Adirondack Directory - Wilderness

Jessup River Wild Forest

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


The Jessup River Wild Forest is in Hamilton County, in the Towns of Arietta, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and Wells NY, and  covers 47,350 acres which includes Pillsbury and Snowy Mountain (fire towers), Fall Stream camping on Mason Lake, snowmobiling, M. Perkins Clearing, Miami River and Lewey Lake State Campground.  This region is winter wonder land for snowmobilers and ice fishing during the winter.  Summer camps and hikers truly enjoy the warmer weather.  The Village of Speculator, boasts 'four seasons vacation' and definitely so.   Many local business stay open year-round to accommodate and welcome visitors.  Friends should be their second logo.   Their hospitality is great.

        (click on map to enlarge)




Primitive Tent Sites -  There are  76 sites and are primarily water locations or adjacent to area trails and roads. Less than half of these sites are easily accessible by motor vehicle.


  • Beaver Brook

  • Cedar River, 2

  • Fall Stream/Fall Lake, 3

  • Fawn Lake, 14

  • Gilman Lake/Gilmantown Road, 6

  • Hernandez Road, 1

  • Indian Lake, 5

  • Jessup River,4

  • Mason Lake/Perkins Clearing Road, 24

  • Mud Lake, 1

  • Old Route 30, 1

  • Oxbow Lake, 3

  • Northville-Lake Placid Trail, 1

  • NYS Route 8/30, 2
  • NYS Route 30, 3

  • Sacandaga Lake. 3

  • Vly Lake, 1

Campground Sites  - There are 35 designated campsites in portions of the wild forest mainland and Indian Lake Islands.  There are only a few remaining fireplaces at Hatchery Brook Falls, Watch Hill and Sacandaga lake.   There are five picnic areas on Indian Lake and two pit privies (excluding the campgrounds) at Pillsbury Mountain and Fawn Lake Snowmobile Trail.  Other campgrounds:

Little Sand Point (78 sites)

Old Piseco Road


Poplar Point State Campground

(29 sites)


Point Comfort

 Old Piseco Road (77) sites


Irondequoit Inn (12 sites)

Old Piseco Road


Adirondack Gateway Campground & Lodge

 Burt Road, Cold Brook


Moffitt Beach State Campground

(258 sites)

Route 8, Speculator



Lewey Lake




   Other Regions:  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.





The Adirondacks is rich in bird life.   The Jessup River Wilderness Forest is home to 72 species.  The game birds of this region include Ruffed Grouse, American Crow, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Snipe, American Woodcock, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, American Black Duck, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Turkey Vulture. 


By the NY State's Unit Management Plan, the following species are under study, we have summarized their findings below.  The Adirondack Subalpine Forest Bird Conservation covers all summits above 2800' as to be protected for a distinctive bird community.  (Pictures and links provided by Wikipedia.)  The endangered birds in the Jessup River Wild Forest are:


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.


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.





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.



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.




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.



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.


Northern Goshawk - The Goshawk prefer dense tall trees with partial canopy for cover to nest.  A typical place for their nest would be in the crotch of a tree.

Red-headed Woodpecker - These woodpeckers utilize both wetlands (swamps, beaver impoundments) and uplands (pastures and roadsides).  Then nest in dead limbs of live trees, poles, fences and roofs.

New York State has the following birds on their 'protective list': 

Small Footed Bat, Keenes Myotis,  Broad Wing Hawk, Mourning Dove, Black-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Blue Jay, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated, Warbling Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parla, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Cape May Warbler,Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Pine Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Northern Water thrush, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Canada Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow ,Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Purple Finch, House Finch, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak.

        Visit our Adirondack Bird Directory for further information on our Adirondack Bird population.



Wild Species of Concern


Moose,  Eastern Cougar, wolf and fisher inhabited the Adirondacks prior to European settlement.  These species have declined or extirpated from the Park.  The Canada Lynx restoration effort failed.  The Lynx is now legally protected.  The wolf and Eastern Cougar are considered extirpated; but some reports are most likely a hybrid of red wolf and coyote.


