Northville-Placid Trail


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has opened the new section of trail from Wakely Dam to south of Stephens Pond. The trail no longer goes through the area known previously as the former McCane's Resort on Cedar River Road. The new NPT route from Wakely Dam to Stephens Pond, which avoids private land, was completed during August of 2009 by the Adirondack Mountain Club professional trail crew under a contract with DEC. The new section of the trail adds only about 0.1 mile to the total distance. About 0.7 mile of road walking remains north of Wakely Dam. Questions about this area may be emailed to DEC Supervising Forester Richard Fenton at . He manages the portion of the trail from Northville up to the bottom of Long Lake. Supervising Forester Kris Alberga handles the portion from Long Lake, where it enters the High Peaks Wilderness, to the northern terminus of the trail.

The Web site provides information about planning a hike on the NPT, whether a through-hike, section-hike or weekend-hike. It also provides information on the latest trail conditions as reported by fellow hikers, NPT trail stewards, ADK trails staff and state Department of Environmental Conservation personnel. The primary goal of the Web site is to provide a single source of timely, updated information about hiking conditions on the Northville-Placid Trail.

One of the most interesting and perhaps least known features of the Adirondack Mountain Region is the 133-mile continuous wilderness footpath, the trail from Northville to Lake Placid. It is not new, having been cut in 1922 by the Adirondack Mountain Club. Today, it is maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The ADK now promotes its use to take foot traffic off the trails in the High Peaks to the north.

While the trail begins and ends on pavement, all but a few miles are through one of the few great wilderness areas in the east. The trail runs in a north-south direction, and the degree of ascent is never difficult for a hiker in moderately good condition. The path of the trail in relation to major cities and highways and other helpful tips are available on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail Map. Additionally, the Great Outdoor Recreation Pages (GORP) Northville-Placid Trail Site  is an excellent resource whose pages include detailed mileages for the various trail sections.

The Adirondack Forest Preserve was established originally for watershed preservation, and the area through which the trail passes is dotted with streams, lakes, and ponds. Most of the land is forested, and recent studies have indicated that there may still be virgin timber stands in a number of places. Trees of considerable size reflect over a half-century of state ownership and conservation.

Stores to replenish supplies are available at various villages and resort communities along the way. Supplies can also be mailed ahead to any of several post offices (Piseco, Blue Mountain Lake, and Long Lake) for pickup when passing through. Temporary camping is permitted at undeveloped sites on state land. State-erected lean-tos or open camps located at reasonably short intervals are for hikers’ use, and are a quintessential part of the Adirondack experience.

The trail was originally marked with a white diamond-shaped marker on which was printed in blue the letters "NPT," as depicted in the graphic to the right. Today, however, standard blue DEC trail markers mark the trail for its entire length. Water is abundant along the trail and there is a wealth of natural campsites. During the summer tourist season, accommodations are available at road crossings, but reservations are suggested. It is advisable to carry a lightweight 2-man tent in the summer, as any given lean-to may be filled to capacity, and rain may overtake the hiker at any time.

With several highway crossings, the trail lends itself well to sectional walking, so end-to-end walking in one trip is not required. The Adirondack Mountain Club publishes the definitive guidebook Northville-Placid Trail and Map, 4th Edition. Available from most major bookstores and directly from the ADK, the 136 page guide contains detailed trail information and a topographic map (also available separately ). ADK is currently (fall 2014) working on a new edition of the Northville-Placid Trail guide; in conjunction, National Geographic will publish a companion N-P Trail map.

Among the highlights of the trip is a foot suspension bridge over the West Branch of the Sacandaga River at Whitehouse, and Adirondack French Louie’s old fireplace in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness. Farther north on the trail is a pretty walk beside Long Lake, which leads to the wild Cold River area. Here the trail passes the site of former Adirondack hermit Noah John Rondeau’s old camp and "Town Hall". Duck Hole and Wanika Falls are also sure to leave the hiker with lasting memories.

The Schenectady Chapter offers an award for the completion of the trail, either as one end-to-end trip or by section. The award is a patch based on the design of the original trail marker, and is shown at the top of this page. The patch is offered to both ADK members and non-members alike.

To allow for present-day realities and to keep the hiker from having to pound the highway pavement, ADK regards the end points of the trail as Upper Benson and Averyville, rather than Northville and Lake Placid. This makes about 117 miles of actual walking. An average hiker should plan on about 8-11 days to make the trip. The other road section, through Piseco, IS considered part of the present-day and traditional trail, and MUST be walked to qualify for the patch.

You may apply for the award by completing a "Record of Trip" and mailing it to:

Schenectady Chapter Adirondack Mountain Club
Attn: NP Trail Chair
P.O. Box 733
Schenectady, NY 12301-0733

This "Record of Trip" form is available here in two formats, PDF 78k or DOC 76k. Your comments on the usability of this downloaded form would be greatly appreciated.

To help enhance your memories of your trip, a customizable high quality “Giclee” printed map of the NP Trail using archival paper and inks is available at