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Old 01-18-2014, 09:01 PM   #1
JoeRpaddler
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Grizzle ocean trail

Hi everyone.
Thank you for being so helpful with postings and great info that is provided. Two part question maybe... I was wondering if the trail down to Pharaoh Lake from the end ( southern ) of Putnam Pond was marked well and the conditions and length were maybe similar to the " old NG trail markings " ( of new changes to that trail ) at the Pharaoh Lake end. The old NG map has a big loop to the final approach to Pharaoh Lake and the new one has it straight until the last swing right and west. It appears to be just a bit shorter but that can be wetter too right ? If I missed a post or page about this I do apologize. I have intentions of getting across Putnam Pond to the very southern tip and picking up the Grizzle Ocean trail at the far end. Is it marked and/or easy to find ? A sign or landmark ? Thanks again for anything that may be helpful ..

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Old 01-19-2014, 06:57 AM   #2
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The trail is well marked with signs and trail markers; shouldn't be a problem.

The loop you speak of is now the officail trail and the shortcut is under water and has been gone for 25 years. The loop takes you around the wetlands of Wolf Pond.
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:20 AM   #3
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Good signs at Putnam Pond landing.

Can't miss 'em
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:44 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies. 1st, the sign and pic is great TM. I should have no problem there. As far as the NG map, I know they have errors and they are not perfect. I had seen a thread a little while back about listings of errors for NG maps and I didn't look there before posting this. Anyone have the link handy ? The newest published map of the NG Eastern ADK'S has the straight west/northwest finish to the approach to Pharaoh Lake. I thought, because I have seen other NG map refs. online that have two 180 degree bends, that the new map was the correct route. It sure looks as if I had this info backwards. Thanks for that important insight. I don't mind the extra little distance as long as the travel is not swamped. I say thanks again for the info on the area.

Joe
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:30 PM   #5
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Also you may not be able to see that sign from far away but as I found out today there is an island directly across from that point where the sign is.

This little route from the pond to the main trail isn't on the map. AFAIK the split to Grizzle was up a little ways toward the west, or even easier, to your right if you come up to the intersection from this little lake spur. I continued on the loop toward Clear Pond but I think it was pretty clear which way to go. I wouldn't worry about the map too much.
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Old 01-20-2014, 12:41 AM   #6
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The new edition of the NG maps is incorrect- it shows the old route of the trail. As dundee stated, that route is currently under water. The old edition of the NG maps shows the correct, current route of the trail. At this point, there is pretty much no sign of the old trail anymore.

That trail is in rough shape in spots- the DEC actually has plans to re-route it at some point in the future. It's overgrown in some spots, muddy in others, and eroded and rocky in others. Overall, though it isn't too bad, but it's not what I would consider to be the best portage trail. I wouldn't attempt it unless you had an ultralite canoe.

If paddling Pharaoh Lake is your primary goal, you'd be better off carry your boat in via the main trail from the south, which arrives at Pharaoh Lake at the outlet. It is a wide, gentle, old road the entire way, which is much more conducive to portaging. If you have a high clearance, 4WD vehicle you can drive all the way into the Mill Brook crossing (although this may change in the future, there are plans to close the road at the wilderness area boundary at some point in the future). If you can get all the way into Mill Brook, it is 2.5 miles to Pharaoh Lake. Otherwise, if you park at the Wilderness Area boundary, it is 4 miles to Pharaoh Lake.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:16 PM   #7
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Good stuff to know and thanks DSett. I am very well equipped with the canoe for the job. I was hoping to take this bit of exploration in stages as I am hitting that trail for the first time. My early plans are to set up my camp at Putnam Pond (have been there a few times before) and add some nice wilderness hiking/portaging to Pharaoh with the canoe and day pack and learn a little about that trail and lake and make a day out of an out-and-back. Future knowledge for Pharaoh is my main goal here I think. Sounds like a bit of work and I may be making things a little harder on myself than necessary but still trying to get as much in as I can without abusing the legs too bad. My guess is late summer/fall might be the best time for this one not to have to battle the wet and bugs and possibly lots of people. Can't get enough of that area but others beckon as well and am doing my best to chip away and break new ground for myself of course. All of the info that has been given is appreciated, helpful and truly priceless. Thanks.

