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Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Mountain Bike Trails

Adirondack Region

Wildlife, Scenic Overlooks

Directions to Trailhead
Trail Description

Location: Central Adirondack Park - Towns of Newcomb, Minerva,
North Hudson, and Schroon in Essex County, the Town of Chester and Johnsburg in Warren County, and
the Town of Indian Lake in Hamilton County

Length/Configuration: Total of 37 miles combined hiking and snowmobile trails

Terrain/Surface: Diverse mountain biking terrain from wide dirt woods roads to challenging technical singletrack.

Technical Difficulty:Intermediate, Advanced

Elevation Change: Frequent elevation changes from 150 ft. to over 900 ft.

Elevation Change: Frequent elevation changes from 150 ft. to over 900 ft.

Trail Use: Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing

Caution: Mountain bikers share use with hikers. Avoid during wet season or after heavy rains.

Adirondack Trail News

Forever Wild

A State Supreme Court Justice in Albany County has ordered a trial in the lawsuit brought by PROTECT THE ADIRONDACKS against the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency challenging the constitutionality of the construction of a network of road-like class II community connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

On July 3, 2019, Appellate Division, Third Department, finds State Tree Cutting for Class II Trails to be Unconstitutional.

Hudson Gorge Wilderness UMP

The NYS DEC Unit Management Plan for the Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area is in the works.


Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Trail Map

Note: This trail map is a graphical representation designed for general reference purposes only. Read Full Disclaimer.

General Description

See Adirondack Forest Preserve for trail regulations and other important information.

The Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest covers almost 92,000 acres and is part of the Central Adirondack Forest Preserve. It is surrounded by the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness to the north, the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area, and Schroon Lake to the east, State Route 8 and the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area to the south and on the west by the Hudson Gorge Primitive Area. 3,386 ft.Vanderwhacker Mountain beats at the center, the heart of the forest.

Besides Vanderwhacker Mountain, there is Rist Mountain - 3,858 ft; Cheney Cobble - 3,684 ft; Sand Pond Mountain - 2,940 ft; Beaver Mountain -2,927 ft; Green Mountain - 2,799 ft and Moxham Mountain at 2,799 ft. This is challenging mountain biking terrain with high ridges and ledges, glacial outcrops and gigunda boulders.

Two wild and scenic rivers; the Boreas River and a portion of the Hudson River, streams, 44 ponds and small lakes and scenic eye candy all contribute to exciting and challenging outdoor adventures. This area is also a popular hiking and high peaks bagging destination in the Adirondacks.

The historic hamlets of of Minerva, Olmstedville, Loch Muller, Irishtown, North Creek and North River are either surrounded by or lie adjacent to the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.


Boat launches.

The acccessible Roosevelt Truck Trail, Three Camps Road, Carpenter Hill Road and several campsites with picnic tables and privies are availabile for people with disabilities (MAPPWD permit required).


There 6 designated primitive campsites within the Vandwerwhacker Wild Forest along Moose Pond Road. These are available on first come first serve basis. The sites are marked with yellow "Camp Here" discs. The are no hook ups for water or electricity.

There are also remote, designated camping areas within the forest. The Lean-to's located near Stony Pond and Cheney Pond are popular wilderness camping and day hiking picnic spots.

More developed camping areas can be found nearby in the surrounding areas.

Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Mountain Bike Trails Description

There are 14.4 miles of designated hiking trails and more than 25 miles of designated snowmobile trails for a combined 39.4 miles where mountain bikes are technically allowed to tread. That being said, most of the trails are difficult, geared for the expert mountain biker who thrives on high ridgelines, steep rocky lung and leg busting climbs, death defying descents, technical challenges like boulder gardens and tricky log balancing acts over rushing streams.

There are several trail options and dirt roads perfect for the imtermediate or beginner level mountain biker.

The following trails are suggested mountain bike rides in the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest.

Deer Creek Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 1.4 miles. Easy / Intermediate

This was an old route between Minerva and North River, which included a ford of the Hudson River. Follow the jeep road along Deer Creek, descending gradually. It is a relatively easy trail, with some rocks and ruts requiring basic mountain bike handling skills. You will eventually reach a cable gate marking the end of state land. Do not proceed beyond the gate.

Trail Access

From Rt.28N turn west onto Fourteenth Rd. at the 4-way intersection in Minerva. At 1.4 miles bear right at fork and continue about 2 miles to bridge over Deer Creek. Road bends sharply to the south, drive 1.2 miles to parking on the right. There are places to park just after crossing Deer Creek which will add 1.2 miles of level riding on dirt road.

