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Old 03-21-2019, 10:27 PM   #1
Nargalope
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Secluded 3-day Loop

I'm looking for a 10 to 20 mile loop to take over 3-days from 5/23 - 5/27 (memorial day weekend). Shorter would be better if there are options to take side hikes and make the journey a bit longer. I'll be hiking with other people who are not in as good of shape as I am but they are still fairly fit. Being secluded is very important for us. Any suggestions?

Last edited by Nargalope; 03-21-2019 at 10:32 PM.. Reason: add dates
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Old 03-22-2019, 12:27 AM   #2
DSettahr
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Secluded is going to be kind of tough anywhere on a holiday weekend unless you're willing to bushwhack- especially since your criteria is "easy loops," which tend to be popular options. You're almost certain to see some level of competition for the nicest campsites even in relatively out of the way areas. The general rule of thumb is that you need to get at least 5 miles from a trailhead

Some options that do come to mind include:
  • The High Falls loop in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area.
  • The French Louie Loop in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area.
  • The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Loop that connects Pharaoh Lake with other ponds in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.
  • Both a south loop and a north loop in the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness (although be warned that the north loop can be a navigational challenge due to infrequent maintenance of the trail).
  • Numerous shorter loop options in the Lake George area (although these trails tend to be rugged), with nice lean-tos at spots like Lapland and Fishbrook Ponds, Greenland Pond, Black Mountain Ponds, and Millman Pond.
  • The Moose River Loop in the Black River Wild Forest, although these trails are not particularly well maintained (and the scenery is lacking somewhat apart from the two lean-to sites along the way).
  • The Dog Pond Loop in the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest is a possible option also (note that the album only shows part of this loop).
  • It is technically outside the Adirondacks to the northwest, but Wolf Lake State Forest also has both a north loop and a south loop that total about 10 miles combined.
Of the above options, the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness one is most likely to particularly see high levels of use over Memorial Day weekend, but even any of the others can be anywhere from moderately to very busy. There's also not a whole lot of overflow camping options many of these areas, so even with moderate levels of holiday use these locations can still feel pretty crowded.

There is also the loop around the Seward Range in the Western High Peaks- but at about 30 miles this is longer than you're looking for, although it's worth noting that this is (for the most part) not a particularly physically challenging trip. You'd probably see a few people in the Cold River area, but outside of the Blueberry/Ward Brook area and Duck Hole this is probably one the few backcountry spots in the Adirondacks that doesn't typically see high levels of use on a holiday weekend. (Note RE: the photo album I shared via that link- I did a variation on this trip that used the horse trail on the east side of the Cold River rather than the traditional route, which follows the Northville-Placid Trail on the west side of the river. The horse trail is in rough shape and is not recommended unless you're looking for a high level of challenge.)

Personally, if I were planning a trip for Memorial Day weekend- and I really wanted to maximize my enjoyment of the backcountry- I'd consider a base camping approach rather than a thru-hike of any sort that forces me to relocate camp every day. I'd hike in as early as I could on Friday (even if it means taking the day off from work), and set up camp for the weekend. I'd take day hikes from camp but I'd remain camped at the same location all weekend. By Saturday afternoon of a holiday weekend, most of the nicest lean-tos and tent sites will already be occupied in many areas- trying to relocate camp each day over a holiday weekend can lead to stressful situations where you're forced to hike extra miles at the end of the day while looking for an open campsite.

If you could move the trip to the trip earlier or later by even a single weekend so that it doesn't fall on the holiday weekend, you'd encounter far few other hikers in most areas (even the more popular ones). After Memorial Day, backcountry use drops off again through June and doesn't really start to pick up in earnest until early July.

I also sort of get the sense that some of your group members might be new to backpacking? My apologies if this is not the case. If it is, though, I'd be sure to put extra effort into preparing them for black fly season- making sure they are mentally prepared as well as reminding them to pack bug nets and bug spray. Since you're looking at a late-May trip, they (black flies) are almost certain to be out in force.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:45 AM   #3
RipVanWinkle
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Probably wont be able to find any trails that you wouldnt be sharing that weekend. DSettar covered most of the good ones.

Dont forget that that weekend will be the height of black fly season, I dont know your groups level of experience but they can ruin a trip if youre not prepared (including mentally) to deal with them.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:16 PM   #4
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I vote for the first three. All are a great option.
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Old 03-25-2019, 12:22 PM   #5
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