Canada Lynx  (Lynx canadensis)


The Canadian Lynx is more like a bobcat, and twice the size of a domestic cat.  The lynx are secretive and mostly nocturnal animal.  They hunt in deep snow cover and higher altitudes.  They roam 1 to 3 miles a day.







The amphibians reported protected or endangers in the Jessup River Wild Forest are:  (excerpts taken from the DEC report)


Spotted Salamander  (Ambystoma maculatum) 


SpottedSalamander.jpgThe Spotted Salamander have two rows of yellowish 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.





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.


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.

Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) - Northern Spring Peepers inhabit coniferous, deciduous and mixed forested habitat where they typically breed in ponds, emergent marshes or shrub swamps. However, their spring chorus is commonly heard from just about any body of water, especially in areas where trees or shrubs stand in and near water.

Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) - Bullfrogs require permanent bodies of water with adequateemergent and edge cover. Their aquatic habitats include shallow lake coves, slow-moving rivers and streams, and ponds.

Green Frog (Rana clamitans) - Green frogs are rarely found more than several meters from some form of water, including lakes and ponds, streams, quarry pools, springs, and vernal pools.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris) - Whether the habitat selected is a bog, fen, pond, stream, spring, slough, or cove, Pickerel Frogs prefer cool, clear waters, avoiding polluted or stagnant habitats. Grassy streambanks and inlets to springs, bogs, marshes, or weedy ponds are favorite habitat choices.

Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) - Although sometimes found in wet woodlands Northern Leopard Frogs are the frog of wet meadows and open fields, breeding in ponds, marshes, and slow, shallow, vegetated streams.

Mink Frog (Rana septentrionalis) -  prefer cool, permanent water with adequate emergent and floating-leaved vegetation where they feed on aquatic insects and other invertebrates. Here they also hibernate on the bottom in the mud.

Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) -  prefer cool, moist, woodlands where they select temporary pools for breeding. However, where vernal pools are absent, wood frogs will breed in a variety of habitats including everything from cattail swamps to roadside ditches.





The Jessup River Wild Forest has many classification of ponds (American Brook Trout Ponds, Coldwater Ponds and Lakes, Other Ponds & Lakes, Two-Story Ponds & Lakes, Unknown Ponds & Lakes, and Warm water Ponds & Lakes).    Visit our Fishing Directory for more information in other regions of the Adirondacks.




Dunning Pond - 5 acre pond in Lake Pleasant was a natural brook trout water body; but with the upstream of Charley Lake, it now harboring largemouth bass and may have eliminated the trout population.

Echo Lake - 50 acre warm water lake with species of smallmouth bass, yellow perch, fall fish and chain pickerel.


Fall Lake - 24 acre warm water lake with native white sucker, non-native chain pickerel, smallmouth bass and yellow perch reported.    Also reported were pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, rock bass, fall fish and golden shiner.

Fawn Lake - 289 acre two-story lake and located 1/2 mile west of Sacandaga Lake and accessed by town highway and snowmobile trail.  A survey in the '50, reported pumpkinseed, creek chub, brown bullhead, yellow perch and golden shiners, as well as non-native central mudminnow.  Overfishing for lake trout has lead to restrictive fishing regulations and closure of winter ice fishery.


Gilman Lake - 44 acre two-story lake supporting chain pickerel, largemouth bass, rainbow smelt, and stocked with rainbow trout.   In the late 1960's, lake trout and splake were stocked. 


Indian Lake - 4,365 acre two-story reservoir which was constructed as part of the Hudson River-Black River Regulation District.  The dam was erected in 1898 and raised the water level 33'.  The captured species included lake whitefish, brown trout, lake trout, rainbow smelt, white sucker, brown bullhead, rock bass, pumpkinseed, smallmouth bass and yellow perch.  Brown trout yearlings have been stocked since 1993.  A portion of this lake is wild forest and a boat launch access from the campground on the southern end of the lake and a private marina near Sabael are used for water access. 


Jerry Pond - 14-acre pond (not been surveyed) which lies approximately 1 mile east of the portion of Indian Lake known as 'the narrows' at the north end of Baldface Mountain.  The entire shoreline of Jerry Pond is contained within this wild forest unit. Jerry Pond is tributary to Round Pond Outlet and is located just 800' from a good road. 

