An 8.1-mile trip into Big West Lake and to the fireplace left behind by Louis Seymour is a benchmark in the hikes of anyone Adirondack. Also known as "French Louie" or "Adirondack French Louie," he was an Adirondack guide, trapper, woodsman and hermit. Here is where he entertained the “sports” and grew potatoes that were watched over by his collection of garter snakes. The West Canada Lakes Region was made famous by Seymour as he trapped, fished, and hunted there from 1855 to 1915.
This hike requires a good trail map, which is a must when hiking in such remote locations. Leave word about your trip plans with others before you hike.
The Northville-Placid Wakely Dam Trailhead is located at the end of the Cedar River Road. GPS coordinates are 43.7277°N, 74.4741°W.
At the intersection of Routes 28 and 30 in Indian Lake, take 28 west to Cedar River Road, and turn west. Follow the river to the trailhead parking for West Canada Lake Wilderness, where Cedar River Flow widens at the Wakely Dam.
8.1 miles one way to the lake
It can take well over 10 hours to do this hike. It isn't recommended for beginners.
This is a very remote location with non-maintained roads and trails. Even with considerable expertise, it can be difficult.
Primitive lean-to camping is recommended for an overnight stay.
West Lake Lean-to #1 is on the southeastern shore of West Lake. This is 1.0 mile north of the intersection with the French Louie Trail.
West Lake Lean-to #2 is on the northeastern shore of West Lake. This is 0.2 mile up the Brooktrout Lake Trail, which connects with the Northville Placid Trail 1.1 miles north of the intersection with the French Louie Trail. A designated primitive tent site is located nearby.
These remote lakes do not have motor traffic. Look for a sandy bottom, with easier footing. The rocks on the shore can be slippery and sharp.
The 2,935-acre West Canada Mountain Primitive Area (WCMPA) is the largest of the three primitive areas associated with the wilderness. It is surrounded by private lands on the north, east and west. The southern boundary is the access road to the Miller Camp south of the Indian River.
This part of the Adirondacks is known for its remote wilderness brook trout fishing, and West Lake is one of the waters reached by the Northville Placid Trail.
NOTE: Use or possession of bait fish is prohibited on any waters within the West Canada Lake Wilderness and the West Canada Lake Primitive Area.