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Boreas Ponds - Gravel Cycling

Cycle with a view 

Pack a lunch and head out on this seasonally opened road to feast along the shore of one of the largest bodies of water in the Adirondack Park, which is completely surrounded by a forest preserve.

How to get there

Start at the well signed parking area for the Gulf Brook Road located along Essex County Route 84 (aka Blue Ridge Road), 7.2 miles west of Exit 29 of the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87).

Parking for those intending to do the Intermediate or Difficult ride is at the parking area that is a few hundred feet off the Blue Ridge Road (Essex County Route 84) (Coordinates: 43.955676, -73.872265).

The Easy ride starts from the Fly Pond Parking Area further along the gravel road and beyond the moderate to steep 2-mile climb described below. This option is only possible from late-spring through fall, when the gates along the road are opened to allow motor vehicle access. If you are intending to do the Easy ride it is best to contact the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 897-1200 to confirm that the gates to the Fly Pond Parking Area are open before heading out. The coordinates for the Fly Pond Parking Lot are 43.981132, -73.900719.

By the numbers

  • Level of difficulty: Easy (seasonally, when the entrance gate is open and motor vehicle access to the recommended starting point is possible), Intermediate, or Difficult
  • Route length: Easy 6.9 miles (11 kilometers), Intermediate 13.2 miles (21.2 kilometers), Difficult 19.6 miles (31.5 kilometers)
  • Elevation gain / loss: Easy 525 feet (160 meters), Intermediate 1,255 feet (382 meters), Difficult 1,769 feet (539 meters)
  • Loose dirt and gravel

Take the scenic route

Riding the Gulf Brook Road will take you deep into an Adirondack hardwood forest where you may very well see signs of moose, bear, and coyote. It offers you solitude and the potential for a deeply personal and unique experience. This ride is why you ride unpaved roads, and it is a ride like this that will rev you up and get you to hop on your bike for the next adventure.

Intermediate and difficult routes 

For those riding the Intermediate or Difficult rides, heading out from the parking area means a quick gain of nearly 500 feet of elevation in a little less than 2 miles. For much of this time the grade is moderate, however a few short stretches of this dirt road have challenging grades of 10% It’ll grab your attention on the way up, and the way down, where speed control over this loose surface is important.

Easy route

Those planning to ride the Easy route should not be discouraged by this description as they are driving this section to the Fly Pond Parking Area and should read on as there are opportunities to do a ride over rolling terrain that begins beyond this more challenging stretch of road.

The trails 

From the height of land which occurs at the 2-mile mark the road becomes a super fun romp over rolling terrain. You roll by the Fly Pond Parking Area at mile 3.2; this is where those planning to do the Easy ride would park and begin their fun. The easy rolling terrain continues until the 5.2-mile mark; this is the 2-mile mark for the Easy ride. The road then makes a sweet noticeably steeper half mile descent to the bridge over LaBier Flow, and to the ride’s first spectacular view. This is a great location to take a break and soak in the sun and great scenery.  Once your soul is satiated, settle back onto your saddle and climb to the top of a small rise to the Four-Corners Parking Area, turn right passing by an old hunting cabin and continue into a northern balsam fir forest for a little less than a mile and half to the turnaround point of the ride. However, the terminus isn’t the end of the fun. The parking lot beyond which bikes are prohibited is just 500 feet from the pond itself. Leave your bike behind, grab your windbreaker and snacks and follow the road to the dam where a most perfect view of Boreas Pond and the High Peaks region beyond awaits.

For those intending to only ride the Easy or Intermediate rides this is the point where you retrace your steps to return to your car. However, if you’re interested in up to 6.4 miles of much more difficult riding you can retrace your route to the Four-Corners Parking Area then continue straight (instead of taking the left back over the LaBier Flow dam) to a barrier that marks the start of private land. This more difficult 3.2-mile spur is a poorly maintained road and will eat up time and energy but is a lot of fun if you’re up for a challenge. It is also not included in the RideWithGPS route. You should expect to have to carry your bike over downed branches or trees, or over washed-out culverts, and it should only be considered by more advanced riders.

