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Old 03-19-2019, 12:17 PM   #1
madison
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Middle Settlement Lake

Hey All,

I am planning to resurrect an old tradition of a mid to late April Adirondack trip. I'm looking at Middle Settlement Lake and the surrounding loop in the HaDeRonDah Wilderness. I am familiar with the area, having done the loop and out and back trips to both Middle Settlement and Middle Branch Lakes in the past. I do have a few specific questions however.

First, I am aware of the heavy impact this area receives, but am anticipating few other visitors mid week in late April. Is this a reasonable expectation given the easy access from Rt.28?

Next, for this trip I would like to add the element of back country trout fishing. Now, I would never dream of asking for anyone's secret trout fishing spot, but Middle Settlement Lake is hardly a secret spot. I know DEC has stocked brookies in the past but I don't know how recently. Anyone know if it's reasonable to hope to catch some trout in this lake? The nearby ponds and lakes I'll explore and find out if there are fish the old fashioned way.

Lastly, the last time I was at Middle Settlement I found an old john boat that was, barely, seaworthy. Anyone know if it is still there? Or maybe other communal boats scattered about that might aid in the pursuit of trout? I'm not asking for specific locations, only if I should bother to search.

Thanks in advance for any knowledge shared.
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Old 03-19-2019, 02:34 PM   #2
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It's been a few years since I was last in this area but when it was, it was the last weekend (not mid-week) in April with my hiking & backpacking class. On that weekend we saw no one else on Friday and only bumped into two other groups on Saturday so I'd say you'll probably be OK if you're trying to avoid people. On the Sunday of that weekend it did get a bit busier but not by much so I think you should be fine but I'm speaking from a limited background of experience here.

That's all for now. Take care and until next time...be well.

snapper

PS - This was a class so we didn't do any fishing so I can't speak to that. Sorry...
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:28 PM   #3
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I think it really depends on what the next month is like in terms of how much/fast the snow melts, plus what the weather is like the weekend you pick. If there's still deep snow in the area, and/or the weekend is non-stop cold rain, you may not see anyone. If the trails are bone dry, and/or you get a nice weekend with warm sunny days, you may find a fair amount of competition for the lean-to (especially from others looking to also fish for trout).

In any case, I'd try to get as early a start in on Friday as possible, and I'd be fully prepared to end up sharing the lean-to. It's been a while since I've been to Middle Settlement but I do also recall that there was a designated tent site somewhere on the shore in addition to the lean-to- I want to say east of the lean-to.

As a possible quieter alternative, if the weekend does look nice and the snowpack is minimal, there's Middle Branch, which seems to get less use than Middle Settlement- although there's no designated tent site here if the lean-to is occupied/full. There is open forest around on the north side of the pond where I think it wouldn't be difficult to do the 150' thing if necessary.

There's also East Pond, which has a nice tent site. This area definitely gets substantially less use than either Middle Settlement or Middle Branch.
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Old 03-19-2019, 08:27 PM   #4
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Yes, there's a designated site at MS. It's east of the LT. Middle Branch is quite heavily used these days, the litter shows it.
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:00 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone. Yes, I've actually stayed at the designated tent site on MS once, it's almost as nice a spot as the lean-to. And we're going on a sunday through Tuesday, so that should help with the crowds.

East Pond is on my list of ponds to visit on a day trip to see if there are any trout. Although from what I'm reading, I might not make it past big Otter Lake.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madison View Post
Thanks everyone. Yes, I've actually stayed at the designated tent site on MS once, it's almost as nice a spot as the lean-to. And we're going on a sunday through Tuesday, so that should help with the crowds.

East Pond is on my list of ponds to visit on a day trip to see if there are any trout. Although from what I'm reading, I might not make it past big Otter Lake.
With a Sunday through Tuesday trip, you won't likely see anyone in that area that time of year.

When I hiked from Big Otter to East Pond in 2016, the trail was in pretty rough shape (a bit overgrown and a fair amount of blowdown) but the tread was generally obvious enough that I had little difficulty following it. I did have to hunt back and forth a fair bit to conclusively locate the Lost Creek side trail, but this isn't necessary to hike through to East Pond.

I thought I remembered hearing that the DEC had sent a trail crew in more recently to work on that trail, though- but I can't remember where I heard that so this might not be accurate.

In any case, the trail from East Pond to the Big Otter Truck Trail was pretty easy to follow, although there were some flooded sections (as you'll see in the photos if you view the album I've linked above).

Blackfoot Pond was sort of a neat destination although the trail there from East Pond is also in pretty rough shape. If you can follow the trail, it's not hard to locate the remnants of the mica mine (really just a quarry on a rock outcrop) that was there.

