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Blue Mountain Wild Forest

This rugged 37,800-acre parcel is located in western Essex County in the town of Minerva. A big portion of the forest is also located in the Hamilton County towns of Indian Lake and Long Lake.


Big-game species like white-tailed deer and black bear can be found here, although you’ll most likely find deer in the southern portion of the forest, since that is where habitat is most favorable. Bears can be found anywhere. As with the other large tracts of state land beaver, fisher, coyote, fox, snowshoe hare, and raccoons also make their homes here in the wide variety of habitats.

Just over a dozen miles of public roads adjacent to the wild forest make much of Blue Mountain Wild Forest fairly accessible. Many are in the Indian Lake/Long Lake area, the closest to Essex County being the unmaintained parking area access along Chain Lakes Road. This is primarily for waterway access.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area

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.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area

The Hudson River Gorge is 17,000 acres of State Forest Preserve located in the town of Minerva. While the main attraction is the Hudson River Gorge, hunters will find a variety of terrain and wildlife if they are willing to bushwhack a bit. Only one marked trail – Blue Ledges Trail – leads from the Essex County side of the gorge, located just short of Huntley Pond on the North Woods Club Road. Likewise, on the Hamilton County side there is only one trail.

High Peaks Wilderness Area

The largest wilderness area in the Adirondacks has it all, from rugged terrain to forest cover to wildlife.

Hunting in the High Peaks Wilderness Complex

At 300 square miles, the High Peaks Wilderness covers portions of six towns and three counties – North Elba, Keene, North Hudson and Newcomb in Essex County, along with Harrietstown in Franklin County and Long Lake in Hamilton County. It might be best known for Mt. Marcy, New York state’s highest peak, but hunting opportunities abound here, whether they be small or big game.

Be aware this is true big-woods hunting. It’s best to be well-prepared before striking out.

Hammond Pond Wild Forest

This large, 40,000-acre tract covers portions of two Schroon Lake region towns – North Hudson and Schroon. While the wild forest designation allows this area a higher degree of human interaction, the trails in Hammond Pond are not as heavily traveled as nearby wilderness areas and you can find some solitude here. There are several access points, including several along Ensign Pond Road.

LAT: 43°59'16.89"N LON: 73°42'42.62"W


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