Lake Abanakee -  a 480-acre warm water lake.  The 1975 survey  reported white sucker and redbreast sunfish, native-but-widely-introduced pumpkinseed and brown bullhead, and nonnative northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, and golden shiner.  The lake also supports a small coldwater community of lake trout and probably brown trout and lake whitefish, which emigrate from Indian Lake.  Little  change was noted in the fish community in the 1992 survey other than an increased abundance of largemouth bass.  The Town of Indian Lake stocked fingerling walleye into Lake Abanakee from 1994-1997.  However, an survey done in 2002 failed to capture any walleye and they captured limited numbers of the warm water species previously reported in 1992.  The lake is located on the outlet of Indian Lake and is split by Route 28 and a town road into three segments.   Only a portion of the lake is bordered by this wild forest unit.   Lake Abanakee has a maximum depth of 20.7'.   Lake Abanakee has fluctuating water levels due to whitewater rafting releases and discharges from the Indian Lake Dam.

Lake Pleasant -  a 1,504-acre two-story lake that was first surveyed in 1932.   A 1954 survey added nonnative rock bass and fallfish to the species list from prior surveys (lake trout, white suckers, creek chub, pumpkinseed, brown bullhead, yellow perch, walleye, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel and lake whitefish.   John Greeley experimentally stocked landlocked salmon into the lake's tributaries in 1954.  There is still a remnant lake whitefish population in Lake Pleasant because they were reported by anglers through the 1980's and the state record whitefish (10 lbs 8 oz) was caught in 1995.  Lake trout may not be present today based on a lack of recent angler reports. The Conservation Department commenced a popular rainbow trout stocking program in the 1960's.  Excellent catches of rainbow trout up to 8 pounds have been reported, especially during the late 1960's and early 1970's. DEC commenced a split rainbow trout and brown trout stocking program in 1980. Surveys conducted in 1992 and 1995 yielded no new fish community information, but since 1995 the nonnative species of largemouth bass and rainbow smelt have been documented by reliable sources. The high abundance of rainbow smelt now in the lake prompted initiation of an experimental stocking policy for landlocked Atlantic salmon in 2003. The lake is located immediately southwest of the Village of Speculator and is bordered on its north shore by Route 8. Lake Pleasant has a pH of about 7 and has a maximum depth of 64 feet. Only a portion of the lake is bordered by this wild forest unit. Public boat access is limited on Lake Pleasant.  Boaters venture to the lake from the Moffitt Beach Campground launch on Sacandaga Lake through its shallow outlet to Lake Pleasant, or they try to launch small boats near the Route 28 bridge on the outlet.

Lake Sound -  a shallow, 21-acre warm water lake that was first surveyed in 1932.  The 1957 collected both yellow perch and chain pickerel along with native-but widely-introduced brown bullhead and pumpkinseed and nonnative golden shiner.  The pond is located ¼ mile north of Sacandaga Lake near the mouth of Hatchery Brook.  Lake Sound has a pH of 6.86, maximum depth of 8.9 feet, and a mean depth of 9.5 feet.   Lake Sound is located completely within this wild forest unit.  Largemouth bass will be introduced to Lake Sound to diversify its warm water fishery.

Lewey Lake - a 365-acre two-story lake that was first surveyed in 1932 with reported lake trout, native-but-widely-introduced brown bullhead, and nonnative chain pickerel, yellow perch, lake whitefish, and smallmouth bass and stocked with lake trout and walleye and yellow perch.   By 1964 a survey also found white sucker, native-but-widely-introduced pumpkinseed, and nonnative northern pike and rock bass.   In 1965 native-but-widely-introduced cisco were collected by the Conservation Department.  In recent years, brown trout and landlocked salmon stocked in Indian Lake have been common catches in Lewey Lake, particularly during the ice fishing season. The lake is located in the headwaters of Indian Lake, southwest of Indian Lake. The lake is accessible by vehicle from Route 30 and has a state campsite located on its easterly and southern shores.  Lewey Lake has a maximum depth of 53.1 feet.  Only a portion of the lake is bordered by this wild forest unit.


