In 1933, a fire tower on Buck Mountain was established on private lands between Long Lake and Tupper Lake. Today, thanks to a generous easement and hard work by a lot of people, the tower on Buck Mountain is open to the public via a 1.2 mile trail to the summit.
How to get there
From the intersection of Route 30 and Route 28N in Long Lake, follow Route 30 north toward Tupper Lake for 7 miles. Turn left onto Sabattis Circle Road (sometimes referred to just as Circle Road on maps) and continue for a little over 2 miles to a large parking lot on the right. There is room for many vehicles.
By the numbers
- Trail distance: 1.2 miles one way; 2.4 miles out and back
- Elevation gain: 500 feet
- Summit elevation: 2400 feet
The trail begins in the back corner of the parking lot. Since it is a brand new trail, it is soft underfoot. In the first half of the trail, several bridges and wooden boards will help you traverse wet and muddy areas. Closer to the summit, the terrain starts to get steeper. A series of wooden steps and stairs, and rock staircases, assist with these sections. Buck Mountain's summit is completely wooded, so there are no views from the top, unless you climb the 60-foot tall fire tower. From the tower cab, views of the William C. Whitney Wilderness stretch out before you, as well as views of many other fire tower summits in Hamilton County.
Buck Mountain in winter
Due to the steeper terrain near the summit, traction is highly recommended when the trail is icy or snowy. This would be an excellent beginner snowshoe hike, but is not suited for cross-country skiing given the serious of ladders and stairs near the summit.
This historic fire tower and hiking trail is located on private land owned by Cedar Heights Timber, LLC. The public is invited to enjoy the hiking trail and fire tower, but please observe the following rules.
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Please stay on marked trail
- If you carry it in, carry it out. Please do not litter
- No campfires
- No overnight camping
- Leash all dogs
- No public hunting, trapping, or fishing
- No motorized vehicles
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
As the southern access point into the High Peaks Wilderness, Upper Works offers a unique option for hikers and visitors looking for an alternative to traditional northern or eastern trailheads. In addition to hosting plenty of fantastic hikes, this trailhead is steeped in history. It is the location of the former town of Adirondac, now abandoned in residence, but alive with interpretation. Open Space Institute has created an interpretive trail that examines many of the old buildings, landscapes, and structures that put this mining hub on the map. You will drive by an old blast furnace on the way to the parking lot, signaling the area's rich mining history. It was also near this location where Teddy Roosevelt was informed of President McKinley's imminent death from a gunshot wound. The MacNaughton Cottage stands within view of the parking lot; this is where Teddy Roosevelt began his midnight ride. Human history is not the only element to this story; the forests and waters all tell a story as well. The mighty Hudson River, on route to New York City, begins not too far from Upper Works and can be seen from many places along the road.
From exit 29 off I-87, turn west onto Blue Ridge Road (CR 84) toward Newcomb. Follow this route for 17.4 miles to an intersection with Tahawus Road (CR 25). Turn right on Tahawus Road and stay on it for 6.3 miles then turn left at a sign for High Peaks trails. Pass by the old blast furnace at 2.8 miles up this road. From the blast furnace, it is less than one mile to your destination. The road dead ends at the trailhead. Please park in the new 60-car capacity lot adjacent to the MacNaughton Cottage. The old parking lot (terminus of Upper Works Road) is closed. Unauthorized vehicles in the old parking area after June 18, 2021 will be towed away at vehicle owners expense.
From the new parking lot, an interpretive trail leads to the official trailhead. It's so much more than a place to park your car now! In addition to an interpretive trail, a scenic and historic trail along the Hudson was built and the ruins of a massive iron furnace and the MacNaughton Cottage, which once served as a base camp for the explorations of Teddy Roosevelt, were stabilized. This is truly a place to walk through history!
From the Upper Works trailhead, hikers have access to miles and miles of trails leading into the High Peaks Wilderness. The Calamity Brook trail is the shortest approach to Mt. Marcy from the south (10.3-miles, one-way with 3,800 feet of elevation gain) but is an attractive route that passes by popular camping destinations at Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. This route also allows access to other High Peaks, such as Mount Colden, the MacIntyre Range, Mount Skylight, and numerous others via herd paths. The Calamity Brook trail follows the historic Calamity Brook, where you will find a memorial for David Henderson, who tragically shot him accidentally while on a hike. David Henderson was an early manager for the early mine located nearby. If you're looking for something that isn't a mountain, hiking to Hanging Spear Falls is a good day-trip (6 or 7 miles, one-way). Bearing right at an intersection near Flowed Lands, you'll be on the Hanging Spear Falls trail, where viewpoints allow you to see the magnificent 75-foot tall cascade. Traversing down to the base of the falls is dangerous, but there are lookouts along the marked trail.
