Backpacking into Pharaoh Lake


Back in July, Liam and I decided to move back east to be closer to family and the Adirondacks . After a few weeks of unpacking and settling in we finally made it out for our first backpacking trip. It’s been mostly rain since we’ve been back and this weekend had perfect weather for what we had planned. The destination was one of Liam’s favorites, and one I had heard about many times before but never had the chance to visit.

I’m told that in the summer you should get to the trailhead early, because the designated first come first serve sites fill up quickly. I think because of the rain, we had a little more wiggle room with time.

The Pharoah Lake loop is 11 miles but after you get to the lake there are multiple options for campsites to stop at for the night. We went in with no particular plan in mind and ended up finding a really beautiful site almost 5 miles in.. more on that later.

At the start of the trail, it begins with large ankle deep puddles. You can walk around them for a while, but eventually it’s easier to just get your shoes wet. We just picked up some Altra Trail Runners so I was excited to test their durability in the water as well as their dry time.


This part of the trail was a huge reminder that I should have brought a bug net for my head. The mosquitos on this trail were on a whole different level from what I had been used to. It was rough, and it only got rougher. These little insects were the worst part of the whole experience.

After about a mile, the trail opens up to a beautiful marshy meadow with a wooden bridge to wander across. This was my favorite part of the trail, it looked like something out of a fairy tale. On a sunny day, it was an absolutely magical view.

After the meadow, the trail dries up somewhat and becomes more rocky. Another change that comes along with the rocks is some slight hills, nothing too challenging, but just something to note. This continues on with a log bridge water crossing. We kept hiking down the trail until we got to the outlet at mile 3.7.


The outlet gives hikers the option to go left or right around the lake. We chose to go right and along that section of trail ran into one of the ADK rangers. We walked with him a bit and he told us about some of his preferred camping spots in the area. We actually stopped at the first spot he recommended and set up our hammocks to an incredible view of the lake.

Arriving in around 1pm we had a full afternoon to relax, snack, and enjoy just being in the woods. I cracked open a hard cider and we laid in the hammocks for a few hours while we went over our plans for our upcoming CL50 trip. After that we played “Ship, Captain, Crew” our new favorite dice game to play on trail.


The blue gills in the lake provided a lot of entertainment for me personally. These fish are not afraid of anything. They came right up to us as we swam in the water and let me tell you, they nip! (It doesn’t hurt)

For lunch and dinner we tried something new. We took shelf stable cheese tortellini in a freezer zip lock pack and poured boiling water over it. Liam made some lightweight insulating koozies to set them in and 30 minutes later, we had perfectly cooked noodles. The first time around Liam soaked the noodles and our Alfredo powder, making a watered down cheesy soup. So now we know for the future, cook the noodles then add the sauce powder AFTER draining. We also added a pack of chicken for protein to each serving. This may be my new favorite trail meal though, sauced or not.

After sitting by a fire and listening to the loons as the sun set, we hung up our food bag and called it a night. Our Eno Sublink hammocks are new for us and this was our first time using them on trail. The entire system is under 6lbs, including the under quilt and the top quilt (2.2lbs without the quilts). I prefer sleeping in the hammock to the tent but I’m still learning to position myself comfortably and set it up to be the most heat insulating. Liam had a toasty night but I was a bit chilly.

The view of the lake in the morning was stunning. We both looked over the mist covered waters and didn’t say anything, pretending to be sleeping until the sun was fully up. We made some hot chocolate to go with our fig bars for breakfast and packed up camp. As always we checked to ensure nothing was left behind and hiked out.


The hike back always feel quicker than the hike in. The bugs were less annoying in the morning, that or we just knew to expect them. We splashed through the soupy trail back to the car with ease, eagerly waiting for our next trip.

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