Adirondack Directory - Wilderness

Giant Mountain Wilderness and Boquet River Primitive Area

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

44°04′23″N 73°44′06″W


The Giant Mountain Wilderness is in Essex County, in the Towns of Elizabethtown and Keene, and bordered by Route 9N on the north, by Route 73 on the west and south and Route 9 on the east.  This area covers 22,768 acres with two bodies of water with its terrain is steep and rocky with nearly vertical cliffs.  (Caution of landslides should be used on the left side of Giant Mountain.)  Giant Mountain's elevation changes to 4,000' in only six miles!   In the early 1900's, forest fires struck this area, leaving Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge almost bald.

Many small brooks cascade over this steep terrain, and one particular scenic waterfall is Roaring Brook which is north of

Chapel Pond and can be seen from Route 73.  Roaring Brook is a popular ice climbing route in the winter.    Giant Mtn.

and the Rocky Peak Ridge are popular hiking trips and offers the photographers wonderful broad views.  (double click on map to enlarge)







Primitive Tent Sites - There are 16 remote campsites (2 sites on the Boquet River past the east side of Route 9/73, one site on the East side of Boquet River, 3 sites at the Giant's Washbowl, 2 sites along the Roaring Brook Trail w/privy, 1 site at Lake Marie Louise, 2 sites at Roaring Brook Falls, one site on Giant Mt. lean-tu w/privy, and 4 sites at the base of the Roaring Brook Falls w/one privy).


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.

Other Regions:  IAATAP maintains a full directory of Camping.  To explore nearby camping areas, Click here.




The Adirondacks is rich in bird life.  Visit our Adirondack Bird Directory when you have time.  By the NY State's Unit Management Plan, the following species are under study, we have summarized their findings.  Pictures and links provided by Wikipedia.  The endangered birds in the Giant Mountain and Boquet River Primitive Forest area:




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.




Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)


Indiana Bat - Picture credits to Wikipedia

The Indiana Bat is an endangered species and may reside in the Siamese Wilderness but not confirmed. The DEC is searching existing caves throughout NY and three caves along the borders of the Adirondacks have found indicating of wintering Indiana bats.  During spring, Indiana bats disperse from their winter hibernacula, some traveling hundreds of miles. Females congregate in nursery colonies, only a handful of which have ever been discovered. Nursery colonies have been located along the banks of streams or lakes in forested habitat, under the loose bark of dead trees, and contained from 50-100 females. In August or early September, Indiana bats congregate at the entrance of selected caves or mines where mating occurs. Indiana bats spend the winter months in secluded caves or mines which average 37 - 43 degrees F.



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 mountain cliffs 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.



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.



Other aviary species spotted in the Giant Mountain Wilderness and the Boquet River Primitive region are:  Hooded and Common  Merganser, Mallard, American Black Duck, Canada Goose, Chimney Swift, Great Blue Heron, American Bittern, Cedar Waxwing, Whip-poor-will, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Turkey Vulture, Brown Creeper, Killdeer, Mourning and Rock Dove, Common Raven, Blue Jay, American Crow, Dark-eyed Junco, Sparrow (Song, Lincoln, Swamp, White-throated, Vesper, Field, Chipping), Eastern Towhee, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, White-winged Crossbill, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Swallow (Barn, Bank and Tree), Blackbirds (Ballitmore Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle and Bobbolink), Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Chickadee (Boreal, Black-capped and Tufted Titmouse), Warbler (Blackburnlan, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-Sided, Yellow, Blackpool, Black-and-White, Black-throated green, Magnolia, Common yellowthroat, Ovenbird, American redstart, Norther watertrush, Nashville and Canada), Ruffled Grouse, Wild Turkey, Ring-necked Pheasant, Woodpeckers (Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Harry, Pileated and Downy), Golden-Crowned Kinglet, American Woodcock, Spotted Sandpiper, White-breasted and red-breasted Nuthatch, Owls (Great Horned, Barred and Long-eared), European Starling, Scarlet Tanager, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, House and Winter Wrens, and the Hermit Thrush.




Wild Species of Concern


Spotted and Blue-Spotted Salamander

SpottedSalamander.jpg Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) - The Spotted Salamander have two rows of yelloish orange spots that run along the back side.  They make their home in hardwood forest area and spend most of its time below the surface, under leaves or burrows; and use nearby ponds for breeding in the Spring.  They have poison glands around their back and neck, to release as protection against their predators.  This toxin is harmless to humans.  They are nocturnal hunters.


IC Ambystoma laterale.JPG Blue Spotted Salmander (Ambystoma laterale) - The Blue Spotted Salmander habits are much like the Spotted Salamanders described above.  Their skin is bluish-black with bluish-white spots


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.


