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|
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.
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.
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.
|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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