The trail passes through what many consider the wildest and most remote parts of the Adirondack Park, notably the high plateau that encompasses the Spruce, West Canada, and Cedar lakes area, along with that of the Cold River. The highest point the N-P Trail reaches (3008 ft) is at the crest of the ridge to the E of Blue Mt. and of Tirrell Pond.
The trail is not entirely in wilderness, though: it also passes through the settlement of Piseco, and comes close to the hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake and the Village of Long Lake. The area around Wakely Dam may present the hiker with encounters with recreational vehicles, not to mention a reminder of human involvement in changing the landscape in the form of the immense cement dam itself.”
If there is one constant along the trail, it is change. The forest is always changing. Consider trees: seeds sprout, seedlings burst onto the scene, and saplings reach for the sky. Past generations tower over everything new beneath them. Eventually they reach maturity and die, or weaken and blow over. Or are brought down when others topple around them. Then the mosses and fungi take over and it all starts again.
Other forces alter the landscape along the N-P Trail. Consider the beaver,. Each new generation strikes out to look for a suitable home. Trees are felled. A dam is built. A pond is formed. The forest opens up. The sun comes through the opening in the canopy. Grass grows along the banks. Soon the scenery is changed. If all of this takes place near or even on the trail, it may have to be rerouted to accommodate these new residents. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that sections of the trail have been moved over the years, always with a view to making the wilderness experience more enjoyable and safe.
The Northville-Placid Trail is marked with three different markers (seen at left). One has the NPT name on it, one states DEC Trail Marker and the third states DEC Foot Trail. The only consistency is that they are all blue (meaning a south/north trail).
Caution: Please be aware that a multi-year plan to eliminate most of the road walk out of Northville is currently ongoing. This means the trail is being changed in various ways from Northville to north of Upper Benson. As of June 2015, the old Godfrey Road trailhead is now a yellow-marked spur trail that leads to the blue-marked Northville Placid Trail. The southernmost contiguous woods walk now begins on Benson Road and adds about 8 miles, connecting to the “old NPT” just north of the West Stony Creek bridge (this junction is also where the yellow spur connects and is now well-marked with signs). For the purpose of an official thru-hike, both of these options are currently acceptable, in addition to the road walk out of Northville.