Mason Lake -  a 90-acre lake that was first surveyed in 1932 reporting white sucker and common shiner, native-but-widely-introduced brown bullhead, and nonnative lake whitefish and golden shiner.   Mason Lake was reclaimed for the first time in 1952 and was subsequently reclaimed a number of times as a result of reinfestation by competing species.  Modest catches of brook trout were reported in the 1960's and early 1970's. A 1973 DEC survey found brook trout and white sucker, native-but-widely-introduced creek chub and brown bullhead, and nonnative landlocked salmon and golden shiner. A 1987 survey added nonnative pearl dace to the species list.  Largemouth bass were introduced by DEC in 1993 to provide a sport fishery.  Anglers have recently reported the presence of nonnative smallmouth bass. The lake is located on the west side of Route 30, approximately 1 mile north of the Route 30 crossing of the Jessup River. Mason Lake has a maximum depth of 18 feet, and a mean depth of 9.2 feet.    The entire shoreline of Mason Lake is contained within this wild forest unit. 


Mud Lake -  a 13-acre warm water pond.  The survey report noted that the lake had a fish community containing native-but-widely introduced brown bullhead and nonnative chain pickerel and yellow perch.   In 1957 a Conservation Department survey collected the same species along with white sucker, native-but-widely-introduced pumpkinseed, and nonnative smallmouth bass and rock bass.  The lake is located approximately 1 mile north of Sacandaga Lake at Perry's Clearing. Mud Lake has a maximum depth of 10.8 feet.  The entire shoreline of Mud Lake is contained within this wild forest unit. 

Mud Pond - a 9-acre warm-water pond entire shoreline is contained within this wild forest unit.    Surveys collected creek chub sucker and white sucker, native-but widely-introduced pumpkinseed, and nonnative smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, fallfish, and yellow perch. The lake is located at the headwaters of Fall Stream, a major inlet to Piseco Lake, and is approximately ½ mile east of the Northville-Placid trail. Mud Pond has amaximum depth of 10.8 feet.

Oxbow Lake - a 314-acre warm water lake that was first surveyed in 1932 that the lake was reputed to have been a banner speckled trout lake, but by the 1930's water temperatures were high.  The increased water temperatures and decline of the brook trout community may have been caused by logging and sedimentation following tree clearing.   The 1932 survey collected or reported white sucker, native-but-widely-introduced pumpkinseed and brown bullhead, and nonnative smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, and golden shiner.   The 1964 survey collected the same species along with creek chub sucker.  Largemouth bass were introduced in 1964 and were collected during a 1973 DEC survey. The entire lake shoreline was electrofished in June 2002 yielding no new species. The lake is located between Piseco Lake and Sacandaga Lake and is bordered along its south shore by Route 8. Oxbow Lake has a maximum depth of 11.8 feet, but most of the lake is quite shallow. Only a portion of the lake is bordered by this wild forest unit. 

Panther or Mountain Pond - a 4-acre pond.  Brook trout stocking program ran in 1969.   A 1972 DEC survey collected brook trout and native-but-widely-introduced creek chub.  In 1995, native northern redbelly dace and NBWI brown bullhead were added to the fish community list.  This small pond is accessible via a 0.6-mile trail from Route 30.  Panther (Mountain) Pond has a swampy shoreline with large untreatable wetlands. The entire shoreline of Panther (Mountain) Pond is contained within this wild forest unit.  

Sacandaga Lake - a 1589-acre two-story lake that  "the lake of irregular bottom" as rocky shoals rise from the depths in many places with a maximum depth of 59 feet.   A split rainbow trout and brown trout stocking program was implemented by DEC in 1980.  A 1995 survey found no new fish species, but nonnative largemouth bass and rainbow smelt have sincebeen reported. An experimental stocking policy of landlocked Atlantic salmon was initiated in 2003 to take advantage of the new rainbow smelt forage base.

Vly Lake - a 38-acre warm-water with reports of white sucker and creek chub sucker along with native-but-widely-introduced pumpkinseed, and nonnative fallfish, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, and yellow perch. The lake is located in the headwaters of Fall Stream. The entire shoreline of Vly Lake is contained within this wild forest unit.

