Lake George

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

XC Ski - Auger Falls Trail - Forks Mountain Primitive Area - 1/5/14

I continue to look for new areas to cross country ski and on Sunday my wife, Leesa, wanted to join me for a ski trip.  We were looking for a 3-4 hour ski trip on flat to rolling terrain.  I thought we could explore one of the trails off of Route 8 in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area. 
The Auger Falls Trail is familiar to me from many years ago.  I used to go there with my dad when he went deer hunting there.  It had been many years since I had been there, but I remembered the trail to be pleasant and not to hilly.  The trailhead is on Route 8, north of the Town of Wells and just NE of the Route 8/30 split.  There is a small road on the north side of the road (Teachout Road) leading to a bridge over the Sacandaga River.  Once over the bridge, there is a small parking area on the left.  The right leads to a dead end and a couple houses.  The hamlet is labeled Griffin on the map. 
We parked at a pull-off on the south side Route 8, across from the small road.  I couldn't remember if I could drive in the road or not.  As we got to the trailhead, I was wondering why there was a marked snowmobile trail within a wilderness area.  I found the answer the next day by looking at the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan.  On the very last page (page 239), there is a map of the .entire wilderness area.  The Auger Falls Trail is labeled as part of the Forks Mountain Primitive Area.  By designating the corridor as a primitive area, the rules are slightly relaxed and a snowmobile trail is permitted.
I was disappointed to see snowmobile tracks, but we were there, and we were ready to ski to we got out to give it a try.  The snow was powdery but the snowmobiles had packed the snow down pretty good.  It only takes a couple passes to  make the skiing less desirable.  We had the sensation that we were ice skating more than skiing since our skis kept moving laterally. 
About a half mile in, there is an abandoned cabin on the left.  This may still be on private land, but the cabin has been unused for many years.  We skied for another mile and soon heard the sound of Auger Falls on our left.  We did not leave the trail to examine the falls since the area is treacherous in the winter.
Enticing snow beckons
This cabin has been abandoned for many years but it could still be saved 
Once within earshot of Auger Falls we soon came up alongside Auger Flats and enjoyed skiing alongside the water.  It was partially frozen with interesting ice patterns and water flows to observe.

Auger Flats just upstream from the falls
The air was much colder than the water
We crossed several newer well built snowmobile bridges.  When it was possible, I skied off to the side of the snowmobile track for a more enjoyable glide. 
Towards the end of the trail, the path leads a little away from the river.  After 2.75 miles from the start, the trail reaches private property and the public trail ends.  We turned around at that point and made our way back to the car.  It was nice to see this area again. 

The bridge over the Sacandaga leading back to Route 8
XC Ski Stats:
Ski Distance:  5.5 miles
Ski Time:  2.3 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~500' 

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