Hiking the Northville/Lake Placid Trail – Wakely Dam to Lake Durant Campground

Another weekend down, another hike completed!

Friday after work my friend Meredith and her boyfriend John and I drove north to do some backpacking! We all had been wanting to check out the Northville – Lake Placid Trail, a 133 mile long foot path through the Adirondacks from Northville to Lake Placid.

We chose to do a short section of the trail that began at Wakely Dam that also had a camping area nearby, so we could pull our car right up the site. This wasn’t your normal campground–meaning it was primitive–no running water or electric. There were picnic tables and outhouses though, which I thought was a nice step up for someone like me, new to backpacking and backcountry camping. I’m taking baby steps!


My new little Kelty tent. It kept me warm when the temps dropped below 40 on Friday night!

We got our camp set up at about 8:30 PM Friday night. The sun went down at around 9. There were a few other people at the camping area, so I didn’t get too freaked out about camping such a remote area. We went to bed around 10:30, we had a long day of hiking a head of us.

I didn’t sleep that great that night due to so much rustling in the woods At one point I woke up to a heavy breathing animal wandering by my tent at ground level. Lord knows what it was–we dubbed it The Beast.

Once the sun came up, I actually slept a few more hours, much better than at night which was kind of funny.

We got up, had breakfast and packed away all of our gear all while be being attacked by swarms of gnats. They were SO BAD near this area, so we checked out Wakely Dam and the Cedar River Flow briefly before we left, a short walk over from our site.



Wakely Pond–a moose would have made this picture even better!

Our plan for the day’s hike was to walk the portion of the NPT to the Stephens Pond lean-to and camp there for the night, which was about a 9 mile hike from where we were.

The first few miles were on an old logging road, and then eventually the trail went left and into the woods.


The trail was marked pretty well, with the blue NPT trail markers.


However, the trail itself wasn’t very worn down and it didn’t look like anyone had hiked here in a while! There were a few sets of foot prints that we followed the entire way, so that was a bit more comforting. We didn’t see another soul on the trail the entire day!





Honestly the hike was uneventful and there wasn’t much to look at.  There weren’t many good stopping points so we hiked on through continuously without stopping much. We did encounter a deer, some birds, and lots of toads on the trail! We also spotted some droppings which were so big we figured it was from a bear. It was also fresh and kind freaked us out. A bear was there, probably watching us!

About six miles into the hike, John twisted his ankle! It was a big bummer, but he managed to keep on hiking! We hiked to the lean-to, which was our original camping destination. After evaluating, we decided to hike the remaining three miles to the campground, and to Route 28 where my car was parked.



Resting and having a snack at the lean to. I was expecting a view of the lake at this spot, but there was none. I think a trail lead down to the lake across from the lean to but I was too tired to explore much.

Then onward we went to the campground. The last few miles the trail widened, and we could hear boats on the Lake. It was nice!




Finally, something to see! We signed out of the register and walked over to the campground’s beach. This would have been a nice place to camp, there was a tent site right on the lake. But we decided to head on home. I wasn’t opposed–I was imagining another night with The Beast roaming near my tent!



A long 12 mile hike with a heavy pack, but it was fun. Although I don’t think I would ever try thru-hiking this trail.

Northville – Lake Placid Trail

Wakely Dam to Durant Lake Campground

12 miles

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  1. Awesome! A long day with a full pack but it’s good training, right? 🙂

    I really want to do the full trail as a through hike, it’s high on my list of Adirondack adventures.

    1. Thanks Jona! Maybe we just had a boring section of trail…but I do still want to check out some other sections so maybe I’ll do it in parts.

  2. Jen, there are lots of ways to thru-hike the NPTrail. Some do it in a week to ten days. Some section-hike the whole trail over several long weekends. I took 18 days and found it to be an awesome adventure. Check out the NPTrail Facebook page, http://www.nptrail.org and the NPTrail Chapter of ADK.

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t do it alone either- it’d be so lonely! and i’m terrified of wild animals when I’m with people, let alone by myself..

  3. Too bad you did not go down to see Stephen’s Pond. It’s a sweet place. Give the NPT another chance. It’s a wonderful trail right in our backyard. You need to love the solitude of the wilderness, something rare to find, to fully enjoy it.

    1. Yes, I wish I had! Since doing this hike two years ago I’ve heard that we picked a less-exciting section to hike, so I’m definitely going to try hiking another part of it sometime! I’m also planning on hiking the cranberry 50 this summer!

  4. Grew up in Galway, NY (Saratoga County) and have lived in California since finishing college….almost 25 years. Camped extensively as a boy and teenager in the Adirondack Park (1980’s). I lead a Boy Scout Troop here in California, and finally I am returning to my beloved Adirondacks to thru-hike the Northville-Placid trail in June of this year (2017). Your pictures and description of this section of the trail were helpful. Thank you!

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