Irishtown Snowmobile Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 8.9 miles. miles. Advanced

This trail is remote and advanced mountain bike handling skills are required. Challenges include fording the Boreas River, difficult when the water level is high, and wading across Minerva Stream 3 times.

The trail starts by fording the Boreas River at the southern tip of Lester Flow. Conditions are variable and maintenance minimal, so be prepared and fit for a demanding bike ride. The first 0.9 mile is singletrack with short steep climbs and descents, occasional wet spots as it heads northeast and then swings east.

The trail soon becomes the western boundary of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area. It heads southeast and descends gradaually untill crossing the west tributary of Minerva Stream at 2.4 miles.

Technical sections with exposed rocks and roots follow. At about 3.4 miles you cross the swift east tributary of Minerva Stream. The trail heads south, along the stream and crosses to the west side of Minerva Stream at 3.6 miles.

The trail looks more like an old road as it continues east of Mud Pond at 4.4 miles to camps on a small private lot. The next section of trail is eroded and rocky as it descends to cross Minerva Stream again at 4.9 miles. You may encounter a series of large puddles as the trail follows the east side of the stream before climbing.

At about 6.2 miles, begin a long gradual descent through a hemlock forest above Minserva Stream. The trail swings east to cross another tributary at 7.3 miles and stays fairly level on a much improved road as it heads south to Byrnes Rd., where you left your ride's endpoint vehicle.

Trail Access

From North: See Lester Dam Trail

From South: Take Hoffman Rd. (County RT 24) from Schroon Lake and continue west to Byrnes Rd, the first right after passing Oliver Pond. Turn north onto Byrnes Rd. and drive 0.6 miles to a wide turnout.

Lester Dam Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 2.6 miles. Beginner to Intermediate

Because there are no big climbs, and a fairly gentle grade, this is a good trail for the adventurous beginner. The trail also serves as the northern access to the Irishtown Snowmobile Trail.

The Cheney Pond Road starts off with a downhill ride. At 0.4 mile take the gated woods road which forks right, marked as a snowmobile trail. This wide grassy trail heads south over gently rolling terrain. Watchout for the occasional rock that may be hidden in the grass.

The trail bends to the west at 0.8 mile, then again to the south as it climbs to a low pass. Now the trail gets a little rougher as it winds up a side hill. Now, it's a long gradual descent to a beaver flow on the right at 2.4 miles. Cross a small stream, climb a small hill and make a sharp left turn and drop down to the Boreas River at an old dam site. If the water level is low, cross the river to an area of open rocks for great views of the High Peaks to the north.

Trail Access

Turn south off Blue Ridge Rd. (County Rt.2) about 1.6 miles west of the bridge over the Boreas River. This dirt road heads downhill to Cheney Pond. There is room for a few cars at the junction, or continue 0.4 mile where a woods road forks to the right. A gate bars motor vehicles beyond this point.

Roosevelt Truck Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 2.0 miles. Intermediate

An old road that has been maintained to a 12 foot width to provide access to DEC programs for people with mobility impairments.

This wide, smooth, moss covered woods road makes for a leisurely mountain bike ride over rolling hills. It extends 2.0 miles between the Roosevelt Truck Trail 28N Trailhead and the Truck Trail Blue Ridge Road Trailhead.

From the north, the trail begins in a spruce plantation. It's a fairly level mountain bike ride for .25 mile followed by a sharp descent to to a tributary of Vanderwhacker Brook, which you cross cross on a wooden bridge. The trail then climbs to higher ground and turns southwest.

After another brook crossing, the trail enters a white pine forest and gradually climbs a broad ridge, passes through a patch of young hardwoods, into another spruce plantation and climbs to the high point of the ride.

Enjoy the long downhill cruise to the gate at the paved road. You will have to climb on the return trip. Starting the trail from the north end is easier, because you got two long climbs if you start from RT 28N.

Trail Access

From North: A gate with stone pillars marks the trail on the south side of Blue Ridge Rd. (County RT. 2) about 4.3 miles east of the junction with RT. 28N.

From South: Turn southeast off RT 28N about 0.3 mile south of the RR crossing. This narrow paved road ends shortly after leaving the highway. Look for a gated woods road on the left just before the turnaround.

Stony Pond Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 1,3 miles. Intermediate

A marked snowmobile trail that follows an old road east over rolling terrain. It extends from the Hewitt Trail at the outlet of Stony Pond and provides access to Little Sherman Pond and Big Sherman Pond.

