The forecast was for a few inches of snow overnight and bright skies in the morning, so the idea was to ski the remote and scenic Trout Pond Road in Chesterfield before the sand trucks hit it with abrasives. Sure enough, it was sunny in the morning but — no snow. Best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.
But I was firm on the destination, so out of the truck bed went the skis and in went the bicycle. Trout Pond bisects some backcountry that’s being preserved by Open Space Institute and Northeast Wilderness Trust and, I suspect, will be much more of a destination in another decade than it is now.
Trout Pond Road was dirt until last year until about half its length was paved. Not all of us think that was an improvement. But the eastern end is still dirt, glorious dirt, and excellent for wintertime spin on the mountain bike for cyclists who just can’t wait for the snow to melt and the mud to dry.
I left the vehicle on the intersection of From Rt. 9 (south of the Poke-o-Moonshine trailheads, and north of the Town of Lewis) and Trout Pond Road and began to pedal. The road climbs gently (for the most part) for about three miles to some high wetlands that are the source of the North Branch of the Boquet River and home to a diverse ecology, including the rare eastern pearlshell freshwater mussel.
A nice seven-mile (round trip) out and back is to be had by riding up to the source of the Boquet River. It’s short and forgiving enough for winter bicycling legs, and on a day in the 20s is, to my mind, manageable in terms of bike-generated wind chill.
Equipment has evolved to the point you don’t have to choose between helmet and warm cap. I recall, sort of, a winter ride long ago where my tires lost purchase on a curve (another argument against road salt). I was wearing a stocking cap, because way back then the negative effects of your dome bouncing off the macadam had yet to be scientifically explored. Happily, we’re smarter now.
The best reason to bike Trout Pond Road in late winter are the vast, showy thickets of red twig dogwood that line the Boquet as it gathers steam for its run to Lake Champlain. Set off against evergreens and snowy hills, they offer a rare burst of color in the winter landscape, and their blush is accentuated with the approach of spring.
The dogwood thickets are most notable over the first mile of the ride where the frozen watercourse is aimless and flat. These twigs are deceptively tough, and were used by Scandanavians to roast meat, “dag” wood being their term for skewer.
As the route gains elevation it becomes more evergreeny, and the stream, which is your constant companion, begins to chatter away over rocks and ledges. As it approaches its source, Eagle Mountain, more of a home these days to falcons, makes an appearance to the left, along with the trailhead to Clear Pond. For those wishing to extend the day, you can stash your bike and hike the five miles (round trip) to and around the pond.
Or you can idly pedal and coast back down the low pass to your car, enjoying the dogwood one more time as you descend.
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Adirondack Explorer’s weekly “Explore More” newsletter. Click here to sign up.