Sunday, November 28, 2021

A trick of nature

wolf pondIt might not have been the biggest Halloween trick in the history of the Adirondacks, but as Dizzy Dean would say, it was amongst ’em.

For years, if not decades, ’dak-o-philes had drooled over the prospect of paddling Boreas Ponds, a Shangri-La (blackflies notwithstanding) that stood out even in a park filled with natural wonders.

Locked away by timber interests longer than anyone had been alive, then subject of a lengthy, impassioned battle over access, the Gulf Brook Road finally opened to the ponds in the fall of 2019 — and was promptly washed out six weeks later on Halloween by a monster rainstorm.

Explorer writer Mike Lynch recently reported that the state is getting close to reopening the road, although this too is fool’s gold considering it’s not plowed in winter, meaning that for us mere mortals it will not truly be accessible until spring.

Except for those yearning to see the reflection of High Peaks shimmering in an evergreen-fringed lake there is another option, something of a Poor Man’s Boreas.

Just a few miles past the Gulf Brook Road, Blue Ridge Road crosses the Boreas River. And just before that is an ample but unassuming parking lot with fishing access to the river, a picnic table and a privy that, uh, well, I’ve seen worse.

This is the trailhead to Wolf Pond, a beautiful blue lake that actually lies directly south of Boreas Ponds and offers somewhat similar views of the mountains, only at a greater distance.

The round trip hike is about five miles, depending on how much poking around you care to do, and there’s a lean-to at the destination if you wish to camp. Every lean-to has some interesting and random item that some previous hiker decided just wasn’t worth packing out. The lean-to at Copper Kiln Pond, last time I was there, had a Costco-sized bottle of Heinz ketchup. Here there is, or was, a five-foot length of rebar and a rake. So if you were thinking of bringing your own rake to Wolf Pond, no need.

The trail itself is interesting, and, for those who care to view it this way, can be seen as an epic struggle between forest and elements. For whatever reason, the winds that tear through the Andrew Brook lowland are apparently intense, and swaths of timber are scythed down and uprooted in all manner of picturesque attitudes. This is nature’s way, of course, evidenced by lovely evergreen undergrowth hoping to succeed where their ancestors have failed.

wolf pond

Once at the pond, the best views are found by rock-hopping across the brook where an old dam once stood and, with the assistance of some apathetic herd paths, working your way along the far shoreline.

Unlike Boreas Ponds (when open), you are unlikely to see much of anyone at all on this satisfying jaunt. Yet there is Boreas Mountain in the foreground, and the High Peaks preening off to the north, much as you would see them from Wolf Pond’s more celebrated big brother.

Much of Newcomb is like this, sneaky-good destinations, a couple of high quality restaurants and an excellent Experience Newcomb phone app for recreation ideas. With the opening of Gulf Brook Road, Open Space Institute’s reimagined Upperworks Trailhead, unparalleled history and a new regional visitor center in the works, Newcomb may not be a secret for much longer. But it is now, which is all the more reason to go.

Photos: Wolf Pond, accessed off the Blue Ridge Rd outside of Newcomb. Photos by Tim Rowland

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Adirondack Explorer’s “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.

3 Responses

  1. Mike T. says:

    I paddled to Wolf Pond many times, the first time in 2008.
    There’s some road noise, but as you travel closer to Wolf Pond, there’s less of that noise.
    The views from a canoe are much better, IMO.
    There are some foot paths on the south side of Wolf Pond outlet, and two sets of rapids to line up or carry around.
    The start of a paddling trip there requires a very short bushwhack.
    Well worth the effort…

  2. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Much of Newcomb is like this, sneaky-good destinations…”

    Much of the Adirondacks is like this Tim. I know places that nobody goes….but me. They’re every where you turn and it don’t have to be deep into the woods. Who needs crowds when you have that whole wilderness to pick and choose a lonely spot! The Adirondack wilderness is the same throughout, and that magical spell which casts off of it never goes away. I suppose it depends on ‘state of mind.’

  3. Tara E. Toolan says:

    Great article! We too love Wolf Pond. We took a swim in late September in the falling rapids. The sun was gleaming when we arrived and the reflection of the sky into the pond made the rocks look like they were floating: Dali like!

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