Joe
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:01 AM   #8
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My guess is late summer/fall might be the best time for this one not to have to battle the wet and bugs and possibly lots of people.
In my experience, the bugs tend to stick around in the Pharaoh Lake wilderness until about Labor Day, possibly even into the first few weeks of September. Because the area is at lower elevations, it doesn't experience the night-time bug-killing cold weather as early as many other backcountry areas in the Adirondacks (typically mid-August for most of the Adirondacks). One of the advantages to the area, though is that it does tend to dry out nicely by the end of the summer.

Also, since you cited avoiding crowds, you should be aware that Pharaoh Lake is very popular- it is the most popular backcountry destination in the Adirondacks outside of the High Peaks. It can get pretty busy in Late August there, and during the day it's not uncommon to see 10-20 people hanging out at Watch Rock eating lunch, swimming, etc. Also, there are 6 lean-tos and 11 designated tent sites on the lake, and on weekends in late summer/early fall, many of them will be occupied. Many of the campsites are also unfortunately very highly impacted.

Most people come in from the east via the outlet trail, with a fair portion also coming from the north, but it's also not uncommon for groups to come in from Putnam Pond as well, particularly those groups who are hoping to snag the campsite on Wintergreen Point or Lean-to #3, both very scenic destinations.

It's a big lake, though (the largest entirely within a Wilderness Area in NYS), and especially with a boat, it shouldn't be too hard to find some solitude.

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Old 01-24-2014, 03:38 PM   #9
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Clear Pond and Rock Pond are small but they have easy carries from Putnam and are kinda fun to paddle.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:12 PM   #10
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Just an FYI...
You really don't need to portage your own canoe to Pharaoh Lake if you don't want to....Just sayin'.
Because of its popularity, it is obvious that many people have decided to (illegally) leave behind certain items that they carried or hauled in, but then didn't feel like carrying or hauling them out.
The last time I was there, I believe I counted at least 4 canoes and 2 row boats stashed along the shore that were perfectly seaworthy, and about 5 canoes and 3 rowboats that weren't, and even more of both hidden in the woods nearby.
I'd suggest to at least bring your own paddle, so you don't have to improvise like I did.....

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:43 PM   #11
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Ain't much of an Ocean you know... we did a day carry while camping on "Clear Pond" The carry to that is a considerable climb from Putnam Pond. It is bigger then some lakes I have been on and considerably smaller then some ponds, but where else can you paddle a pond, a lake and an ocean on one loop? LOL I do not recall the carry itself though, other then it was uneventful, and perhaps on the longish side from the Clear Pond direction for a side/day trip.

Frankly, I don't think Pharaoh is ever going to be on my list again, I was disgusted by the dump next to every site we stopped to look over, and the signs of overuse everywhere, and when we climbed the mountain, it was quite a view, but you could see cars on the Northway and even hear them- albeit in the far distance. I prefer seeing nothing man-made, and pretending for a minute or two that this must have been what it looked like to the first people to stand at any of 10,000 other places to visit in the park. And I like leaving a site totally clean for the next guy, as I usually find them that way for us. These were too big and old to put a dent on one. Pharaoh Lake is none of these things- though pretty in itself. Too close to the 2 million in Albany I guess.

You should see it for your self though. Just go early or late. The lean-to is a big one and on a nice location, I do think I read it is the biggest in the Adirondack's. That alone is worth at least one trip.

