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Old 11-07-2016, 07:03 PM   #1
runslikeajohndeere
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Cranberry Lake Trail 50

Hi,
I have a few questions about the CLT 50. We are taking a mature group of boys there April 29-30 (arriving 28th) or the next weekend in May. They are novice hikers who have completed one shake down hike in the hills of Naples. We plan on doing two more practice hikes to get our gear list lighter-not ultralight.

What is the best loop to do in April?
We sketched a plan for the High Falls Loop, but I'm imagining it will be quite wet (with standing water?) We'd hike south and camp at High Falls Saturday night.

Are there many hikers there early in the spring?


Will gaiters be a good idea for hikers?


How would you divide up the CLT 50 into two or three section hikes?

Thanks,
Tony
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Old 11-07-2016, 07:36 PM   #2
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First, remember that you need a permit from the DEC if your group is going to be more than 9 persons. Without the permit, any larger groups will need to separate into groups of 9 or fewer members to legally camp. This is super important, as larger groups tend to create exponentially greater levels of impact in the backcountry, and the permit system gives the DEC a reasonable level of control over where they camp. Note that permits for large groups typically are issued for Wild Forest Areas only, not Wilderness Areas, as Wilderness Areas are held to a higher standard than Wild Forest with regards to the level of preservation expected within the area.

Second, what is your previous level of experience with backpacking in the Adirondacks in late April? Don't make the mistake of assuming that because conditions are quite temperate in Rochester by then that you'll encounter similar conditions in the Adirondacks. The reality is that even in late April, Winter still hasn't completely yet released its grasp on the Adirondacks.

At that time of year you're likely to encounter a lot of mud, some decent standing water, and possibly even difficult stream crossings (especially in the Cranberry Lake area which is known for being swampy). Any water will be very cold, so you'll have to keep an eye on everyone and watch for early signs of hypothermia if you end up making any deep crossings. If we have a normal winter, there's a good chance you may even encounter snow still on the ground in at least a few areas. I'd also be sure to pay attention to the forecast and be wary of any rain during that time frame. Not only is it likely to exacerbate flooding, it could also quickly lead to hypothermia if your group isn't well prepared, since it will likely be combined with cooler temperatures.

So in general, yes- gaiters would be well advised. I'd also ensure that everyone is prepared to face the situations I describe above. Extra layers of warm clothing in waterproof bags inside your packs are imperative- even if you have warm temperatures during the day, it's a guarantee that the nights will still be quite cool (with temperatures likely still dropping below freezing, possibly even down into the 20's or the teens). With all that being said, conditions might not be as bad as I describe above. It mostly depends on what kind of winter we have, and it's impossible this far out to say what you might (and might not) encounter with any accuracy. I would generally say that the later you can do this trip, the better conditions likely will be for you, though. Even a week's difference could significantly change the conditions you end up encountering.

During your timeframe, I think you'll likely have much of the area to yourselves, especially with regards to camping. Most backpackers don't really have the skill or gear to stay warm and comfortable in the Adirondacks that early in the season (Memorial Day is about the time when conditions start to get substantially easier to deal with).

With regards to the High Falls Loop specifically, I think the worst of the flooding on the High Falls Loop has re-routes around it (either officially marked or informally created), but in spring things could definitely be even trickier if any of these re-routes are themselves flooded. Some stretches of the High Falls Truck Trail are permanently flooded at this point (thanks to the beavers). If there's still snow and ice dams on the Oswegatchie, it could make things very challenging indeed. The section of trail that traverses The Plains also isn't exactly known for being the driest stretch of trail.

A possible alternative would be the Dog Pond Loop, in the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest on the east side of Cranberry Lake. This is a fairly easy loop that incorporates a leg of the CL50, and would allow you to camp at Burnt Bridge Pond, at Dog Pond or Curtis Pond, and/or on the east shore of Cranberry Lake. I don't remember any areas along this loop where flooding is a significant concern.

You can access the southeastern portion of the CL50 by driving in from Horseshoe Lake, but this is a seasonal road and it is very unlikely that the road will be open by late April. If you're looking to section hike the CL50, though, this would be a good thing to keep in mind for future trips (although be advised that it's a long drive down a dirt road with the occasional rock to doge if you're in a low clearance vehicle).

I hope this helps!
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Old 11-07-2016, 07:58 PM   #3
runslikeajohndeere
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Thanks!

I was thinking the Peavine Swamp Trail might be drier than the High Falls Loop(which would be more sightworthy in the summer or fall based on pictures I've seen on trip reports)

I didn't know much about Dog Pond, but was hoping to hear some news. We'll explore this route.

We're planning on having two weekends open, so we can choose the better weather weekend. I may just plan a local Trip C if conditions warrant it.

Tony
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Old 11-07-2016, 08:25 PM   #4
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The Peavine Swamp Trail is OK. I wouldn't really rank it as a particularly scenic stretch of the CL50, but it's not exactly a horrible stretch of trail either. The camping options are pretty limited on it, with pretty much only the lean-to being accessible via a side trail from the southern loop. And while generally, overnight use in the Cranberry Lake area will still be light during your time frame, the proximity of the lean-to to the Ranger School in Wanakena (combined with the approaching end of the semester) means that there's a good chance you'll be competing with Ranger School students for use of the lean-to.

I think you'd enjoy either the Dog Pond or High Falls loops more so than the Peavine Swamp Trail, personally.
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Old 11-08-2016, 12:03 PM   #5
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I agree with Jackson. The Dog Pond loop is the better of the two, in my opinion. The Eastern portion doesn't get much use due to not being part of the CL-50 proper. There are also some great there&back hikes which would be great to do. Many look for loops, but IMO, a there&back is also a loop since the view from the other direction is often quite different.
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Old 11-08-2016, 05:43 PM   #6
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EDIT: Mucking around with my flickr account, trying to make some things work so no photo albums for a little bit.

Last edited by DSettahr; 11-08-2016 at 09:59 PM..
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Old 11-10-2016, 08:54 AM   #7
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Thanks! Great pics!
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Old 11-13-2016, 08:17 PM   #8
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Wanakena or Pevine to Janacks Landing,to Cowhorn and back, with a trip up Cat Mt.. LTs at Janacks and Cowhorn. More time and energy, continue to Olmstead LT.and back.
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Old 11-14-2016, 02:22 PM   #9
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Hmm. Interesting. This advice & info lends itself well to December too. :<)
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