This short and easy hike ends at a particularly scenic pond. On the northeastern side of the pond is a long finger created by a beaver dam and on the north end of the pond is an attractive wetland where birding could be quite good. While the pond is not all that large you may find yourself relaxing there for quite some time.
How to get there
From exit 28 in Schroon Lake, follow I-87 north for one exit to the North Hudson Exit 29. From here follow Boreas Road west toward Newcomb. Continue to Route 28N and take a left and head toward Minerva. Continue for just under 10 miles to the trailhead on the right, parking is on the left just prior to the trailhead.
By the numbers
- Distance: 2.2 miles round trip for both ponds, 0.8 miles for Rankin
- Elevation gain: about 100 feet
From the parking area cross the road carefully and quickly, as the trailhead is located on a corner where traffic tends to move quickly. Once at the trailhead you will sign into the trail register and follow the trail behind the register, not the old road to the right. The trail is marked with blue disks. Along the 0.4 mile trail (one way) there is a sweep around a small knob on your right known as Crusher Hill, while not changing much in elevation. There is a slight descent at the end to reach the eastern shore of Rankin Pond.
If you wish to continue to Little Rankin Pond be aware that there is no marked trail or designated route to reach the small back-county body of water. Map and compass and GPS knowledge is highly recommended. Not recommended for inexperienced hikers or children. To continue on to Little Rankin Pond, locate a herd path to your right from the end of Rankin Pond Trail. This fisherman herd path is very faint and blowdown does cover it in spots. This herd path will bring you to another small spot with a great view of the pond. The herd path from here starts to become much less apparent and eventually disappears, but keep the pond to your left and continue down the finger to a beaver dam crossing.
Once you cross the beaver dam you will need to make your way through a somewhat open forest and head northwest, keeping the slopes of Rankin Pond Mountain to your right. Remain in the valley. Little Rankin Pond is a quaint little pond with a faint trail, but gives a nice, backcountry, secluded feel.
Most of these species are found during the migration and breeding season. This is considered a lowland boreal forest, with species like Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and Pine Siskin.
At the trailhead there is room for one car to unload a car-top boat, but park across the road (north via a slight curve) at the designated parking area. The trail is narrow, but overall fairly easy with a brief, somewhat steep, drop near the end. This trail is not the best option for a cart; it is recommended that you use a boat that you can carry.
Once on the pond you will have a wonderful secluded paddle, and most likely to yourself. The shoreline length is approximately one mile and the water is well-sheltered/ mostly calm.
There is a deep area good for brook trout, and only accessible by boat. As a result, there's not much angler competition. There is a limited amount of shoreline fishing but it’s decent in a few spots. At the end of the trail which is 0.4 miles from the parking area and slightly further along the shore on the east side via a short herd path. At the deepest it is around 20 feet, but the best fishing is had from the deeper portion and the finger on the NE side, which is accessed best by boat.
Fish species: brook trout, bullhead
From the parking area which should be plowed out regularly, you will need to cross the road to access the trail. This trail is a good, mellow introduction to snowshoeing.