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Uncas Road to Raquette Lake Bike Tour

Adirondack Region

Historic, Family-Friendly, Waterfalls, Wildlife


Directions to Trailhead
Trail Description
Inlet - Raquette Lake Mountain Bike Trails Map
Adirondack Forest Trail Information

Location: Eagle Bay, Inlet and Raquette Lake, NY.  Herkimer & Hamilton Counties

GPS Coordinates:
Racquette Lake: 43.81312 -74.65739

Altitude: 1, 768 Ft.

Length/Configuration: Out-and-back to Raquette Lake: about 12 miles.

Camp Sagamore Option: Add 4 miles (one way from Racquette Lake)

Terrain/Surface: Uncas Road is an improved secondary road. It has a graded, hard-packed, well-maintained dirt surface. The Old Railroad/Dillon Road is a wide doubletrack trail with dirt , gravel and grass surface.

Technical Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, with a long steep climb and descent on the Uncas Rd. between Brown’s Tract Ponds and Raquette Lake.

Elevation Change: Mostly flat to gently rolling terrain. Long steep climb and descent on Uncas Rd. between Browns Tract Ponds and Raquette Lake.

Caution: Watch out for vehicles on Uncas Road. Traffic is light, but we did experience two local, speeding pick-up trucks.  Black flies may be brutal until late June or early July. Avoid using trails in wet seasons or conditions.

bike wheel

Note: The trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.

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General Description

The Uncas Road-Raquette Lake Bike Tour travels between Fourth Lake and Raquette Lake within the heart of the Adirondack Fulton Chain of Lakes in the west central Adirondack Park Region. The hard-packed, graded, dirt Uncas Road takes you through deep Adirondack forest over rolling terrain. It passes Upper and Lower Brown Tract Ponds, the Brown Tract Pond State Park Campground and ends at the scenic, mountain rimmed town of Raquette Lake, set on the shores of the largest natural lake in the central Adirondacks.

There is an option for an easy, return mountain bike trip through wildflower filled meadows and beautiful wetland habitat on a level old railroad bed or you can opt for a longer ride if you continue south 4 more miles from the town of Raquette Lake to the Great Camp Sagamore, a National Historic Landmark.

There are several State Campgrounds in the vicinity of the Uncas Road to Raquette Lake Bike Tour including Limekiln, Brown Tract Pond, Nicks Lake and Eighth Lake. We camped at Eighth Lake State Campground, located just 7.2 miles from Inlet, NY and 19.6 miles from Old Forge, NY. Both towns are popular outdoor adventure and recreation destinations with bike shops, restaurants, lodging and Adirondack adventure related services.

We found Inlet to be more rustic and devoid of the big "tourist attractions" prevalent in the larger Old Forge, which suited our tastes just fine. Considered to be the “Snowmobile Capital of the East”, extensive trail systems in and around both towns attract snowmobilers from all over the country. This usually translates to a mecca for mountain bikers during the summer season, and this certainly is true. The vast network of snowmobile, cross country ski and hiking trails, pristine waterways and the surrounding 6 million acre Adirondack Park provide plenty of mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking and camping options to last a lifetime.

Some of the great mountain bike destinations in the area are the Morgan’s Miles Trails between Inlet & Raquette Lake, the Old Forge Mountain Bike Trail System, Fern Park and the Moose River Recreation Area Trails.

 

Uncas Road-Raquette Lake Bike Tour

The 9 mile long Uncas Road was the access road into the "Great Camp Uncas", built by William West Durant between 1893-1895. (see Historical Notes below). You've got a few mountain bike ride options, depending on how much time you have and your aerobic fitness and MTB skill levels. We list several below. Mileages are one way.

Eighth Lake Campground to Uncas Road Bug Lake Trailhead: 3.5 miles

Uncas Rd. to Browns Tract Ponds: 3 miles

Browns Tract Ponds to Antlers Rd. (Raquette Lake) via Uncas Rd: 3 miles

Browns Tract Ponds to Raquette Lake via old railroad bed/Dillon Rd: 2.7 miles

Raquette Lake to Camp Sagamore via Sagamore Rd: 4 miles

 

If you are camping at Eighth Lake you can bike to Uncas Road directly from the campground (see Bug Lake Trail option below).

Turn right from the parking area and head east on Uncas Road. This stretch takes you through deep woods over flat to rolling terrain. The road is hard-packed dirt and easy riding. In about a half mile from the Bug Lake/Uncas Road Trailhead, you'll pass the trailhead (hiking only) for Ferds Bog, a bird watching hot spot. At around 3 miles, Upper Brown Tract Pond with a swimming beach will be on your left.  Just beyond is Lower Brown Tract Pond with a state campground along the shore. The campground is secluded, quiet and one of the best kept secrets of the Adirondacks. Between upper and lower Brown Tract Ponds, at the yellow barrier gate,  is the trailhead for the Sucker Brook Trail. This is a beginner/intermediate level trail that travels for  6.6 miles to Raquette Lake.

