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Hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in the Adirondacks – Days 1 & 2

Silver Lake

By: Pat Coate

My friend Joyce and I decided to take on the 120-mile Northville-Placid (N-P) Trail that runs through the heart of the Adirondacks. We had done a trial backpacking trip a couple weeks ago on the West Rim Trail along Pennsylvania’s “Grand Canyon” to try out our gear and our legs. Making it through that hurdle, we semi-confidently set off last Friday from the Upper Benson trailhead, the N-P trail’s southern terminus (I don’t count the 10 mile road walk into downtown Northville).

At the Upper Benson trailhead


Though highs would reach the 90s, it was pretty comfortable in the woods. That, combined with a fairly flat beginning to the trail, got us off to a good start.

Rock hop time

Joyce on one of many water crossings

We crossed many a stream by rock-hopping, bridge or other improvement as shown in the pictures above. Making your way over or around waterways is definitely a major part of the N-P Trail (acquiring water for cooking/drinking was never a problem, properly treated of course). At about 7 miles in we came to the first good sized lake, Silver Lake, shown in the first photo above.

Mud Lake Lean-to

With the threat of severe thunderstorms in the forecast, we decided to push on to the lean-to at Mud Lake making it a 13+ mile first day. The weather cooperated nicely, with the storms not rolling through until nighttime. So we actually spent a very enjoyable hour floating around Mud Lake on our inflated sleeping pads, then tended to setting up camp, dinner, hanging bear bags, getting a campfire going and swatting more than a few mosquitos. It was a great first day and we were both excited about it, though sleep was a little hard to come by with those pesky bugs!

Early morning shot of Mud Lake

After seeing no one the first day, we ran into several groups on day two. First, we met the wonderful folks from the Adirondack Mountain Club who have “adopted” the Mud Lake lean-to and were heading in to stain it and make other improvements (thanks!). Then we met a very nice couple doing their second end-to-end trip on the trail, this time from north to south. They kindly warned us about a beehive under one of the suspension bridges we would cross today – I’m sure our sting count would have been much higher than one without their warning. We would share a campsite at Falls River with the third group we’d meet today.

Mud Lake Lean-to Caretakers

Suspension bridge over Sacandaga River

Trail marker

The trail was well-marked by blue discs throughout and we never had trouble following it.

Today we had our first supply drop. Marianne, the super nice owner of the Irondequoit Inn in the trail town of Piseco, let us leave a box there before we set out. Piseco is the only town right on the N-P trail. After resupplying, we were still feeling good. So after making a couple quick calls to family we set out to camp at Falls River, putting us at 16+ miles for the day.

Along the trail from Piseco

Joyce with her home away from home

Mine, with a shout-out to the bird club (wearing Tom’s MAPS bird hat)


We got pretty adept at hanging our food to keep it out of bears’ reach – but the true test will be in the High Peaks region. So far we have happily seen no bears or signs of them.

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2 responses

  1. Tom

    You were born in the wrong century. You should’ve been a covered wagon woman of the frontier. Clearly, there is no cable in those lean-to’s. What are you slaying for supper tonight?

    25 July 2013 at 2:37 pm

  2. Sounds like a wonderful adventure to me. A bit luxurious having supply drops, but probably smart too!

    25 July 2013 at 9:46 pm

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