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Backpacker Magazine – December 1999

Snowshoeing New York's Five Ponds

When the rest of the East is bare, snowshoers can find plenty of powder in New York's Five Ponds Wilderness.

by: Jim McCommons

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QUICK TAKE: Five Ponds Wilderness, NY

DRIVE TIME: 400 miles (6 hours) north of Philadelphia, 350 miles (51/2 hours) west of Boston, and 330 miles (51/2 hours) northwest of New York City.

THE WAY: From NY 3 at the west end of Cranberry Lake, turn south onto Wanakena Road and follow it for 2 miles through the village of Wanakena. After crossing the bridge over the Oswegatchie River turn left onto South Shore Road. Half a mile later, you come to a plowed parking area marking the Dead Creek Flow trailhead.

TRAILS/MILEAGE: About 40 miles of trail penetrate the northern portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness. Via the Dead Creek Flow Trail, the Janack's Landing lean-to is 3.3 miles. Add another 2 miles to Cat Mountain. Seasoned winter travelers may want to attempt a 16-mile loop by taking the High Falls Trail at the Cat Mountain junction. The trail ends in Wanakena about half a mile from the Dead Creek Flow trailhead.

ELEVATION: Janack's Landing is the low point at 1,500 feet; Cat Mountain is the high point at 2,261 feet.

CAN'T MISS: The vista from Cat Mountain and the two-story-high frozen waterfall at High Falls.

CROWD CONTROL: You'll encounter only a handful of other people, most of them daytrippers, on winter weekends.

MAPS AND GUIDES: Trails in the Cranberry Lake Region, New York (DEC pamphlet). Guide to Adirondack Trails: Northern Region, 2nd edition (1997; Adirondack Mountain Club Books, 800-395-8080; $16.95). USGS 1:24,000 topos Wolf Mountain and Five Ponds (800-435-7627;

PIT STOP: The Wanakena General Store sells camping supplies, topos, and food.

WALK SOFTLY: All the lean-tos have primitive outhouses. Use these when possible. Otherwise, pack it out.

MORE INFORMATION: Adirondack Mountain Club, 814 Gogguns Rd., Lake George, NY 12845; (518) 668-4447;

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