Cranberry Lake 50

A fifty-mile challenge


A long distance trail just for you

The Cranberry Lake 50 is what you might image, a fifty-mile trail that circles Cranberry Lake, the third largest lake in the Adirondack Park. What makes this trail so unique is in its offerings of mountains, ponds, streams, rivers, scenery, and a true wilderness experience.

A view out over Cranberry Lake

The loop can be completed in as little time as you want; in fact the record currently held is in the neighborhood of 12 hours. Some people take 5-days, but overall the average is 3 - 3.5 days. Of course while you are out there several side trips will temp you to take a bit longer and I encourage you to be tempted to fall victim to that temptation. For example...

The rocky top of Cat Mountain

Looking out from the fire tower on Cathedral Rock

Now, as for camping, there’s plenty of that. Tenting sites are available as well as several lean-tos that can be occupied on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tenting sites rest right on the shore of Cranberry Lake while others set further back into the wilderness. Many sites will have options for swimming - and unlike the High Peaks, campfires are allowed.

New Trail Sections

Along the Bear Mountain Trail

The Cranberry 50, when it was first developed, had an entry point at Peavine Swamp and another at the Burnt Bridge Pond Trailhead, this left nearly 6-miles of walking along Route 3 through the Hamlet of Cranberry Lake. But as of the summer of 2015 two new trail sections have been created to eliminate all but 1.9 miles of that walk. There is still a walk through the hamlet but that’s not a bad thing! The two sections are named and described as:

  • East Connector Trail: This is roughly a 1-mile section of trail that starts just east of Cranberry Lake at what is called the Gilbert Tract. At the Gilbert Tract parking area the trail leads out to the back right. Passing by attractive ponds and through a welcoming forest you will come out to the existing Bear Mountain Trail. You can now take the Bear Mountain Trail to the Burnt Bridge Pond Trail eliminating a large section of the road walk on Route 3.
  • West Connector Trail: This new section of trail is just shy of 3-miles and connects the Peavine Swamp Trails (loop 1) to the State Boat Launch site on Columbian Road. From the boat launch site you will hike easily through an old forest, harvested not all that long ago, but grown in beautifully. Passing by tall cliffs the views are pretty neat. Eventually you drop steeply to a bridge over a wetland outlet and climb steady and steep at times to the Peavine Swamp Trail Loop 1. This removes a large portion of Route 3.

Bridge Along West Connector

The two connector trails mentioned above do add a bit of distance to the loop, but overall I believe it adds so much more than just steps, it adds character, adventure, and more time in the forest which I would bet is why you started this journey in the first place.

What’s in the works?

Five Ponds Partners (FPP) is the project manager that developed the trail, the brochure, promotions, and essentially leads in the maintenance of the trail. Currently the trail is being inventoried for needed trail work in the fall and spring season and for Trails Day 2016. Bog bridging, water bars, stepping stones, and possible sections of rerouted trail have been discussed.

Also FPP is working on redeveloping the trail map/brochure to update the current changes. While making the map a bit smaller and easier to read, it will also be much more user-friendly to those on the trail. The possibility of having a waterproof map is also being considered.

Parking Access Points

Even with the development of two new sections of trail, the parking access points remain the same.

  • Cranberry Lake Community Center - park behind the community center and you can access the trails with just a mile walk through town in either direction.
  • Burnt Bridge Pond Trailhead - this is still a good place to start, but realize you don’t hit the CL50 for 1.4 miles.
  • Gilbert Tract Trailhead - this is right on the CL50.
  • Columbian Road Trailhead - this is on the CL50.
  • Peavine Swamp Trails - this is still a nice start and end point and is just 0.3 miles off the CL50, not much of a distance at all.
  • High Falls Trail, Wanakena - this is on the CL50.

Trail signs and blue "50" markers lead the way

So, now that you have some of the down-low on the Cranberry Lake 50 you can start to plan your trip out and visit us. If you want more information on the trail:

Ask questions, read about others' adventures, and get help planning your adventure.

Then once you finish your trek be sure to write the Five Ponds Partners to get your patch. A small donation is requested to cover costs. 

CL50 Map