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Old 09-02-2020, 11:27 AM   #1
tbutler
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Brown's Tract Inlet question

I'll be passing through Brown's Tract Inlet soon while paddling the Old Forge–Saranac Lake section of the NFCT. On my maps I don't see any designated campsites (outside of DEC campgrounds) between Eighth Lake and the northern end of Raquette Lake.

Can anyone tell me if there are camping possibilities along Brown's Tract Inlet? I'm happy to follow the 150 foot rule for backcountry camping on Forest Preserve lands, but the terrain there may not easily offer such opportunities if the route is through meandering wetlands.

Ideas or info welcome. Many thanks.
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:32 PM   #2
DSettahr
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Brown's Tract is a windy, narrow stream through expansive marshes. You wouldn't even be able to get to solid ground along the inlet itself, much less find a usable (or legal) campsite.

There is a lean-to at the west end of the portage between Eighth and Browns Tract but it's pretty popular- it's about a 10 minute walk from the road so it gets a lot of use by groups that look (and act) more like car campers than backcountry campers, despite it technically being a backcountry site.

You could probably do the 150 foot thing along the portage between Eighth and Brown's Tract without too much difficulty; plenty of open forest here and it's not too rugged. Make sure you know just how far 150 feet actually is- it's more than most folks realize. (If you can see people on the portage trail, you're probably still too close.)

There are a number of lean-tos on Raquette Lake itself, not just at the northern end. These should be on the NFCT map (but I don't have the map myself to confirm how accurate it is). According to the DEC's "official" information on lean-to locations (which isn't always as accurate as you'd expect), Big Island has 3 lean-tos, and there's 2 at the head of Beaver Bay. There's also a dozen or so lean-tos at Tioga Point, but these are part of a developed campground- meaning that there is a fee for overnight use and reservations may be necessary (on the plus side, you'd have a guaranteed spot for the night).

I believe there is also a few designated sites on the lake- I know of one for sure that I've seen first-hand, on the west shore at the head of Sucker Brook Bay. If you land on the north end of the small beach there and start up the marked trail, the campsite is on the right, on top of the small hill immediately adjacent to the marked trail as you enter the woods. It's a moderately sized site, fairly nice- I think it gets light to moderate levels of use.

The official DEC mapper doesn't show any other designated tent sites on Raquette Lake but that doesn't mean that they don't exist...

The DEC mapper does show designated tent sites on the west end of Forked Lake, so if you were willing to put in a longer day, these could also be options for you.
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:40 PM   #3
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Here's the link to the DEC's interactive mapper: https://gisservices.dec.ny.gov/gis/dil/

Under "DEC Information Layers" in the menu on the left hand side of the screen, if you scroll to the right, the second category is "Outdoor Activity." Under this category you can toggle layers showing state land, lean-to locations, designated tent site locations, trails, etc.

Super important disclaimer: The quality of the information presented in the DEC's interactive mapper is... not nearly as good as you would expect an "official" resource to be. Some areas have seen substantial changes that the data has never been updated to reflect (for example, Marcy Dam is still shown as having 5 lean-tos; there are only 3 there currently). Some tent sites are approximately shown- they may be as much as a quarter mile (or more) from their actual location. Many tent sites are missing (to again use Marcy Dam as an example, none of the 15+ that exist there are shown).

Worst of all is that some tent sites are shown where no such site- designated, established, or otherwise- appears to exist at all.

Point being, any information contained on the DEC's interactive mapper should probably be independently verified before it is assumed to be 100% accurate. But it's still a good source of info nonetheless.
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Old 09-02-2020, 03:38 PM   #4
OntarioSkiBum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
Brown's Tract is a windy, narrow stream through expansive marshes. You wouldn't even be able to get to solid ground along the inlet itself, much less find a usable (or legal) campsite.

There is a lean-to at the west end of the portage between Eighth and Browns Tract but it's pretty popular- it's about a 10 minute walk from the road so it gets a lot of use by groups that look (and act) more like car campers than backcountry campers, despite it technically being a backcountry site.

