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Old 01-26-2016, 01:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Buffalo, NY
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Question Cranberry Lake 50

Thanks for putting up with my second post to this section today! My second ADK trip this year, in June, is going to take me away from the High Peaks region to the Cranberry Lake 50. I've been doing tons of reading on this loop and I can't wait to go! I've got a guidebook on the way, but I wanted to ask if anyone recommends a particular area/trailhead to begin. I've been seeing a lot of discussion on walking a road back to your car or biking back; a bicycle isn't an option for me so I'll need to start and finish somewhere where I can get to my car. Any clarification you can provide on this would be really helpful as I plan my trip.

Thanks again, everyone!
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Old 01-26-2016, 03:36 PM   #2
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It's been a while since I've been up that way but there are two trails only about a half mile apart where you can enter the area. One trail (and old truck trail) will take you up towards High Falls on the Oswegatchie; you can also venture off of that and travel over to the Five Ponds area. If you go in that way you'll come back out via the Cranberry Lake area. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to see this on the map. There are lots of side hikes available throughout the area but this one trip does allow for having only one vehicle with a minimum of road walking when you're done. I apologize for not remembering the trail names but I'm sure looking at a map, this will make sense. If not, others more knowledgable will certainly chime in.

That's all for now. Take care, best of luck in your planning and until next well.


Last edited by snapper; 01-26-2016 at 04:34 PM..
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:40 PM   #3
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There are multiple different trailheads from which it is possible to access the CL50. I've marked them all on this map of the Cranberry Lake area.

In detail, a quick description of each trailhead from east to west, counter-clockwise around Cranberry Lake:

1. Dog Pond Trailhead: This is a remote trailhead that is accessed via a dirt road from Horseshoe Lake/Route 30 to the east. This trailhead is very infrequently used by hikers, and it does add several miles overall to the full CL50 loop. The road to it is a bit rough in spots, but low clearance vehicles can drive the full length of the road if the go slow. If you're coming from the south or southeast, this trailhead would actually save you some driving distance/time, but finding the actual trailhead can be a bit tricky due to how remote it is.
2. Route 3 Trailhead, east of Cranberry Lake: This is the traditional trailhead for the CL50, and most CL50 through hikers start and end their hike here. It is easy to find and has plenty of parking. This is probably where you want to start and end your hike.
3. Cranberry Lake Campground Trailhead: This is the trailhead used by day hikers climbing Bear Mountain from the campground. Because it is part of a fee use facility, you'd probably have to pay a fee to park here.
4. Route 3 Trailhead, west of Cranberry Lake: This is the northern trailhead for the Peavine Swamp trail network.
5. Ranger School Trailhead: This is the southern trailhead for the Peavine Swamp trail network. I'm not sure about parking availability at this one- it may be limited.
6. Wanakena Trailhead: This is the trailhead for the High Falls Truck Trail. It's another possible spot to start and end your trip. Parking here is a little bit limited.

Again, you best bet is probably to use the Route 3 trailhead, east of Cranberry Lake. It's easy to find, has plenty of parking, and is the traditional trailhead for starting and ending the CL50.

What is your level of backpacking experience? If you're new to overnights, I would suggest doing a few easy shakedown trips that are 1-2 nights in length before attempting a 50 mile backpacking trip through remote terrain. Becoming familiar and comfortable with your gear is essential prior to undertaking longer trips. You don't want to be several days travel from civilization when you find out that your gear isn't working as well for you as you expected.

I hope this helps!
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Old 01-27-2016, 03:11 PM   #4
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just a side note as to the new trail construction that took place this past june you can still use the traditional routes yet there are 2 new trails that eliminate almost all of the route 3 road walking! both are easy to find and follow as they are freshly marked and cut. If you decide to start at the new parking spot/trailhead it is just outside of cranberry toward tupper lake, as of last week there still is no large DEC sign hanging there just the bare sign post with a CL 50 disk, this is called the bear mountain crossover trail locally and will save you from walking all the way out to the burntbridge pond trail about 2-3 miles out of town where people use to start! (it intersects the same trail). The lean - to spots are your best bets on this loop to camp at.. also dog pond or Curtis pond are nice dog pond has an awesome row boat!!!
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Old 01-27-2016, 07:01 PM   #5
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Good info above.

