Lake George

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cheney Pond Road Snowmobile Trail - Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest - Minerva - 5/23/15

Occasionally I get bothered by sinuses and when that happens, it often lingers until it turns into a sinus infection.  I don't help things any because I usually try to just keep going and my lungs don't appreciate that.

This time, on day number 6 of being saddled with a nasty sinus head cold, I still wasn't willing to throw in the towel, but I decided to avoid a vertical climb for the day.  I settled on exploring the Cheney Pond Road snowmobile trail.  The trail runs from Hoffman Road in Minerva, all the way to the Blue Ridge Road in North Hudson.   

Leesa, Rev and I started at the southern end this morning.  You can drive 0.6 miles north on Cheney Pond Road before there is a parking lot on the right and the road becomes a rough all terrain vehicle road.  Before the parking lot, you pass a trailhead sign on the left that is hard to see.  It says 11.0 miles to Blued Ridge Road via Mud Pond and Lester Dam. 

The sign indicating 11.0 miles to Blue Ridge Road
We were surprised when we got to the parking lot that there was a large family there.  They were getting ready to head in to their camp near Mud Pond.  Their boys and one of the adults were going to ride mountain bikes in.  The others were going to drive in with a 4 wheel drive pickup truck.   I knew exactly the spot where they were headed to.  The 1885 topo map labels "Camp" just south of Mud Pond.  The newer topo map shows 3 buildings at that location.  I was curious about that, and this was part of the reason to hike in.  This family has a small private in-holding deep in the woods.

For the first 1.5 miles, the land on both sides of the road is private.  There are a couple seasonal houses, along with an old mobile home and an abandoned mobile home along the way.  For the most part though, the visual is woods on both sides.

At 1.6 miles, the trail makes a 90 degree turn to the left, crosses Minerva Stream (easy to cross at normal flow).  Almost immediately after the crossing you enter the Forest Preserve.  The trail and the land to the west, is part of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.  The land to the east of the road belongs to the Hoffman Notch Wilderness.  The road defines the border.

Looking back at Leesa after crossing the stream at 1.6 miles 

At 1.8 miles, we heard water on our left.  We could see glimpses of the stream and we left the trail to investigate.  We found a nice waterhole here; something to remember for a warmer day.  

The waterhole

Looking upstream.

We went back to the trail and continued on.  There were a few mud holes in the trail along the way, but nothing really objectionable.  It was a pretty rugged jeep road though with rocks that would slow down  all terrain vehicle travel to almost a crawl.  We were surprised that the pickup truck had driven in.

As were continued, the trail entered a tighter notch and the stream dropped away to the left in the cleft of the notch.  The trail climbed to higher ground.  t 2.75 miles, the trail started to work its way back down to the stream.  At 3.25 miles the stream and trail were once again side by side.

Stream and trail together again.

You can barely see a stream crossing pair of cable here.  We saw 3 different cable crossings along the way. 

Soon we caught up to 2 of the younger boys, who were now walking their mountain bikes.  They told us that we were almost to their parents camp, but first we passed one that belonged to another of their relatives.  We went with the boys to the right of the first camp.  

The southern most camp; and another cable stream crossing  
Soon there was a wooden bridge stream crossing and the boys parents camp stood before us.  The boys joined their family who were cooking on the deck.  We passed by their camp in order to get to Mud Pond.  The camps were quite nice looking and were obviously had been replaced since 1885. 

I was expecting Mud Pond to be a marsh or unattractive stagnant pond.  The pond was worth the trip however.  It looked more like a mountain tarn.  Well not quite, but an improvement upon a stagnant pond.  We had walked 4.6 miles at this point.  I hadn't expected to hike 9 miles on this day and we turned around here.  Lester Dam was still miles ahead and I didn't have it in me today.

Mud Pond

Leesa and Rev taking a better look

Rev decided the water was safe to drink...

A beaver lodge in the pond 

The trip back felt a little easier since we were now dropping about 400' on the way out.  Not a big difference, but with my head feeling like it was in a fishbowl, downhill felt better than uphill.     

The forest along the way...

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.2 miles
Hike Time:  4 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 700'

The route (click image to enlarge)

The old 1885 topo denoting "Camp" near Mud Pond 

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