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Old 01-17-2013, 11:54 PM   #1
DSettahr
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Pigeon Lake Wilderness in winter

Has anyone here ever access the Pigeon Lake Wilderness in winter? A friend and I have 4 days off coming up, and we're trying to come up with a good destination for a 4 night trip. The Pigeon Lake Wilderness is one of the few areas left in the Adirondacks I've not ever visited.

I'm thinking specifically about accessing the Andy Creek area- the guidebook says that it can be pretty sketchy trying to cross the ice in the vicinity of the inlet at Andy's Creek. Does anyone here have any personal experience with this?

Also, is there really 2 lean-tos at Sister Lakes, as indicated by the National Geographic map? All the other references I've found seem to indicate that there is only 1 lean-to, on Lower Sister Lake.

And finally, is the canoe access on Higby Road maintained for winter access? If I can't get in to Andy's Creek and Sister Lakes this winter, I'd like to at least be able to check out Upper Gull and Russian Lakes on a 2-night trip.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:01 AM   #2
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The canoe launch on Higby road is plowed in winter. If it snows while you're out, expect your car to be somewhere behind a big snow bank upon your return.

The hike across Big Moose lake is sketchy, depending upon the ice. That bay where the Andy's Creek trailhead begins is NOT one to walk on. The spring-fed, flowing water there prevents enough ice from ever forming.

A few years ago, some friends and I hiked into Russian Lake and then bushwacked over to Andy's Creek from there. There's swamp and a creek crossing to contend with, but it's doable.

If you can get your self to the Andy's Creek leanto, via Russian Lake, it's another bushwack over to Upper Gull leanto.

A couple winters ago I hiked out toward West Mountain, hoping to bushwack over to Lower Sister. Unfortunately lack of snow made it too difficult to drag my pulks, so I spent a few wonderful days camping alone near Constable Pond, exploring the area by day and having great stargazing at night.


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Old 01-18-2013, 05:35 PM   #3
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Thanks. Maybe I'll just save Andy's Creek/Sister Lake/Upper Gull Lake for a summer trip via canoe then, and just do an overnight at Russian Lake this winter.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:12 PM   #4
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You could

After staying at Russia Lk you could bushwhack to Chubb and then on too Queer Lk and stay at that lean-to, maybe you've already been to Queer?

There is a new lean-to in the Haderondah region. You could be the first (besides L2R guys) to stay, AFAIK.....
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:33 PM   #5
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There is a new lean-to in the Haderondah region. You could be the first (besides L2R guys) to stay, AFAIK.....
Any chance you can say where it is? All I see on their site is the one at Bear Lake.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:32 PM   #6
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Any chance you can say where it is? All I see on their site is the one at Bear Lake.
Nelson Lake. Not exactly in Ha-de-ron-dah, but across the road from it.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:49 PM   #7
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Nelson Lake. Not exactly in Ha-de-ron-dah, but across the road from it.
Thanks Bill!
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:40 AM   #8
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After staying at Russia Lk you could bushwhack to Chubb and then on too Queer Lk and stay at that lean-to, maybe you've already been to Queer?
Nope, haven't stayed at Queer yet. I've been eying the trail over West Mountain for a while, and would like to incorporate it along with a stay at Queer. That way I can also get an Ultra Fire Tower Challenge Peak in on the same trip.

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There is a new lean-to in the Haderondah region. You could be the first (besides L2R guys) to stay, AFAIK.....
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Nelson Lake. Not exactly in Ha-de-ron-dah, but across the road from it.
Interesting. I've not stayed at Remsen Falls yet either. This is good to know- perhaps I'll make a 3 day/2 night trip back there this spring once the snow is melted. I've also been eying the loop from Nick Lake for a while now too.

Is the new lean-to at Nelson Lake on the north or south side of the lake?

The Bear Lake lean-to is really nice, but man that site got impacted fast. I couldn't believe how much the vicinity had changed between when I fired hiked by the lean-to in the spring of 2011, and when I returned to camp there in the spring of 2012. It's obviously become a popular spot pretty quickly.
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:26 AM   #9
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North side of lake. Here's the description I pm'ed another.

Last fall L2R moved the Bear Brk Lean-to from the high peaks to Nelson Lake. It's easy to access from the TH on RT 28 for Nelson Falls. Walk up the tracks to the trestle which puts you on the east side of the M River. Follow the river bank aprox .5 miles where you'll come to a camp spot (easier seen in summer). From there the foot/snowmobile trail heads to N/L. Aprox another .5 miles you'll see the sign for the L2.

Ultra, Is there a listing for these towers. Guess i'd better get to google


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Nope, haven't stayed at Queer yet. I've been eying the trail over West Mountain for a while, and would like to incorporate it along with a stay at Queer. That way I can also get an Ultra Fire Tower Challenge Peak in on the same trip.





