Adirondack Directory - Wilderness

Hoffman Notch Wilderness Region

As edited by IAATAP from the full DEC management report (click here for full report)

43 54′03″N 73°50′08″W

 

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness Wilderness is located in the south-central portion of the Adirondacks in the Towns of Minerva (2,886 acres), North Hudson (14,332 acres) and Schroon Lake (21,439 acres) in Essex County.  Hoffman Notch Wilderness extends roughly 52+ miles and is composed of approximately 38,488 acres of state land. 

 

The region is rich in history and reflects the simple 1800's poetic works of 12 year old Pashal Warren, who inscribed on a tree plaque "Woodsman spare that tree, touch not a single bough, in youth it protected me, and I'll protect it now."    In the 19th century, logging was the main industry.   Hemlocks were used for the tanning businesses that soon developed in the region.  Log drives from Brant Lake to Schroon River were used to move the timbers.  Tannery was an important employment source, and Olmstedville got its name from Levi Olmstead's tannery.  There were tanneries such as: the Schroon Lake Tannery, Excelsior Tannery, Sawyer & Mead Tannery, Hoffman Tannery, Burhans Tannery and Wickham Tannery.  They were important industrial pursuits in the early 1800's.  By the 1870's, the economics of the business slowed down and the tanneries closed and reverted to state land.

 

The nearby mining operations also had an impact on the Hoffman Wilderness region.  Although not in the area, the MacIntyre Mines in Tahawus created railroads, and commerce for the region.  The iron ore extraction became too costly to continue; but later it favored for the impurities found (titanium).  After WWII, the national defense system led to the creation of our highway systems.  The Hoffman Notch Wilderness, and other state wilderness regions gave up 254 acres of forest land for the creation of the Northway (I-87).

 

 

Interesting Titbits:  In 1967, a proposal was put forth to establish a ski slope on Hoffman but defeated.    It passed legislation; but defeated by the voters.

 

Camping

 

 

 

 

 

Primitive Tent Sites - There are no designated primitive campsites, but are numerous fire rings on North Pond and one each on Bailey Pond, Marsh, Tyrrell Marsh and Big Pond.    Camping is prohibited above 3,000 feet in elevation on Blue Ridge Range, top of Bailey Hill and Texas Range.   IAATAP maintains a full directory of Camping.  To explore nearby camping areas, click here.

Titbits:  DEC regulation requires that groups of ten or more persons camping on state land obtain a permit from a forest ranger. DEC policy prohibits issuing group camping permits to groups wanting to camp on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks that are classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe area. This policy was developed to protect natural resources, the primeval character of the area and exceptional wilderness experiences for all recreationists, and follows Leave No Trace practices. Except for the eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness and the William C. Whitney Wilderness, where the group size is 8, camping groups in wilderness, primitive and canoe area lands are limited to 9 people or less.

 

 

Birding

 

This wilderness area has documented 124 species with 18,780 acres of  boreal forest, and 134 acres of high elevation boreal forest for abundant aviary activity.  New York has designated mountain summits above 2,800' in Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties as the Adirondack Subalpine Forest Bird Conservation.   Also, fee free to visit our Adirondack Bird Directory when you have time. 

  • Lowland Boreal Species:  Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Lincoln's Sparrow, Pine Siskin, White-winged Crossbill, and Red Crossbill.

  • High elevation Boreal Forest Species:    Blackpoll Warbler, Winter Wren and Swainson's Thrush. 

  • Wetland/Ponds/Lakes/Streams Species:  The bird population associated with marshes, ponds, lakes, streams, bogs include the great blue heron, green-backed heron, American bittern, common loon, pied-billed grebee, and ducks (common and hooded merganser, wood duck, mallard and American black duck).

  • Song bird population:  diverse from the Ovenbird, Red‐eyed Vireo, Yellow‐bellied Sapsucker, Black‐capped Chickadee, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, Brown Creeper, Wood Thrush, Black‐throated Blue Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, and Black and White Warbler, Golden‐crowned Kinglet, Purple Finch, Pine Sisken, Red and White‐winged Crossbill and Black‐throated Green Warbler.

  • Birds of prey common to the area:  Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech‐owl, Northern Goshawk, Red‐tailed Hawk, Sharp‐shinned Hawk, and Broad‐winged Hawk.

  • Game birds include:   turkey, ruffed grouse and woodcock.

