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Old 07-09-2013, 11:42 AM   #1
wildchild
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Backpacking Trip - Remote but still designated sites?

Hi all! I lurk from time to time as you all have the best most up to date information out there and have helped my family out immensely in the past. I asked a question like this in the past regarding canoe camping with our young daughter, but now we have finally graduated to a real backpack and she can carry her own weight (almost).

I read a thread here titled "Sharing Campsites" that has me worried about our upcoming summer trip. We never used to go during the summer because of the crowds, but with a school schedule we have been forced to join the masses, and actually have had a fair amount of luck. We still seek out remote, private spots - we do not go out into the wilderness for a social experience. We have been pretty successful in navigating and finding those special places from the water and we've been fortunate to enjoy the experience of other boaters tending to value their privacy as well. But we used to love to go to such places as the west Canada lakes wilderness and spruce lake which it sounds like over the past 10 years has gotten much more popular.

I am reaching out for any and all advice (PMs welcomed!) for recommendations or even regions to avoid due to popularity at this time of year. We were thinking a 4-5 mile backpack in is completely do-able... with a break we might be able to go an additional 2 miles or so if we had to in order to find a private site. We had heard about the Ha-de-ron-dah wilderness area but it also sounds very popular, maybe an off-season trip? Our hope is to find a) a site near/on a swimmable body of water that is b) secluded enough that we won't get campers coming up expecting to camp with us and c) is not too close to another site that will make it so we must keep our dog leashed the entire time...

We do think we need a designated site (kiddo still wants a small fire), but are willing to travel and leave early Thursday morning.... Thank you so much for ANY and all advice - even if it is to tell us to get back in our boat! Just trying to take advantage of our daughter's enthusiasm to backpack! Thanks again!
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:05 PM   #2
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Check with DEC, but I don't think you need a designated site in order to have a fire. (Fires are banned in the Eastern High Peaks, but I doubt you want to go to that area anyway, based on seeking solitude.) My recommendation - replace a couple miles of that trail hike with about a half mile bushwhack, and you will be guaranteed solitude. The challenge will be finding a good camp site, but a few quick recons with a light day pack migght help with that. Find a secret spot!
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:16 PM   #3
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I went camping at Chub Pond a few weeks ago on a Friday to Saturday trip and didn't see a single person. There is a nice campsite, not sure if it's legal, right at the jct. of the trip to #2 lean-to. There was a fire ring there. Could have stayed at the lean-to as there wasn't anyone else around. Decent spot to swim at the lean-to. The other lean-to that has the skylights etc. is in a lousy location.
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:22 PM   #4
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Check with DEC, but I don't think you need a designated site in order to have a fire.
Expanding on TCD's post.... please be sure you understand the DEC regulations and follow LNT guidelines for primitive backcountry camping. When you depart from a primitive site, other than perhaps some temporary footprints, a day or two later no one should be able to detect that you had camped there. This includes any evidence of having a campfire. Rangers and ECOs are happy to answer any questions directly about specific areas. Just call ahead.
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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I went camping at Chub Pond a few weeks ago on a Friday to Saturday trip and didn't see a single person. There is a nice campsite, not sure if it's legal, right at the jct. of the trip to #2 lean-to. There was a fire ring there. Could have stayed at the lean-to as there wasn't anyone else around. Decent spot to swim at the lean-to. The other lean-to that has the skylights etc. is in a lousy location.
loved chubb pond... that spot is a nice one looking up the lake...i think there was room if you follow left of the first LT it comes to a point there mights have been room to tent there ??? either way what a nice place....ny the LT #2 follow to the lake, im sure theres a spot there..
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:38 PM   #6
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[But we used to love to go to such places as the west Canada lakes wilderness and spruce lake which it sounds like over the past 10 years has gotten much more popular]

Regarding the West Canada lakes Wilderness; I have camped/backpacked there for 3 of the last 4 years on trips of 6-7 days in length. On only 1 occasion have I shared a camp site. Bottom line; if I want solitude I go to the W.C.L.W, if I want altitude etc I go to the Eastern High Peaks.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:14 PM   #7
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Expanding on TCD's post....
Yes, thanks, Wldrns. I was in a hurry to get to lunch, and then I thought while I was eating that I should have included something on LNT in my post. Thanks again. - Tom
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Old 07-09-2013, 05:39 PM   #8
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I'll suggest maybe the Newcomb Lake or the Cold River areas.
Pharaoh region has many tent sites also, but not necessarily designated.
In general, from my own experience I've found that if you stay away from lean-tos, and are not shooting for a campsite that has easy boat/canoe access, you have a good chance at suitable solitude.
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Old 07-09-2013, 05:53 PM   #9
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I'll 2nd Newcomb Lake. You can hire a horse & wagon guide (Mr. Dillon?) to take you, your gear & canoe to the lake and then paddle to the farthest designated site you can find. Pretty quiet in there.
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:23 PM   #10
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Solitude can be found in the West Canadas, if, as has been said, you steer clear of lean-to's. Cedar Lakes is gorgeous and there are established sites that I have never seen occupied in the 10 or so times I've been there- 1 near the bridge over the outlet to Beaver Pond, and one near the bridge right by the dam where the cedar river flows in. Both have great water access and it's only about 4 or miles from the Pillsbury parking area.
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Old 07-10-2013, 11:27 AM   #11
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Solitude can be found in the West Canadas, if, as has been said, you steer clear of lean-to's. Cedar Lakes is gorgeous and there are established sites that I have never seen occupied in the 10 or so times I've been there- 1 near the bridge over the outlet to Beaver Pond, and one near the bridge right by the dam where the cedar river flows in. Both have great water access and it's only about 4 or miles from the Pillsbury parking area.
FYI: The site right at the dam at the outlet is not designated and is not legal (less than 150 feet from trail and water). It used to have a "no camping" disc but it probably got torn down. If you hike west along the south shore of the lake from that spot, you'll find a trail/old road that leads to a legal, designated site a few hundred feet away.

