The Beginners Guide to Pharaoh Lake Wilderness

 By Shaun Kittle 

Senior Content Developer, ROOST



The Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area is a gorgeous, 46,283-acre region that’s chock full of trails, lakes, mountains, and wildlife. It can be accessed from 11 parking areas, so there are lots of options available. That’s great for people who like to explore, but it can make it difficult for first-time visitors to decide where to go. Read on for three of our favorite Pharaoh Lake adventures!

This is a relatively easy 1.7-mile hike to a lovely pond, and there’s plenty to see along the way. The first part of the path is actually a dirt road, and while some people do try to drive it this is not recommended because the road is not maintained. That’s OK though, because the views of the ravine and waterfalls on Alder Creek are worth walking for.

The first 1.2 miles rises about 160 feet. Shortly after that it levels off and skirts Alder Pond. Take a right at the three-way intersection and Crane Pond will appear in a few minutes. If you’re the camping type, explore the shore to find several designated campsites.


Crane Pond parking area: Follow Route 9 north from downtown Schroon Lake and turn right on Alder Meadow Road. After about 2 miles continue straight onto Crane Pond Road and follow that for 1.4 miles to the end.

There are two pharaohs in this wilderness area — Pharaoh Lake and Pharaoh Mountain. We’ll get to the lake in a minute, but first let’s talk about the mountain. At 2,556 feet in elevation Pharaoh is certainly not the biggest or the hardest hike in the Adirondacks, but the view from its mostly open summit is phenomenal.

Like any destination in this area, there are several directions this peak can be approached from. A favorite is to set up camp at Crane Pond, then ascend 1,405 feet over 2.6 miles from there. Alternately, the mountain can be approached from the south via the Pharaoh Lake trail. It’s more than 4 miles to the Pharaoh Mountain trail, and from there it’s a 1,355 foot elevation gain in 1.2 miles to the top, but there are lots of campsites around the lake to choose from so you don't have to worry about rushing back to beat the setting sun.

Crane Pond Parking Area: See directions above.

Pharaoh Lake Road parking area: From downtown Schroon Lake, follow Route 9 north, turn right on Alder Meadow Road, then take another right on Adirondack Road. Follow that for about 8.5 miles and turn left on Johnson Road, which is also County Route 15. Follow that for a little over 2 miles, then take a slight left on Beaver Pond Road and follow that for about 3 miles to Pharaoh Road. Turn left and follow that for about a half mile to the parking area.

Not only is this 441-acre water body an excellent place to camp, it’s also the centerpiece of a fantastic 6-mile loop. Follow the Pharaoh Lake trail for 3.3 miles to the outlet for the lake, then pick a direction and have fun exploring the shore. There are 14 designated campsites, some of which are on little peninsulas, that make great way points for the journey. Go on a clear night — there’s nothing like seeing the Milky Way over the water.

See directions for the Pharaoh Lake Road parking area above.

Fort Ti's Kings Garden Cafe


From Garden to Table Starting in May!

Vegetables and edible flowers grown in the King’s Garden are served daily at Fort Ticonderoga’s America’s Fort Café.  King’s Garden vegetables are also included in the Soldier’s Dinner program presented each mid-day by interpretive staff.

About the King’s Garden

The walled colonial revival King’s Garden was originally designed in 1921 by leading landscape architect Marian Coffin.  The formal elements – a reflecting pool, manicured lawn and hedges, and brick walls and walkways – are softened by a profusion of annuals and perennials, carefully arranged by color and form.  Heirloom flowers and modern cultivars are used to recreate the historic planting scheme. Guest’s favorites include the lavender border, towering hollyhocks, bearded irises, dinner plate dahlias and many types of phlox.

Outside of the nine-foot brick walls of the Colonial Revival King’s Garden, the Discovery Gardens include a children’s garden, an interactive 18th-century American Garrison Garden, and Three Sisters Garden. The restored Lord and Burnham greenhouse, charming gazebo, sweeping lawns and shady picnic spots invite visitors to explore the landscape at one of America’s oldest gardens dating to the French occupation of the Fort in the mid-18th century.

More from Fort Ti:

Located on Lake Champlain in the beautiful 6 million acre Adirondack Park, Fort Ticonderoga is an independent not-for-profit educational organization, historic site, and museum that ensures that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history. Serving the public since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga engages 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort Ticonderoga’s history.  Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year and is open for daily visitation May 10 through November 2, 2014. The 2014 season features the Fort’s newest exhibit Founding Fashion: The Diversity of Regularity in 18th-Century Military Clothing which brings together for the first time the museum's wide variety of important 18th-century clothing, related artwork, and archeological fragments to illustrate the diversity of clothing worn by the armies who served at Fort Ticonderoga during the French & Indian War and Revolution. Visit for a full list of ongoing programs or call 518-585-2821.


Getting to Know The Adirondacks: Your 2017 Guide

 Photo Courtesy Adirondack Regional Tourism Council

Photo Courtesy Adirondack Regional Tourism Council

One of the best ways to explore the Adirondacks is by hiking. You’ll be taken to a wide variety of small towns and hamlets, as you make your way to your trailhead. One of the best resources is courtesy of the  Adirondack Regional Tourism Council  -- and their extensive website --  with numerous hiking options with descriptions of many less-traveled trails.

Need a place to stay and ideas for more adventures?  Check out this list of nearby accommodations and attractions to help you start planning your Adirondack hiking adventure. Additional Adirondack trail information can always be found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Adirondack Trail Information page.

Adirondack Hiking: Your Spring and Summer Guide

We are big fans and supporters of The Adirondack Mountain Club and their conservation, recreation and education programs. And this year they have an amazing jammed packed calendar. We are particularly impressed by their huge selection of guided hikes, which you can access by clicking here.

This year there’s a series of hikes and overnight experiences, including High Peaks Day Hikes,  Women's Day Hikes, and Backpacking Trips, Teen and Young Adult Programs and Custom Guided Hikes.

There is something for everybody. And if you are intimidated by what’s out there in the High Peaks, taking a hike with an expert is highly recommended. Coming up in June (17 - 19) is their Beginner Backpacking Course. From the Mountain Club:

Enjoy learning the tips and tricks of backpacking and low-impact camping with a NYS Licensed Guide. Three days and two nights will be spent in the High Peaks Wilderness covering topics such as proper gear, food planning and preparation, safety considerations, map reading, camp set-up, low-impact techniques, water treatment, waste management and stove use. Location: Heart Lake Program Center/Field Cost: $199 (Members receive 10% discount); includes instruction, meals, and use of group gear.

So get cracking.