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Old 01-25-2014, 10:19 AM   #12
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Just an FYI...
You really don't need to portage your own canoe to Pharaoh Lake if you don't want to....Just sayin'.
Because of its popularity, it is obvious that many people have decided to (illegally) leave behind certain items that they carried or hauled in, but then didn't feel like carrying or hauling them out.
The last time I was there, I believe I counted at least 4 canoes and 2 row boats stashed along the shore that were perfectly seaworthy, and about 5 canoes and 3 rowboats that weren't, and even more of both hidden in the woods nearby.
I'd suggest to at least bring your own paddle, so you don't have to improvise like I did.....

Ha! Love this!
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Old 01-26-2014, 06:32 PM   #13
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Yes it has been made very obvious the abusive camping styles that have and may still do happen at Pharaoh Lake. The multiple trails and sweet surroundings are some of the many draws to the lake. I say thanks for the heads up on the possible piles of trash near some sites. That is terrible. My observances of other ADK places varies and really does not have a pattern other than ease of access and lack of reminders that this might not be tolerated treatment to our state lands. I have paddled some of the many waters and explored many corners of our ADK's and it is random in location IMO but it's a belly buster when you get there and find it. I read everywhere that this is a very popular destination. I think the body of water itself looks great and that's my draw as well as some hills and other surroundings that I would like to check out. I am a solo camper more than half of the time so I do not do lean-tos often. I probably won't run into the crowd rolling up to it if I'm not there so I seek quiet and I hope this lake can offer some. I will not do this in July or August. Thanks Justin for canoe info. I may just bring a paddle and the dog and an afternoon some day. Can't wait to see this lake for sure still...

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Old 01-26-2014, 08:01 PM   #14
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It is a beautiful lake, and like I said, large enough that you should be able to find some peace and quiet, especially with a boat. Just make sure you stay away from the outlet...
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Old 01-27-2014, 08:21 AM   #15
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Been to Pharoah Lake once with Justin and his Dad , we had a lot of fun..
Sure did!
November is a great time of year to visit Pharaoh Lake if you want to avoid the crowds.
We only saw two other people all weekend, a father and his daughter whom were very nice.
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Old 01-27-2014, 09:52 AM   #16
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Been to Pharoah Lake once with Justin and his Dad , we had a lot of fun. Very sad to look around there though. It's not just overused, it's not just improper use, it's selfish people who just plain don't give a damn. What I picture in my mind is what it could and should look like, at this point it would take a small army to clean it up and it probably wouldn't stay that way for long, to many leantos.
I would encourage anyone who is disappointed with the conditions at Pharaoh Lake to please contact the DEC and express your concerns. The DEC does maintain a backcountry presence there, but it is minimal- only 1 AFR and 1 Backcountry Steward for the entire Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, which also includes Crane Pond, another very highly used, and unfortunately abused, destination. Tell the DEC that you want them to hire more seasonal staff to patrol the area.
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:47 AM   #17
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I agree, having somone out there would help, at one time there was an outpost there right? One of the biggest things is educating people about their camping techniques and how it impacts things, a ranger at Pharoah Lake would certainly get the opportunity to talk with many campers.
But it still boils down to someones personal respect for the land , their willingness to adapt to new ways that benefit that land and doing the right thing, even when no one else is around.
There is usually someone from the DEC camped at Pharaoh Lake most weekends in late spring, summer and early fall. Even if there isn't an overnight presence, the lake does get checked on regularly, at least once a weekend. But it's a big lake, and a single person often can't deal with everything happening on the lake at once in a busy weekend.

A large part of the issue is that Pharaoh Lake is a popular "beginner" area. Due to its proximity to I-87, it is an area that is popular with folks coming up from the city- Albany, and to an even bigger extent, New York City and the Long Island/Jersey suburbs. Many groups visiting Pharaoh Lake have minimal experience in the backcountry, and that includes minimal experience with the need to practice minimum-impact camping techniques, much less how to actually implement those techniques. A large percentage of the groups that visit Pharaoh Lake aren't even aware of the basic state land use regulations- overnight group size, 150 foot rule, etc. You also get a lot of groups that are carrying huge packs with a lot of bulky, heavy gear because they don't know any better... which in turn leads to stuff getting left behind.

