they've established several revegetation areas around the lean-to in an effort to rehabilitate the area from decades of high levels of use and impact. The success of these revegetation areas is essential to the long term future of the lean-to- the DEC has repeatedly warned that if the area surrounding the lean-to does not revegetate, then the lean-to will likely be torn down and the area closed to camping. So if you camp here, please be super respectful to the surrounding areas and stay out of the revegetation plots so that they actually revegetate.

Also, someone recently burnt a hole in the floor of #2 by starting a fire inside the lean-to. The DEC currently has a piece of plywood nailed over the hole, and according to an entry in the lean-to log book, will fully repair it soon.

Oxshoe is a nice lean-to in a beautiful spot but it also gets a lot of use. A lot of people target that pond specifically for weekend camping, and it also gets a lot of use by groups heading south to Pharaoh Lake from Crane Pond to shorten either their first or last day of hiking. There is one designated tent site (just north of the lean-to) and numerous closed sites near the lean-to- make sure you're in the legal site if you end up tenting instead of using the lean-to (or camped 150+ feet from trail and water).

If your map shows a lean-to at Crab, be aware that this lean-to does not exist, and has not ever existed. Someone goofed on the DEC's end with regards to inventorying campsites and lean-tos in the area (I believe that a campsite was mistakenly recorded as a lean-to), and the mistake wasn't caught until after National Geographic issued the first Trails Illustrated map covering the area.

Tubmill Marsh is probably the least-used lean-to in the entire Wilderness Area. It's on a trail that gets relatively little use, and the lean-to isn't very scenic, as it is located several hundred feet back from the water (and the water is definitely a marsh, not a pond). There's nothing horrible about it, though, and if you're looking for solitude while camping at a lean-to in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, though, this one is probably your best bet. I've had some very peaceful, quiet nights there.

Lillypad Pond is nice and gets moderate levels of use. It's set back from the water, in a nice stand of red pines.

Rock Pond is nice and also popular. Little Rock Pond is set back from the water but is also a nice place to camp, and is less popular than Rock Pond. There are 3 designated tent sites on Rock Pond in addition to the two lean-tos, one just north of the Rock Pond Lean-to, one on the north shore of Rock Pond, and one of the west shore of Rock Pond (just north of the outlet).

Clear Pond is set back from the water a bit as well, but does have a really nice view from a small peninsula nearby. This lean-to is also moderately popular. There is 1 designated tent site (on the west shore) on Clear Pond in addition to the lean-to.

Grizzle Ocean is probably the most popular of the lean-tos near Putnam Pond- I think a lot of people want to camp there because of the unique name. There is one designated tent site on Grizzle Ocean in addition to the lean-to, on the east shore.

I haven't been to the new Berrymill Pond Lean-to yet, but I hear it is nice. That lean-to in the past has gotten moderate levels of use, although I suspect that interest in seeing the new lean-to will probably result in moderately increased use in the near future.

For swimming, any of the lean-tos on Pharaoh Lake would be good, as would many of the tent sites. Oxshoe Pond is OK for swimming. I've never swam there but Clear Pond also looks like it would be good. Crane Pond has good swimming also (but no lean-tos, and it can get crowded also). Rock Pond looks like it would be good for swimming but I've heard numerous stories from different sources about leaches there. Berrymill Pond is kind of marshy along the shoreline, as are Grizzle Ocean and Lillypad Pond. Swimming is definitely not an option at Tubmill Marsh.