 

Species of bird that are found in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness are:  

 

Flycatchers (Alder, Great Crested, Least), American Crow, American Goldfinch, American Kestrel, American Redstart, American Robin, Baltimore Oriole, Bank & Barn Swallows, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Black-backed, Black-Billed Cuckoo, , Black-Capped Chickadee, Black-throated Blue and Greens, Blue Jay, Blue-headed Vireo, Bobolink, Boreal Chickaee, Brown Creeper,  Brown-headed cowbird, Cedar Waxwing, Chimney Swift, Cliff Swallow, Common Grackle, Common Nighthawk, Common Raven, Common Snipe, Common Yellowthroat, Dark-eyed Junco, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Easter Towhee, Easter Wood-Pewee, European Starling, Evening Grosbeak, Gold-crown Kinglet, Gray Catbird,  Thrushes (Hermit, Brown), House Finch, House Wren, Indigo Bunting, Killdeer,  Mourning Dove, Warblers (Blackburiam, Chestnut-sided, Nashville, Magnolia, Mourning, Pine, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Lawrence, Canada), Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Northern Harrier, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Parula, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Pine Sisken, Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-eye Vireo, Red-tail Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Rock Dove, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ruffed Grouse, Rusty Blackbird, Sparrows (Lincoln, Savananah, Field, Song, Swamp, Tree, Chipping), Spotted Sandpiper, Turkey Vulture, Veery, Warbling Vireo, White-breasted

 

 

Endangered Avian Species

 

The NY State's Unit Management Plan identifies the following below species for study.  We have summarized their findings for ease of reading.  NY state has adopted a Bird Conservation Area program based on Audubon's programs and designed to safeguard our bird populations on our state lands and waters.  They designated Adirondack Mountain summits above 2,800 in Essex, Franklin and Hamilton are the "Adirondack Subalpine Forest Bird Conservation Area" (ASFBC).  A portion of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness is in this category (mainly Hoffman Mountain, Blue Ridge Mountain and Peaked Hills).  To protect the ASFBC regions, please do not disturbed our endangered species.  Thank you!  (Pictures and links provided by Wikipedia.)

 

 

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

 

Bald Eagle - Picture credits to Wikipedia

 

The bald eagle is currently listed as a threatened species by the federal government and New York.  The nearby Buckhorn Mountain was believed to have been a center of eagle activity prior to 1970, although no nest sites had been confirmed.  Bald eagles are sensitive to human disturbance; so if you are fortunate to see one, please "Do Not Disturb".

 

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

This species is a bird of freshwater wetlands where it  nests on a grass or among the cattails.  It nests are made from sticks, grass, and sedges hidden with the tall grasses.

 

 

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)

The Nighthawks will either use bare flat rocks or bare ground in open fields and pastures, and if in populated areas they may use flat, gravel rooftops.  Here in the Adirondacks, the nighthawks will use the mountainous areas, provided woods are interspersed with clearings or openings. They are nocturnal and have a particular call (click here).

 

 

Sharp‐shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)

These hawks are sometimes call 'tiny hawks" as they are the smallest hawks in our region.  The Sharp-shinned hawk prefer habitats of open or young woodlands that support a large diversity of avian prey species.  They use mixed conifer‐deciduous forest for nesting, mostly in hemlocks.  They had declined in numbers in the mid 1900's; and are now slowing increasing.  However, they are still on the national list of 'endangered' species today.

 

Whip‐poor‐will Caprimulgus vociferus

Whip‐poor‐will select open woodlands in lowland deciduous forest.  They will nest on the ground in dry, sparse areas and have perfected camouflage.  Eggs are typically laid in the open or under a small shrub on the leaf litter where they are well concealed.  Due to its haunting, ethereal song, the Whip-poor-will is the topic of numerous legends and included in many American songs.

Spruce Grouse (Dendragapus canadensis)

In the Adirondacks, the rare Spruce Grouse prefers boreal acid bog forest with immature or uneven‐aged spruce‐fir habitat.  Mosses, lichens, and small shrubs provide nesting and foraging ground cover in areas where the forest canopy is less dense.  They earned the term "fool hen" for their behaviors of saying hidden until only feet away and then they go into flight.  

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

The Northern Harrier is a bird of open country and is associated with wet to mesic habitats.  Unlike most raptors, harriers nest on the ground, either on hummocks or directly on the ground in nests that are woven from grass and sticks. 

 

 

 

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

 

Golden Eagle - Picture credits to Wikipedia

 

The golden eagle is a species once found in the Adirondacks.  The last successful nest in New York State was recorded in 1970.  Golden Eagles have nested at elevations between 1,500 and 2,600 ft; however, surveys conducted by the New York Habitat Inventory Unit, open habitat suitable for Golden Eagles has decreased at all but one historical site.

