Chain Lakes Road South allows access to a network of dirt roads and trails in parts of the Blue Mountain Wild Forest, Pine Lake Primitive Area, and Hudson Gorge Wilderness. Chain Lakes Road South is located in Indian Lake along the border of Hamilton and Essex Counties. Visitors can hike, canoe, camp, cross country ski, snowshoe, and hunt in this area.
From the intersection of Routes 30 and 28 in Indian Lake, proceed 1.3 miles east on Route 28 to Chain Lakes Road South on the north side of the highway and on the west side of Lake Abanakee. There are 3 parking areas reached at 3, 3.8, and 5.3 miles from Route 28. The third parking lot is only open during big game hunting season. The main parking area is 3.8 miles in and outside of hunting season, there is a metal gate to prevent any further driving. There is enough room for about 5 cars and if this lot is full, you need to drive back to the first parking lot.
The vast network of dirt roads between Chain Lakes Road South in Indian Lake, and the Essex Chain Lakes Tract in Newcomb, is open to the public. Visitors can hike, camp, cross country ski, snowshoe, or hunt in this area. Some of the hiking possibilities near the 3 parking areas include: the Clear Pond Trail, Cedar River Trail, Pine Lake Trail, and the trail to the Hudson River. The hiking is almost entirely on old dirt roads along logged forests with several wetlands. The forests are primarily deciduous, and mixed deciduous/coniferous near wetlands. There is a very short walk to the Hudson River from the dirt road. The trail to Clear Pond is three-tenths of a mile. The trail to Cedar River is only a couple hundred feet from the dirt road. Pine Lake is located at the end of the dirt road about three-quarters of a mile past the short trail to Cedar River. The dirt road has a few gradual hills, but no steep terrain. The short trail to Clear Pond is up and around a hill before a descent to the pond.
Elevation ranges from 1530 to 1730 feet in the area of the trails described above. There are a few gentle hills, but no steep terrain.
There are 3 different parking areas, and the distances are given from the main parking area 3.8 miles down Chain Lakes Road South from Route 28. Hikers should adjust the estimates if parking at the first lot, which is .8 miles farther away, or the third lot, which is 1.5 miles closer (the third lot is only open in hunting season).
.1 miles to the Hudson River
1.6 miles to Clear Pond
2.8 miles to Cedar River
3.6 miles to Pine Lake
Paddlers can carry a canoe or kayak to Cedar River. The carry would be about 2.8 miles. In hunting season, the carry would be shorter, 1.3 miles from the third parking lot. (Most of the Hudson River access is in the Newcomb area to the north, and the access point on the Chain Lakes Road South side is a take-out before rapids.)
All waters within the Essex Chain Lakes are open to fishing, using all recreational outlets. Depending on the body of water, there is landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, and native lake trout. The flatwater sections of the Hudson River have smallmouth bass, northern pike and panfish.
The Chain Lakes Road South is currently in an unclassified corridor. Check back for updates regarding additional recreational opportunities such as bicycling.
There are 5 designated camp sites in this region. The first three sites are located between the main parking area and the third parking lot. The fourth site is located before reaching Cedar River. The fifth site is on the eastern shore of Pine Lake at the end of the dirt road. (There is a camp site on the western shore of Pine Lake reserved for visitors who arrive by float plane.)
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing
Visitors can snowshoe or cross country ski the dirt roads and trails in this region.
All the lands and waters within the Essex Chain Lakes are open to hunting and trapping in the proper season, with access via all recreational trails, boat launches. Parking is allowed on the shoulders of seasonal access roads if vehicles remain out of the travel lane.
Horseback riding, biking, and accessible facilities
For more about horseback riding, biking, and accessible recreation, consult the DEC website.