Landowner closes road to Madawaska Flow

Madawaska Flow in the Adirondacks.
Madawaska Flow is popular with paddlers and birders.

The logging road to Madawaska Flow and Quebec Brook, waterways acquired by the state in 1998, is closed to the public, the Adirondack Explorer has learned.

I intended to drive to Madawaska on Sunday to take photos for a paddling guidebook and was surprised to find the gate locked. A sign indicated that the road was closed on June 4 and that public access was prohibited.

The road provides the only motorized access to Madawaska Flow, the centerpiece of a 5,800-acre tract known as the Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area. The area is used by birders, paddlers, and hunters.

Dave Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said a private landowner, Winston Towers, closed the road but did not give a reason other than to say the land will soon be put on the market.

DEC has conservation easements with public-access rights on the timberlands bordering Madawaska (known as the Santa Clara Tract), but the beginning of the road crosses non-easement lands.

“DEC is actively seeking a solution to this issue and seeks to reestablish public access to Madawaska Pond in the near future,” Winchell said, adding that the agency considers this a priority.

Normally, visitors reach Madawaska by driving nine miles over a dirt road that traverses commercial timberlands. The road starts on Route 458 in the town of Duane.

“The road is the only public-access road to the Santa Clara Easement Lands and Madawaska Flow,” Winchell said. “DEC has a public access right of way in another location, but there is no road; it would have had to been built.”

It’s possible to reach Madawaska Flow by paddling upstream on Quebec Brook from Blue Mountain Road, but travelers must carry around rapids.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Phil says

    Bob, you’re right that Madawaska is not that well known. However, it is a fairly popular destination for birders (it’s one of the sites in the guidebook Adirondack Birding) and is becoming more well known to paddlers.

  2. susanne ciani says

    phil, this is one of my favorite places. have paddled and hiked in there. …many years ago. i wanted to take a friend their hiking. is the gate still closed? this blog is 2012, today is november 20, 2013. could you let me know. this is ridiculous but i was planning to go tomorrow!
    thank you much, susanne

      • sean o'brien says

        You can also go to Madawaska from the Blue Mountain Road but not the pond due to the fact the railroad grade is private and off limits. Still a beautiful hike through some great boreal habitat. Another beautiful and rather short hike is to the Saint Regis River across the Blue Mountain Road from Madawaska.

  3. sean o'brien says

    For hiking you can go to Madawaska from the Blue Mountain Road. Though the railroad grade to the pond is private and off limits it’s still a nice hike through some beautiful boreal habitat before you get to the grade. You can also hike to the St. Regis River from the Blue Mountain Road through a gate across from the Madawaska gate. It is the greatest place on Earth.

  4. Elizabeth McLanahan says

    Do you know if this is re-opened now or did you just get lucky? I saw these directions on a website but wasn’t sure … Thank you.
    DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Take Route 30 north from Paul Smiths. Turn left on Route 458 and drive for 1.4 miles until you come to a sign on the left for the Santa Clara Tract and Madawaska Road. Drive about six miles down a dirt road to a parking lot, where there is a trail register. You’ll know you are almost at the end when you start passing hunting camps at about 5.7 miles.

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