 

 

 

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

 

Peregrine Falcon - Picture credits to Wikipedia

 

In 1974 New York initiated a program to reintroduce the Peregrine Falcon in the state. Peregrines were successfully hacked in the Adirondack Park with the release of the first birds in 1981. It is possible that Peregrines are utilizing the Siamese Pond Wilderness for nesting.  Three basic requirements nesting Peregrine Falcons include open country for hunting, sufficient food resources of avian species, and steep, rocky cliff faces for nesting. The falcons typically nest 50 to 200 feet off the ground near bodies of water. Nesting sites for Peregrines usually include a partially-vegetated ledge large enough for it young to move about. The nest is a well-rounded shape that is sometimes lined with grass, usually sheltered by an overhang. Sometimes Peregrines may nest in old Common Raven nests.   Human disturbance of a breeding pair may result in nest abandonment!  "DO NOT DISTURB" please!  Climbers, not it is illegal to climb during their breeding season, and breeders will attack.   To report a falcon signings please contact NYSDEC Region 5, Bureau of Wildlife, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, New York 12977, 518-897-1291.

 

 

Osprey (Pandion haliates)

 

Osprey - Picture credits to Wikipedia

 

The American Osprey is of special concern. Osprey breed near large bodies of water where there is abundant fish populations.  Numerous sightings are within the Adirondack.  Osprey construct their nest in tall dead tress, but also use rocky ledges, sand dunes, artificial platforms, and utility pole cross arms for a tall advantage point. The power company has started to built Osprey poles because they often select power poles causing issues when moving their youth from the endangerment of the power lines.

 

 

 

 

Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

 

Red Shoulder Hawk - Picture credits to Wikipedia

 

The Red-shouldered Hawk is listed as species of special concern and believed to exist in the Siamese Pond Wilderness.. Red-shouldered hawks breed in moist hardwood, forested wetlands, bottomlands and the wooded margins of wetlands, and sometimes close to cultivated fields.  They like cool, moist, lowland forests with tall trees for nesting.

 

 

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

 

Common Loon - Picture credits to WikipediaThe Common Loon is a species of special concern and are located through out the Adirondacks  They use small and large freshwater lakes in open and densely forested areas for breeding and nest on lakes (mostly less habited lakes). The Loons will use little shallow coves for nesting which are constructed on the ground at the water’s edge on sand or rock, wherever to avoided predators.  Small islands are their favorite or small peninsular.  They have a beautiful call - click:  Common Loon - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.   Sand Pond has been designated as important habitat for the Loon.  Please do not disturb.

 

 

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)

 

Cooper's Hawk - Picture credits to Wikipedia

 

 

The Cooper's Hawk is another species of special concern and believed to be in the Siamese Wilderness. Cooper’s hawk enjoys a variety of habitat types, from extensive deciduous or mixed forests to scattered woodlots interspersed with open fields, floodplain forests and wooded wetlands are also used. They construct nests typically at a height of 35 to 45 feet in the trees.

 

 

 

 

Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli)

 

Bicknell's Thrush - Picture credits to WikipediaBicknell's Thrush utilizes fir waves and natural disturbances as well as edges of ski slopes. They breed  in the Adirondacks at elevations greater than 2800 ft.   The species is most common on the highest ridges of the Adirondacks, preferring young or stunted dense stands of balsam fir up to 9 ft. in height.

 

 

 

Wild Species of Concern in the Hoffman  Wilderness

 

 

Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)

The Jefferson salamander is listed by New York State as species of special concern and believed to exist in the Siamese Pond Wilderness.  The salamanders require pools that remain deep long enough to complete their metamorphosis which takes approximately 1-2 weeks. They use the forested habitat used during the remainder of the year

 

 

Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)

The wood turtle is found in well oxygenated  good quality streams with sandy-pebbly substrates that are deep enough so that they do not freeze during hibernation Ideal habitat includes dense alder swamp and forested wetland habitat bordering the streams where the turtles can bask and have protection from predators.  Wood turtles forge for fungi and vegetation.  Wood turtles select both slopes and level sandy open areas for nest sites. They are listed as species of interest because of the long maturity rate (15 years) and high hatchling mortality.

