A few Sundays ago a few hardy souls snowshoed to the Independence River scenic overlook on the Elbow Trail of the Otter Creek Trail System (located on the Independence River Wild Forest and the Independence River and Otter Creek State Forests).
To reach the overlook, we parked along the road at the Bailey Road Snowplow Turn-around. The trail continues down the road, which had been packed recently by some snow sleds. We turned north onto the Old #4 Trail for a short distance and then took the Elbow Trail. We were breaking trail but did not find the task strenuous and the scenery was stellar.
This year the Independence River is frozen over where as last year at this time the river was open. The trail follows the river for a short distance before veering away and wandering through some pines. Finally, the trail re-joins Bailey Road for the return to the snowplow turn-around. The entire trek took a leisurely two hours.
These trails are part of the Otter Creek Horse Trail System, which in winter when closed to horses is open to various snow sports.
To find a map of these trails on-line, visit a new web-site of the Friends of Otter Creek Horse Trails. The site is sponsored by a group of equine and trail enthusiasts who have a strong desire to preserve the nature of the trail system.
An online map can be found at the DEC ‘s Otter Creek webpage.
The Lewis County Chamber of Commerce, located on South State Street in Lowville, has hard copies of the Otter Creek Horse Trails maps available, as well as snowmobile maps.
Photo: Independence River – Elbow Trail (Mary Misek).