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Old 08-30-2017, 11:37 AM   #1
slowandsteady
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Ha-De-Ron-Dah Big Otter Lake Loop-People Free!

After the deluge of hikers on Crane last week I thought I would go the other way. Been eyeing a loop in the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness near Thendara/Old Forge for awhile. Trailhead is off the Herreshoff rd., right near the scenic railroad. Starts as a old road, then once you take the right on the East Pond/Lost Creek trail it changes abruptly to a grown in, lightly trekked inkling of a trail. Almost immediately you are subjected to a blackberry thicket that you have to go through-of course I'm wearing shorts with no gaiters, so you'll have to imagine the shredding my legs took. Delicious berries helped ease my pain for the moment. A few minutes after that you can see the remains of log bridging that used to go over a very deep beaver pond. After probing in all directions the only move is to keep right and traverse the dam itself, tread carefully.

After the ponds the trail hits the woods. Impossible to get into a rhythm-so much deadfall of all sizes. Too bad, the trail is a lightly eroded leaf covered path that in spots was a delight to walk. Checked out East Pond, but skipped the side trips to Blackfoot Pond and the Mica Mine, then the Lost Creek Trail, hope I didn't miss anything cool. As I got closer to Big Otter Lake the trail improved; less deadfall, no beaver ponds, nothing but undisturbed woods and crazy colored mushrooms.

After reaching South Inlet Creek I had to hunt for the bridge to get back to the truck trail that is the Big Otter Lake East trail. (It's off to the left). You never actually see Big Otter lake from this trail unless you continue a mile west to the outlet-no thanks, it was getting late and I didn't start until after noon. I headed east after hitting the truck trail and had an easy, uneventful and fast 6 mile trip back to Thendara, especially the downhill after the trail to Moose River Mountain. Ended up being 14.5 mile round trip in 6+ hours. Nobody had signed into the book for three days-I'm guessing this is not a super popular trailhead. Didn't see anything but a snake, frog and a deer all day. If you hate people and trail erosion, check this out. S&S
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Old 08-30-2017, 12:16 PM   #2
DSettahr
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The north half of the Ha-De-Ron-Dah gets less use than the south half. Middle Settlement Lake, and some some extent, Middle Branch Lake, are moderately popular, and Middle Settlement especially sometimes gets more use than the lake can really handle.

The Lost Creek Trail is sort of lackluster, but the mica mine (actually an old quarry) at Blackfoot Pond is sort of neat. The mine itself is a short distance north of where the trail arrives at the pond. It's not hard to find the quarried out area, and you can still see ramps leading down and away from the rock face (presumably carts used to run on tracks along these ramps to haul the ore away for sorting and processing). There's also a small foundation just north of the quarried area.

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Old 08-30-2017, 03:54 PM   #3
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Consider yourself lucky to not have made it to the Big Otter outlet on the truck trail. You would have been very dismayed by the damage done by illegal ATV use in the area. From the east side of Big Otter, I once witnessed ATVs running back and forth actually in the lake in shallow water along the shore on the west side. The trail to the west from there was all torn up and deeply rutted.
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Old 08-30-2017, 05:26 PM   #4
DuctTape
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So the major beaver flooded section on the old jeep rd just east of when you turned to head back to thendara has been cleared?
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Old 08-30-2017, 06:05 PM   #5
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There were no issues on the truck trail at all, aside from a lot of downed trees (and illegal atv workarounds).
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