If you’ve been enjoying our descriptions of hikes around the Adirondacks but are more of the ultramarathoning type (or perhaps just a trail runner), we’ve got a perfect suggestion for you! Cranberry Lake, located half an hour west of Tupper Lake, is a beautiful lake that borders the pristine Cranberry Lake Wild Forest and Five Ponds Wilderness. There is little there except the remote lake and thousands of acres of undeveloped wooded lands. Oh, and an incredible new trail system that loops around the lake and into the wilderness, with fifty miles of trails that circumnavigate the lake.
For those excited about tackling some fun and muddy runs and pushing their bodies to accomplish some miles in the woods, the Cranberry Lake 50 is an awesome opportunity to do so and see some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the Adirondacks while you’re at it. For those who don’t want to do the 50 all in one day, but are cool with carrying their gear, there are plenty of campsites along the route where you can take a break and spend the night halfway. (Hey, just under a marathon a day is totally doable, right?) If you’d rather take longer (say, 4 or 5 days) to do the route, there are enough campsites scattered along the trail that a more leisurely trip is completely doable as well. And just a little icing on the cake – if you complete all fifty miles you’ll get a patch for being a finisher and your name will be posted alongside other finishers on Cranberry Lake 50’s website!
Some information on the trails:
There are 11 unique trails that make up the Cranberry Lake 50 and 7 different trailheads that provide access at various points along the route. If, for some reason, you would like to begin traveling the trails from a location other than these trailheads, there are some parts of the trail that are accessible by boat via Cranberry Lake. And if you would prefer to not hike or run the entire loop, there are some parts of the trails that are bike friendly. Some adventurous spirits even snowshoe and ski the loop, although that is an undertaking you’ll want to research thoroughly in advance as it can get very cold out there in the winter and the weather can change rapidly!
The trails take you over varied terrain around the lakes, and while there is no “peak-bagging” on this loop, you get a good taste of the variety the Adirondacks have to offer! There are many sections that follow along the lake, where in other places the trail leaves the lake and heads back into the woods, exposing you to everything from old growth forests to boggy wetlands. The individual trails that make up the Cranberry Lake 50 are each marked by different color markers, and the full 50-mile loop is marked by royal blue markers at regular, frequent intervals throughout the entire loop. Keep in mind that if you would like to hike something shorter than 50 miles, then there are some trails that provide loops or out and backs nearer to the trailheads that you can hike for a day trip. If you are hiking in a group and have more than one car, you can also choose to hike from one trailhead to another, leaving a car at each location and shuttling one at the end of the hike. One thing to keep in mind, especially when hiking in a group, is that the trails do occasionally skirt private lands, so it is important to be respectful when you are near private residences.
While we hope this write-up is helpful, a more extensive guide with more detailed information about the trailheads, what to expect, and how to prepare can be found on the Cranberry Lake 50 website: http://cranberrylake50.org/.