The Oswegatchie Wilderness is a composite of four legally protected areas: the Five Ponds Wilderness, Pepperbox Wilderness, Round Lake Wilderness, and the William C. Whitney Wilderness. Together they represent one of the largest tracts of motorless backcountry east of the Mississippi River—a place of adventure, rugged terrain, and natural beauty.
The Oswegatchie Wilderness is a work-in-progress. A generation ago, the Forest Preserve holdings in this region were fractured and incomplete.
But a series of sweeping public land purchases has opened thousands of acres of forest and water: Lows Lake, Lake Lila, Little Tupper, Round Lake, Watson's East Triangle, and the South Branch Grass River. The northwestern Adirondack region has gone from being a backwater district to one of the Adirondack Park's premier destinations—and several new purchases are still being negotiated!
The northwestern region is a place of winding rivers, sandy-beached lakes, old growth forests, and glacial ridges. Miles of flat-water paddling routes worm their way into the backcountry, often leading to interior trails that allow you to stretch your legs after a long day on the water. An elaborate network of hiking trails—accessible from numerous trailheads—makes it easy to plan adventures for a day, a weekend, or a week.
The Oswegatchie River leads into the heart of the Five Ponds Wilderness. From its meandering curves it is possible to range out on foot to the Five Ponds and Cat Mountain. The region north of Stillwater Reservoir is a lake-studded forest, featuring the Wilderness Lakes canoe carry and the Red Horse Trail. The Cranberry Lake 50 Miler is a new long-distance hiking trail pieced together by local citizens. Lake Lila, with its islands and sand beaches, remains one of the most popular paddling destinations in the Adirondacks. Little Tupper Lake and Round Lake offer chances to paddle “big water” without the intrusions of motorboats.
In addition, this guidebook also describes several nearby tracts with outstanding qualities of their own. The South Branch Grass River offers a series of short hikes to spectacular waterfalls. The Jordan River, part of the proposed Boreal Wilderness, is one of the Adirondacks' least-visited streams.
Wolf Lake State Forest, lying outside the Adirondack Park in northern St. Lawrence County, features lakes, lean-tos, and Canadian Shield topography.
The trails and waterways of the northwestern Adirondacks lie within easy reach of Long Lake, Tupper Lake, Cranberry Lake, Wanakena, Star Lake, Croghan, and Stillwater.
A new edition of Discover the Northwestern Adirondacks was released in 2007. It features updated trail information, dozens of new photographs, many new route descriptions, suggestions for extended backpacking trips, and newly redesigned trail maps—making this the definitive guide to the northwestern Adirondacks.