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Old 02-26-2021, 12:09 PM   #1
tenderfoot's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 419
NPT winter friendly trailheads

Considering a small winter out and back on a section of NPT. Not a thru hike, not even a full section hike. A very timid exploration - walk a few hours down the trail to a designated site or 150', enjoy a night in the woods, and return.

I've gone through the threads here, have the guidebook. Have a healthy respect for NPT in winter and a conservative consideration of our skillset.

With that said:
I'm having trouble with Trailheads.
  • We need the trailhead to offer secure overnight parking (so not really a shoulder in the winter season. Do not wish to return to find my little Toyota hanging from a tree with a plow blade imprint on its butt).
  • Trailhead can't be one at end of seasonal road. We have to take into account that even a plowed secondary road might involve us brewing a cuppa tea waiting for the next pass.
  • Sections with fords or wading might be out unless temps are low enough.
  • Sections with multiple "creek" crossings might not be wise if, like this weekend, there will be some melting going on. We understand that the cute creek you cross in the morning can be a raging torrent in the afternoon.
  • Accessing NPT from a branch trail is fine.
  • Specific question: Piseco. Does Town of Arietta Highway Dept permit overnight parking? Over Piseco options (airport?)
  • I have gone in off of Tarbell near long Lake but recollect that that was sort of side of road parking and am not sure how much of Tarbell is plowed.

My thinking is I have become acquainted with most of the major High Peaks trailheads and want to start getting a better knowledge of NPT options.

Thank you
Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees
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Old 02-26-2021, 12:48 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2004
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The Town Highway Department lot is ok for overnight / multiple night parking. Line up on the edge of the lot near the trail.

The lean to near Hamilton Stream is a nice spot to overnight, if heading south. it's about 3.5 miles and mostly level. would make for a nice ski trek.

I don't know of winter parking at the end of Haskell Road or near the airport.
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Old 02-26-2021, 01:33 PM   #3
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It's not a terrible walk from Long Lake village to the Tarbell trailhead.

Admittedly, it was a summer trip, but when we did our through trip years ago, we used Hoss's Store in LL as one of our resupply locations. They were very helpful, and in the middle of the day on the way from Tirrell to Catlin, it was not bad to walk out to the village, resupply, and walk back in.

So even though it's not "trailhead" parking, you might consider LL as a base for a hike.

(The best part of the stop, after three days in the woods, was drinks and snacks on the deck of the Blarney Stone. Too bad that restaurant burned and is gone; that place made the stop terrific.)
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:37 PM   #4
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Location: Saranac Lake, NY
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The hike (or ski) into Tirrell Pond lean-to from the Blue Mt. PA, or the Rt. 28 PA on the Lake Durant side makes a nice winter overnight.
The trail is mostly flat from the Durant PA to Tirrell. Gentle downhill from the Blue Mt. lot.
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Old 02-26-2021, 03:44 PM   #5
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,374
It's been years so I'm not 100% sure on the specifics but I know that we left cars for extended periods at the following trailheads during our section hikes to complete the entire NPT in winter:
  • Upper Benson Trailhead for the Silver Lake Wilderness
  • Piseco Lake Trailhead for the Silver Lake Wilderness
  • Haskell Road Trailhead for the West Canada Lakes Wilderness
  • Route 28/30 Trailhead for the Blue Mountain Wild Forest (Tirrell Pond)
  • Tarbell Road Trailhead for the High Peaks Wilderness
  • Averyville Road Trailhead for the High Peaks Wilderness
If you do decide to go in from Tarbell Road, be aware that many of the Long Lake Lean-tos and tent sites are right on the water- and well exposed to the southwest winds. Some of these lean-tos can be downright brutal spots to camp at in the winter if there is any wind. One of the two Catlin Bay Lean-tos is well sheltered, but the rest all range from moderately to very exposed.

I'll second the Hamilton Lake Stream suggestion.

Also, Tirrell Pond could work- when I was in grad school, I lead a beginner winter backpacking trip there for the Syracuse University Outing Club. We hiked in from the Blue Mountain trailhead (that is a popular trailhead even in winter and the lot is usually kept well plowed). It proved to be the perfect distance for an easier trip (although the trail was also broken out, I can imagine that some of the participants may have been less than impressed if we'd ended up having to break trail for 3 miles).

EDIT: LongLaker beat me to it- but yes, ditto on Tirrell.
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Old 03-23-2021, 09:13 AM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 419
I will get a trip report up once I get the photos situated but wanted to cap this thread off with a thank you!

On Sat 3/20 Parked at highway dept in Piseco and went South on NPT to Hamilton Lakes Stream Lean-To. Was thinking of going farther but that really is a sweet little spot. 12-18" of snow cover. Snowshoeing in a T-Shirt! Dropped to 20F at night and beautiful star-lit sky.

Thanks again.
Eyes on the Forest, not on the Trees
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