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Old 09-24-2013, 12:23 PM   #1
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Question Going to Pharaoh Lake this weekend...

Hi, I'm new here thanks for hosting this forum!

I'm going camping with 2 friends this weekend in the Pharaoh Lake region and have just a couple questions for those of you who have been there before...
We are going to try to get a lean-to somewhere on Pharaoh lake, but bringing a tent just in case they are taken.

ok the questions...

1: Do you think I'll have to worry about all 6 lakeside lean-to's being taken? has anyone ever encountered that problem before? Do you know if one side is more popular than another?

2: I can't decide whether to park off Crane Pond rd, or Pharaoh rd. We'll be in a compact passenger car, so guessing we will probably have to stop the car before we get to the parking lot. I'm hoping the reports I heard about water on Crane Pond rd won't be a problem since it's September.

3: Any tips on sights (devils washdish or something else) and fishing (we wanna cook some up for dinner), or any tips on something we shouldn't miss out on?

Thanks so much for any info you have!!! We really appreciate your help guys thanks
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Old 09-24-2013, 12:33 PM   #2
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Just a side-note, I searched through the forums and these were basically the only questions left unanswered.
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Old 09-24-2013, 07:06 PM   #3
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Hi alanudi, welcome.

1. The earlier you get there the better your chances are for an unoccupied lean-to.
Being that it's pretty close to peak foliage, and that the forecast for this weekend is for sunny weather, I would expect it to be fairly busy.
I would say Watch Rock Lean-to and Split Rock Lean-to are the most popular sites at Pharaoh Lake, but the others see plenty of use as well. I personally like the tent sites on the peninsulas in the northwest bay.

2. The Pharaoh Rd approach is the shortest trail to the lake, but depending on where you camp on the lake it may be quicker from the Crane Pond side.
Even though the water level is down in the flooded section of Crane Pond Rd, the road is still quite rough for a compact car, and I wouldn't recommend driving past the Goose Pond trailhead.

3. Devils Washdish is pretty nice, and so is the view from the cliffs above it.
Also, the views from Pharaoh Mtn & Treadway Mtn are not to be missed.
A day hike around Pharaoh Lake & Whortleberry Pond is a worthy day's adventure in itself.
There are also nice views across Pharaoh Lake from the cliffs just to the northeast of Whortleberry Pond.

I hope that helps.
Good luck to you.
Have fun, and please keep it clean. Pharaoh Lake has been beaten up pretty bad over the past several years.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:54 AM   #4
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Pharaoh Lake is a very popular lake. As I understand it, Pharaoh Lake is the most popular backcountry destination in the Adirondacks outside of the High Peaks. So yes, definitely bring the tent- it's not uncommon for all 6 lean-tos to be occupied on the weekend, even after Labor Day. There are 11 designated tent sites on the lake in addition to the 6 lean-tos, though, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a legal site to camp in at the very least.

I've put together a map showing all the lean-tos and campsites on the lake. Markers A through F are Lean-tos #1 through #6, respectively. The rest of the markers, G through Q, are the designated tent sites. Here is the link to the map:,...0Mountain%20NY

The sites along the outlet tend to be the most popular, as they are the most accessible from Beaver Pond Road. Lean-to#5 is by far the most popular campsite on the entire lake, and is usually occupied for the weekend by Thursday afternoon/Friday morning. It's not uncommon to see groups come in from Crane Pond as well, though, and Lean-to #4 can also be taken pretty early on in the weekend. Occasionally, groups also come in to the east end of the lake from Putnam Pond.

My recommendation is to shoot for the tent sites on the northwest shore (N, M, and L). They are all nice sites, and it's usually much quieter up there, away from outlet, which can get pretty noisy.

If you've got a low clearance vehicle, you won't be able to make it in to end of the road from either side. From Beaver Pond Road to the south, you'll need to park just past the last cabin, and it will be about a 3.5 mile hike to Pharaoh Lake. Via Crane Pond Road to the north, if you're careful, you might be able to make it to the Goose Pond trailhead but I wouldn't go any further. From the Goose Pond Trailhead it's about a 5 mile hike to Pharaoh Lake.

As far as recommendations, Devils Washdish is very scenic but it's a bit out of the way- you have to hike up the Wolf Pond trail a little ways and then bushwhack to the Washdish. The hike around Pharaoh Lake itself is 6 miles and it's a pretty good way to spend the day. The views from Pharaoh Mountain are quite spectacular too.

And ditto what Justin says- please, please be respectful (even more so than you normally would). Pharaoh Lake is a highly impacted area, and several of those lean-tos are on "thin ice" (as in they will be removed in the future if people don't start taking better care of them).
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:16 AM   #5
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Wow thanks for the replies guys! I have spent the last few days researching the area and a lot of my information is coming from this forum, so a BIG thank you for all your efforts.

I had no idea Pharaoh Mountain & Lake was such an extremely popular area. It's also terrible to hear about all the drama that seems to occur there as well. Whether it be inexperienced campers, or contentions over the closing of a road, I even saw a video of a lean-to that had burnt down, and I hear stories of crazy college parties, it all sounds ridiculous.

None of these things were what I expected when we started planning this trip, however, we are committed to the trip. In light of all the issues surrounding Pharaoh Lake, we are going to bring extra garbage bags since we expect to have to clean up after someone else.

Since we are going out Saturday morning (hopefully on the trail by 8am) I'm sure most of the lean-tos will already be taken. We will head in from the Beaver Pond / Pharaoh Rd trailhead. It seems like heading along the east side would be smart, since they are slightly less popular, and if we really want a lean-to we could try heading towards the Putnam Pond direction.

Thanks for the map of the lake's campsites! that's very helpful for planning. I also like the idea about camping on the NW side of the lake, it looks like it might have some of the best views.

I'll be sure to post an update after the trip...

Last edited by alanudi; 09-26-2013 at 05:29 PM.. Reason: final comment
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by alanudi View Post
I have spent the last few days researching the area and a lot of my information is coming from this forum..
Just to add a couple quick thoughts on this.....
I have noticed a huge difference at Pharaoh Lake over the past several years, from visiting there many years ago when I was a little kid with my father, and even later in my teens with High School buddies.
I can't help feeling partly responsible for all or some of the negative things that have obviously been happening there in the past few years...
Meaning, I know that I have shared lots of info publicly about this area in the past 7 years as a member of this forum.

As much as I love to read & chat about the places I love, sometimes I wish that I would've just kept my mouth shut!

My point is that the internet certainly has not helped things there in recent years, and I'm probably partly to blame, and I feel horrible about it.
That's all.

Alanudi, Thanks so much for mentioning that you'll be sure to pack some extra garbage bags to help clean up after all of the imbeciles that have invaded that area over the past few years!
Gives me hope.
Enjoy your trip dude!
Would love to hear how you made out.

Last edited by Justin; 09-26-2013 at 10:23 PM..
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:18 AM   #7
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Pharaoh Lake is a highly impacted area, and several of those lean-tos are on "thin ice" (as in they will be removed in the future if people don't start taking better care of them).[/QUOTE]

So the DEC rebuilds the one that burned down? If LTs are on thin ice, why did they do this? It makes no sense to me.

Maybe DEC should finally close the road to Pharaoh at the Wilderness boudary???

Last edited by dundee; 09-27-2013 at 02:19 PM..
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