 

 

Moose (Alces alces

Although Moose have become more populated in the Adirondacks, they have not been confirmed in the Siamese Pond Wilderness.   Moose will select habitat that is most abundant and highest quality forage. Typical patterns in moose habitat selection during the summer include the use of open upland and aquatic areas in early summer followed by the use of canopy areas that provide higher quality forage in the fall, near lakes, ponds and streams where they can forage for plants and get relief from high temperatures in insects.  After the fall rut and into winter, moose use open areas again where the highest woods exists.

 

 

Fishing

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness area is within the Upper Hudson watershed.   The Boreas River "a scenic river" flows into the Hudson River.  Minerva streams flows to Trout Brook, along with Rogers Brook, Platt Brook and the Branch flows which directly flows into the Schroon River.  Schroon River ends at Warrensburg as it merges to the Hudson River.  The Hoffman Notch Wilderness has 11 ponded waters and 2,057 acres of regulated wetlands.

 

  • Big Pond (63 acres) accessed via foot trail on Country Route 24

  • North Pond (25 acres) access by foot from County Route 24 (some bushwhacking may be needed)

  • Bailey Pond (18 acres

  • Sand Pond (64 acres) access via road and trail on the north and south sides on County Route 2

  • Marion Pond (10 acre)  accessible by trail from Bailey Pond and Warrens Pond

  • Big Marsh (13.1 acres) at the headwaters of the North Branch of Trout Brook.  A trail runs along the west side of the lake

  • Unnamed ponds - there are five unnamed ponds in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.

      The larger brooks in this region are:

  • North Branch Trout Brook

  • Hoffman Notch Brook

  • Platt Brook

  • Minerva Stream

  • Boreas River

Native Fish Species:

Native Species of the area are black nose dace, White sucker, Long nose sucker, northern red belly dace, redbreast sunfish, fine scale dace, creek shub sucker, long nose dace, common shiner, lake chub, slimy culpin, round whitefish.  Species that are widely introduced in the Adirondacks are brook trout, lake trout, cisco, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead and creek chub.  

 

Non-native fish, species include: 

Golden Shiner, Northern Pike, Chain Pickerel, Rock Bass, Blunt nose minnow, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Yellow perch, Johnny Darter, Fathead Minnow,  Brown trout, Rainbow Trout, Splake, Atlantic Salmon, Lake Whitefish, Banded killifish3, Rainbow, Smelt, Fallfish,  Bluegill Walleye, Pearl Dace ,Central mud Minnow, Redhorse suckers, Black Crappie

 

 

Visit our Fishing Directory for more information.

 

 

Horse Trails

New York Codes Rules and Regulations (“NYCRR”) §190.8(n) authorizes the use of state owned lands by horses and equestrians.  However, the use of horses on designated foot trails is prohibited unless the trail is also specifically designated as a horse trail; i.e.: “those that can be developed by conversion of appropriate abandoned roads, snowmobile trails, or state truck trails.”  There are several abandoned roads within the Hoffman Notch Wilderness appropriate for horse riding.   Visit our Adirondack Horseback Directory for other areas.

 

Hunting

Hunters enjoy pack & paddling into the region for weeks of hunting.   The game species of the Hoffman Notch region include white-tailed deer and black bear.  Other small game mammals of the region include coyote, raccoon, red & gray foxes, fisher, bobcat, American Marten, river otter, striped skunk, long-tailed and short-tailed weasel and snowshoe.

 

Titbit:  Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Areas are regulated to use bear-resistant canister for food, toiletries and garbage, and it is further recommended in other areas.

 

Hiking Trails

 

The backcountry acreage is enormous and the Adirondacks has the largest trail system in the nation with more than 2,000 miles.  Enjoy the glory of hiking the Adirondacks, nature's solitude, unbroken forest, lakes and mountains and take the path less taken.  Focus on your senses.  Visit our Adirondack Hiking Guide.   Click here for the DEC "Lost in the Woods" brochure.

 

The DEC trail classification system is outlined in the Forest Preserve Policy Manual. This classification system recognizes four trail classifications as outlined below:

 

 

Class 1:

Trail Distinguishable: Minimal biological or physical impacts, slight loss of vegetation and/or minimal disturbance of organic litter

Class 2:

Some Impacts: Tail obvious, slight loss of vegetation cover and/or organic litter pulverized in primary use areas, muddy spots or tree roots, or water action evident.

Class 3:

Moderate Impacts: Vegetation cover and/or organic littler pulverized within the center of the tread, exposed rocks and trees or small mud holes, but little evidence of widening beyond the maintained width of the trail.

