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December 1999 Winter Gear

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.

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; www.usgs.gov).

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; www.adk.org.

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