We've continued to explore the Hammond Pond Wild Forest, this time heading to Moose Mountain Pond. Signs of spring are everywhere in early May. Woodland flowers, such as Trillium and Trout Lillies, are blooming. The pale ash leaves that had clung to the branches through the winter now litter the trail, pushed off by new growth. There is a cacophony of bird songs. There is also an opportunity to see some of the small animals that live in the wild forest.
From the trailhead on Ensign Pond Road in North Hudson, the trail winds 3.2 miles along the Berry Mill Flow to a lean-to at Moose Mountain Pond. There are a few steep spots, but the trail soon levels out to long stretches of relative flatness. The 6 mile round trip might be long for young children, but there is plenty to see along the way. It would have been a fun hike even if we had turned back early.At the trail junction we stayed left on the Moose Mt. Pond and Lean-To trail and soon arrived at the Berry Mill Flow. Beavers have been busy here, building a dam and a lodge. Pausing to watch a pair of ducks swimming in the resulting marshy pond, we caught sight of a beaver. Unfortunately, he disappeared under the water before I got my camera out of my pocket.
The trail's abundant blue trail markers are easy to follow, except in one place approximately one-half mile before the lean-to where the trail bends to the right and the next trail marker is not easy to see. We were bewildered for a few minutes, until we discovered we needed to trust the last visible trail marker, which it turned out was very carefully placed. By looking at it head-on, my son found he could see the trail ahead. We practice spotting trail markers often, and often my son navigates the trail better than I do.
At the end of the trail, my son enjoyed climbing into the lean-to more than looking at scenic Moose Mountain Pond. Using the charcoal remains of a camp fire, he added his name to many recorded on the interior walls and ceiling of the lean-to. I enjoyed sitting by the pond. The trees had just "popped" a few days prior, unfurling a palette of greens highlighted with the almost luminescent white bark of birch trees. I noticed a large frog sitting at the water's edge not far from me. It sat unmoving, even when my son joined me, and was still sitting there when we left. Other frogs jumped into the water as we explored the shoreline.As we headed back, we startled a ribbon snake that quickly slithered off the trail. To be honest, it startled me too. The only venomous snakes in the Adirondacks are the timber rattlesnakes, and those are very rare north of Lake George. The ribbon snake is a variety of the common garter snake and quite harmless, but the sudden movement never fails to catch me by surprise. My son got a good laugh when I jumped out of my hiking boots.
We stopped for lunch beside the Flow, hoping the beaver would put in another appearance. A heron flew gracefully past, always a treat to see. I spotted movement on the opposite shore and thought I saw a bird, but it quickly disappeared. I watched the place for awhile and caught movement a few more times, but the bird was always quickly camouflaged. Perhaps it was an American Bittern teasing me from his hiding place.
The Hammond Pond Wilderness Area offers accessible trails for all ages and plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife. We have one more trail to explore in this North Hudson treasure.