As a final note: Tree cutting has also been a major problem in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, not just at Pharaoh Lake but at several other locations as well. Some of the sites on Pharaoh Lake are surrounded by 100+ (in at least one case, 200+) stumps where trees were illegally cut. Firewood can be extremely difficult to locate in close proximity to many sites. Behavior like this is what resulted in the fire ban in the Eastern High Peaks, so please, if you plan to have fires in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, do what you can to minimize the impacts. As usual, refrain from cutting standing trees, alive or dead. Do what you can also to minimize the rate of fuel consumption- keep your fires small in either size or duration. You might also try holding off on starting the fire until late afternoon or evening.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:17 AM   #15
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#5 in particular is an area that the DEC has put a lot of effort into in recent years. In addition to repairing the roof, they've established several revegetation areas around the lean-to in an effort to rehabilitate the area from decades of high levels of use and impact. The success of these revegetation areas is essential to the long term future of the lean-to- the DEC has repeatedly warned that if the area surrounding the lean-to does not revegetate, then the lean-to will likely be torn down and the area closed to camping. So if you camp here, please be super respectful to the surrounding areas and stay out of the revegetation plots so that they actually revegetate.
So why doesn't DEC close the roads into Crane & Pharaoh Lakes??? They obviously have the energy, manpower and materials to re-roof, patch a floor and re-vegetate, but not to close the roads and to cut down on the number of people? Hello, DEC, can you read???
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:08 AM   #16
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So why doesn't DEC close the roads into Crane & Pharaoh Lakes??? They obviously have the energy, manpower and materials to re-roof, patch a floor and re-vegetate, but not to close the roads and to cut down on the number of people? Hello, DEC, can you read???
To be fair, other than the Bear Mtn duff fire last fall, and the occasional rowdy party campers, I don't think Crane sees half the abuse that Pharaoh Lake gets. I believe the reason for that is exactly what this thread is about....lean-tos.
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Old 06-15-2016, 01:12 PM   #17
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Pharaoh also gets a good share of larger groups that tend to fully take over lean-tos, so even though they are supposed to be shared, realistically, this isn't always easy to do there.
Aren't most of the lean-tos designed for 8 people? If so, then it makes sense, that since the largest allowable camping group is also 8 that they would use the entire lean-to.

Another reason that it is likely popular with larger groups is that with the number of different possible places to camp (sites and structures both) it is probably one of a few places where a group in the 9-15 person range can go (being legal during the day by day hiking with less than 16 people but then splitting to camp at least a mile apart in 2 smaller groups of 8 or less?
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:49 PM   #18
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So why doesn't DEC close the roads into Crane & Pharaoh Lakes??? They obviously have the energy, manpower and materials to re-roof, patch a floor and re-vegetate, but not to close the roads and to cut down on the number of people? Hello, DEC, can you read???
The road to Pharaoh has been closed to vehicular traffic since the early 70's.
Prior to that, the state maintained a remote cabin at the foot of the lake and employed a seasonal ranger to maintain a presence of authority.
It was a perfect scenario.
A remote lake, accessed by 4 wheel drive vehicles with the presence of a state employee.
They had canoes and rowboats for rentals and a (sometimes) working telephone for use in emergencies.
Then came the "Wilderness" act.
I'm sorry, but the Pharaoh Lake region hasn't been a wilderness for generations.
We cannot create Wilderness.
Jim
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:57 PM   #19
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To be fair, other than the Bear Mtn duff fire last fall, and the occasional rowdy party campers, I don't think Crane sees half the abuse that Pharaoh Lake gets. I believe the reason for that is exactly what this thread is about....lean-tos.
But the road to Crane should still be closed as it gets its own kind of abuse like jet skies.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:21 PM   #20
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But the road to Crane should still be closed as it gets its own kind of abuse like jet skies.
That would be just fine by me. I have nothing against closing either road, but I do see & enjoy the benefit of keeping Crane Pond Rd open, and fail to see any benefit keeping Pharaoh Road open to the Mill Brook parking area, other than making it easier for lean-to abusers.
I've never seen a jet ski at Crane in all the years of going there, but I have seen people using trolling motors, and I've always made it a point to have a friendly conversation mentioning that they are prohibited. More times than not they are unaware, and it results in a positive outcome. But every now & again you get someone who tells you to "eat sh!t" and continues to do what ever they want. That's when I notify the DEC about the incident to make them aware. As a matter of fact, I may be heading back to Crane again this weekend. I'll keep you posted on how horrible it is.
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