Although traffic is extremely light, be on the lookout for speeding vehicles anywhere on Uncas Road. On our ride, a rust-colored pick-up truck with several kids in the back, seemed to be using the next stretch of road with its steep hills as a roller-coaster ride!

The skill level for the next 3 miles of the Uncas Road may be easy, but the ride does require considerable fitness and endurance. The road has some long steep climbs and descents before reaching paved Antlers Road. Turn right onto Antlers Road and head south into the village of Raquette Lake.

You can also avoid this stretch by taking the scenic and flat Old Dump Road / Dillon Road into Raquette Lake.

Raquette Lake, one of the most prestigious summer getaway destinations in the 19th century, is located in the town of Long Lake in Hamilton County, New York. It also served as the gateway to the Great Camps of Sagamore and Uncas. Today, it is a quiet, charming hamlet set on Raquette Lake.  Raquette Lake, with 99 miles of shoreline, is the largest natural lake of the Central Adirondacks.  80% of the shoreline is owned by the State of New York and constitutionally Forever Wild, making the town more of a jumping off point for boating, fishing, hiking and backroads cycling adventures.

In the Raquette Lake town center, there is public parking, a post office, library, tap room, gas station, boat launch, gift shop and a large general store (The Raquette Lake Supply Company), which offers an array of supplies and services from groceries, household  and camping supplies to a Laundromat, all under one roof.

When we arrived at the town center, the Harbor Master had a table set up at the docks to greet visitors with information and exhibits. The panoramic views of the lake and mountains from the harbor are spectacular.  While chatting with the Harbor Master, the W.W. Durant, a reproduction of an original steamship that operated on the lake during the "Gilded Age" (turn of the nineteenth century), cruised up to the dock, it's brass rails gleaming in the sun. The steamship, operated by the family owned Raquette Lake Navigation Company, offers the opportunity for scenic excursions, dinner and moonlight cruises in the opulent style of a bygone era. Next to the Raquette Lake dock is a caboose that commemorates the Raquette Lake Railroad, where J.P.Morgan and others kept their private locomotives and rail cars on call 24/7.

Raquette Lake and the Raquette River are part of three major canoe routes, The Adirondack Canoe Route, the Raquette River Blueway and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

From the center of town, head south towards Route 28 on County Road 2. It crosses a bridge over the South Inlet of Raquette Lake. This is a popular kayak and canoe route that flows for two miles into the south end of Racquette Lake. There are outstanding views of the inlet and surrounding marshland from the center of the bridge.

From here you have two bike ride options.

Ride Option1

After enjoying your stop at Raquette Lake head north to the library, turn left (Dillon Rd.) and return to Uncas Road via the Old Dump Road / Old Railroad. Turn left at Uncas Road and head west 3 miles back to the Bug Lake Trailhead.

Ride Option 2:

Continue riding south across the County Road 2 bridge to Rt. 28 for an additional 4 mile bike ride to Great Camp Sagamore via the dirt Sagamore Road. If you are going to do this ride option, you may want to plan your bike trip to leave you plenty of time to enjoy a guided tour of Camp Sagamore and the return trip back to your starting point.

Eighth Lake Campground to Uncas Road (Bug Lake Trail) Option

If you are camping at Eighth Lake you can begin this tour directly from the campground. Follow the main road into the campground. At the T-intersection the Bug Lake Trail starts straight ahead. This trail follows a portion of the old Uncas Road route. The doubletrack trail is challenging with sections that climb and descend over rocks and roots with singletrack sections. You soon cross a plank bridge over Seventh Lake outlet. Bear left (right is short spur to Eagle’s Nest Lake). At 2.7 miles you reach the trail junction for Black Bear Mountain. Go straight, and at 3.5 miles, reach Uncas Road (a.k.a. Brown Tract Road). Turn right and follow directions above.

 

Old Railroad bed/Dillon Road Option:

Look for a dirt road on the south side of Uncas Road near the trailhead for Sucker Brook Trail (at Lower Brown Tract Pond). This is an old railroad bed that provides a much easier 2.7 mile alternative to and from  Raquette Lake. It is generally flat and takes you through deep woods, past beautiful wetlands and through open meadows with wildflowers before reaching Raquette Lake. Before reaching the village, the trail passes through a graveyard of old construction equipment, thus its local designation as the Old Dump Road. The end of the Old Dump Rd. becomes Dillon Road. Turn right at the small library and curve past the Raquette Lake Supply Company into town.

 

Raquette Lake to Great Camp Sagamore Option

Continue south through the Hamlet of Raquette Lake to RT 28.  Just across RT 28, the Sagamore Road, a four mile dirt road, leads to Great Camp Sagamore. The ride is easy and makes a great family outing. Be aware of possible heavy vehicle use. This is the most studied and carefully preserved Great Camp in the Adirondacks. It is also the only Great Camp in the area open to the public for tours. See Historical Note below.