Interesting. I've not stayed at Remsen Falls yet either. This is good to know- perhaps I'll make a 3 day/2 night trip back there this spring once the snow is melted. I've also been eying the loop from Nick Lake for a while now too.

Is the new lean-to at Nelson Lake on the north or south side of the lake?

The Bear Lake lean-to is really nice, but man that site got impacted fast. I couldn't believe how much the vicinity had changed between when I fired hiked by the lean-to in the spring of 2011, and when I returned to camp there in the spring of 2012. It's obviously become a popular spot pretty quickly.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:43 AM   #10
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The Bear Lake lean-to is really nice, but man that site got impacted fast. I couldn't believe how much the vicinity had changed between when I fired hiked by the lean-to in the spring of 2011, and when I returned to camp there in the spring of 2012. It's obviously become a popular spot pretty quickly.
That's what happens when the DEC puts these new LT's so close to a trailhead. Why?
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:40 PM   #11
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North side of lake. Here's the description I pm'ed another.

Last fall L2R moved the Bear Brk Lean-to from the high peaks to Nelson Lake. It's easy to access from the TH on RT 28 for Nelson Falls. Walk up the tracks to the trestle which puts you on the east side of the M River. Follow the river bank aprox .5 miles where you'll come to a camp spot (easier seen in summer). From there the foot/snowmobile trail heads to N/L. Aprox another .5 miles you'll see the sign for the L2.

Ultra, Is there a listing for these towers. Guess i'd better get to google
Interesting. I never stayed at the Bear Brook lean-to before it was removed. Funny enough, I actually stayed at Deer Brook the weekend before Bear Brook was removed. It last night of a 2 night trip to climb Marcy, and we wanted to stay close to the trailhead so that we could get up and be back out early in the morning (my friend had to go to work). We contemplated staying at Bear Brook, but decided to stay at Deer Brook instead. Then, 1 week later I found out that Bear Brook had been removed.

It's nice to know that I'll still be able to stay there.

The Ultra Fire Tower Challenge is basically all of the peaks in NY State that ever had fire towers (that are publicly accessible). It includes all of the peaks that still have towers outside of the Adirondacks and the Catskills (there's a fair amount, like Beebe Hill in the Taconics). It also includes all of the peaks that ever had towers that were removed (like Pharaoh and Debar Mountains in the Adirondacks, and Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills).

It's something I've been slowly working on for fun. My list is basically at this point just based on this website: http://nysforestrangers.com/index-towers.htm
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:59 PM   #12
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That's what happens when the DEC puts these new LT's so close to a trailhead. Why?
In the Catskills, there is a lean-to that is literally a 5 minute walk from the road. The trailhead sign says it's .3 miles, but there is no way it's even half that distance. Funny enough, the lean-to doesn't seem to get nearly as much use as one would expect. Apart from some "urban graffiti" inside the shelter, it's in pretty good shape.

But yeah, I was curious as to the decision to put the lean-to at Bear Lake as well. It sounds like with the new Nelson Lake lean-to, though, the DEC is trying to improve recreational opportunities in this vicinity. Lean-tos are huge attractors of use... but sometimes I think that can be used to an advantage. If you want to cut down on the use of a particular lean-to, instead of removing it, you could build a new one several miles away, to draw some of the use off. I know that the DEC has considered adding even more lean-tos to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness for this reason- to try to draw some of the use away from Pharaoh Lake itself.

One of my "dream trails" would be a 400+ mile circuit trail that loops around the Adirondack Park. The framework for such a trail is already largely in place in the Western Adirondacks. It is possible to hike on mostly uninterupted trails for a good distance, starting at Noblebore, following trails through the Black River Wild Forest, Haderondah Wilderness and Independance River Wild Forest, and ending at Stillwater.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:45 PM   #13
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In the Catskills, there is a lean-to that is literally a 5 minute walk from the road. The trailhead sign says it's .3 miles, but there is no way it's even half that distance. Funny enough, the lean-to doesn't seem to get nearly as much use as one would expect. Apart from some "urban graffiti" inside the shelter, it's in pretty good shape.

But yeah, I was curious as to the decision to put the lean-to at Bear Lake as well. It sounds like with the new Nelson Lake lean-to, though, the DEC is trying to improve recreational opportunities in this vicinity. Lean-tos are huge attractors of use... but sometimes I think that can be used to an advantage. If you want to cut down on the use of a particular lean-to, instead of removing it, you could build a new one several miles away, to draw some of the use off. I know that the DEC has considered adding even more lean-tos to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness for this reason- to try to draw some of the use away from Pharaoh Lake itself.


One of my "dream trails" would be a 400+ mile circuit trail that loops around the Adirondack Park. The framework for such a trail is already largely in place in the Western Adirondacks. It is possible to hike on mostly uninterupted trails for a good distance, starting at Noblebore, following trails through the Black River Wild Forest, Haderondah Wilderness and Independance River Wild Forest, and ending at Stillwater.

