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Old 02-27-2014, 07:09 PM   #1
gearhead
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Five Ponds Wilderness

How do you guys feel about the remoteness of this area compared to something like West Canada Lakes or Silver Lake Wilderness?
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:58 PM   #2
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It's very, very remote feeling.

Certain parts have a very somber, eerie feel, at least IMO. I'm not sure why. Other people have described it as well. It's a part of the Adirondacks that makes you understand why some natives called it 'dismal wilderness'. It's also part of it's appeal.

I'd also say I've seen some of the most awesome and beautiful things in 5 ponds.

It has some character.
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by l'oiseau View Post
It's very, very remote feeling.

Certain parts have a very somber, eerie feel, at least IMO. I'm not sure why. Other people have described it as well. It's a part of the Adirondacks that makes you understand why some natives called it 'dismal wilderness'. It's also part of it's appeal.

I'd also say I've seen some of the most awesome and beautiful things in 5 ponds.

It has some character.
That's The exact answer I was hoping for. I can't wait.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:20 PM   #4
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"This 107,230 acre area lies between Cranberry Lake and Stillwater Reservoir and contains some of the best remote wilderness in the Adirondack Park. Trails are mostly in the northern part, leaving much of the area trail less. The remoteness of the area and heavy beaver activity provide more rugged trail conditions than on the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest to the north."
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:25 PM   #5
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How do you guys feel about the remoteness of this area compared to something like West Canada Lakes or Silver Lake Wilderness?
I see far fewer people in the 5P than in either Silver or WCL; and those places aren't terribly overused.

I went in to 5P on Labor Day w/e one year and only ran into the summer ranger.

One other year it was a three nighter thru the area and saw 1 father/daughter canoe couple at High Falls and a father and two sones at Big shallow. This was august, peak tourist time.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:58 PM   #6
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Depends on where/when you go in each of those areas. They all have more heavily used areas and extremely remote as well as everything in between.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:01 AM   #7
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Generally the farther you go away from lean-tos and roads, the more remote it will be.

I don't think anything I've seen in 5 ponds seemed terribly impacted, and I've seen very few people when I've been there... but I haven't been much.

The north side of Stillwater and south side of Cranberry are probably the most popular areas and that dissipates quickly in either colder weather or moving away from the water bodies.
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:00 AM   #8
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The Oswegatchie River can be "busy" in the summer, and I can't recall ever spending a day at High Falls without seeing at least one other person. Sand Lake is probably more popular than most people would like to believe. Lots of people hike up Cat Mountain. One Columbus Day weekend I encountered several different groups spread out along the Cranberry Lake 50 corridor.

But there is solitude galore for anyone who wants it.

All of the wilderness areas have their own personality. I think what makes Five Ponds seem "dismal" to some is its lack of mountains; there are no obvious landmarks on the horizon by which to orient yourself, just a maze of ponds and rivers--all of it really quite beautiful, of course.
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:14 AM   #9
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Lows is usually pretty busy in the summer too.

5 ponds is huge, and the busy spots never feel too busy to me, you might see a few people along the river, at lean tos or campsite or along the trail, but there is tons of space and many, many places to camp.

I'd guess if you want some distance between you and other people and you plan on taking the high falls trail, I'd say take the split at the bridge and head down to the 5 ponds. That should void you from most HF/Oz traffic as well as the CL50/Cat Mtn traffic.

Also I think part of it's remoteness are the nearest towns - Stillwater, which is not much more than hotel/bar and ranger cabin and Wanakena, which is more populated but not much more than a stones throw in area. The ranger school is quite formidable and can be seen a ways down the channel, but everything else is pretty small and low key.

All the water bodies that border 5 ponds are HUGE - Cranberry is large as is Stillwater Reservoir, so you get a big buffer there even though they allow motor boats. Lows gives a large, motorless buffer, except for the scout reservation.

The Oswegatchie, while not all that long as the crow flies feels as though you'd been running in circles for hours and looking at the same white pines and alder bushes until all of the sudden you realize you are a long way from tiny Wanakena and the setting sun over those large white pines and spruce make the dark brown water turn black. All you can hear are beavers and muskrats rustling up and down the banks out of the little trails in the alder bushes you saw the whole way.

It is certainly different than say St. Regis Canoe Area or the High Peaks Wilderness. I never get that same feeling in those areas, even though technically you can get way, way back in either.

Last edited by l'oiseau; 02-28-2014 at 11:28 AM..
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Old 02-28-2014, 11:27 AM   #10
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All of the wilderness areas have their own personality. I think what makes Five Ponds seem "dismal" to some is its lack of mountains; there are no obvious landmarks on the horizon by which to orient yourself, just a maze of ponds and rivers--all of it really quite beautiful, of course.
It is a huge area, with a fair amount of activity on the fringes and along the Oswegatchie. But it is deep wilderness as you get in the Adirondacks once you make your way through the challenging after effects of the near 100% destruction from the 1995 microburst to the off-trail interior... such as areas north of Clear Lake toward the Robinson River. Don't look for any trampled trails in there.

Want more? Try the Pepperbox. Lower, flatter, wetter, where beavers rule the remoteness. You won't find anyone complaining about postholing the non-existant trails. Both of these areas are wonderful training grounds for honing your map and compass terrain association navigation skills - leave the GPS at home. My favorite areas for my favorite activity.
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