Northville-Placid Trail
Long Lake to Lake Placid
July 2-4, 2005

Date Hiked : July 2-4, 2005
Sectional Route : Northville-Placid Trail
Long Lake to Lake Placid
Weather : 65° - 80+° f Daytime
Trail Length : 36.85  Miles
Participants : Nancy, Ed
  Photo Journal
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 entire section.

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 Mountain.

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 miles).

Suspension bridge over Moose Creek.

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 continued on.

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.

Continuing on, 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 spotted car.

Wanika Falls.

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 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 are overflowed 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