 

Wildlife Note

Ferd's Bog Trail

On the left side of Uncas Road .5 mile from where your ride starts (parking area at Bug Lake Trailhead) is the trailhead for Ferd’s Bog, a bird watching hot spot. It is a short .4 mile walk (no bike riding) to a floating walkway and observation post. Among the bird species observed here are the Rusty Blackbird, Blue Bird, Osprey, Sawhet & Short-Eared Owl, Boreal Chickadee, Olive-Sided & Yellow-Bellied Fly Catchers, Wood Warbler, Hermit & Swainson Thrush, and Gray Jay. Gray Jays have been known to eat from your hand.

 

Waterfalls

Death Brook Waterfall - (Secret Falls)

GPS Coordinates: 43.8168788639 -74.5921039581

A 50-foot high cascade located about 4 miles east of Raquette Lake Village on RT 28, west side of road.  A short, flat trail provides an easy five minute walk to the falls. The trail circles to the right around a flooded area, and passes an old junked car on the left before reaching the falls. Best viewed in the Spring or after periods of heavy rain. At other time the flow can be reduced to just a mere trickle.

There is a barrier 10 miles west of the village of Blue Mountain Lake, 3.6 miles east of the Sagamore Road, that marks the start of the short path. There is room for only a car or two.

See Mountain Bike New York Waterfall Trails

 

Historic Notes

Great Camps

Great Camps were the "wilderness retreats" of the wealthy looking for a seasonal escape from city life.   Many of the Camps evolved into huge self-contained family compounds containing several buildings. A Great Camp might contain a dining hall, library, game room, blacksmith shop, boathouse, carriage house, barn, farm, guest quarters, servants’ quarters and lounges.  The distinctive Adirondack "Great Camp" architecture was characterized by the use of logs and indigenous stone, shingled roofs with broad overhangs and porches, and simply-proportioned window and door openings.

William West Durant, a real-estate investor and proponent of the region, designed and developed the camps to promote the area as a premier resort for affluent Americans. This architectural style served as the prototype for most of the great National Park Lodges built by the National Park Service, including  the Yellowstone Lodge in Montana.

The following three Great Camps on and around Raquette Lake were designed and built by Durant. Today, all are National Historic Landmarks.

Camp Pine Knot (Huntington Memorial Camp)

Located on the southwest tip of Long Point, a two mile long point extending into Raquette Lake. This was the first of the Great Camps which set the stage for the rest to follow. It was sold to wealthy industrialist Collis P Huntington, in 1895.

Camp Uncas on Lake Mohegan - (near Sagamore Camp)

Built between 1893-1895 on Mohegan Lake in what is now the Adirondack Forest Preserve, in Hamilton County, approximately four miles southeast of New York Route 28. It was the second Adirondack Great Camp built by William West Durant for his own use. He named it after "Uncas", a principal character in James Fenimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans”  (1826), a story set in the Adirondack foothills. Durant also cut the Uncas Road to provide access to the camp.

Uncas became the wilderness retreat of J. Pierpont Morgan in 1896. It changed hands several times and even served as a boyscout camp for some time. Today it is in private hands and not open to the public.

Camp Sagamore on Sagamore Lake

The camp was built between 1895-1897, by Durant who lived in the Main Lodge from 1897-1901 until bankruptcy forced him to sell. It was the wilderness estate of the Vanderbilt family from 1901-1954. Today, the historic camp is open to the public and run by the non-profit Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks, Inc. for educational and interpretive purposes. Visitors can take guided walking tours of the 27 building complex as well as birding tours.  Various overnight programs are available in the summer and fall.

"Great Camp Sagamore is not a hotel, motel, or resort. Expect instead a complete experience in learning and living a bit of history in an incomparable setting."

Website: www.greatcampsagamore.org

 

Directions to Trailhead

From Inlet: 1.8 miles on Rt.28 to Eagle Bay. Turn right onto N. Star Rd./ Uncas Rd. (Adirondack Saddle Tours on the right).   Drive around 2.8 miles to a small parking area on the right. This is the trailhead for the Bug Lake Trail that brings you to the Eighth Lake Campground.

From Old Forge: 9.6 miles on Rt.28 to Eagle Bay. Turn left onto N. Star Rd./ Uncas Rd. (Adirondack Saddle Tours on the right).  Drive around 2.8 miles to a small parking area on the right. This is the trailhead for the Bug Lake Trail that brings you to the Eighth Lake Campground.

 

 

For more information

Department Of Environmental Conservation-Region 5
PO Box 296
1115 Route 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Phone: (518) 897-1300

Website: www.dec.ny.gov

 

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