You could probably do the 150 foot thing along the portage between Eighth and Brown's Tract without too much difficulty; plenty of open forest here and it's not too rugged. Make sure you know just how far 150 feet actually is- it's more than most folks realize. (If you can see people on the portage trail, you're probably still too close.)

There are a number of lean-tos on Raquette Lake itself, not just at the northern end. These should be on the NFCT map (but I don't have the map myself to confirm how accurate it is). According to the DEC's "official" information on lean-to locations (which isn't always as accurate as you'd expect), Big Island has 3 lean-tos, and there's 2 at the head of Beaver Bay. There's also a dozen or so lean-tos at Tioga Point, but these are part of a developed campground- meaning that there is a fee for overnight use and reservations may be necessary (on the plus side, you'd have a guaranteed spot for the night).

I believe there is also a few designated sites on the lake- I know of one for sure that I've seen first-hand, on the west shore at the head of Sucker Brook Bay. If you land on the north end of the small beach there and start up the marked trail, the campsite is on the right, on top of the small hill immediately adjacent to the marked trail as you enter the woods. It's a moderately sized site, fairly nice- I think it gets light to moderate levels of use.

The official DEC mapper doesn't show any other designated tent sites on Raquette Lake but that doesn't mean that they don't exist...

The DEC mapper does show designated tent sites on the west end of Forked Lake, so if you were willing to put in a longer day, these could also be options for you.
Last summer I saw an official tent site in the Eldon Lake bay on the north shore on Raquette Lake.

None of the tent sites are shown in the Sargent Ponds WF, just the lean tos.
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Old 09-03-2020, 08:37 AM   #5
madison
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DSettahr is right about Brown's Tract Inlet- the shoreline is marshy and it is impossible to even land there, let alone camp.

There are several campsites on Big Island, which is in the south end of the lake and a quick, easy paddle from where you will emerge from Brown's Tract Inlet. The Adirondack Paddler's Map-South shows 5 sites, two with lean-to's. These sites are quick and easy to get to and so are popular. If you go after Labor Day weekend your chances of getting 1 of those sites will be much better. There's another site at the mouth of the Marion River which is a relatively quick paddle from Big Island.
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Old 09-03-2020, 09:02 AM   #6
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If you haven't experienced Brown's Tract, IMO it is quite a nice and unique place to paddle. I've paddled through nearly 50 times. It is by far my most favorite segment of the Adirondack 90 mile canoe race. Lots of technique skills and opportunity for race strategy here when rounding the sharp turns, one to the left, then to the right after the one another within very short distances. Normally as the bow paddler, I get to see what is ahead and initiate the power into the turns when I decide is the right stroke to do it. Setting up when approaching turns is key, go wide initially and enter with the canoe already partially angled to go around. Misjudge by a single stroke and end up with canoe ramming the opposite shore. Expect several beaver dams, especially early in the season or if not much traffic has gone through ahead in recent days. Some dams are open enough to paddle over, others will require carefully stepping out and hauling your canoe over. Later the channel can be half choked with lily pads and thick near surface mud clumps on the edges of the main channel. Don't cut the corners too sharp, or you will get hung up on the mud and slowed by the pad leaves.

Of course you don't have to go all out at race speed to enjoy the marsh. It can be a slow pleasant paddle, remaining centered in the main open channel. You may see beavers swimming with sticks to repair their dam, as they do daily maintenance without delay after it has been breached or the water level changes. Great blue herons are common in the area, as are many other marsh loving birds. Get there just at the beginning of dawn light for the most colorful experience.
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Old 09-04-2020, 01:43 PM   #7
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The hike from the Uncas Road into Raquette Lake parallels Brown's Tract Inlet for much of the walk, and is a very interesting walk, and easy for the more physically challenged as it is an old road and is mainly level. There is nearly as much opportunity to observe bog vegetation as in Ferd's Bog, without the elevation change to get in and out.
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Old 09-04-2020, 06:43 PM   #8
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I didn't read all the replies but there are also at least 3 DEC campgrounds in the area you could utilize. 8th, Brown's Tract, and Golden Beach (also Tioga Pt).

Brown's tract is by far the best, but I don't think any of those would mess up your daily mileage enough to worry about. At least something to consider as a backup if lean-tos are occupied.
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