The ride starts out with a steep climb, ascending 80 feet in the first 0.25 mile before descending to the northeastern shore of Little Sherman Pond. The trail continues as a designated snowmobile trail only beyond the ponds as it crosses private lands.

At around 0.3 mile bear left and take the right fork leading to 29th Pond Trail, a short spur trail off the Stony Pond Trail that leads to the the shore of the pond and a designated tent site.

The route goes up and over a hill, then requires a tricky stream crossing. Descend to a large beaver dam. You are now 1 mile into your ride. Dismount and cross the stream. There's a 0.4 mile ascent before the trail levels off. Heres's the fun part. A muddy, technical section with slick logs parallel to your direction of travel. Then the trail descends to a wet grassy area with sections of corduroy (logs, 6 to 10-inch in diameter, placed side by side across the trail). After a moderate climb up along the south side of the Stony Pond outlet, there's one more hill before arriving at the newly constructed lean-to located near the shore of Stony Pond. It's a lovely spot for a break before heading back or continuing your ride on the Sherman Ponds Trail.

Trail Access

Located along State Route 28N. (43.8329°N, 74.0158°W). There's a pull-off on the east side of RT. 28N.

Sherman Pond Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 3.9 miles. miles. Advanced

The trail starts at the Stony Pond lean-to and heads south to a detour around a marshy area beneath a rock cliff. Ascend to higher ground while following the west shore of Stony Pond. The trail climbs up over the ridge at te southern tip of the Pond and descends down to Sherman Pond at 0.5 mile.

A new section of the trail requires a tough climb up and over the pond's west shore. Now comes the fun part. The 1.3 mile section to the outlet of Big Sherman Pond is on narrow, technical singletrack with short steep descents, rocks and roots. Advanced skills are necessary.

A short climb from Falls Brook leads to an intersection with an old road. Turn right here and follow the snowmobile trail heading southeast. There's a gradual climb before a downhill at 1.7 miles.

At 1.9 miles you'll arrive at a junction. Ride past it. The next two long descents are interrupted by a bench located on the south side of two small wetlands. At 3.4 miles you arrive at the State Land Boundary. From there, the route parallels Falls Brook, crosses the brook over a bridge at 3.7 miles, then drops back down to the trailhead.

Trail Access

From the north, see Stony Pond trail.

From the south: Just south of Minerva turn northeast on County Rt.37 from RT. 28N. Follow Long Hill Rd. just over 2 miles. Continue north (straight) another 0.3 mile, where County RT. 37 turns east toward Irishtown. A DEC sign marks the trail with a cable gate on the west side of the road.

Vanderwhacker Tower Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 2.5 miles. Intermediate, Advanced. Red Disc blaze.

The Vanderwhacker Tower Trail originated as an old jeep trail. It climbs 1,650 feet from the Tower Trailhead to the summit of Vanderwhacker Mountain at 3,386 feet. The Vanderwhacker Fire Tower at the top is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is a popular hiking trail. Technically, the trail is rideable up to the Observer's Cabin. It's a lung and leg burning 1, 200 ft climb in 1.3 miles. While the last stretch up to the cabin is steep and rocky, a series of switchbacks up to the cabin makes it doable via a mountain bike. The beginning stretch of the trail is a lot less less challenging.

The ride starts off with a gradual climb, then levels off and parallels a brook. At about 0 .3 mile the trail crosses the brook over a log bridge and climbs to a wetland area that is the result of busy beaver activity. The trail skirts along the edge of the area on a Stringer Bridge, crosses the brook again and follows the northern edge of another beaver flow.

The trail ascends gradually now, becoming more rocky and challenging. A final steep ascent via a series of switchbacks brings you to the Observer's Cabin clearing. We suggest that you continue on foot from here to the summit and the Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower or head back down.

A practical thought. Where do you leave your bike? A bike rack would be nice to lock your bike to.

Views from the base of the tower are generally obstructed by a thick forest of tall fir and birch trees. A climb up the tower to the cab is neccessary to get the 360 degree panoramic views of the High Adirondack Peaks to the north, the Boreas River valley to the east. No matter in which direction you look, classic Adirondackscapes stretch out before your eyes for miles.

Ride Tip

The Gore Mountain Ski Area nearby offers world class, challenging Downhill and XC mountain biking in the summer months. There's also a Gondola to take you up so you get all the fun of downhill without the climb. See Things To Do below.


Trail Access

Located along the Moose Pond Road off State Route 28N. (43.8794°N, 74.0592°W)

Turn west onto Moose Pond Club Rd. from Rt.28N. This is a dirt road near the bridge that crosses the Boreas River. The first hill is a little rough, but there is room to park at its base if your vehicle has low clearance. Others can follow this road 2.6 miles to the trailhead parking on the right.


Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Preserve Trail Connections

The Vanderwhacker Wild Forest trail system contains a mix of trails marked for both snowmobile and hiking. The 28N State Highway corridor is the access point for many of the popular Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Trails; Stony Pond, Hewitt Pond, Rankin Pond, Vanderwhacker Mountain, and the trails along the Boreas River.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest - Camp Santanoni / Lake Harris Campground Connector Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 1.5 miles

A new class II community connector snowmobile trail is being built to connect Newcomb with Minerva. One stretch of this trail about 1 mile in length connects the Camp Santanoni Gatehouse with the Harris Lake Campground through part of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

Trail Highlights and Nearby Points of Interest

Many birds (common loon, peregrine falcon) and mammals (moose, black bear) are unique to the Adirondacks or are mainly found here. Over 50 species of mammals and hundreds of species of birds inhabit or pass through the Adirondacks at one time of the year or another.

Wildlife Watch & Photography

Work in progress. We are just so anxious to get current stuff up.

Scenic Viewpoints & Fire Towers

Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower

Circa 1918. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 35-foot tall Vanderwhacker Mountain Fire Tower, a steel Aeromotor LS40 tower, was constructed to replace a wooden one constructed in 1911. The fire tower was manned until 1971.

With help from the Friends of Vanderwhacker and Student Conservation Association, the tower was restored in 2003-2004 and opened to the public.

Things To Do

County Fairs, Festivals, Special Events

Black Fly Annual Mountain Bike Race

Usually takes place the second weekend in June. It's a 40 mile course that traverses the rugged Moose River Recreation Area on mountain roads composed of dirt, gravel, sand and exposed boulders with several steep elevation changes.

Website: Black Fly MTB Challenge

Idadride Annual Road Bike Tour

The annual IDARIDE at the end of July, travels all on road, with wide shoulders for much of the route. You'll bike through mostly Adirondack Forest Preserve land, alongside beautiful lakes and through the towns and hamlets of Bakers Mills, Wells, Speculator, Sabael, Indian Lake, North River, before closing the loop ride at North Creek.

Video: Idadride 2016

Downhill & XC Ski / MTB Resorts

Gore Mountain Ski Center

The Gore Mountain Ski Center is managed by the Oympic Regioanl Development Authority. Gore Mountain is open for challenging downhill and XC mountain biking during the summer ,onths. The Northwoods Gondola, descends 1700 feet vertical.  Single track and open ski trails.  Helmets are required, as well as a completed assumption of risk agreement.

Gore Mountain also offers Downhill Mountain Biking Camps.

Trail Access

793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853,

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 43.682495 | Long: -73.991693

Wild, Scenic Recreational Water Trails

Hudson River Gorge Wilderness & the Polaris Mountain Wilderness Area

The Hudson River Gorge is known for it's steep cliffs, world class Class III and IV+ whitewater along the 12 miles from Newcomb to the Indian River. It's one of the most spectacular stretches of the Hudson River. There are a number of pourovers as well as holes and waves, unique Blue Ledges and waterfalls.

Several hiking trails lead to unique natural features and ponds.

Trail Access

Located north of State Route 28 between the hamlets of Indian Lake and North River, near the center of the Adirondack Park.

The NYS DEC Unit has a Unit Management Plan for the area is in the works.

Hudson River Access Trail: extends 0.7 mile from the OK Slip Falls Trail (turn is just before the overlook) descending more than 300 feet to the confluence of OK Slip Brook and the Hudson River.

Outer Gooley Take-out Trail: extends 0.1 mile from the Outer Gooley Parking Area at the end of the Chain Lakes Road South to the edge of the river .

Polaris (aka Iron) Bridge: located in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex. The hand launch is downstream of the bridge and is reached via a 0.3-mile carry from the Polaris Bridge Parking Area located along Drakes Mill Road off the Chain Lakes Road North.


Historical Notes

Work in progress.



State Route 28N between Newcomb and Minerva runs generally north-south and divides the
Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest in half. It is the major road providing access to the unit

Exit 26 off I-87 (Northway) at Pottersville. Take Olmstedville Rd. (County Rt.29) west to intersection with NY Rt.28N. Turn right heading northwest to Minerva. See trail sections above for directions to specific trailheads.

More Information

NYS DEC Region 5

Warrensburg Office
232 Golf Course Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885

Phone: 518-623-1200


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