Hiking a new trail in the Adirondacks is a special thing, and I’ve been lucky enough to do two recently: Wolf Pond and Boreas Ponds. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about trails that are new to me, I’m talking about two brand new trails, freshly cut and barely trodden upon. The trails for Boreas and Wolf both begin along Blue Ridge Road, a twisty corridor off Exit 29 on I-87 that traces the southern boundary of the High Peaks as it connects the highway to the town of Newcomb. Along the way there are stunning views of mountains and more than half a dozen trailheads. This region, the Adirondack Hub, is seriously up-and-coming — it’s the southern access to the High Peaks and there are million-dollar views that are just now open to the public — and my advice is to begin exploring it ASAP.
And beginning to explore the Adirondack Hub is exactly what I've done! I did the hike to Boreas Ponds earlier this summer and I was awed by its splendor. A wall of High Peaks stretches just beyond the pond’s northern shore, almost as if they are rising from the water’s surface. Wolf Pond has a similar view, although its waters feel more secluded, more tucked into the wilderness around it.
Onward to Wolf Pond!
The trail to Wolf Pond starts on Blue Ridge Road, about 10 miles from Route I-87 and about 14 miles from Newcomb. My dog, Belle, and I started early and took our time. Depending on who you ask, it’s a 2.3 or 2.5 mile walk to the pond (the DEC says 2.3, but several comments in the lean-to journal say it's 2.5 based on GPS readings). Either way, the trail is pretty easy except for a couple of short, moderately steep pitches. If you’re used to hiking the mountains around here you’ll barely even notice the inclines, but those used to flatter terrain might want to give themselves a little extra time to conquer the brief uphills.
Leaving the large parking lot, Belle and I crossed Wolf Pond Brook on a new wooden bridge and ventured forth, into the woods. The path follows the brook for a little while, then swings away from it to avoid the wide swath of marshy terrain that comprises the western edge of the stream. The trail skirts this wet section all the way to Wolf Pond, and it makes for some interesting forests where the ground is soft and mossy with little understory save for ferns and mushrooms. It feels lush and quiet, and the brightly colored fall leaves really pop against the deep green moss.
Our walk to Wolf Pond can pretty much be summed up in two words: pleasant and peaceful. The walk is easy, and the sections that go over hills are brief and never too demanding. There are a couple of stream crossings made easier by bridges, and there’s a nice stretch with a couple bands of lichen-covered ledges.
A floating bog and mountains reflected on the water's surface
Everything changes as Wolf Pond comes into view. There’s a brand new lean-to set back from the shore that’s a fine place to hang out — check out the journal there for some interesting light reading — but my favorite place is the floating bog. Belle and I discovered it as we followed the trail along the shore, which leads to a makeshift log bridge. We crossed it to get a better view of the pond and as soon as I stepped onto the sphagnum the ground ahead of us rolled gently, as if we had just set foot on an enormous waterbed.
Atop the bog, we stuck to the short path forged by those who came before us to avoid damaging the surrounding vegetation, which consists of cool plants like cotton grass and pitcher plants. Cotton grass looks like a tuft of cotton resting high atop a skinny stalk while pitcher plants grow in dense clusters along the ground. Pitcher plants are carnivorous, meaning they slowly digest the insects that are lured into their deep pitchers. They are normally green, but this time of year they’re dark red, making them impossible to miss. Plus, they look like they belong on a different planet, so there's that.
Belle and I returned to the shore and heard an osprey call along the way. Soon we were at the outlet of Deer Pond, where a bunch of boulders protrude from the water’s surface. I took off my boots and crossed Deer Pond Brook, then hopped from rock to rock until we were relaxing on a sunny boulder with a few of the High Peaks lined up before us. Skylight, Marcy, and Haystack are front and center from the southern shore, and they are a great accompaniment to the dragonflies, lily pads, and multi-hued leaves floating by on Wolf Pond.
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