The Essex Chain Lakes in Newcomb, N.Y., the heart of New York's Adirondack Mountains, is the ultimate outdoor wilderness experience. This 7,000-acre NYS DEC Primitive Area is the newest destination for year-round recreation. You will decompress, relax, see wildlife, and escape all of today's chaos. Depending on the season, you can paddle, fish, primitive camp, ADA compliant camp, mountain bike, hike, ride horse trails, hunt and trap, cross-country ski, and snowshoe. No matter what season you decide to visit the Essex Chain Lakes complex you will enjoy the scenery and serenity of this special place. 


A sunny view of a pond ringed by trees with a canoe peeking into the corner of the image.

Did you know that the Essex Chain Lakes complex offers up 18 unique bodies of water of all sizes and skill levels? The chain (nine lakes total, including Deer Pond and Grassy Pond), the most popular of the bunch, are accessed from the Deer Pond parking lot (via Goodnow Flow Road). The chain will give you the peace and solitude that one can only dream about. The Hudson River (which flows south from Newcomb - east of the complex) connects to the Cedar River (along the southern border of the complex) for miles and miles of adventure. There are multiple entry/exit points along all the different sections of both rivers. Paddlers of all skill levels are certain to have a good time. There are portages throughout the entire complex (chain and rivers). A good rule of thumb…travel light (boat and your essential gear). 


All bodies of water in the Essex Chain Lakes complex are open to fishing. Depending on the body of water, one can catch salmon, trout, bass, pike, and/or the beloved pan fish. Fishing licenses are required and all NYS DEC freshwater regulations apply. 

Mountain biking

There are over 20 miles of dirt roads at this hidden gem (this network of roads is not suitable for road bikes/slick tires) that can be accessed from both locations here in the Town of Newcomb (Essex Chain Lakes North and Deer Pond Parking). Electric bicycles of any class are not allowed. Grab your camelback, some snacks, and your repair kit. Adventure awaits!


There are over 30 designated camping sites inside the complex. There are 11 sites alone that are scattered along the shore of the Chain Lakes. A brand-new lean-to has been built this summer, at the site of the inner Gooley Club, on Third Lake. Designated sites are marked by a yellow “camp here” disc. All sites are first come, first served. Good news…campfires are now allowed in designated fire rings at all designated sites! Campers that wish to stay longer than three nights must contact the local Forest Ranger for a permit. 


A beaver dam bisects a body of water surrounded by dense stands of trees.
Beavers are eager, active Adirondack residents.

The Essex Chain Lakes complex has an endless network of old logging roads/trails that are excellent for hiking of all skill levels. The restoration of Goodnow Mountain Fire Tower is currently in progress. These family-friendly trails are the perfect cure for hikers that are looking to explore alternate locations to the High Peaks.  

Horseback riding

Over 20 miles of dirt roads inside the complex are open for horseback riding. Parking for horse trailers is located at the Essex Chain Lakes North parking lot. 

Hunting and trapping

Just like fishing, all the lands and waters in the complex are open to hunting and trapping. Thousands of acres of land between the Chain Lakes and the Hudson River are available. These seasonal access roads may be rough and muddy. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. Seasonal rules and regulations apply.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Back country at its finest. This network of roads is open to everyone for skiing and snowshoeing. These trails are not maintained nor marked during the winter months. 

Long story short

The Essex Chain Lakes are Newcomb’s best kept secret. The off-the-beaten-path keeps most of the crowds away. This remote destination speaks to those looking for peace and solitude in a primitive setting. We’d love for you to come visit and experience it for yourself. Please remember to recreate responsibly, practice the Leave No Trace philosophy, carry bear canisters, and properly extinguish campfires.