Another major trail out of Upper Works is the Indian Pass trail. This trail leads 4.4- miles one-way (with 870 feet of elevation gain) to Summit Rock, where the trail connects with another that starts at Heart Lake on the Adirondack Loj property. This is not a High Peak hike, but the views are impressive, especially those of Wallface's enormous cliff. Of course, these two trails are not the only destinations one can hike to from Upper Works. We recommend buying a map and guide book (and consulting a local guide) before trekking miles into the wilderness. For a less strenuous option, Open Space Institute's short interpretive trail meanders around the area, guiding visitors from the parking area through the former village of Adirondac to the blast furnace (built in 1856).
As with many trails in the Adirondacks, all hiking trails can be used by snowshoers in snowier months. In the High Peaks, snowshoes (or skis) are required when there 12+ inches of snow. Please make sure to plan ahead. At this mountain trailhead, there is likely to be more snow than in town.
When the snow cover is right, skiing is great here. The most popular option is to ski out and back to Flowed Lands or Lake Colden. For this, you ski on an incline for roughly 4.5 miles to Flowed Lands, so your return trip will be mostly downhill, sometimes steeply.
Even though this is primarily a hiking trailhead, Upper Works also serves as an access point for Henderson Lake. It is about a 0.3- mile carry from the parking lot to the put in and while it is a bit of an uphill walk, it is not strenuous. Plus, the views that await you on the water are absolutely breathtaking, and are not too often seen, as this paddle is still flying under the radar.
The trails that lead from Upper Works can take you to many different campsites. There are primitive backcountry tent sites as well as lean-tos, all available on a first come, first serve basis.
For your information...
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Wolf Pond is a gorgeous, 59-acre pond with a lean-to and shoreline views that include some of the High Peaks. The trail follows Wolf Pond Brook all the way to Wolf Pond, but since it steers clear of the marshy woods that line the stream’s western bank the brook is out of sight for more than half the trail.
How to get there
The trail to Wolf Pond starts on Blue Ridge Road, about 10 miles west of Exit 29 (Route I-87) and about 14 miles east of Newcomb. The large parking area is on the right if you’re coming from the highway.
By the numbers
It’s 2.3 miles to the pond with minimal elevation gain
Leaving the parking area, the trail follows Wolf Pond Brook and soon crosses it on a wooden bridge. The trail gains a little elevation and continues to follow the brook, sometimes at a distance and sometimes along the bank, before finally swinging left and away from it to avoid the marshy area. Some ups and downs follow with the path gaining some elevation in spots, but those sections are brief and things never get too steep. Wolf Pond comes into view on the left at the 2.3 mile mark. There’s a lean-to that’s set back from the shore and a trail that follows the pond’s shore for stunning views of the mountains.
This pond is stocked with native strain brook trout.
There is a new lean-to along the trail, near the pond.
Enjoy a peaceful walk along a river. Listen to the birds chirp. Listen to the river flow. It's the best of nature here.
From exit 28 in Schroon Lake, follow I-87 north for one exit to the North Hudson exit, #29. From here, follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue all the way to Newcomb and Route 28N. Take a left onto 28N and continue for just under 6-miles to the trail on the right (just as you cross the Boreas River).
This is the northern approach to Hewitt Eddy and is a flat and attractive hike of just over 1 mile. The trail follows along the course of the river, where in the autumn part of the year with peak colors, is an outstanding destination. A trail continues past the eddy and becomes what is known as the Hewitt Eddy Trail. With two cars or a 0.75 mile road walk you could use both trails for an extended hike.
- Distance: 2.4 miles, round trip
- Elevation gain: 110 feet
Due to the shallow nature of this water, top water is the best type of lure or using a bobber to float a worm. There is no official boat access, but one can be carried to the pond.
From exit 28 in Schroon Lake, follow I-87 north for one exit to the North Hudson exit 29. From here, follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue for 15.5 miles to a very small pull-off by trees on the right, located on a sharp corner just prior to where Vanderwhacker Brook runs beneath the road. There is room for no more than 2 cars. The parking lot and trail are not marked.