Campfires on Pharaoh Lake account for a significant amount of the impact, as well. Tree cutting is frustratingly common, but even more so that that is the large number of groups who camp at Pharaoh Lake who have a roaring fire going from the moment they set up camp on Friday afternoon to the moment they leave on Sunday. Even if you're collecting only dead and down wood, there just simply isn't enough of it to sustain this kind of behavior, weekend after weekend, season after season.

I wouldn't be surprised if the DEC were forced to implement a fire ban on Pharaoh Lake at some point. Some of the lean-tos are on thin ice- Lean-to #6 (Watch Rock) was scheduled to be removed during the summer of 2012, in part due to the large number of impacts at Watch Rock, and due to the fact that is in violation of the APSLMP. It was granted a temporary reprieve by the DEC/APA, with the idea that the DEC will use re-vegetation efforts and education in attempt to reign in some of the impacts there. I know that the re-vegetation efforts have not exactly gone well- many of the trees that were planted out on the tip of the peninsula were ripped up by groups looking for spots to (illegally) pitch their tents. So I'm not exactly holding my breath. And it's a shame, too, because part of the hope with allowing the lean-to to remain is that if the efforts in undoing and repairing the impacts at Watch Rock are successful, it could be used as justification for not having to relocate other lean-tos elsewhere in the park (the APSLMP dictates that all lean-tos within 100 feet of water must be relocated or removed).
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Old 01-27-2014, 04:38 PM   #18
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I would encourage anyone who is disappointed with the conditions at Pharaoh Lake to please contact the DEC and express your concerns. The DEC does maintain a backcountry presence there, but it is minimal- only 1 AFR and 1 Backcountry Steward for the entire Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, which also includes Crane Pond, another very highly used, and unfortunately abused, destination. Tell the DEC that you want them to hire more seasonal staff to patrol the area.
DEC knows exactly what to do: close the roads at the Wilderness boudary. They just can't get 'round to it. Closing the roads at these points would be a great help, IMO.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:56 AM   #19
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DEC knows exactly what to do: close the roads at the Wilderness boudary. They just can't get 'round to it. Closing the roads at these points would be a great help, IMO.
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I don't see where that alone would solve much, it wouldn't stop them from driving somewhere else and causing the same type of damage.
It would probably make a difference for Pharaoh Lake. Crane Pond would become the "new" Pharaoh Lake though, as it is still an easy, 2 mile walk in on an old road bed. I doubt that impacts at Crane Pond would be significantly reduced.

It's interesting in a way- I've typically encountered a lot more trash and garbage left behind at Pharaoh Lake than I have at Crane Pond. I would assume that this is due to the ease of "packing it out" at Crane Pond that vehicle access provides. Also, as it is, a lot of groups that camp at Crane Pond bring firewood in with them, which helps decrease campfire impacts from groups collecting firewood.
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:36 PM   #20
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It would probably make a difference for Pharaoh Lake. Crane Pond would become the "new" Pharaoh Lake though, as it is still an easy, 2 mile walk in on an old road bed. I doubt that impacts at Crane Pond would be significantly reduced.

It's interesting in a way- I've typically encountered a lot more trash and garbage left behind at Pharaoh Lake than I have at Crane Pond. I would assume that this is due to the ease of "packing it out" at Crane Pond that vehicle access provides. Also, as it is, a lot of groups that camp at Crane Pond bring firewood in with them, which helps decrease campfire impacts from groups collecting firewood.
Just to add to the thread drift...
As someone who visits these areas often, I can completely agree with this.
Granted, I visit Crane a few more times a year than Pharaoh, but I believe lean-tos in general have a tendency to attract the ignorant, uneducated, land abusing type of crowd.
Crane definitely sees its share of party campers, but for the most part the campsites remain pretty clean. Of course however, like many of us, and in many areas throughout the Adks as well, there have been many times when I have hauled trash out that had been left behind by others.
And just for the record, I for one hope DEC closes Pharaoh Rd, but leaves Crane Pond Rd as it is.
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