There are several unnamed ponds in this region and the state will be preserving the fish species for the intrinsic value.

For ice fishing and other winter recreational pursuits that are not part of long-distance travel, snowmobile access to the ice on Sacandaga Lake will be provided at Moffitt Beach Campground and snowmobile access to the ice on Oxbow Lake will remain possible from the western end of the lake.  Ice fishing reg's (click here).  The Hamilton County Federation of Sportsmen is sponsoring an Ice Fishing Derby throughout the months of January, February, and March. Contestants can fish any body of water open for the ice fishing season.  Call the Hamilton County Park District at 513-521-PARK (7275) or visit to check on ice conditions before fishing.   Ice fishing is gauged upon the thickness of the ice, which Rangers check daily. Ice-fishers must bring their own equipment.



Hunters enjoy pack & paddling into the region for weeks of hunting.  The game species found in the Jay Wilderness are mainly white-tailed deer, moose and black bear.  Small game hunting may take beaver, bobcat, Coyote, Eastern Cottontail, Ermine, Fisher, Gray Fox, Gray Squirrel, Long-tailed Weasel, Martin, Mink, Muskrat, Raccoon, Fed Fox, River Otter, Striped Skunk, Varying Hare, and Virginia Opossum.  The State's Hunting Guide lines need to be abided (visit



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 Jessup River Wild Forest is riddled with "Multiple Use Trails".  In the winter, this region is alive with snowmobile tourism, and in the summer with family hiking and camping.   There are no officially designated horse trails as the State defines "multiple-use trail" as a trail that is designed to accommodate a wide variety of recreational activities. Trail uses could include, but are not necessarily limited to snowmobiling, horseback riding, and/or all terrain bicycling in addition to primitive uses such as walking, hiking, backpacking, jogging, or running.  This type of trail is marked with snowmobile, horse, bicycle, and/or in some instances foot trail markers. It can also be marked with a combination of markers showing the trail use combinations such as snowmobile/bike, snowmobile/bike/horse/foot, etc. With the exception of trail segments along roads in intensive use campgrounds and facilities within highway right-of-ways, Forest Preserve multiple use trails can vary from narrow ATB trails to Class II snowmobile trails.


For future references, 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 - there are 11.3 miles of marked trails through this region:

Baldface Mountain Trail (Class-IV, Blue markers) - 1.1 mi. Water access from Norman's Cove (water access) on Indian Lake to the open ledges at the 2230' summit.  This trail is suitable for family groups with a vertical rise of 580 feet and can be easily climbed by almost everyone.

Northville-Lake Placid Trail (Class-V, Blue markers) - 5.7 mi. and .1 mile on private land from Cold Stream Bridge to State boundary from NYS Boundary Line at the end of the Haskell Road to NYS/IP Boundary at Perkins Clearing. Additional three miles of the trail is along the road from NYS Route 8 to the end of the Haskell Road.

Pillsbury Mountain Trail (Class-IV, Red markers) - 1.6 mi. From the Old Military Rd. parking area to the fire tower and the 3597' summit.

Snowy Mountain Trail (Class-IV, Red markers) - 2.9 mi.# (Total trail length is 3.9 miles)  The first mile of trail from NYS Route 30 is within the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. The Jessup River Wild Forest portion of the trail continues to the fire tower and 3899' summit.  The climbing ascent is 2106 feet, which is greater that many of the High Peaks.

Unmarked Trails

Old Woods Roads - These exist in several locations with permanent barriers preventing illegal motorized use. Areas include Indian Clearing, Gilmantown Road, etc.

Herd Paths - Unmarked foot trails which have evolved by continued use. Notable areas include: Callahan Brook, Indian Clearing, Fawn Lake, Fish Mt., Mud Lake, Pine Hill, Squaw Brook, and Watch Hill.


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. 


Bike Trails

Jessup River Forest has Class IX trails (All Terrain Bicycle) routes designated for bicycle use that may vary from easy, dirt-surface roads, to winding forest paths to narrow challenging single track trails.  These trails are maintained according to International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) standards.  Visit our complete Biking Directory.  Happy Trails.




