Lake George

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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Loch Bonnie - McKenzie Mountain Wilderness - Lake Placid - 1/1/15

I love the name Loch Bonnie.  It sounds Scottish or Irish and conjures up images of the Scottish Highlands.  This Loch Bonnie isn't quite the same, but it lies in an area of the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness that feels blissfully remote; especially on a cloudy winter day with flurries and snow squalls.

Loch Bonnie can be accessed via the little known network of trails known as the Shore Owners Assocation (SOA) trail network; the labor of love of Richard Hayes Phillips.  Richard almost single handedly, over the course of nine seasons restored 17 miles of trails in this area.  These trails had been cut and marked in the late 1800's and early 1900's, only to fall into disrepair by the 1970's.  Richard researched the history of this network, and took it upon himself to bring the network of trails back to life.

Back on 8/9/14, I did a loop of McKenzie Mountain and Moose Mountain, then came down via och Bonnie.  This time, Leesa, Rev and I started from Bloget Road (at the end of Whiteface Inn Road) and followed the Lake Trail to the Loch Bonnie Trail which climbs alongside Minnow Brook to Loch Bonnie.   

Follow Bloget Road to the gate, then follow signs on the left to follow the Lake Trail in the woods 

The Lake trail leaves Bloget Road here


The Lake Trail is surprisingly hard to follow.  The saving grace is that it stays close to the west side of Lake Placid, so if you lose it, you can find it again pretty quickly.  The markers and signs that exist along the way are somewhat old and worn.

Several Lake Trail signs look like this

The trail information signs are a barn red color.  They exist at trail junctions and provide some mileage information.  I've included some pictures of the signs below.

Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign (not really, but they are helpful)

It's nice that the Shore Owners Association allows visitors to use the SOA trails on private property

Once we got to Minnow Brook, I knew it was time to climb to Loch Bonnie.  I lost the trail markers for a little while in this area (known as Camp MinnowBrook).   Then I came to the sign below, and we were back on track. 

After we passed the sign above, the woods switched from hardwoods to softwoods.  The snow got a little deeper and we switched from microspikes to snowshoes.  One of my goals on this trip was to find the lean-to at Loch Bonnie.  Last time I did not see it.  I thought it had been torn town or had rotted away.  I later found out that it is still there, although in poor shape.  

Nearing Loch Bonnie

At the location of the picture below, I stopped the lean-to.  I had been standing at this exact spot in August, but didn't see the shelter.  It is surrounded by some small pines which make it easy to miss.

The lean-to was spotted 

The roof has a gaping hole, but the rest of the structure looks salvagable

You won't be kept dry in here...

Loch Bonnie is interesting in summer, but I love the fact that it feels even more remote in winter.


Loch Bonnie

We had started this hike around 10:30 and it was now 1:30.  We decided to go back the way we had come, rather than looping up and over Moose Mountain.

Sign at Loch Bonnie
Heading downhill was a breeze and we made it back to the car at 3 PM.  My next trip in this area will be a hike to McKenzie and Moose via the Bartlett Pond Trail.  Stay tuned.

Heading back towards the Lake Trail
Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  7.4 miles
Hike Time:  4.75 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1500' 

The route (click image to enlarge

A look at the area and the route on the National Geographic map

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