The Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area is the latest addition to the State Forest Preserve and has been a welcome addition to the Adirondack Park, especially for paddlers. The series of lakes have easy access with short carries between them. Designated campsites have been established and an interim use plan has been established until the Unit Management Plan is drafted and adopted.
Snowmobilers, skiers and hikers also have options for various loops around the lakes. Today we took the opportunity to go to the east end of the Goodnow Road and XC ski the Chain Lakes Road to an old logging road and we looped around Fifth Lake through Eighth Lake (see map below).
|Trailhead sign. A small parking lot is 0.1 miles north|
Snowmobiles had been on the Chain Lakes Road, but at 1.25 miles when we turned right on a logging road, the snowmobile tracks were covered in 4-6 inches of snow. At 2.6 miles we turned right again on another logging road to go around the north side of Sixth Lake and Fifth Lake en route to a counter clockwise loop around the lakes. These logging roads are not marked, so if you choose to explore this area, make sure you bring a good map perhaps a GPS unit.
|Sixth Lake Mountain|
The sky was overcast, and we were skiing in advance of an afternoon snow storm that was predicted by mid-afternoon. After an hour and a half and 3.7 miles, we reached Sixth Lake. The logging road does not go the the waters edge, but you can easily make your way a couple hundred yards to the water.
At 4.6 miles, we could see the larger Fifth Lake. We chose not to ski across the frozen lakes but rather stay on the logging roads.
|Easy skiing on old logging roads with very little grade change|
At the west end of Fifth Lake we turned south to start our loop, rather than continue west towards Third Lake. Soon we came to a small culvert that connects Fifth Lake to Fourth Lake.
|Polaris Mountain in the distance from the west end of Fifth Lake|
After crossing the culvert we continued to break the old snowmobile trail on the logging road which was now heading in a SE direction. At our next junction we were reunited with a fresh snowmobile track. We never did see any snowmobiles during the day, but it was nice to ski on a fresh track.
|Fourth Lake and the outlet of the culvert|
|Leesa, after passing between 4th and 5th Lake|
Now that we were on a fresh track, we made good time closing the loop and getting back to the Chain Lakes Road. Snow flakes were just beginning to fly. We had good timing finishing our ski and getting back home before the roads got bad.
I didn't realize it until we got home and I looked at the DEC website, but there is a 4.2 mile Upper Hudson ski trail (lolipop route) that starts right near where we parked. Next time we are in the area, we'll stop in to check it out.
Ski Distance: 10.5 miles
Ski Time: 4.5 miles
Total Vertical Gain: ~650'
|The route (click image to enlarge)|
|The route on the Nat Geo map (property owner shading is outdated)|