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Old 06-30-2021, 02:23 PM   #1
stargazr1116
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Five Ponds or Other NW Adks Route Suggestions

Hi Everyone,

According to a search of my posts it's the time of year where I ask for trip advice, so I thought I'll continue the tradition as I keep exploring new areas of the park! Planning on heading out for some backpacking with my dog over the upcoming long weekend - three nights, four days.

Based on the wacky forecast, I'm looking at the NW part of the park and hoping to use a Lean To - although not counting on it. The first area to catch my attention is Five Ponds, but I'm having trouble finding non-canoe routes that aren't described as slogging through waist-deep beaver ponds. (I've got no problem with some mud, but I did a recent "slog" trip elsewhere and am not in the mood for it this weekend.) Also going to avoid Ha-de-Ron-dah because I'll be heading there with a friend in a few weeks.

Anyone have any suggestions? My search of the forum doesn't yield much that's recent except confirming the usual bug trifecta on the High Falls trail a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks!
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Old 06-30-2021, 04:03 PM   #2
Zach
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You might want to check out this excellent TR from DSettahr last year. I have not done the loop he describes but I spent some time exploring the area over a few trips some years ago and it is very nice. Some mud but mostly not too bad, and some trails are in very nice shape.

https://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=27945
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Old 07-01-2021, 10:52 AM   #3
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The CL50 has definitely increased awareness of and interest in the Five Ponds area. It's 50 miles but the full trail is so flat that the average backpacker in decent shape can do it without much difficulty over 4 full days... which means that holiday weekends are attractive to many considering hiking this trail, since the full CL50 can be attempted with only a single extra day off from work.

Accordingly, I'd expect to see a few other groups out and about on the CL50 over the upcoming weekend. It certainly won't be High Peaks levels of use, but it may not be the solitude you're looking for. As with much of the Adirondack backcountry, the CL50 gets noticeably more use than it did 10-15 years ago.

If you can get off of the CL50 and onto side trails, your chances for solitude improve. My experience with the Five Ponds proper (Big Shallow, Little Shallow) and the ponds beyond (Wolf Lake, Cage Lake) has been that they get much less use than any of the lean-tos/campsites located directly on the CL50 itself. Big Shallow is moderately popular, but when I stayed at Little Shallow a few years ago, there were seedlings sprouting up in the fire pit due to lack of use. Wolf Lake similarly gets infrequent use.

Sand Lake seems remote but can be accessed via bushwhack (or a bushwhack/paddle combo) more easily from the west than via the trailed approach from the east, so it gets more use than you might expect from a glance at the map.

Of course, if any campsite or lean-to is going to be occupied, it will be on a holiday weekend. So have a plan B in mind and try to get to camp early so that you have daylight (and energy) to resort to a backup plan if needed. And FWIW: The only surefire way to guarantee solitude on a holiday weekend is to bushwhack.
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Old 07-01-2021, 11:53 AM   #4
stargazr1116
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Thank you both! (Although DSettahr I guess I should thank you twice, once for this and once for your earlier post!) Still thinking things through and hoping the weather will keep some folks inside, but I'll post a trip report when I get back. Have a safe and happy 4th!
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Old 07-03-2021, 02:47 PM   #5
billconner
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No leantos but I think if you went into The Pepperbox Wilderness which borders western edge of Five Ponds Wilderness you would find almost no one else there.
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Old 07-03-2021, 06:03 PM   #6
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Noooooo..... do not ever go into the Pepperbox Wilderness. It is a terrible place, nothing to see, full of nasty biting bugs, and nothing but swamps and you have to navigate off trail almost everywhere, GPS does not work in there, forcing you to use only a compass. Hope you like wet feet and getting lost....
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Old 07-03-2021, 08:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
Noooooo..... do not ever go into the Pepperbox Wilderness. It is a terrible place, nothing to see, full of nasty biting bugs, and nothing but swamps and you have to navigate off trail almost everywhere, GPS does not work in there, forcing you to use only a compass. Hope you like wet feet and getting lost....
Bushwhackingfool specializes with that. I haven't seen him post in forever.
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Old 07-03-2021, 08:41 PM   #8
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He has a youtube channel. You can go along on any one of these whacks.

Honestly, most of it doesn't seem that bad. Once in a while when he's in some thick lake shore cover he's doing some real whacking.
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Old 07-03-2021, 09:05 PM   #9
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Honestly the Pepperbox, along with the adjacent Five Ponds is practically my most favorite area of the entire Adirondacks, where I learned to love perfecting my skill in backcountry travel with map and compass only alone, traveling from pond to pond and beaver dam to beaver dam, ridge to ridge. All while never seeing another human for many days at a time. Few trails, none of the mandatory to navigate.
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Old 07-05-2021, 11:13 AM   #10
stargazr1116
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As a (non) follow up, Iím going to have to try some of these another time because my trip plans got changed to head out towards Pillsbury Lake / Spruce Lake in order to meet up with a friend. Then my car got stuck (see other post) and I was worried it was damaged so had to head back to civilization and had to bail on the rest of the trip. Just as the nice weather was rolling in, of course!
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