The Cranberry Lake 50 is a remote hiking route that connects more than ten distinct trails in it's 50 mile complete circumnavigation of Cranberry Lake. Along the way, the route skirts the shores of numerous remote ponds, follows the course of the winding Oswegatchie River, and travels through nearly 40 miles of unbroken wilderness between the quiet lakeside villages of Cranberry Lake and Wanakena.
While the CL50 has been completed in as few as 12 hours by endurance runners, most people take between three and five days to backpack the loop. Primitive campsites and lean-tos abound on the CL50 route, with even more within a short distance down connecting side trails. As with any wilderness adventure, visitors are expected to pack out all waste. Pit privies are available at the more popular campsites.
For those seeking a single day hike, many sections of the CL50 may be easily completed within a day.
For detailed trail descriptions, a free printable map, and more information about the Cranberry Lake region, please visit the official website of the Cranberry Lake 50.
Print maps and guide books are also available for purchase and are highly recommended for hikers looking to complete the CL50.
The Cranberry Lake 50 passes through the Five Ponds Wilderness and Cranberry Lake Wild Forest, a combined 173,149-acre collection of remote public forest managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Cranberry Lake 50 is maintained and promoted by Five Ponds Partners, a sub-committee of the Cliton-Fine Economic Development Corporation. The trails that make up the CL50 are on lands owned and maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
For more information and detailed trail descriptions, please visit the official website of the Cranberry Lake 50.
Access to the Cranberry Lake 50 is primarily from the hamlet of Wanakena (Town of Fine) or The hamlet of Cranberry Lake (Town of Clifton). The CL50 continues as a road-walk through each of the towns, and reenters the forest on either end of each town section. GPS coordinates for each of the four primary CL50 Trailheads are below:
Cranberry Lake NY Route 3 Trailhead: 44.221538, -74.820421
Cranberry Lake Columbian Road Trailhead: 44.219452, -74.847525
Wanakena Ranger School Trailhead: 44.148408, -74.899870
Wanakena High Falls Loop Trailhead: 44.131174, -74.922782
The NYS-DEC has seen in increase in requests for assistance or rescue from CL50 hikers. In many cases, those requesting assistance are not properly prepared for a 50-mile hike. The DEC urges people not to underestimate the difficulty of this experience. It's a rewarding hike to complete, yes, but it's a long, challenging hike. To stay safe and enjoy yourself, both the DEC and FPP ask that you consider this advice:
1) Plan ahead. For more info about the CL50 hike, visit the DEC Cranberry Complex website, the Cranberry 50 website and DEC's 'How to prepare for your hike' page.
2) Know what to do if you get lost. Learn more.
3) Be prepared for 3-4 days on the trail and primitive camping along the way.
4) Be realistic about your fitness and skill levels. Practice hiking and diving before you dive in.
5) Do not overestimate your abilities or underestimate mother nature. Allow plenty of time for your hike, and turn back if the weather gets bad.
6) Leave your specific plans with a trusted friend or family member before you go, including which direction you intend to hike the loop, clockwise or counter-clockwise.
7) Be respectful. The trail crosses both private and public lands. Stick to the trail and DESIGNATED camp sites.
8) Leave all markers in place, as others are relying on them for wayfinding (note: souvenir stickers that look like trail markers can be purchased at local stores).
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