Whortleberry Pond

Whortleberry Pond It's been way too many years since I've been into the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. My last trip was a solo backpacking adventure. Perhaps the reason it's taken me so long to return is the reputation the area has for unruly and garbage-spreading visitors. I've seen bags of garbage left at lean-tos, empty food packages left in fire pits, and cigarette butts galore. Despite this, the area is absolutely stunning and there has been an increased effort to clean up the area and enforce backcountry regulations.

Whortleberry Pond
In the effort to find a bit of solitude we decided to camp just off Pharaoh Lake on Whortleberry Pond. It's just 0.3 miles off the main lake but it seems to receive few overnight visitors. The trail is not maintained but isn't very hard to follow. Upon arriving we noticed what appeared to be a cache of firewood covered in a blue tarp. There was also the remnants of a canoe, a separate cache of (full) cases of beer, and a large hidden boat. Other than the blue tarp, most of it was well hidden. We found the stashes while collecting firewood. I personally find it distracting to the backcountry experience but a DEC Ranger who visited us on the second night explained that you can apply for a permit to allow for a temporary hunting camp to be established.

Whortleberry Pond Moving on from the slightly creepy caches we found a perfect campsite right on the northeastern edge of the pond. On the second day we took a walk to Pharaoh Lake to explore. I was surprised to see empty lean-tos and campsites. I was, unfortunately, not surprised to hear a group firing off pistol rounds at the northern end of the lake - which the aforementioned ranger explained was also legal.

Whortleberry Pond For such a small mileage investment, Pharaoh Lake really gives a great payoff. The area was a mushroom hunters dream, and a birdwatchers dream, and a fisherman's dream. I would just recommend that you head in on an off day to be sure to find a campsite and to enjoy the area without distractions.

(More photos here.)

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