Cross Country Ski Trails


There are 8.5 miles of marked cross country ski trails in the region.  The Abanakee Loop is 3.5 miles with an additional .3 miles on private land; and the Piseco Airport Trail (Foxy Brown Loop) has 5 miles starting from town land from the airport looking back to the runway.  Cross County Skiing is also good on all the lakes in the region.  All Hamilton County Parks are open to cross-country skiing, but no skiing is allowed on golf courses or conservation areas.  Call 513-521-PARK (7275) or visit to check winter park conditions before visiting.


Snowmobile Trails

Within the Jessup River Wild Forest, snowmobile trails (Class II - Community Connector Trails) are connected through state land.   The snowmobile trail system is quite fragmented and consist of numerous distinct tracts separated by major highways or bodies of water.  Below are some of the trails, but it suggested to check the Speculator Chamber has a complete list of trails and maintains trail conditions.  Visit:  No trail permits required and free parking at many trailhead locations.  All sleds are required to have a New York State registration.   Visitors sled at their own risk in all Hamilton County Parks. Call the Hamilton County Park District at 513-521-PARK (7275) or visit to check on winter park conditions before visiting.  Visit our complete Directory of Snowmobile for clubs, outfitters and more.

The connecting trails currently being utilized are:

  • Bear Trap Brook Trail - (1.4 miles)  with the exception of a very small piece of State land next to the highway the trail utilizes an additional .5 mi. over private land to access State lands from NYS Route 28/30.  From NYS Route 28/30 to Finch Pruyn boundary line. An additional 10 miles is leased from Finch, Pruyn to connect with snowmobile trails in the Moose River Plains Area. The section over State lands is located mostly on an old woods road with very few exposed rocks.  There is only one bridge over Bear Trap Brook.

  • Dunning Pond Trail  - (4.6 mi.) From NYS Route 30 to the Gilmantown Road.  The section over State lands is located mostly on an old woods road for the first 2.3 miles to Dunning Pond Creek.  Trail is narrower on section to Gilmantown Road.

  • Fall Lake Trail - From Oxbow Lake to the junction with the Piseco-Perkins Clearing Trail.  Several rocks, hummocks and damp sections. Floating bog mat adjacent to the Fall Lake crossing. Western segment from Airport Parking used by ice fisherman to access Fall Lake.

  • Lawrence Farm Trail - (0.4 miles) providing a land based connection between Speculator and easements lands to the north, with trails forking north to Indian Lake or west to Arietta. The trail is located adjacent to the state boundary and is within a mile of NYS Route 30. It will become the eastern end of the proposed Fish Mountain trail.

  • Oxbow-Spy Lake Trail - (3.2 miles between the NP trail intersection Oxbow Lake and private lands to the west), allowing a connection between Arietta trails and points east with Morehouse and Herkimer County or communities in Fulton County via the Powley Road. While a portion of this trail is adjacent to the Silver Lake Wilderness, the trail is within a mile of a motorized travel corridor and motorized water bodies and is located along the periphery of the unit.

  • Oxbow Road Trail - (0.5 mile section from Fish Mountain Cemetery area to Oxbow Lake Road)

  • Piseco-Perkins Clearing Trail - 8.5 mi. Includes additional 1.5 mile trail spur to the I.P. boundary line near Mossy Vly.  From the Piseco Airport to the I.P. boundary line near Willis Mountain.  Numerous bridges, corduroy, and hummocks. Scattered damp areas.  Southern part of trail to Vly Lake is located primarily on an old woods road.

  • Round Pond Brook Trail - (2.7 miles)- designation of Jerry Savarie Road as a snowmobile trail. This trail will enable residents of the Big Brook area and the general public (once the new parking area is built) to connect with the town and county snowmobile trail systems. While the trail will pass through the center of a 3,800 acre tract, the trail will be located within a mile of motorized travel corridors.

  • Moffitt Beach Trail - (0.4 miles, spur trail from campground parking area to Hatchery Brook) - Additional 0.5 miles on intensive use lands.  This trail allows alternative access from the eastern part of Lake Pleasant.

