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Section 2:
West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam

(16.2 miles)

West Canada Lake has long been noted for its wilderness. Though the section of trail from West Canada Lakes to Cedar River has been lumbered, time has left little evidence of the lumbering operations except tote roads. The trail is easy to follow and is very runnable in most parts. The grades are similar to those on the previous section of the trail and the area around Cedar Lakes is wild and attractive. This should be a most enjoyable section to run, that is if you hadn’t just run the previous section.

Distance Log

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam (South to North)




Former caretaker clearing, West Lake


Side trail leads 0.5 mi. to Third Cedar Lake lean-to.


Beaver Pond outlet (lean-to)


Trail to Lost Pond (side trip A)


First Cedar Lake lean-to


Cedar Lakes dam; access route to Perkins Clearing (side trip B)


Sucker Brook access route


Trail R leads 0.1 mi. to Carry lean-to.


Jct. with Moose River Recreation Area road; turn R.


Wakely Dam; Cedar River Ranger Station

Trail Guide

WARNING:  The following trail guide was adapted from the ADK NPT Guidebook and contains much more data than is actually needed to traverse the course.  And as the guide books warn, conditions of the trail change from season to season.  Some of those changes have been incorporated herein along with tips runners have submitted over the years.  If you're looking for the short story, just follow the blue markers.  There are long stretches in this section that may not have blue markers.  Always ensure that whenever you pass an intersection with another trail you look for a blue marker so when the markers become scarce you can be confident you're still on course.

NAVIGATION WARNING:  At the Caretakers Clearing at West Lake (16.4 mi.), you'll find a DEC Trail Register and a the DEC Sign post pictured above.  The trail turns sharply R here and heads E.  Do not go straight - that's the RED Trail heading west towards the 2nd  lean-to on West Lake.

A body of water is traversed on corduroy and a bridge crossed at 16.8 mi. Planking has been placed on the old original logging road bridge. Beaver activity has deepened the water, so this 75-yd. section could be quite an interesting run. At 16.9 mi., the trail swings NE along the shore of Mud Lake. leaving the shoreline at 17.2 mi. and heading E. A bridge crosses Mud Creek at 18.4 mi. The trail enters a more forested area at about 18.6 mi. and reaches a steep pitch at 18.9 mi. Thereafter, it continues to climb on an easy grade until another pitch takes you to a height of land at 19.2 mi.

Descending, you pass a small vlei on the L at 19.4 mi. Soon you see an unmarked trail to your R that leads to the shore of Kings Pond. Kings Pond is soon visible on the R, and its outlet is crossed. Paralleling the pond for a short distance, the trail makes a steady climb to the NE through a col.

NAVIGATION WARNING: As the trail drops to a lower elevation on the other side of the col, a trail jct. is reached at 20.1 mi. The logical choice at this unmarked junction might be to take the well-developed trail straight ahead. But this is a side trail that leads E, 0.5 mi. to a Lean-to on the shore of Third Cedar Lake. Eventually, you may see it is marked with yellow markers, but not until you've run a ways on this wet trail. The lean-to is somewhat isolated from general hiking traffic and is quite picturesque. A small stream 55 yds. before the lean-to provides water. Elevation of Third Cedar Lake is 2442 ft.

The Northville Placid Trail turns sharply to the L at this trail jct., drops down a slight grade, and crosses a brook on log walkways. At 20.2 mi.. Third Cedar Lake is briefly seen. At 20.3 mi.. two side trails lead to the R a short distance, where a tenting site is found. Heading away from the lake, the trail swings to the NW at 20.9 mi. and begins the long moderate grade up Cobble Hill. The route eventually veers to the NE towards the top of the grade. Height of land is reached at 21.4 mi., the trail having gained about 200 ft. elevation since the former caretaker clearing on West Lake.

The trail levels for awhile before starting down an easy grade to the NE at 21.6 mi. As you descend, you can see Beaver Pond below you to the L and First Cedar Lake on the R at 21.9 mi. An unmarked trail L at 22.1 mi. leads some 300 yds. to a cool spring of water. Near the bottom of the grade at 22.2 mi. there is an unmarked jct. that can easily be missed. A side trail R climbs a small bank and leads a short distance to the First Cedar Lake Lean-to. Situated above the water on a knoll, this is a very nice location.

The Northville Placid Trail continues from the jct., widening to an open tote road where a bridge crosses the outlet of Beaver Pond. The water is quite deep here. Swinging E and then SE, the trail climbs over a low shoulder of land. Briefly, First Cedar Lake can be seen through the trees to the R. At 22.4 mi., a jct. is reached. A rough trail, often interrupted by beaver activity, leads L some 10.0 mi. to Otter Brook bridge. Lost Pond is about 2.2 mi. along this trail.

