It was Leesa's turn to plan a trip today and she wanted to see the Long Pond Cliffs in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. I did a little research and we were on our way to the Town of Speculator where we picked up Elm Lake Road which we followed to near the end (just past the 6 mile marker) where the road branches left, right or straight. To the right is a small parking area where we parked alongside two other cars. There is a kiosk there for the Speculator Tree Farm.
First we took the short 0.5 mile woods road to a flooded portion of the Kunjamuk River. There is a designated campsite there overlooking an old weir.
|An old weir on the Kunjamuk River|
Just past this camp saw signs we were entering the Forest Preserve. We were entering the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area at this point on the Cisco Brook Trail. There is a sign-in log and then a foot bridge over Cisco Brook.
|The start of the Cisco Creek Trail.|
After 0.9 miles, we reached a fork where Long Pond Trail goes left and Kunjamuk Trail goes right. We went left to head for Long Pond where we would be able to see the cliffs to the east.
|Trail sign near the sign-in kiosk.|
The trail began to get more interesting between Rock Pond and Long Pond. At the 2.9 mile mark we reached Long Pond and could now see the majestic cliffs on the east side of the pond. There were 2 nice campsites on the mid west shore of the pond. The 1st one was unoccupied; the 2nd one had a woman camping there. We talked with her for a couple minutes and she told us that there was now a marked trail at the north end of the pond that connected the Long Pond Trail with the Kunjamuk Trail. We decided that we could take this trail and come back on the Kunjamuk Trail making a loop out of the hike.
|The southern most of two campsites on the west shore of Long Pond.|
|Long Pond Cliffs|
|A zoom view of the cliffs|
|A rowboat lives on the west shore near the northern most campsite.|
Just north of the 2nd campsite is a peninsula where there was once an obvious campsite. It now appears to be in the process of being reforested. The penisula ends with a nice rock outcropping.
|The end of the peninsula.|
At the NW end of the lake, we reached the junction where the new trail went eastward to connect with the Kunjamuk Trail. This was a 1.3 mile trail. We turned eastward. The trail passed over the north shoulder of the cliffs and we were hoping to find a herd path leading up the cliffs. We didn't find one and Leesa didn't feel like bushwhacking to the cliffs at this time of the day. I saw the spot where it seemed to be the ideal place to head for the cliffs and no path was found. We decided to continue on and perhaps a herd path would be found later.
We is where the trouble began. The Kunjamuk Trail was very overgrown and trail markers were scarce. Our hound dog Rev knew where to go and that made it easier to stay on the trail. We continued to wonder why the trail was not receiving hardly any use.
We soon discovered why. We reached a big marshy area where we would have to cross the Kunjamuk River. It wasn't much of a river at this point, but the trail discs vanished and we found ourselves in a marsh with chest high grass. With each step we couldn't tell if the ground was going to support our feet or give way into a bog.
We headed across the marsh grass towards the opposite site, but were stopped by a water crossing with no means across. We backtracked to a scrub tree line and stayed in the tree line until we saw a pink ribbon across the marsh grass a little further south. We headed to the ribbon and found a narrower creek at this location. A board was under water here with a blue trail marker disc nailed to it! We were able to cross here and finish manuering across the marsh grass to the western side.
|The start of the marsh grass.|
|The ribbon in the center of the marsh.|
|The trail marker!!!|
A log at the final water crossing gave us an exit from the marsh grass.
|This is where the trail markers indicate you are supposed to go.|
So this is why the Kunjamuk Trail was overgrown. People hiking north on the Kunjamuk Trail turned around when they came to the marsh. The trail was fine south of the marsh and we were able to march back to the car the final mile with wet squishy shoes and socks.
|Finally a dry trail.|
We rejoined the Cisco Creek Trail and noticed a benchmark on a rock alongside the trail that we hadn't seen on the way in.
|A benchmark in the woods.|
If you go hiking in this area, we strongly advise against the Kunjamuk Trail. Stick to the out-and-back on the Cisco Creek/Long Pond Trail. That's what we'll do when we return to bushwhack to the top of the cliffs.
Hike Distance: 12.2 miles
Hike Time: 7 hours
Total Vertical Gain: ~ 1000'
|The route (click to enlarge)|
|The route on the Nat Geo topo map|