  • Rudeston Hill Trail - (1.2 mi.)  Additional .6 mile on private lands.  From Piseco Lake to Oxbow Lake. Eastern part of trail has a couple of side hills.

  • Rudeston Hill Access Snowmobile trail - (0.3 miles) This trail will provide snowmobile access from public parking at the town of Arietta Community Hall to the existing trail system before Oxbow or Piseco Lake are safely frozen.

  • Fawn Lake Trail - (4.2 mi.) Includes short spur trail.  From Sacandaga Lake to the junction with the Piseco-Perkins Clearing Trail. Several bridges and numerous sections of corduroy, several wet spots.  Popular hiking trail to the beach at the north end of Fawn Lake.

  • Crow Hill Trail - (0.1 miles)  Indian Lake-Sabael  .5 mi. Additional 2 miles on private land.  From the Crow Hill Road. to Indian Lake.

  • Fall Lake Trail  - 1.1 mi. From Oxbow Lake to the junction with the Piseco-Perkins Clearing Trail. Several rocks, hummocks and damp sections. Floating bog mat adjacent to the Fall Lake crossing.  Western segment from Airport Parking used by ice fisherman to access Fall Lake.

  • Old Telephone Line Trail - (3.8 mi.) From Perkins Clearing Road to Indian Lake (across NYS Route 30). The section over State lands is located mostly on an old woods road, with the exception of a small section in the vicinity of Mason Lake.

  • Lawrence Farm Trail  - (.4 mi.) This trail starts at the IP boundary and uses a portion of the Lawrence Farm Road and another old woods road before re-entering IP lands.

  • Perkins Clearing - Lewey Lake Trail - Town trail estimated two miles of this trail is outside of the road ROW over wilderness lands. This moderate use trail allows a connection between the community of Speculator (and other communities to the east and west) and Indian Lake.

  • Oxbow-Sacandaga Lake Trail  - (.8 mi.)  Additional 1.8 miles on private lands.  From Oxbow Lake to Sacandaga Lake.  The trail is partly located on an old woods road. Some damp areas.  A portion of this trail was used in the past for MV access on an administrative road to an adjoining private gravel pit.
  • Route 30 - road shoulder.
  • Unmarked trails - public roads or right of ways plus frozen surfaces of Indian Lake, Fawn Lake, Oxbow Lake, Piseco lake, Sacanadaga Lake and Lake Pleasant.
  • Visit for more details: 

New Trails (see management report here for complete updates):

  • Crow Hill relocation
  • Gilmantown Trail
  • Fish Mountain Trail (12.1 miles, including trails to Mud Lake and Brister Brook from easement lands north of Speculator looping around Mud Lake to Oxbow Lake).  This proposal will provide a snowmobile trail leading to and from Speculator without requiring the use of the frozen surfaces of Lake Pleasant or Sacandaga Lake. The trail will incorporate a 0.2 mile section of the Rudeston Hill Trail that ends at Oxbow Lake and a 1.0 mile section of the Fawn Lake Trail south of Fawn Lake. 

  • Fish Mountain Spur Trail (1.1 miles from private land to the Fish Mt. Trail) The trail will require 0.8 miles of new trail north of the Fish Mt. Cemetery and will incorporate a 0.3 mile section of the Oxbow-Sacandaga Lake Trail.

  • Mud Lake Trail
  • Moffit Beach Trail
  • Brister Brook Trail
  • Rudestone Hill Access Trail
  • Round Pond Brook Trail
  • Gilmantown Trail (2.5 miles) The  town of Wells uses a combination of DOT shoulders along NYS Route 30, unplowed town roads, and private land.  It is considered unsuitable for a “community connector” trail due to safety concerns, maintenance problems, and conflicts with public motor vehicle use of the highway. This proposal will utilize a combination of private land, JRWF, road shoulder, and easement lands to provide a land-based snowmobile trail connection from Wells to Speculator without requiring the use of NYS Route 30 ROW. From the NYS Route 30 crossing the trail will proceed north using roads and trails on easement land to reach the village of Speculator. The portion of the trail across JRWF lands trail is within a mile of motorized travel corridors.