The Northville Placid Trail continues with gradual descents to the First Cedar Lake lean-to at 22.9 mi. There was once an interior caretaker’s station at this site. However, because it did not conform to the State Land Master Plan definition of Wilderness, it was removed by burning in 1977.

An open campsite is found at 23 mi., where a side trail leads R a short distance to the water. A lean-to was located here until 1985. From the channel, the view opens up towards the lake.

Downstream, at 23.1 mi., a dam is found at the outlet of the Cedar Lakes. There is a trail register and trail jct, here. Though the dam is structurally sound, the walking area on top of the dam washed out a years ago. Cedar River is now crossed on a bridge built in 1994, approximately 50 yds. downstream from the dam. From the trail register, the Northville Placid Trail continues straight ahead to the NE. From under a birch tree, a spring comes out of a bank on the L at 23.2 mi. Forty yds. farther on, an unmarked path leads down to the river on the R.

At 23.3 mi., signs indicate the trail makes a sharp turn L. Tree limbs block the more obvious route, which is no longer used. The new route is almost level for a short distance. Then it begins an enjoyable gentle descent to a stream crossing. After the crossing, rolling terrain with steep little grades is quickly passed. Then the downgrade resumes. At 25 mi. the abutments of the old bridge for the old trail are seen on each side of the Cedar River. You now rejoin the older section of the trail and follow the river for a ways to Lamphere Ridge.

Crossing a small brook, the trail now leads away from Cedar River. A gradual grade soon steepens, finally pitching upwards at 25.9 mi. In the next 0.1 mi., 200 ft. of elevation are gained. High cliffs are seen across the opening to the L through the trees.

A welcome level stretch eventually descends gradually to a trail jct. at 27.1 mi. Here, a red-marked DEC trail enters from the R. This Is the Sucker Brook Trail, which leads eastward 7.9 mi. to Lewey Lake Public Campground on NY 30. Colvin Brook Lean-to is located 1.0 mi. from the jct. along this trail.

Proceeding straight ahead to the N, the Northville Placid Trail continues the descent of the N end of Lamphere Ridge on a grassy tote road. A bridged brook is crossed at 27.5 mi. An unmarked jct. with a trail R is reached at 28.3 mi. It leads 0.1 mi. to the Cedar River lean-to, which is in an old lumber clearing on a bank above the river. This is sometimes referred to as the Carry Lean-to, since it is possible to paddle to this point up the Cedar River from the Cedar River Flow. The river is the only water source, but the lean-to is in good condition.

Another jct. is reached 100 ft. farther along the Northville Placid Trail. It also leads to the Carry Lean-to, but avoid the other road to the R, which drops down a grade to the river. The Northville Placid Trail bears L at this point, staying on level ground. An outlet of a vlei is crossed by bridge at 28.6 mi. The route now turns N and comes to the property line of the Little Moose Lake Club at 29 mi. 

Continuing N, the Northville Placid Trail soon joins a grassy dirt road, which merges from the L.   THIS NEXT STRETCH SEEMS TO LAST FOREVER!  Ignore the trail signs and maps during this section that may mislead you into thinking you've got a short jog on a country road. Everyone seems to agree that this bit of grassy road never ends.

At 29.2 mi., another road enters from the L. Now heading NE, you pass Wilson Brook on a bridge at 29.3 mi. Still on the dirt road, the trail comes close to Cedar River Flow at a cove (elevation 2100 ft.) at the 30.1 mi. mark.

Climbing over a low shoulder of Sturge Hills, the trail continues to follow the dirt road and swings W to NW, away from Cedar River Flow, at 30.4 mi. Height of land is reached at 31.1 mi. On the descent, Payne Brook (at this point, spelled "pain") is crossed at 31.6 mi. and a road jct. is reached at 31.8 mi. A cable barrier prevents vehicles from using the Northville Placid Trail. There is a trail register on your right here.

Beyond the barrier, the trail joins another dirt road - unlike the previous road you just came off, this one is well established and gets a little seasonal vehicular traffic. You are now in the Moose River Recreation Area. Turning R. the trail follows the dirt road along the foot of Payne Mountain to the gateway at the Cedar River caretaker station, just beyond it is Wakely Dam. The DEC signpost is at 32.6 mi. and the official finish of the Wakely Dam Ultra is across the concrete road at the far end of the dam.

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