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Old 03-30-2021, 08:07 PM   #1
Tick Magnet
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Berrymill Pond, PLWA, 30 Mar, 2021

This week's "Lunch at a Lean-to" found Tredhed and I back in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area for a pleasant hike into Berrymill Pond. Another bluebird day greeted us as we hit the trailhead at the Putnam Pond campsite.

1a TH.jpg

After signing into the woods, we headed up through the white birches on a reasonably dry trail.

1c trail.jpg

The trail was in really good shape after having been visited by a DEC crew last week.

1f trail.jpg

When we reached the re-route around the outlet marsh, we stopped to enjoy the nice waterfall along the outlet creek.

1n4 falls.jpg

After taking a bunch of waterfall pictures, we walked the short distance to Berrymill Pond. Since it was still early, we followed the old trail out the peninsula to the main area of the pond where we were surprised to see about half of the ice gone. An otter glared at us from across the ice, never getting close enough for a good photo.

2a BMP.jpg

Completing a short explore, we walked back to the lean-to for our lunch break. As always, the lean-to was in great shape. Many thanks to the folks who have adopted the LT and work hard to keep it clean.

3b LT.jpg

When lunch was finished, we checked out the outlet and the large rocks around the outlet's bay. I noticed that the memorial plaque on top of the large rock was missing. Does anyone have any info about that?

3d BMP.jpg

Back at the lean-to, we made an entry in the log book and packed up our gear. We worked our way back down the trail and decided to make a loop hike by incorporating a bushwhack down the Berrymill Pond outlet. The route immediately came to the first of several spectacular waterfalls swollen by the spring melt.

4b falls1.jpg

The bushwhack was pretty straightforward. It followed the creek downhill, passing through some nice forest, marvelous water features and even a super-secret hidden campsite.

4e bushwhack.jpg

Shortly before emptying into Putnam Pond, the outlet stream made one final plunge over another fantastic 15' waterfall.

4k falls2.jpg

Another few minutes downstream of these falls, we hit the Long Swing trail around Putnam Pond. Turning right, we made the short walk back to the boat launch parking area. While we've been on this trail a dozen times or so, we never knew how beautiful the Berrymill Pond outlet stream was. It just goes to show that a little exploring can lead to some fantastic rewards. Today proved that in spades.
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:23 PM   #2
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Nice! Sounds like a fun trip. Please tell me more about the secret campsite.
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:33 PM   #3
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Nice! Sounds like a fun trip. Please tell me more about the secret campsite.
Well, the campsite was well sited; at least 150' from a bend in the creek. It had a nice fire pit, a rustic ADK bench, and a big stack of firewood. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:03 PM   #4
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Well, the campsite was well sited; at least 150' from a bend in the creek. It had a nice fire pit, a rustic ADK bench, and a big stack of firewood. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?
Nope!
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Old 03-31-2021, 01:45 PM   #5
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I was just south of you (Brothers). Nice day
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Old 03-31-2021, 02:44 PM   #6
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I was just south of you (Brothers). Nice day
Nice bushwhack! The views must have been spectacular. Did you get all three?

We met a couple in the parking lot who just finished Treadway and they raved about the views. Said the wind was a little chilly though.
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Old 03-31-2021, 09:05 PM   #7
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I personally like the views from Treadway a bit better than the views from Pharaoh- and Pharaoh has pretty solid views. But Treadway has an even more open summit. If you bushwhack a few hundred feet south you can get an incredible view of the entirety of Pharaoh Lake.

The Brothers is one of my favorite hikes that I've ever done in the ADKs. A few summers ago (I think 2017?) I spent a day bushwhacking them in combination with Stevens, Little Stevens, and No 8 Mountains. All but Little Stevens have phenomenal views. That was a looooong day to be sure- I remember the road walk back to my car after dark was rough- but one of the nicer hikes I've ever undertaken in the ADKs.

Apparently years ago there was a second lean-to on Berrymill Pond, located on the peninsula to the south of the outlet. I'm not sure what happened to it- if it was intentionally removed, aged out of service and wasn't replaced, or perhaps succumbed to the Adirondack tradition of being burned down by careless campers.

The outlet area of Berrymill is pretty neat. The current lean-to is actually pretty new- only a few years old. It was built to replace a very visibly dilapidated one that, if memory serves, was located about 15-20 feet closer to the water. Berrymill is also usually a good bet for solitude- in the summer, when the campground is in operation, the fee to park there keeps a lot of the backcountry use down. And most of that use is instead headed further west, to locations like Rock Pond, Clear Pond, Grizzle Ocean, and even to Pharaoh Lake.

If you ever get a chance to hike in from New Hague, that's a neat way into the Pharaoh Wilderness also. The lower elevations were very obviously once cultivated- you see stone walls, cellar holes, etc. And a few years ago there was even an escaped wild worse wandering around the area, living in the woods (not sure what happened to it).

Springhill Ponds is also neat. That area gets very little use. There's 2 designated tent sites but they are both kind of in weird spots- on the north side of the ponds. You have to bushwhack around the ponds to reach them.

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Old 04-01-2021, 08:12 AM   #8
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Speaking of the Springhills the bushwhack up Spuytenduivel Brook to the ponds is another super fun ‘whack.
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Old 04-02-2021, 07:41 AM   #9
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Yeah, Spuytenduivel is a neat area. The narrow valley feels wild and remote, more so than much of the rest of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. There is a single designated tent site on the brook right where it exits the Wilderness, just off of Rt 8 (if you park on the shoulder and walk into the woods on the east side of the brook, you'll find it no more than 100-200 feet in).
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Old 04-02-2021, 09:01 AM   #10
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In late spring you can add the Swede Mountain fire tower to the list of local hiking destinations. After more than 30 years the trail is reopening to the public. Warren County is building a bridge over the outlet of North Pond and has purchased the lumber to restore the tower and cab. There is a great group of volunteers ready to help. I am certain this fire tower will become one of the most popular tower climbs.
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