The Siamese Ponds Wilderness is in many ways the archetypal Adirondack region, featuring a little bit of everything that the Adirondack Park as a whole has to offer: open summits, enchanting waterways, winding rivers, and broad valleys. It also harbors some of the best Adirondack hiking around, with trails for all skill levels.
The Siamese Ponds Wilderness is the headwaters of two protected rivers: the Kunjamuk and the East Branch Sacandaga. The Kunjamuk is a remote place, located far from the main highways. The upper part of the river is as wild as they come—its source, South Pond, is a place that few people have visited.
By contrast, the East Branch Sacandaga is a gregarious stream located where everyone can enjoy its pools and rapids. The parts that are not close to NY 8 are followed by one of the most enjoyable hiking trails anywhere.
The wilderness contains dozens of ponds besides the namesake Siamese Ponds. Among the most distinctive are Puffer, Peaked Mountain, Hour, Second, the Buckhorns, and Long. Many are accessible from the area's extensive trail system, and several feature scenic lean-tos. Many more await discovery deep in the forest. All of them are places to swim, fish, and fall asleep to the sound of loons.
Deep fault valleys lead away from the East Branch and into the backcountry. They harbor populations of moose and deep, rich forests. Sportsmen have been maintaining informal, unmarked trails here for generations.
If you are looking for an unusual, truly wild adventure, put on your water shoes and ford the East Branch to access one of these outstanding areas.
Between the valleys and the ponds rise many mountains, some still bearing the effects of century-old forest fires. As you climb these peaks, you will frequently come across open ledges with superior views. Some of the best are found on Black Mountain, Eleventh Mountain, Puffer Mountain, and the Shanty Brook and Long Pond cliffs. Trails lead to the summits of Peaked Mountain, Balm of Gilead Mountain, and Chimney Mountain. The unique natural history of Chimney means that there is also much more to explore on that summit besides its vistas.
Although the Siamese Ponds Wilderness is today once again a wild and natural place, it was not always so. For a brief time people attempted to harvest its resources and even settle and farm here. Throughout the region you will find a variety of historical sites: tannery foundations, garnet mine pits, logging camps, stone dams, farm clearings, grave sites, and lavish camps. Few other places have such a rich human history, and few places demonstrate so vividly the way natural influences trump man's ambitions in a truly wild place.
This edition of Discover the South Central Adirondacks features updated trail information, dozens of photographs, many new route descriptions, suggestions for extended backpacking trips, and newly redesigned trail maps—making this the definitive guide to the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.