It's funny, but I find the Carskills, for the most part, to be underused. I've met very few people on the summits/trails and considering how close it is to Albany/Kingston/NYC, this always surprised me. I always met more people from NYC up here than in the Cats.

Yes, Kaaterskill Falls is overused, but as a whole I found that LTs in the Cats were underused.

IMO, DEC should be removing LTs and not building new ones, espcially near roads. They just can't seem to figure out the litter problem, probably because they're not the ones rmoving it. LT adopters and other hikers are; maybe some summer rangers.

But all this is probably better left for another thread....
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:37 PM   #14
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Hold the fort!

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Interesting. I never stayed at the Bear Brook lean-to before it was removed.

It's nice to know that I'll still be able to stay there.
I know what I wrote, now I need to confirm what I think I know/knew!
Today I was at the new/used Walface Lean-to. In the register the Adopter had written that the L2 was the former Bear Brook L2???
I've got an email out to those who know for sure. Maybe my mind is shot already
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:51 PM   #15
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I know what I wrote, now I need to confirm what I think I know/knew!
Today I was at the new/used Walface Lean-to. In the register the Adopter had written that the L2 was the former Bear Brook L2???
The logs from the Nelson Lake Lean-to are definitely from Bear Brook. (The floor and roof look new.) I am not active in Lean2rescue but I somehow got on their mailing list, so for a while I was getting regular updates on its status. If you examine the carved graffiti you will see references to mountains like Gothics.

My understanding is that DEC did briefly consider flying the logs to another location in the High Peaks, but the logs weren't cedar and were therefore too heavy for the helicopter. Nelson Lake was chosen because canoes and horses could be used to transport the materials to the site.

But I know there are L2R members who participate on this forum, so I'll refrain from stealing their thunder and let them tell their own story, if they so choose.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:14 PM   #16
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Bill,
As a member of L2R I helped with the Nelson Lake L2 and what you've written regarding the Hemlock logs being to heavy for the chopper is what I was told as well. Maybe the original plan was to put the BB L2 at the Walface site. Based on info in the log book the L2 is either new (roof and deck certainly are) or got a major face lift. The logs at the WF site have graffiti on them. I wonder where they came from if they are not new.

There are a few L2R members here that have been members longer than I. Hope one of them chimes in to clarify.

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The logs from the Nelson Lake Lean-to are definitely from Bear Brook. (The floor and roof look new.) I am not active in Lean2rescue but I somehow got on their mailing list, so for a while I was getting regular updates on its status. If you examine the carved graffiti you will see references to mountains like Gothics.

My understanding is that DEC did briefly consider flying the logs to another location in the High Peaks, but the logs weren't cedar and were therefore too heavy for the helicopter. Nelson Lake was chosen because canoes and horses could be used to transport the materials to the site.

But I know there are L2R members who participate on this forum, so I'll refrain from stealing their thunder and let them tell their own story, if they so choose.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:17 PM   #17
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Wow, someone might get drunk at Nelson Lake, wake up the next morning, all hungover, and then they start reading things on the wall about Gothics and start to wonder where they really are!

Last edited by dundee; 01-19-2013 at 07:22 PM..
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:00 PM   #18
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Brendan, thanks for the cool link to the fire towers. Lots of great info.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:42 PM   #19
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I went in from the Higby/Judson Rd trailhead last August and bushwhacked up to Russian and then up to Andy's Creek and Lower Sister. The hike across the beaver swamp to get to the trailhead for Andy's/Lower Sister was definitely not one of the high points of my hiking career. Much of the swamp(which seemed really big) is crisscrossed by ditches in the 2-3 foot deep range and the ground is covered with tall grasses and/or waist high bushes which make the ditches hard to jump across, especially with a backpack on. The beavers were visibly active and the water level was high. I would not think it would be very fun in the winter. In previous years I had visited Queer Lake and Chub Lake twice and Cascade Lake once. I liked the scenery of those areas much more, and both on and off trail the going seemed much easier. Queer Lake LT is very nicely placed from a scenery point of view, although it may be too close to the water. Cascade Lake does not have a lean-to but both the 'cascade' at the east end of the lake and the small open rock area on top of Cascade Mountain to the south are very nice, in my opinion. Chub Lake is very pretty and feels more remote than it probably is. There is a nice rock ledge at the campsite there that extends under water and has nice views. I have never been there in the winter, but I think it would be pretty nice.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:47 AM   #20
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I spent a winter near Eagle Bay a few years back and used to snowshoe regularly to Cascade Lake. Access was from a parking area right on Big Moose Rd that was usually clear. You can get to Queer Lake in winter also- I think it's about a 5 mile trip from the Cascade trailhead, or there's a trailhead a few miles farther up the road. From that trailhead it's about 3.5 miles in to Queer Lake. I've stayed at the Queer Lake lean-to several times, never in winter, but it's a really nice spot- one of my favorites.
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