In addition to navigation, food, raingear, etc., I would plan on the bugs on the CL50 in June being really, really bad. Maybe you will be lucky and they will not be, but come prepared for "worst case" bug conditions.
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Old 01-27-2016, 07:53 PM   #6
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There is DAY parking only at The Ranger School, no overnight. However, if you ask, you may be permitted to park in the student lot on the other side of the campus.
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Old 01-27-2016, 09:39 PM   #7
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As a side note to this, the Peavine Swamp Trail I believe has a new trail cut on it. Normally there are three loops but I think they added a second trail off the back of loop 1. I went up to do all three loops in August and got off on this trail and walked and walked and walked. Eventually I popped out at the parking lot but I never saw a marker anywhere. So I came home and there was talk of a new unmarked as of yet trail. Just be aware of this when you go. You won't get lost, you will just pass a creepy fallen house and skip the last two loops.
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Old 02-05-2016, 07:38 PM   #8
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It's such a great trail. I started on route three and had to finish with a long road walk but based on a previous post this is no longer the case. It was nice to stop at the store and finish with a treat from the store in town. I did it in July and the bugs were bad. Now I know what you are thinking bad. But the bug were really! Bad.

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Old 02-19-2016, 09:34 PM   #9
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One other parking option, alt trails, bugs

Parking Thanks to DSettahr for his detailed listing of the parking options.
Here's one more. When I did it back in '08, the alternate trails didn't exist, and I wanted to hike it all, but didn't want to start or end with a 5.5(?) mile road walk. So I asked about parking behind the library/PO/community center, and was told it's ok. (People park and leave their boat/snowmobile trailers back there in season) This choice split the road walk almost exactly in two. It also had the advantage of allowing one to start and end where provisions, refreshments, and a public beach are all available. And one can start and end by gazing down the lake about which the whole CL50 is...about.

Alternate Trails I've heard of two alternate trails which reduce the road walk, though I haven't been on either one. It sounds like HoneyBadger was on one of them. It breaks off from one of the Peavine loops and makes its way to Columbian Road on the NW shore of CL. I think it comes out at the DEC boat launch parking area, maybe 1/4 mile from Rte. 3. I think you can cross a former vehicle bridge which is now open only to pedestrians/bikers, and make your way toward the village on a back street. (River Rd?) You'll get to Rte. 3 well before the center of town.
The other alt trail starts a little east of Lone Pine Rd, which is the road to the State Campground. It may be 0.1 mile past LP Rd., or up to 0.5 mile, I don't remember. There's a square green highway marker right there, and there's a small parking area not highly visible from the road. IIRC there's some kind of DEC sign there because it's also a mountain bike/nordic ski loop trailhead. The loop starts to the left, but I saw a trail going to the right with a CL50 marker. Randy Savage mentioned this one as being referred to as the Bear Mtn. crossover tr.

Bugs There are lots of streams, creeks, and marshes, perfect for bugs. By mid-June, the deer flies have become the dominant life form. If hostile aliens sent a scouting party and it landed in the Five Ponds area in-season, Earth would be safe. Once, on the Truck Trail, I wanted to quantify the problem. I held one hand high and swatted the deer flies that landed on it, making sure they were dead or not air-worthy so I wouldn't count them twice. It took about 2.5 minutes to reach 50! Thinking that I may have built up an unnaturally large entourage by that time, I tried it again just a few minutes later. and it took about 3 minutes to reach 50. All times IIRC. Deer flies patrol into dusk, by which time the mosquitoes have punched in and are on duty. Of course, black flies can be out in force from just before Memorial Day until mid-June. YRMV depending on the weather in any given month. Did I mention the deer flies?

Advisory: The Wanakena General Store closed permanently in October, 2015. In that spot is now Otto's Abode, an arts venue whose hours probably won't be as extensive as the store's were. "Some type of refreshments will be sold. Visitors will also be able to purchase ice, maps, hiking reference materials, T-shirts, mugs and other souvenirs."

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Last edited by MarkL; 02-19-2016 at 09:49 PM..
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cranberry lake 50

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