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Old 10-06-2016, 11:31 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 18
Question Last Minute Backpacking Suggestion?

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the forum -- I stumbled across you wonderful folks while trying to plan a semi-last minute two night backpacking trip this weekend. Based on the forecast I've decided to head to Adirondacks rather than other areas in the Northeast and would love some suggestions for decent loop routes. It'll be a solo trip so that I can recharge on my own, so I'd prefer setting up my tent to sleeping in a shared lean to.

I'm looking to do probably 20-ish miles over the course of the three day weekend, keeping in mind that I might have to start mid-late morning on Saturday rather than my normal 5/6am start. I'm not looking for a particularly intense trail or to climb a high peak, this trip is more about just getting out into nature for a couple of days and I'm even considering bringing my dog.

I'm also trying to strike a balance between isolation and decently marked trails. I would prefer as much time as possible without other hikers and campers for this particular trip, but I'm also not looking for a major bushwhack or the type of trail that you need to have the map and compass out every minute to make sure you're still on or near the trail.

I've been scouring the forum, and it seems like the most common suggestions for this type of loop are West Canada, Pharoah Lakes, Seward Loop or Ha-De-Ron-Dah. Anyone have votes for one of these over the others? Or perhaps other, less obvious suggestions (PMs welcome!). Any major trail issues I should be aware of at the moment?

Your thoughts and advice are much appreciated!
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Old 10-06-2016, 12:38 PM   #2
Moving along
Join Date: May 2006
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How about a West Canada loop, but instead of the French Louie Loop, maybe try the Otter Brook-Lost Ponds-Cedar Lakes-West Lake-Brooktrout Lake-Falls Pond, and out to Indian Lake Rd & back to Otter Brook, or vice versa?
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Old 10-06-2016, 12:42 PM   #3
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Combining Columbus Day Weekend with solitude in any of these areas isn't going to be easy. In all of these cases, you need to be fully prepared to end up having to put in extra effort and time to find open places to camp (this may mean having to hike extra miles at the end of the day). If camped at lean-tos, there's a pretty solid chance you'll end up sharing the shelter.

Pharaoh Lake is beautiful, but is also very accessible and is likely to be very crowded over the holiday weekend. There's currently 6 lean-tos and 14 designated tent sites on the lake, and on a busy weekend, the lake fill does fill to capacity. I've seen as many as ~85 people camped on Pharaoh Lake in a single evening. Crane Pond and Oxshoe Pond also get very busy as well. On the remainder of the loop, Crab Pond (1 tent site), Horseshoe Pond (1 tent site), Lillypad Pond (1 lean-to), Rock Pond (2 lean-tos, 3 tent sites), Clear Pond (1 lean-to, 1 tent site), and Grizzle Ocean (1 lean-to, 1 tent site) get relatively less use, but with the holiday weekend even these spots may fill up as well.

The Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness receives lower use overall, but much of that use is concentrated at a few locations, with Middle Settlement Lake being the most popular destination. If you stuck to the northern Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness, you'd probably see a lot fewer people, but these trails are also not very well maintained and it's more like bushwhacking at times.

The French Louie Loop in the West Canada Lakes is almost exactly 20 miles. This area generally receives lower use, but the popularity of the French Louie Loop specifically has increased in recent years. On a holiday weekend, the West Canada Lakes can get pretty busy as well, and there is a fair amount of competition for lean-tos and tent sites. Some of the lakes here do fill above capacity on holiday weekends.

In the Western High Peaks, the Ward Brook and Calkins Brook areas are likely to see pretty high levels of traffic this weekend. Duck Hole may be busy as well. Generally, I think you'd see relatively few people in the Cold River area, but even this area is probably going to see some holiday weekend use. If you took the old horse trail on the south side of the river, you'd have a pretty solid chance of not seeing anyone at all... but this trail also hasn't been maintained very well and is overgrown and difficult to follow in spots.

If you were to postpone your trip 1 or 2 weeks, all of these locations would likely be empty (or close to it).
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Old 10-06-2016, 01:44 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 18
Thank you both so much, that info helps me narrow it down quite a bit! If I'm able to make the trip work I'll definitely post a trip follow up :-)
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Old 10-06-2016, 01:57 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 244
I would recommend the West Canada Lakes route from the Pillsbury Mountain trailhead using the French Louie and Northville Placid trails. It seems to fit the bill for most of your preferences and desires for the trip. And of course the area is beautiful.

As others have said you will almost certainly cross paths with some other hikers, but I think you will find the solitude you're after as well. It's a big, remote place, but still has numerous different places to spend a night spread all throughout not only for you, but other groups as well.

If it were me (and I wish it was ) I'd probably go counter-clockwise and shoot for Cedar Lakes LT #3 my first night as long as I didn't get too late a start. It's located down a moderately long spur trail off of the main trail so many people pass it up even though it's a great spot.

Whatever you decide be safe and have a great trip!
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backpacking, loop, solo, weekend

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