  • Lake Access Spur Trails - (0.2 mile spur trail to Sacandaga Lake in the vicinity of the Fawn Lake Road, 0.2 mile and 0.5 mile spur trails on the north side of Oxbow Lake) Construction of the Fish Mt. trail will provide a Community Connector Trail reaching between Speculator and Arietta that will eliminate the need to cross Oxbow and Sacandaga Lakes and to a large degree Oxbow Lake.


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.

Jessup River Wild Forest has Class VII trails designated for equestrian use with an eight foot maximum width. 


To go where other have gone: (Augur Falls)  (snowmobiling) (folklore) (Snowy Mtn. Fire Tower)





There are 23 barrier of rock barriers within the region of either pipe gates or cattle gates are in use to control road travel.

          Foot Trail Bridges

  • On the Pillsbury Mountain Trail across the Miami River

  • On the Northville-Lake Placid Trail, double stringer bridges - pole bridges of varying lengths

  • On the Snowy Mountain Trail, pole bridges of varying lengths (8), total length of 110'

  • On the Snowy Mountain Trail, pole bridge over Beaver Brook (center crib) length of 20'

          Road Bridges

  • Mason Lake Outlet

          Snowmobile Bridges

  • There are 55 snowmobile bridges in this region:

  • Bear Trap Brook Trail: Bear Trap Brook

  • Piseco - Perkins Clearing Trail:   Between Piseco Airport and Fall Lake Trail intersection and between Fall Lake Trail junction and International Paper Co. boundary and on a fall stream.

  • Dunning Pond Trail:   Gilmantown Road (road ditch), a few small bridge remains, unbridged crossing of Dunning Pond Brook.

  • Fawn Lake Trail: Between trailhead and Big Brook Trail intersection, Fawn Lake Outlet and Willis Vly

  • Fall Lake Trail: Between trailhead and Oxbow Lake

  • Oxbow-Sacandaga Lake Trail: Between Oxbow Lake and private land near Fish Mt. Pit:

  • Oxbow-Spy Lake Trail:  Piseco School to Spy Lake

  • Rudeston Hill Trail: Between boundary and Oxbow Lake

          Dry tread/Plank Bridging

  • Snowy Mountain Trail: 59 Bridges (+10' long) total length 583'

  • Northville-Lake Placid Trail: 27 stringer bridges (6'-8' long) total length of 213'

          Boardwalks & Stairs

  • On the Snowy Mountain Trail, corduroy decking and four staircases


  • Indian Lake Dam Caretaker Facility

  • Indian Lake and Indian River, water gauge-structure

  • Sacandaga Lake, Peasely caretaker agreement - house (two buildings)

  • Gilmantown Road, valve-house

  • Pillsbury Mountain Observers Cabin at summit

       Parking Areas

  • Piseco Airport Road, Town of Arietta- (vehicle capacity: 7 on town property)

  • Old Military Road, Pillsbury Mt. Trailhead (vehicle capacity: 15)

  • NYS Route 30, Snowy Mt. Trail (vehicle capacity: 13)
  • Fawn Lake Road

  • Haskell Road, Northville-Lake Placid Trail

  • NYS Route 30, Dunning Pond Snowmobile Trail

  • NYS Route 28, Abanakee Loop (Town of Indian Lake/Byron Park or private land)

  • The following locations are where snowmobile trails cross public roads and, although they provide access to State land, they are not designed primarily for that purpose:   NYS Route 30 (north of Jessup River bridge) and NYS Route 28 (near the Cedar River Bridge).


  • Northville-Lake Placid Trail (Haskell Road)

  • Old Military Road (Pillsbury Mt. Trailhead)

  • Piseco Airport Nordic Ski Trail#

  • Snowy Mountain Trail (NYS Route 30)

  • Fall Lake Trail Junction-Kiosk

  • Dunning Pond Snowmobile Trail (NYS Route 30)

  • Fawn Lake Trail





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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 *  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 is brought as a public service message only.   We publish your works (professional or amateur free).  Before going out in the Wilderness, please study your route and learn how to be prepared!