Class 4:

Extensive Impacts: Near complete or total loss of vegetation cover and organic litter, rocks or tree roots exposed and roots damaged, or ruts more than 20cm (7.8 inches) deep, or widening caused by muddy areas or water action consistently.

Class 5:

Very Extensive Impacts: Trail to bedrock or other substrate, or tree roots badly damaged, or some ruts more than 50 cm (19.5 inches) deep or large areas (over 50%) of bank erosion, or mud holes so extensive that the trail is outside of its maintained width.

 

Marked Trails

NYSDEC Foot Trail Disk

Most trails are marked with color coded disks affixed to trees as shown (example, see left). Trail guides and maps correspond to these markers. Trail register boxes are generally located near major access points and parking areas. Although most state-maintained trails are marked, hikers are encouraged to consult topographical maps or other guides when planning to venture into the backcountry.

  • 1. Trailhead ‐ North side of unit (developed)‐ travel approximately 5.5 miles west on the Blue Ridge Road from exit 29 of I‐87. Once across the bridge over The Branch, turn left off the Blue Ridge Road to a parking lot to access the Hoffman Notch Trail. While this trailhead is not on state land, in 2010 the state (DEC) bought a conservation easement on this property. The conservation easement allows for the construction of a larger parking area than currently exists so that winter parking does not interfere with highway snow removal.

  • 2. East side of unit (undeveloped) ‐ travel approximately 1.6 miles south of exit 29 of I‐87 on SH 9 to access Hammond Pond Wild Forest lands on the west side of SH 9. Walk to the Schroon River on the unmarked old logging road. An old fish management structure is evident in the river. At one time, a walkway was available to cross the river but was destroyed in high waters. To cross the river to gain access to a culvert that goes underneath the I‐87 route, one must use a canoe/ boat unless water level is very low enabling an individual to cross the old walkway.

  • 3. East side of unit (developed) ‐ travel approximately 1.6 miles north of exit 28 off I‐87on SH 9. Turn left into small parking area. The People of New York State have a deeded access to park and travel the trail only that leads to a culvert that is under I‐87 that leads to unit lands. Follow trail system here to the culvert.

  • 4. Trailhead ‐ East side of unit (developed) ‐ travel approximately .6 miles south of exit 28 of I‐87 on SH 9. Take right across from Alder Meadow Road into parking lot for access to hiking trail leading to Severance Hill.

  • 5. Trailhead ‐ South side of unit (developed)‐ travel approximately 1.7 miles west on the Hoffman Road from Schroon Lake Road. Enter small parking lot on the north side of road.

  • 6. Trailhead ‐ South side of unit (developed) ‐ travel approximately 5 miles west on the Hoffman Road from Schroon Lake village to junction of the Hoffman Road and Loch Muller Road. Turn right onto Loch Muller Road and travel about 3 miles to the dead end. Find parking lot here to access Hoffman Notch Trail.

      The man-made trails in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Region are:

  • Bailey Pond Trail (.8 mile) - once a town road, but abandoned

  • Hoffman Notch Trail (7.4 miles) - historic route and a popular cross country ski trail.

  • Mt. Severance Trail (1.0) - trail along the ridge of the mountain

  • Big Pond Trail (5.7 miles) - once a logging road

 

Titbits: Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas: DEC has adopted a regulation prohibiting the use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this new regulation.

 

Facilities 

 

       Bridges

  • There are eight bridges located on the Hoffman Notch Wilderness trails of varying conditions.

        Parking Areas

  • Loch Muller

  • Hoffman Road

  • Big Pond Trail

  • Mt. Severance Trail

  • Blue Ridge Road @ the Hoffman Notch Trail

         Scenic Corridors

  • The main corridors to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness are Hoffman and Blue Ridge Road.  Blue Ridge Road is designated a New York State Scenic Byway.

 

 

References

 

Adirondack Mountain Club

 

Lake George

518-668-4447

Forest Fire - Search and Rescue     518-891-0235 or 911
State Land Regulation/Backcountry Law Enforcement     518-897-1300
Environmental Law Enforcement     518-897-1326
Poacher & Polluter Reporting online     1-800-TIPP DEC
State Lands Interactive Map (SLIM)      
 

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 *  DISCLOSURE:  "In and Around the Adirondack Park" is not affiliated with any of the above information, businesses, organizations or events, nor can we  vouch for the quality,  and is NOT responsible for the actions  of the above parties.  This report is brought as a public service message only.   The full report is available by by DEC and we are not responsible for slight typographical errors.  We publish your works (professional or amateur free).  Before going out in the Wilderness, please study your route and learn how to be prepared!