Adirondacks State Park

Siamese Ponds Wilderness

The Siamese Ponds Wilderness comprises over 112,000 acres— more than 175 square miles of gentle mountains, lush forests, rushing streams, and sparkling ponds. Much less frequently visited than the more mountainous wilderness areas to the north, the Siamese Ponds area is an ideal destination for those seeking a true wilderness experience.


Location and Access
Located in the southeastern quadrant of the Adirondack Park, the Siamese Ponds Wilderness is generally west of the hamlet of North Creek, south of the hamlet of Indian Lake, and northeast of Speculator. The area is roughly bounded by New York State Route 8, which forms much of the area's southeastern boundary, Route 28, which runs along the area's north end, and Route 30 to the west and south.

Major trailheads are located at Thirteenth Lake and at the end of Old Farm Clearing Road, both reached by turning onto the Thirteenth Lake Road from Route 28 in North River; on Route 8 about 4 miles west of Bakers Mills; and at Kings Flow, located south of the Village of Indian Lake at the end of Big Brook Road. Trails also lead into the Wilderness from the east shore of Indian Lake.

Access to the southwestern parts of the area may be gained using the Elm Lake, Fly Creek and Robb Creek Roads, which crosses land owned by International Paper Company. It requires a permit for the use of Fly Creek and Robb Creek Roads. For information, contact IPC at Box 174, Speculator, NY 12164. Telephone number is (518) 548-7931.

Those with impaired mobility can gain access to Thirteenth Lake down a fairly short, smooth, and level path from the parking area. A number of primitive tent sites around the lake are located near shore and are accessible by boat.

The private landowners in the Kings Flow area have permitted the State trails to begin on their land; please respect private property and stay on the trails.


The Siamese Ponds Wilderness is characterized by a broad expanse of low mountains; only the occasional wetland area may be considered truly "level." Elevations range from a low of 1,280 feet above sea level along the East Branch of the Sacandaga River near Griffin to 3,472 feet on the summit of Puffer Mountain.

Within the area and along its perimeter there are 36 ponds and lakes including Siamese Ponds, Hour Pond, Puffer Pond, Kings Flow, Round Pond, and Thirteenth Lake. The Kunjamuk River and the East Branch of the Sacandaga River originate here.

From their origins to the wilderness boundary, both are designated "wild" rivers under the New York State Wild, Scenic, and Recreational River System Act; the section of the East Branch running along Route 8 and forming the area's boundary is designated "recreational."


Fish and Wildlife
You will find a wealth of wildlife living within the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, including white-tailed deer, black bear, coyote, bobcat, beaver, otter, and mink. Near lakes and ponds you will have a good chance of hearing the call of a loon, and if you are lucky, you will see an osprey or even a bald eagle.

Regulated hunting and trapping for traditional game species are permitted in the area.

Anglers successfully pursue brook trout, lake trout, and panfish within the area's waters; in recent years Thirteenth Lake has been stocked with seeforellen brown trout, tiger trout, splake, and landlocked salmon.


Recreational Facilities
Thirty-three miles of marked hiking trails wind through the wilderness. In addition, several unmarked paths have been established through years of use, mostly by hunters and anglers. Many of the trails are excellent for cross-country skiing.

Scattered throughout the area, a number of primitive tent sites and four lean-tos are available for free public use. Most of the area's major ponds have tent sites around their shores. Twenty-one tent sites, each designed for a maximum of three tents and nine people, have been designated around the shore of Thirteenth Lake.

The east shore of Indian Lake is managed as a part of the Indian Lake Islands Campground; when the campground is open you may camp at designated sites along the shore for a fee. When the campground is officially closed, wilderness camping regulations apply to the shoreline area.

The primitive tent sites located at ponds and other sites more remote from public highways offer greater opportunities for solitude. But if you are seeking truly wild country, a large tract in the southwest part of the wilderness has been designated a trailless area. No facilities exist there.


Although as much as 80 percent of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness has been Forest Preserve land since 1910, the present pattern of forest growth reflects a long history of human activity. Place names like Old Farm Clearing, Burnt Shanty Clearing, and Curtis Clearing hark back to the days of early farms and homesteads. Most of the virgin timber in the area was cut for lumber, pulpwood, and tanbark during the latter half of the nineteenth century. From the late 1800's through the early 1900's, garnet mines near Thirteenth Lake and on Humphrey Mountain were active.

Natural forces also have left their mark on the area. Forest fires in the early 1900's and the winds that caused the "1950 blowdown" left large openings soon filled by young trees.


The following regulations have been designed to protect natural resources and to enhance your wilderness experience-as well as the experiences of those around you. Please abide by them.


In general, you may camp anywhere within the wilderness as long as your campsite is at least 150 feet from roads, trails, streams, or ponds. At distances of less than 150 feet, you may only occupy: (1) campsites designated by "Camp Here" markers, or (2) lean-tos.

A camping permit is required for one or more people to camp at the same site for more than three consecutive nights. A permit is also required for a group of 10 or more people to camp in a single site, regardless of the length of their stay.

When the Indian Lake Islands Campground is open, Indian Lake's eastern shore is managed as part of the campground. You may camp for a fee, and only at designated sites. When the campground is closed you may camp for free at the established campsites along the shore and at suitable spots more than 150 feet from the shoreline.


If you must build a fire, use only dead and down wood. In an established campsite, use the existing fire ring. In a new campsite dig a pit down to mineral soil at least three feet in diameter and clear all flammable material from the fire area. Before you leave, extinguish the fire, fill in the pit, and camouflage the area. Never leave a fire unattended; make doubly sure it is completely extinguished before you leave your campsite.

Even though they appear to be out on the surface, campfires built on forest leaf litter often continue to burn down into the "duff" for days and eventually grow into full-scale forest fires. Drown your fire, stir it thoroughly, then drown it again.


Trees and Other Vegetation, Rocks, and Minerals
Do not cut, deface, or remove living trees or any other kind of plant. Do not deface or remove rocks or minerals.


Motor Vehicles
The use of motor vehicles of any kind is prohibited everywhere within the wilderness, with one exception: snowmobiles are allowed on the "primitive corridor" near the area's southern tip.


Special regulations apply to Hour Pond, Peaked Mt. Pond, Thirteenth Lake, and their tributaries. See your fishing regulations booklet.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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