Lake George

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pole Hill Pond - Lake George Wild Forest - 3/13/13

One of the things I do when I buy a new version of a map, is compare the map to the previous version to see what has changed.  In 2012, National Geographic published an updated map # 743 (Lake George / Great Sacandaga).  There are quite a few changes on the new map.  One thing I like is that most of the state land parcels are now labeled, so you know what tract of state land they belong to.

Some new trails are shown on the 2012 map including trails in the Cat & Thomas Mountain Preserve, operated by the Lake George Land Conservancy and trails just west of Route 9N at the north end of Northwest Bay.  These trails are on a piece of land that is now shown on the map as state land, whereas the previous version showed this land to be private.  Three loop trails are indicated on the new map.  I decided to visit these trails today to take a look.

The first thing I noticed is that the trail network is not obvious from the road.  I drove up and down the road and finally found a little unmarked pull-off that was the only possibility for where the trailhead was.  I parked and started in, to see if this was indeed the trail.  I quickly saw yellow discs placed by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.  There was no trail register or kiosk or parking sign.  I followed the yellow loop   which went alongside an unnamed brook.  A blue trail forked off to the right, but due to high water from recent rain, I was unable to cross the brook.  The yellow disc trail creates the smallest trail loop, which I measured at 1.7 miles.  I took the loop counterclockwise.  At the halfway point, the trail crosses a little knoll with a seasonal partial view of Northwest Bay. 

The knoll at the far end of the yellow loop

I continued on and did not see any other loop trails.  Near the end of the yellow trail loop, the discs not few and far between and suddenly became Lake George Land Conservancy discs that were obviously much older.  When I reached my starting point, I was surprised that I hadn't found the other loop trails, so I took the loop again.  This time I found the western point where the blue trail meets the yellow trail.  It was just south of the knoll at the midway point in the loop.

Northwest Bay in the background

Some of the rushing water from yesterdays heavy rains and snow melt

I started out on the blue disc trail, which was also Lake George Land Conservancy discs.  Once again these discs looked older and they were spaced very far apart.  I was spending too much time trying to find the trail discs, so I just began bushwhacking towards Pole Hill Pond, which was my destination.  The blue trail was headed that way and sometimes I ran across discs.  None of these trails are visible on the ground.  They must not get much hiker traffic.

After approximately 1.5 miles after leaving the yellow trail, I came to east shore of Pole Hill Pond.  The pond was still covered in ice.  I started counterclockwise around the pond.  At the center of the north end, there is a spot that would be nice to camp at.

Nice location to camp at the north end of Pole Hill Pond

I continued on from the pond to climb the unnamed hill to the north.  The map showed largest loop of the trail went over the summit.  Once again I saw occasional blue discs, but they would have been hard to follow. 

Just northwest of the pond, I hit the state land boundary and saw new signs, yellow paint and flagging.

Brand new state land signs

The inside corner of the state land boundary, just NW of Pole Hill Pond 

After I hit the state land boundary, I followed an old road that started to go up the hill.  When the road hooked left and started to go down again, I hooked right to continue up the hill.  I reached the lower part of the ridgeline at about 1300', then followed the contour of the ridgeline easterly to the high point of the ridge at 1590'.  Just prior to the high point, I came to a viewpoint with a great view of Lake George.

The view of Lake George from the unnamed hill to the north of Pole Hill Pond

Great View!

Along the ridge of this hill I saw more blue discs, but it wasn't worth trying to follow them.  I continued easterly to descend the hill, then hooked back around to head SW and work my way back to the trail.

Interesting swirls on an old decaying log

I regained the blue trail near where I had started my bushwhack, then followed my track back to the yellow trail and back to the car.  This whole area was pretty.  The tree density was light throughout the hike making it easy to head whatever direction I wanted to go.

The pond and the hill were nice features.  There was no snow on the first half of the hike, but there was knee deep snow up on the shady side of the hill.  All the creeks and brooks were overflowing with water and snow melt from the heavy rain yesterday.  It made for an interesting walk.  The sun came out later in the afternoon.  It was a fine day in the woods.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  ~ 10 miles (including my double loop of the yellow trail)
Hike Time: 5 hours, 40 minutes
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 2000'

My approximate route drawn in blue (click image to enlarge)

A screen capture of my GPS track on a topo map

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