Essex Chain of Lakes, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Adirondacks -

Also known as:  Deer Pond, Mud Pond, Third Lake, Seventh Lake, Sixth Lake, Fifth Lake, Fourth Lake, Second Lake, First Lake

After long months of anticipation and hours of negotiation, the newly-acquired Essex Chain of Lakes opened in New York’s Adirondacks region. An 11,600-acre tract of former Finch, Pruyn and Co. land used for timber harvesting was opened October 1, 2013 to interim use while the Adirondack Park Agency and other interested parties determined its final access designation. Some areas of the 69,000 acres being acquired will be made available to motorized traffic, and other parts of the tract may be designated as Wilderness, Wild Forest or one of several other designations. The Essex Chain of Lakes portion has been the area garnering the most attention, as paddle-sport fans have been itching to gain access to the chain. They now have their chance to explore this large acreage that has been closed to the public for over 100 years.

Not all of the lakes in the Essex Chain are directly connected. Lakes which can be reached via a short portage include Deer Pond, Mud Pond, Third Lake, Seventh Lake, Sixth Lake, Fifth Lake, Fourth Lake, Second Lake and First Lake. Early reports cite the longest portage as about half a mile for these lakes. Access to Eighth Lake, Jackson Pond and Grassy Pond is unclear at this time, but all are very close to the listed lakes in the chain. Posted press releases say that 11 lakes and ponds can be reached with short portages within the Essex tract. Even reaching the access point requires watercraft be carried a quarter of a mile from the parking area off from Cornell Road at the intersection of ‘Boots to Cornell’ Road. No motors are allowed on the chain at this time and likely will not be in the future. Currently, the members of the existing hunting and fishing club on Third Lake are allowed to use motors of less than 10 hp on Second through Sixth lakes still have access by private vehicle and snowmobile to some areas that are not publicly available to motorized access. The few leaseholders will remain until their current leases expire before 2020.

The Essex Chain of Lakes lies in an area that has never been developed for housing or industry, except for scattered logging endeavors, resort camps and private cottages. Heavily treed, the shorelines support a variety of wildlife including the occasional moose. Deer, wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, fox and other woodland mammals are common in the area, and waterfowl flock to the quiet waters. Views of nearby mountains are spectacular from Third Lake, including Dun Brook Mountain, Blue Mountain, Vanderwhacker Mountain and the Fishing Brook Range. A section of rare floating bogs can be seen between Fifth and Sixth Lakes.

Located in the midst of several tracts of public lands including wildlife reserves and two other Finch, Pruyn & Co. acquisitions (Indian River and OK Slip Falls), thousands of acres will soon be opened for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, nature observation and horseback riding on miles of old logging roads. Both Cedar River and Hudson River can be accessed from within the new State-acquired lands. Hunting, fishing and trapping will be allowed in certain areas. Requests for mountain bike trails are already being considered, and plans are in the works for some form of restroom facilities. In 2014, 11 campsites opened at the lakes, by permit only from May through October. Campers should contact the Center for Nature Interpretation in the Adirondacks for camping permits (see sidebar).

The nearby small town of Newcomb has anticipated the opening of the Essex Chain of Lakes area with mixed feelings. Somewhat economically depressed due to the gradual loss of paper mill jobs, townspeople have feared the loss of income from the camps and cottagers on leased lands which will soon be gone. Small local logging companies have traditionally leased sections from the former owners for timber harvest-a source of jobs and income in the area. Any area that is designated Wilderness limits the people who will visit, threatening to reduce recreational dollars that could benefit the community. Opening the Essex Chain of Lakes section alleviates those fears to some extent, as they hope for increased real estate sales and tourist dollars. Campground designations and increased access are their best hopes for an economic revival in the area. The State is well-aware of these economic needs and is working to make sure large areas are not made off-limits to outside groups wishing to enjoy this pristine area of the Adirondacks Park.

Located about two hours north of Albany, the Essex Chain of Lakes is the ideal distance for a weekend spent paddling this beautiful little chain. At least one bed & breakfast is available at Newcomb, along with the Adirondacks Park Visitor Interpretive Center, now under management of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). Located in the upper Hudson region of the Adirondacks Park, the Interpretive Center offers boardwalks and nature trails among bogs, swamps, forests, old-growth hemlocks, streams and lakes along with maps and information on all the park has to offer.

Newcomb features several nearby hiking trails, mountain bike routes, a golf course and other outdoor activities. Located on the Hudson River, the town offers a public beach, and local businesses rent canoes and kayaks. Outfitters arrange whitewater rafting on the Hudson and hiking trips into the surrounding mountains. Santanoni Great Camp and the Santanoni Preserve are nearby and offer a variety of nature activities along with tours of one of the earliest of the Adirondacks Great Camps. Several campgrounds, small resorts and private rental lodgings are available near Newcomb. The small Hudson River Information Center contains a museum featuring the early days of logging history and the uses of the river during early settlement.

More information on the Essex Chain of Lakes is eagerly awaited. Meanwhile, visitors are welcome to come and tramp the now-open forest roads and hike or paddle the lovely lakes and ponds in the chain. Plan to be one of the first to view this beautiful and long-hidden gem of the Adirondacks.

*No statistics are yet available for this chain of lakes.

Things to do at Essex Chain of Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Golf
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Essex Chain of Lakes Photo Gallery

Essex Chain of Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,602 acres

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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