There is also a designated site midway between the outlet and Lean-to #1, and another one on the west end of Cedar Lakes, near the junction with the trail to the 3rd lean-to.

Pharaoh Lake has 11 designated tent sites in addition to the 6 lean-tos, but it's a popular destination. The west end of the lake in particular can fill up on a nice weekend.

As far as groups looking to share campsites- it does happen, but it's extremely rare, even in popular locations. In the hundreds of nights I've spent in the backcountry, I can only think of a single occasion where I ended up sharing a campsite with another group. I was camped at Pharaoh Lake with a friend, and a group of two college students showed up late and set up in the same campsite. No big deal, they were very respectful, and it turned out fine.

Sharing lean-tos, on the other hand, is much more common, and I've done so numerous times.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:21 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone for the information! Chub Pond/Lake in Pigeon Lake Wilderness? Didn't realize it had a leanto... Swimming will be a must for the kid.... It looks like it is going to be warm and sunny most of the time! Often think of good fishing ponds/lakes as good for swimming and loons... maybe not entirely accurate assumption, but at least for researching I like to use that as a starting point...

LNT goes without saying but good reminder! Also checking with the rangers with some specific questions - thanks!

Thank you and I'm keeping all suggestions on our list! And will be very responsible with the info!
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:32 PM   #13
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They are speaking of Chub pond in Black River Wild Forest.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:35 PM   #14
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I think he means the Chub Pond in the Black River Wild Forest area, near Woodgate. I was there the last week of April this year and can attest that it is also a nice spot. It's designated wild forest, not wilderness, though, and from what I understand sees a considerable amount of local 4 wheeler traffic in summer. I had that experience myself about 10 years back.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:39 PM   #15
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PS I don't think Chub Lake in Pigeon Lakes Wilderness is all that popular.

Most will stay at Queer lake near the lean-to.

If one desires there are places to camp, that are legal, although not designated, in the Queer lake area. It takes a bit of bushwhack to find them though.

I believe a fire would be legal, just disassemble the pit and cover the ashes when you leave.

Pigeon Lakes is a rain forest right now though. Probably would be good for discouraging others but personally I like it better later in the year.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:52 PM   #16
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What do we know about Chub Lake and Queer Lake? Unpopular is good with us - but of course that usually means no swimming/fishing!
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:53 PM   #17
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Chub in Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area does have a nice designated site with a "camp here" disk right where the trail comes to the lake. It is a nice spot to visit but I have not camped there yet. That spot is maybe 30' from the water and the trail runs right through it so I am surprised that the disk is there, but I assume it is valid.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:59 PM   #18
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What do we know about Chub Lake and Queer Lake? Unpopular is good with us - but of course that usually means no swimming/fishing!
Queer lake is excellent for swimming. I cannot speak for Chub Lake, I've never attempted to swim there.

The LT at Queer does get visitors. The lake is big enough to 'hide' around though and the 'secret' sites are off the lake A few hundred feet and away from the lean-to.

The site at Chub is OK. I actually did not camp there last time I was through there. I pushed on deeper.

I wouldn't worry about it being on the trail because there isn't a lot of foot traffic through there.

I was out in PLW from the north last week and I saw one set of prints. And no doubt I would have seen more if there was more traffic. It was quite muddy!

Also checking the register I think that person had been there a few days earlier (if that was the entry) and not much had happened before then. Not everyone registers so you can't always be sure. I often find the people camping do not register (grrr) so you think you are going to have a site when you hike in only to find some people sitting around a fire pit when you get out there.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:08 PM   #19
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One other thing. If you do go out, please do register and write that you are staying and where if you know.

There are people, and I am one, that won't even go out there if I see you are at the site I want to be at (hence you won't be bothered) or I will plan to go camp somewhere else in that area (and most likely won't bother you). By making your presence known in the register you may actually keep it quieter for yourself.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:10 PM   #20
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Last question - a ranger said not a lot of traffic in west Canada lakes wilderness so far this summer... if we chose to go there, would it be safer to stay off the NP Trail (i.e. Pilsbury Lake or Whitney Lake)... I know nothing of Whitney, and Pilsbury does have a lean-to... Newcomb has always been on our list, but thought we'd want our boat and we are shooting for on-foot only this trip...
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