Nancy and I started out on our Northville-Placid Sectional hike Friday
(7/1) night by meeting at the terminus off Old Military Road outside
Lake Placid to spot a car. Finding the actual parking area at the
trailhead was quite frustrating as neither of us had been there before
and the directions we were working with were less than descriptive.
After spotting the car, and losing an hour, we drove down to Long Lake
and easily found the trailhead off Tarbell Hill Road.
Saturday morning we started from the trailhead, signed in the register
at 7:30 am and moved on down the trail in what was already a warm, sunny and
calm day. We passed Polliwog Pond and soon came upon our first bridge
crossing. The miles went quick as were cruising along at almost 3 miles
per hour. We came upon the first set of lean-tos at Catlin Bay (1.9
miles) which were occupied. The trails were well maintained and dry this
Nancy near the shore on Long
Lake at Kelley's Point.
The trail turned toward Long Lake at a sandy spot where we stopped to
take a few pictures.
Passing the lean-tos at Kelley’s Point (4.8 miles) we soon came upon a
strange site, an older wood screen house just off the right side of the
trail. It was in good condition, but just looked like it did not belong
there. We came to the junction with the side trail to Kempshall
Wooden Screen House.
Shortly after this point, Nancy froze in her tracks turned and
regrouped with me. A bear came out onto the trail, saw us and turned to
run away. In all my years in the High Peaks, this was my first bear
sighting ever! I thought it was cool.
|Plumleys Landing Lean-tos.
Less than 3 hours after our start, we came upon Plumleys Landing
Lean-tos (8.45 miles). Realizing we were cruising, it was decided to
take an extended break. The sun was out, the day was not too warm, and
the scenery was beautiful. We relaxed and even slept while lounging in
the sun. Ranger Waters came upon us and we talked about the area and the
trail ahead of us. We were impressed with his knowledge of the area and
appreciated his comments regarding our planned trip.
Leaving Plumley's, the trail turned away from the lake and soon
enters a stand of tall Pine, leaving behind a hardwood forest. The trail
is now completely covered in pine needle and it was like walking on a
carpet. Near 10.2 miles, we reached a swamp also known as a vlei. There
is a stream crossing over old logs and rotting boards.
|First large Beaver Dam.
About a mile further we came across a large Beaver dam which
completely inundates the trail. A new herd path now turns hard left and
circumnavigates the Beaver pond. After rejoining the path, the trail
joined an old gravel road which we followed to Shattuck Clearing (12.6
Suspension bridge over Moose
After turning off the old gravel road, we soon crossed the first
suspension bridge over Moose Creek. Soon we
arrived at the second suspension bridge over the Cold River (13.35 miles).
Here we stopped
at Cold River #4 lean-to for a break and met a seasonal ranger who hiked in for an
evening stay. We continued on the trail which now follows a gravel lumber road.
After 2.0 miles, we stopped at a large pool in the Cold River known as
the Big Eddy.
|Seward Lean-to and Miller's Falls.
Continuing on the trail, we came across the Seward Lean-to (16.62
miles) and Miller's Falls. This lean-to and surrounding tent sites were very well
maintained and was tempting us to just stay for the evening, but it was
only 3:00 pm and plenty of daylight remained. After relaxing for half an
hour, we decided to move forward to the Ouluska Pass lean-to with hopes
of having the lean-to to ourselves.
We arrived at Ouluska Pass (19.15 miles) at 5:00 pm only to find it was
occupied! Other than the first lean-to at the start, we saw no other
tents or occupied lean-tos. There were no available “level” tent sites
and we had to setup the tent between some trees on a slight hill that
causes us to slide when moving in our sleeping bag. The other hikers
were not around until later that evening as they were busy attempting to
hike up Emmons from this direction. We had our dinner, conversation,
Bailey’s and just found more time to relax.
|Noah John Rondeau Hermitage site.
Day Two: In the morning, we were off toward Duck Hole by 7:30. Shortly
after leaving Ouluska Pass, we came upon the Rondeau Hermitage site
(19.4 miles). We looked around, took some pictures and imagined what it
must have been like in those years of 1912-1950 when Noah occupied this
site. There is a new plaque placed by his friends located behind the
main sign at the left turn in the trail. Bided our farewell and
The trail takes a hard left turn from the Hermitage and continued over a
hill and descended into a valley and rejoins an old tote road. We
followed the road until the trail turned right off the road and
descends. Passing two ponds we came upon Mountain Pond. The trail
continued over small land rises and the we joined with an old truck road and at 23.5 miles, we came upon Cold
River Lean-tos #1 and #2. Of course they were unoccupied!
Cold River Lean-to #2.
we came upon Duck Hole (24.7 miles) which I thought was spectacular. I
found it most interesting that just a few miles from the High Peaks with
its thousands of visitors this holiday weekend, that we were alone on
this trail, or at most with only a few other hikers. At Duck Hole, there
were 4 other visitors in the two lean-tos and two others who were on the
water in a canoe. Yes, you read right. They paddled and portaged a canoe
all the way from Henderson Lake. Before we left, Nancy took a swim to
refresh herself. As we left Duck Hole, three other hikers walked in.
Arriving at Duck Hole and the Dam.
After an extended stay at Duck Hole, we moved on toward Moose Pond
Lean-to (28.6 miles). It was now only 3:00 pm and a decision had to be
made. This was the last lean-to before the terminus. The Wanika Falls
area just 1.2 miles further ahead of us which have tent sites available,
but we thought there would be a good chance other hikers might be
staying there on this holiday weekend. We stayed at the lean-to for the
rest of the day. In the early evening another hiker passed through and
continued on. We relaxed, built a fire and enjoyed good conversation.
Moose Pond Lean-to.
Day Three: Back on the trail by 7:30 we soon arrived at Wanika Falls
(29.8 miles) only to find no other visitors. Hiked up to the Falls and
took a break. Nancy tried to take a swim, but soon found it was COLD!
Back on the trail, we found the last six miles closer to a death march.
It was warm and we were moving bait for the mosquitoes. We crossed over
a Beaver Dam which in size was quite impressive. Shortly after we came
upon another Beaver Dam. This area was terraced with three wading pools
each with its own dam emptying into the large swamp area. At 11:40 am we
were back at the trailhead (36.85 miles) on Averyville Road and our
One Final thought regarding Duck Hole and this entire trip. Many of you
may not know it, I did not, but the DEC are abandoning the care and
maintenance of the dam at Duck Hole, primarily for budget reasons. To
see what you can do, go to
www.saveduckhole.com and just maybe we can save a piece of history.
Imagine what the area will become if the dams at Colden or Marcy were
allowed to deteriorate. The landscape would change forever. Letting this
dam go just makes it an easier decision to let the next dam fall.
Something has to be done now. Please help.
Over the years, I have spent all my time in the High Peaks and never
knew of the jewel that lies in this area of the park. The mountain
tourists and peak-baggers, which I am one of, are really missing out on
what the Adirondacks are all about. The High Peaks known to most of us
parking lots, trash filled lean-tos, crowded waterfalls and summits, and eroded trails.
Now imagine hiking for 3 days and seeing only 15
people and some of the finest views imaginable. We are now planning on
finishing the NPT possibly in two more three-day weekends. There is so
much to see beyond the summits