The fifth edition of Adirondack Mountain Club Eastern Trails, available this spring from ADK’s retail outlets and online at www.adk.org, is a substantial revision of the fourth. Editor David Thomas-Train has spent much time exploring this beautiful area, which is bordered by Lake Champlain on the east and the High Peaks, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, and Schroon Lake on the west, and includes the Lake George region in the south. The book describes many new trails, particularly on new Lake George Land Conservancy preserves, and incor -porates numerous changes to existing trails. Two of the new trails are presented below. The book has been extensively redesigned, including a return to a smaller, more convenient size. All of the trails have been renumbered. – Andrea Masters
The region described in this guidebook is characterized by rolling mountains and foothills, remote ponds, and beautiful lakes. Scenery varies from subtle and serene shoreline views to spectacular vistas from lookouts and mountaintops. Some of the trails in the region’s Wild Forests are as isolated, wild, and beautiful as any found in the Adirondack Park. The Wilcox Lake Wild Forest between Great Sacandaga Lake and Johnsburg fills that bill.
Many trails in the region lead to or connect bodies of water. While walking them is enjoyable in itself, bringing along a small ultralight boat adds a whole new dimension to exploring the area. Many also lend themselves to superior winter outings.
Born in Washington, D.C., Thomas-Train has lived in Keene Valley, New York, since 1981. He often leads hiking, skiing, and canoeing trips in the Adirondacks for ADK and other groups. He has served as chair or conservation coordinator for ADK’s Keene Valley Chapter for over twenty years, and is coordinator for the Friends of Poke-O-Moonshine, a grassroots organization dedicated to the restoration of the fire tower and trail on that mountain, and its use as an environmental education site.
Eastern Trails corresponds to National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map 743: Lake George/Great Sacandaga, due to be released in a new edition in 2018. The book is the second volume in the rerelease of ADK’s Forest Preserve Series.
Pole Hill Ponds from Adirondack Mountain Club Eastern Trails, 2018
58 Pole Hill Pond Blue Trail
Trails Illustrated Map 743: N29
Trails 58 and 58A, on Forest Preserve land, are maintained by the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC), which bought the parcel in the year 2000 and turned it over to New York State. There is a maze of logging roads in the area and the trails are not well-trod, but new trail markers have been installed (2017), so the route is now easier to follow. The lower Yellow Trail (trail 58A) loops over a lookout called Bear Knob, while the longer Blue Trail winds through the low-lands and rises steeply over Middle Mt. and up to a wonderful lookout, Walnut Ridge, over Northwest Bay, before descending to the pristine Pole Hill Pond and back to the trailhead. Wing Pond, just S of these trails, was purchased by the LGLC in 2017 and will become part of the Forest Preserve, with eventual public access.
Trailhead: From the S, take I-87 Exit 24 for Bolton Landing. Follow Riverbank Rd. (CR 11) E for 4 mi. Turn L onto NY 9N. Follow NY 9N for 2.8 mi. There is a DEC sign at a dirt road on the L diagonally across from a driveway with stone lions. From the N, beginning at the Ticonderoga traffic circle, head S on NY 9N for 23 mi. There is a DEC sign at a dirt road on the R before the driveway with stone lions. There is room for two conventional vehicles, more if 4WD.
This is a challenging loop of almost 6 mi to an upland lookout and Pole Hill Pond, then back to the start. It climbs over 1200 ft to the view-point. The blue markers are quite dark and sometimes far apart, so do not attempt this hike late in the day when visibility is diminishing.
The Blue Trail begins at the back of the parking area (0.0 mi). It reaches a jct with the Yellow Trail (trail 58A) at 0.2 mi. The trail alternates flat and uphill sections along a logging road for 0.8 mi. After crossing a cobbly brook and climbing several times, it descends into a basin with a swamp on the L. It then climbs steadily and sometimes steeply through wonderful oak meadows on Middle Mt. and makes two short descents before a final steep climb to reach Walnut Ridge at 2.5 mi. Bearing L, the trail reaches a large, slanted, and bald rocky area, which it follows to a stupendous view across [Lake George’s] Northwest Bay and S along Lake George.
The trail then enters the woods and descends at times very steeply, reaching Pole Hill Pond at 3 mi. Just before the pond is a T intersection. (The right-hand trail [trail 59a], with red markers, heads to Padanarum Rd. through the Godwin Preserve.) The path L goes to a campsite and a rocky outcrop on this pristine pond.
The trail continues along L back from the shore and then veers up and away from it before approaching the outlet; the route crosses a small rise and joins an old logging road downhill. It passes a washed-out beaver pond festooned with old skidder tires that got left on the job.
The trail then follows the roadway, except for two quick detours, for 2.4 mi. At 5.4 mi it turns sharply L off the road above a metal gate. (Do not continue straight downhill here, as the roadway leads to private land past the gate.) The trail climbs gradually until it intersects with the Yellow Trail. Bear R onto the Yellow Trail to return to the parking area and complete the loop at 5.8 mi.
Trail in winter: The lowland sections of the trail are great for skiing; the section above that would require expert skills. Both sections are terrific for snowshoeing.
Distances: To beginning of continual climbing, 0.8 mi; to top of Middle Mt., 2 mi; to lookout atop Walnut Ridge, 2.5 mi; to Pole Hill Pond, 3 mi; to L turn uphill, 5.4 mi; to jct with Yellow Trail (trail 58A), 5.7 mi; to trailhead, 5.8 mi (9.3 km).
**Photo by Laurie Carr
For more excerpts from the rerelease, pick up your January-February edition of the Adirondac available now. Members can view the magazine in their Members Area on the website. Non-members can purchase the magazine in our online shop.