Essex Chain Lakes - Map

Essex Chain Lakes – A Paddling Paridise

Located in the center of the Adirondack Park lie a dozen pristine backcountry lakes. The Essex Chain Lakes were recently purchased by NYS and opened to the public in fall 2013. The primary attraction are the six interconnected lakes (2nd-7th) that make a great day paddle or overnight trip.

Getting There: The Path to the Remote Lake

Remote lakes are not located off main highways, otherwise they would not be remote. Accessing the Essex Chain Lakes begins by driving into the heart of the Adirondacks, Newcomb. From Newcomb you travel south along local roads for approximately 4.5 miles before turning right on Goodnow Flow Road. From here it another six miles, on ever narrowing and dirt roads. A high clearance vehicle is helpful, but a car can make it if taken slowly and not overly loaded down.

Essex Chain Lakes - Map
Map of Essex Chain Lakes – Download PDF

Once at the Deer Pond Parking Area, Deer Pond is only 0.25 miles away. For most though, this is not the goal. Because there exists a three main options to reach the main lakes.

  • Option 1: Carry to Deer Pond (0.25 miles), paddle across Deer Pond (a few hundred feet), then carry to Third Lake (0.5 miles).
  • Option 2: Using the road that goes around Deer Pond, Carry from the parking lot around Deer Pond’s east side and into Third Lake. 1 Mile
  • Option 3: Carry along the road from the parking lot to where the road bisects Fifth and Sixth Lakes at the Culvert. 1.5 Miles

If your goal is to reach third lake and you have wheels, detouring around Deer Pond (option 2) is probably the best option. The path down to Deer Pond from the road and up from Deer Pond to the road on the other side are not overly wheel friendly. If you are carrying your boat and more nimble, it may be worthwhile to take the shorter route through Deer Pond.

Lakefront and Roadside Campsites

There are numerous campsites located along the road into the Deer Pond Parking Area and along the lakes. Under the interim management plan, you must reserve lake-side campsites through the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb. Permits are free, and can be reserved up to 10 days in advance by calling 518-582-2000 or emailing [email protected]. You must pickup your permit during normal hours or arrange after-hours pickup via phone. As of late summer 2016 permits are no longer needed. Campsites are on a first-come first-serve basis like most campsites throughout the Adirondacks. 

Most campsites are new and have an outhouse. No campfires are allowed within 500 feet of the lakes, including at campsites.

Essex Chain Lakes Gooley Club
Gooley Club located in the southern bay of Third Lake.

Gooley Club

Located in the southern bay on Third Lake is the Gooley Club. Founded over sixty years ago, the sportsman club has exclusively fished the Essex Chain Lakes and hunted the surrounding woods. Like other sportsman clubs located on land bought by New York, their camps and exclusive use are non-conforming to public use. Therefore all buildings will be removed when their existing license expires in 2018.

Until then, the club enjoys exclusive use of their camps and immediately surrounding property. They also enjoy certain rights, such as the ability to drive on the backcountry roads, and operate motorboats on certain lakes.

2 thoughts on “Essex Chain Lakes – A Paddling Paridise”

  1. Fished in chain lakes 2,3 and 6 in the 1950’s with my neighbor who was a member of the Gooley club. Caretakers provided breakfast and dinner plus a bag lunch for club guests who slept in small two-person cottages. Trout fishing for lakers, rainbow and bookies was great. Will forever remember the joy spent at Gooley.

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