Keeners Myotis (Motis Keea) - bat


Other Mammal species inhabiting the Giant Mountain Wilderness:  Moose, Northern Short Tailed Shrew, Coyote, Beaver, Southern Red-Back Vole, Star-nose Mole, Virginia Opossum, Big Brown Bat, Porcupine, Northern and Southern Flying Squirrel, Silver-Haired Bat, Hairy Bat, Re Bat, Varying Hare, River Otter, Bobcat, Woodchuck, Marten, Fisher, Striped Skunk, Meadow Vole, Rock  Vole, House Mouse, Ermine, Mink, Long-tailed Weasel, Small-footed Bat,   White-tail Deer, Muskrat, Hairy-tailed mole, White-footed Mouse, Deer Mouse, Eastern Pipistrelle, Raccoon, Norway Rat, Water Shrew, Smokey Shrew, Masked Shrew, New England Cottontail, Eastern Cottontail, Southern Bog Lemming, Eastern Chipmunk, Red Squirrel, Gray Fox, Black Bear, Red Fox, Meadow Jumping Mouse,


Giant Washbowl Pond is the largest pond in the Giant Mountain Wilderness with only 4.2 acres, stocked with brook trout, creek shubs, fathead minnows, white suckers, golden shiners, and northern redbelly dance.   Dipper Pond is less than an acre with no fish life. and Marie Louise Pond also supports not fish life with being less than an acre.  Visit our Fishing Directory for more information.


The Boquet River is stocked with brown and brook trout.  Visit the DEC's Public Fishing Guide for best areas of fishing on the Boquet. 


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. Horse trails in a Wilderness area to: “those that can be developed by conversion of appropriate abandoned roads, snowmobile trails, or state truck trails.”  While Giant Mountain is too steep for equestrian travel,  some regions of the Boquet River in Elizabethtown may be viable.  Consult your DEC trail map.  Visit our Adirondack Horseback Directory for other areas.



Hunters enjoy pack & paddling into the region for weeks of hunting.  The game species found in the Giant Mountain Wilderness include Virginia Opossum, Varying Hare, River Otter, Bobcat, Marten, Fisher, Striped Skunk, Moose, Coyote, Beaver, Ermine, Mink, Long tail Weasel, White-Tailed Deer, Muskrat, Raccoon, Gray Squirrel, New England Cottontail, Eastern Cottontail, Black Bear and Red Fox.



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


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 (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.

  • Blueberry Cobble Bypass (class III) - (.3 miles) on the East trail to Rocky Peak Ridge and Giant Mountain

  • Giant's Nubble from Ridge Trail (class III) - (.5 miles)

  • Giant's Washbowl from Roaring Brook Trail (class III) - (.5 miles)

  • Ranney Trail (class III) - (1.6 miles) Route 73 to junction with Mossy Cascade Trail.

  • Hopkins Mountain w/North trail to Giant (class III) - (1.3 miles)

  • Hopkins Mountain (class III) - (2.1 miles) via Spread Eagle Mountain and the direct Trail (.9 miles)

  • Mossy Cascade Trail (class III) - (2.6 miles) from Route 73 to Hopkins Trail

  • North Trail to Giant (class IV) - (15.3 miles)

  • East Trail to Giant (class IV) - (7.9 miles) via Rocky Peak Ridge

  • Ridge Trail to Giant (class V) - (6.2 total miles) includes the "Over" bypass on the Ridge Trail, the Ridge Trail and the Roaring Brook trail to Giant

Unmarked Trails 

  • Spur Trail at the base and top of Roaring Brooks Falls (class III)

  • Spur Trail to Owl's Head Lookout (class II) - path

  • Trail around north side of Washbowl (class II) - path

Follow those have gone before:




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.




Rock Climbing


Zander Scott Trailhead/Chapel Pond Slab and the Spanky's Wall on Noble Mountain are the best rock climbing features in the Giant Mountain Wilderness.  Access is via the Zander Scott Trailhead on Route 73.  Visit our Rock Climbing Directory.





  • Slide Brook - A major foot bridge on the North trail to Green Mountain

         Road Barriers

  • North Trail to Giant - A gate exists at the state boundary

  • BRPA boundary - a road barrier is at the access road to the boundary.

       Parking Areas

  • Mossy Cascade Trail- five car parking off of Route 73

  • North Trail to Giant - A parking area located on Route 9N for about 16 vehicles.

  • East Trail to Giant - A parking area exists for 14 vehicles on Route 9.

  • Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead - A parking area on Route 73 for approximately 20 vehicles.

  • Zander Scott Trailhead/Chapel Pond Slab - parking along Route 73





Adirondack Mountain Club


Lake George


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)      


Wilderness Reports

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