A 6.4-mile round trip to Middle Settlement Lake lies in the heart of the Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness. Except for two very short climbs, the route is fairly flat, so you should be able to make good time. If you’re into trail running, this is a great outing.
The hike begins on Route 28 southwest of Old Forge. At the outset, you climb steeply to a bald knob with limited views through the trees. Follow red markers to a junction at 0.6 miles, then turn left onto a wide trail that in the nineteenth century was the Brown Tract Road. Follow yellow markers to another junction at 1.5 miles. Turn right, now following blue markers.
At 1.8 miles, you cross Middle Settlement Creek. To the right, you can see a large wetland with a pond in the middle. After crossing the creek, you can easily bushwhack through the open woods for a closer look of the scenic wetland.
Shortly after, you come to the second climb of the day (a mere 130 feet of elevation gain over 0.4 miles). At 2.6 miles, you reach yet another junction. Turning left, now following yellow markers, you pass among huge boulders and arrive at Middle Settlement Lake. The trail parallels the water, reaching a lean-to on the north shore at 3.2 miles.
Middle Settlement is one of the prettiest lakes in the Ha-de-ron-dah Wilderness, so don’t expect to have the place to yourself, especially on a weekend.
MIDDLE SETTLEMENT LAKE DIRECTIONS: From Old Forge, drive west on NY 28. A mile after crossing the Middle Branch of the Moose River, you pass under a railroad trestle. At 3.1 miles past the trestle, look for a large pull-off on the left. Park here. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the road, across from the pull-off entrance. N 43° 40.594’, W 75° 03.168’