A few other options in that general area include the lean-to at Pine Pond, which again I thought seemed to get less use than Middle Settlement but based on what Dundee says, this area may be getting more use as well. There's also the lean-tos at Nelson Lake and Remsen Falls along/near the Moose River- both nice spots although the trails out of Nick's Lake Campground are in pretty rough shape in spots. (It's possible to get a canoe into Nelson Lake from Route 28 with a 1500' or so portage from the road to the Moose River, following an old road most of the way.) The Bear Lake Lean-to is nice, as is the lean-to on Woodhull Lake.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:39 PM   #7
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I visited the lean-to at Pine Lake many years ago, I think it was 2001 or 2002? But I though I'd heard that it since burned or was removed?
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:15 PM   #8
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I was there in 2012, and I'm nearly positive it hasn't burned or been removed since. Perhaps the one I saw in 2012 was one that had already been built to replace an older one there? My memory is a bit fuzzy (and I don't have my guidebooks on hand to check), but I think there was a site right in the trail where the lean-to had once stood, and the current lean-to was set back away from the trail a bit- so I'm thinking it was definitely at least moved at one point.

Or perhaps you're thinking of East Pond again? There was definitely once a lean-to there that was removed some time ago.
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Old 08-09-2020, 11:38 PM   #9
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Out of curiosity, do folks know off-hand how many tent sites there are at Middle Settlement and/or Middle Branch? Thinking of trying to do an overnight backpacking trip from Buffalo this coming Friday, but not certain if my fiance would be up for making our own campsite 150' from water and trail if all sites are taken. Any sense for how busy the area might be on a Friday night would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:20 AM   #10
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There is one designated site on the small point just before the lean-to at Middle Settlement. It's a quality site. Don't remember any others. I think I remember a tent site not far from the lean-to at Middle Branch, although it's been years so that memory could be faulty. Also, no idea if it's an official, legal site or not. As for how busy it will be there on a Friday, my expectation would be very, particularly now. The backcountry is being hit hard right now, and lean-to's and lakeside campsites within a few miles of a road are popular destinations.
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:48 AM   #11
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I would not be particularly enthusiastic about heading into Middle Settlement on a Friday night this summer, especially if the 150' thing was not really an option. The backcountry just about everywhere is getting slammed with high levels of use this year. As Madison states, easily accessible destinations are getting the brunt of this increase in use (and abuse).

I don't remember ever seeing any designated sites at Middle Branch, but it's obvious that folks do tent there. There's probably a few established sites but they may not be legal (undesignated and less than 150 feet from water/trail). In any case, the forest is pretty open around Middle Branch so the 150' thing wouldn't be too hard there.

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Old 08-11-2020, 10:27 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback and insights! My other consideration for this weekend in the Finger Lakes National Forest where there are a couple of primitive sites along the N.C.T.
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Old 08-12-2020, 08:55 AM   #13
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I don't mean to be a bummer, but I live about 15 minutes from the FLNF and spend alot of time there, and I can tell you that area is seeing quite a bit of overuse/abuse this season also. I'm definitely not saying don't go to either of the areas you mentioned, just be prepared to go a bit farther than you planned to find a good place to camp.
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Old 08-18-2020, 08:05 PM   #14
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Thanks for the advice and insights! We ended up backpacking into to Cascade Lake in the Pigeon Lake Wilderness and found an open spot there. (4 of 6 campsites were taken on a Friday night.) My fiance preferred it due to the shorter, easier hike.

We got a late start on Saturday and only had time to do a quick loop around the HDRN Wilderness. We were able to get to the lookout onto Middle Settlement, but didn't make it to the lean-to or any of the campsites, nor Middle Branch for that matter. So will have to explore that in the future. Middle Settlement is a gorgeous lake.

Coincidentally, the Middle Settlement Lake Trail to Cedar Pond Lean-To Trail doesn't appear to get all that much use compared to other trails in the area. And the trail signs had downright confusing and/or incorrect mileage posted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madison View Post
I don't mean to be a bummer, but I live about 15 minutes from the FLNF and spend alot of time there, and I can tell you that area is seeing quite a bit of overuse/abuse this season also. I'm definitely not saying don't go to either of the areas you mentioned, just be prepared to go a bit farther than you planned to find a good place to camp.
Out of curiosity, are there any backcountry campsites in the FLNF you recommend? I camped a bunch on the NC/FLT in college, but never in the FLNF.
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Old 08-19-2020, 07:44 PM   #15
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Acceptance of inaccurate mileage on the DEC signs is gained with experience hiking and backpacking in the Adirondacks. It's pretty much a given that every sign has an unwritten "+/- 0.2 miles" next to each mileage (sometimes more).
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Old 08-19-2020, 08:24 PM   #16
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It's not just on DEC signs, DOT is equally vague at times. Where Route 104B runs into 104 there is a sign just before the stop sign that says "Oswego 10" with an arrow. As soon as you drive (or bicycle) around the corner onto 104 there's a sign, about 200 yards from the first one that says "Oswego 8".
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Old 08-19-2020, 08:57 PM   #17
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On 104 heading east towards Oswego there is one that says Oswego 36 miles. After an intersection a quarter mile later it says Oswego 37 miles.
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