Once you have located the primitive parking spot you can locate the path on the left. The trail is not marked either; it is a fisherman’s path to access the pond. The path is very mellow and not steep. You will follow along Vanderwhacker Brook which is an attractive, mossy rock brook. You will reach the south end of the pond relatively quickly, where you can work your way around very easily for different vantage points.
- Elevation gain: 220’
- Distance round trip: 2.0 miles
Maximum depth is only around 12 feet but the fishing isn’t too bad from shore. The shore is very grassy near where the path ends, but you can work your way around the pond and it gets better. An old camping spot is located on the NE shore.
Fish species: brook trout, bullhead, brown trout
Special regulations: always follow State fishing regulations and be sure to pick up a NYS Freshwater Fishing Guide at your local outfitters or regional NYSDEC office.
This hike offers views of Schroon Lake and Pharaoh Mountain for relatively little effort. It's a can't miss while in the area!
How to get there
The trailhead is located on the west side of Route 9, 0.6 mi. south of the junction of Routes 9 and 74 off Exit 28 on I-87, the Adirondack Northway. There are two parking areas marked by a large brown and yellow sign.
By the numbers
- Distance: 1.2 miles, one way
- Mountain elevation: 1,693 feet
- Ascent: 725 feet
After leaving the parking lot, the trail first passes under the Northway via two culverts and soon begins a steady, moderate climb before leveling off just before some plank bridges at 0.6 mile. Soon resuming the climb, the trail reaches the mostly wooded summit at 1.2 miles. The first ledge offers views of Schroon Lake and Pharaoh Mountain, while a second view adds in Paradox Lake.
This makes a fine snowshoe hike and is a good option for beginners or those looking to quickly stretch their legs.
For a short but sweet walk in the wilderness, check out the Grizzle Ocean loop in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.
Follow Route 74 out of Schroon Lake toward Ticonderoga. After about 13 miles turn right on Putts Pond Road. Follow that to the end at Putnam Pond State Campground. There will be a small fee to use when the campground is open, but this time of year it is closed and free to enter. Pass by the booth and turn left to go up a small hill and into a parking area on the left. The trail is located at the far end of the trailhead parking.
From the trailhead, you will follow a nice flat trail that passes by Putnam Pond to your right. The trail soon turns into a short, moderate climb before reaching a rather long descent to a major intersection. Right leads toward Treadway Mountain and Rock Pond, and left leads to Grizzle Ocean and beyond.
After a short climb you will soon come to the split for the loop, which is a fantastic hike that approaches and leaves the shore of this small backcountry pond. Certain areas of the pond are known for their cranberry growth. Once you finish the loop, return using the trail you followed in.
- Elevation: 1,475 feet
- Ascent: 150' of elevation change
- Distance Round Trip: 5 miles
This route makes for a fine snowshoe. Just be aware distances may increase as roads may not be plowed in the winter. Be prepared for a longer outing.
There is an attractive lean-to located in the open pine forest that is a perfect spot for a campfire and a snack.
The 46,283-acre Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is an outstanding part of the Adirondacks! The wilderness contains an abundance of lakes and ponds, the largest being Pharaoh Lake, at 441 acres. There are nearly 70- miles of trails within the Wilderness and no shortage of campsites. Come for a day hike or spend a weekend!
How to get there
There are 11 trailheads/ access points to the Wilderness. Your destination will determine which one to use. Information found on the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website will help you locate each starting point.
This wilderness area, located in the towns of Schroon and Ticonderoga, has nearly 70 miles of trails and more than a dozen lean-tos should you be inclined to make this an overnight trip. With so many miles of trails, hiking is the most popular use of this area. Pharaoh Mountain is one of the most popular destinations, along with Treadway Mountain and other hikes that lead to small, scenic ponds. The terrain varies from steep to gentle, depending on your route.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
All trails are open for snowshoeing and skiing. Be sure to plan ahead and see how parking may be. Plowing at specific trailheads can vary, notably the Putnam Pond Campground. Be prepared for some extra road walking.
The lean-tos on Pharaoh Lake are popular enough that campers should be prepared to hike on to the next empty, and consider a designated tent site. There are 38 designated primitive tent sites and 14 lean-tos in the wilderness available on a first come, first served basis. Look for a yellow "Camp Here" disc at designated tent sites, which are for tents only.
All lands within the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness are open to hunting and trapping in season. There is snowshoe hare, woodcock, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey. Waterfowl are found on the many ponds, and white-tailed deer and black bear in the forests.
Find out more!
Read our blog post: A beginner's guide to the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness.