Five Ponds Wilderness
The Five Pond Wilderness is one of the most significant areas that can be accessed from Wanakena and holds the luring characteristics of true wilderness. From the trailhead you will be on a flat trail that follows along an old railroad grade (no ties) with Skate Creek on your left. You will cross over Skate Creek a couple times which can be wet under the right conditions. The flat trail continues and eventually you will come to an area where you can see the Oswegatchie River off in the distance through the trees. High Rock comes soon after with an outstanding overlook above the river with decent spots to tent camp if you so desire.
The trail continues keeping the river to your right and not ever too far away. At about 4.5 miles from High Rock you will come to the Five Ponds Trail and Bridge to your right, this is where you need to turn off the High Falls Loop Trail. Once across the bridge the feel of true wilderness should be upon you. While this is called Five Ponds, you will only come to three of them along the trail, the two others are a short bushwhack over a narrow ridge. There is a lean-to on Big Shallow and Little Shallow Ponds another outstanding location to make camp.
To extend this outing to a second car and make it a wilderness traverse; continue on the lightly used trail. The trail does continue past to Wolf Pond, Sand Pond and eventually Cage Lake, where additional lean-to’s are available. To continue past 5-Ponds you will need additional time, food, and gear for the secluded stay in the wild. The choice is yours but the trails will certainly be much less used and bit more rugged. If you so desire a second car could be spotted at the end of Young’s Road in Star Lake. This would allow you to make the extended outing.
From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 30 in the Village of Tupper Lake follow Route 3 toward Cranberry Lake. Follow Route 3 for 33.4 miles to CR61 (Wanakena Road) on the left. Follow here and stay straight on the main road to South Shore Road. Follow South Shore Road for around 0.25 miles to the trailhead parking on the right. You will have to walk back up the road for a couple hundred feet to the road on the left and walk this to its end, which is about 0.1 miles.
Distance Round Trip:
21 to 30 Miles
Elevation Gain or Loss:
Time Round Trip:
Family with Young Kids: Not recommended
Experienced Hiker: This is a multi-day outing of two or more days
Out of Shape Hiker: Not Recommended