Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Pond - 9/23/11

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park lies in the east central portion of the park in Schroon Lake, North Hudson and Minerva and encompasses 38,500 acres.  There are relatively few trails.  There is a trail that runs north-south from the Blue Ridge Road in North Hudson, to Loch Muller in Schroon Lake.  There is also a trail that starts on Hoffman Road in the Town of Schroon Lake and runs north past Big Pond then turns west and continues on to Loch Muller.

My plan was to hike the latter starting on Hoffman Road and going past Big Pond to Loch Muller and then return.   The Parking lot is not marked on Hoffman Road.  If you head west on Hoffman Road (CR24) from Route 9 in the Town of Schroon Lake, you go almost 3 miles and just past a blue and white mobile home on the right, there is a pulloff with parking for about 5 cars.  You walk in on the trail a couple hundred yards and you come to the trail register kiosk. 

Unmarked pulloff for Big Pond Trail

Trail Register

I started about 8:45 in the morning.  After about a half mile, you cross a substantial bridge at a drainage area that has a beaver dam just above the bridge.

My route for the day

After another quarter mile, I came to a herd path on the right with faint orange blazes.  I followed that about 5 minutes to the west shore of North Pond.  A nice row boat was on the shore at that location and I went for a paddle around the lake.

Looking north while paddling on North Pond

a 2nd rowboat, just north of the 1st rowboat on the west shore of North Pond

This was the rowboat I used for my morning paddle.
 It's great to paddle around a wilderness lake with not another person in sight.  The pond is in a wilderness area, so there is no development anywhere.  I did not see another person all day on this hike.
What are these 2 newts doing under the mushroom?

Quite a series of mushrooms on this tree

After a nice paddle I continued on to the north shore of Big Pond where there is a nice unofficial campsite.  Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area does not yet have designated camping areas, although a Draft Unit Management Plan is in the works which will change this.

Rowboat on the south shore of Big Pond.  I did not paddle here.

Looking south from the east shore of Big Pond

Great camping spot on the north shore of Big Pond

Water's edge near camping spot on north shore

A big slug about 3" long

Lots of blowdown to the NW of Big Pond
From the north shore of Big Pond, I continued west towards Loch Muller.  Up to this point, the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation had done a great job of clearing the blowdown created by Hurricane Irene.  About a quarter mile west of Big Pond, I came the endpoint of where the rangers had been able to clear in their day of trail work.  I decided to continue on, but the blowdown was so extensive it was exhausting to continue, so I turned around.  I was amazed by how many trees were down.  I retraced my steps a short ways and then turned right (south) to follow another herd path with faint orange blaze to go around the east side of Big Pond and complete the Big Pond loop.  I had followed this loop before in the winter time.  Shortly after I began heading south I lost my Nalgene water bottle.  It had fallen out of the side pouch of my pack.   I had additional water, so it wasn't a problem.

Some of the blowdown

A few trees are turning already

Beautiful color, but the trail was swamped

As I approached the southern end of Big Pond and began to swing east, the trail was submerged under about a foot of water from all of the rain we have had in the last month.  I was unable to skirt around the water, so I just followed a southern compass reading to return to Hoffman Road.

Having taken the time to do a paddle, and then battleing the blowdown and submerged trails, I surfaced on the road about 3 PM.  I walked a short ways on the road and then followed a snowmobile trail south to Horseshoe Pond Road before returning to Hoffman Road and the car.  Enough exercise for one day...

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