Additional information 

The solitude of the Gulf Brook Road comes at the cost of the need to be well prepared before heading out. This is especially true should you choose to do the Intermediate or Difficult rides when the gates are closed as even fewer people will venture into this stretch of wilderness.  There is no cell service in this area and if you do find yourself hurt you can call 911 or the NYS Forest Ranges (1-833-697-7264), but to do so you or someone in your party must get out to make the call. If you have a mechanical problem, you may have to push your bike back to your car. As such, everyone in your riding party should bring proper clothing for the weather, food, water, and a spare tube that fits their bike. A first aid kit, and a handful of necessary tools (including a bike pump and tire levers) are also helpful. It is best to bring a bug net and bug spray if you plan to visit Boreas Ponds in the spring or early summer as mosquitos and black flies can be quite bothersome.


Schroon River Paddle


This paddle, beginning at the NYS DEC boat launch on Glendale Road and ending at the Starbuckville Dam, is one of three paddles required to complete the Schroon Paddle Challenge.

How to get there

The put in for this paddle is at the Horicon boat launch, located on County Route 62 (Glendale Road), 
between Route 9 and County Route 15 (Adirondack Road) in Pottersville, NY.

By the numbers

  • 4.25 miles / 6.8 km one way (only one way is required to complete the Schroon Paddle Challenge)

  • Slow and winding river paddle on the Schroon River

Slow and winding river paddling

Begin this paddle at the NYS DEC-operated Horicon boat launch on Glendale Road. Paddle under the bridge and into the river. Enjoy a slow and winding trip downstream as you pass a number of waterfront homes, a large cattle ranch, and a wooded area. Note that the cattle will sometimes stand in the river but pose no threat to paddlers. Do not attempt to paddle past the bridge marked with warning signs. 

If you are completing this paddle for the Schroon Paddle Challenge, only one way of the trip is required. Consider spotting a car at the Starbuckville Dam, or plan to take the return paddle to the Horicon boat launch. 

The owner of the private Riverside Pines campground, near Starbuckville Dam, has graciously offered one-way trip paddlers to take out at the beach, and has offered round-trip paddlers to rest briefly at the campground beach before making the return trip. We extend a hearty thank you to the new owners of Riverside Pines for allowing paddlers to rest and take out here . . . please treat this spot with respect!



This section of river is frequented by many species of birds, including ravens, bald eagles, and both green and great blue herons.


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Paradox Lake Paddle


This paddle begins and ends at the DEC boat launch within the Paradox Lake public campground, and is one of three paddles required to complete the Schroon Paddle Challenge.

How to get there

From I-87, take Exit 28, then Rte. 74 east approximately 4 miles to Paradox Lake. Put in at the public DEC Campground boat launch. Head west (left) through the Narrows and into lower Paradox Lake.

By the numbers

  • Distance varies
  • Flatwater lake paddle

Flat water paddling

Put in at the public DEC boat launch within the Paradox Lake public campground. Paddle from the boat launch through the narrows and then into Paradox Lake. Paddle to the end of the lake and return. Boats with motors are allowed on Paradox Lake.

Swimming, hiking and wildlife viewing

On the way back, circle past Birch Island, stop for a swim, and return to the campground launch. Paradox Lake is known for excellent fishing and great bird watching. Look for herons, red winged blackbirds, and cormorants. If you’re adventurous, just before you enter the Narrows you will see a DEC sign for a hike up Peaked Hill. Pull up your boat, take in this short hike, and continue paddling . . . while it’s not required for the Challenge, it is well worth the effort.



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Schroon River to Schroon Lake Paddle


This paddle, beginning on Schroon River and ending on Schroon Lake, is one of three paddles required to complete the Schroon Paddle Challenge.

How to get there

The put in for this paddle is on the Schroon River, at the state access point just past the bridge on Alder Meadow Road.

By the numbers

  • 4.5 miles / 7.25 km one way (only one way is required to complete the Schroon Paddle Challenge)

  • Slow and winding river paddle on the Schroon River, leading to flatwater lake paddle on Schroon Lake

Winding river and flat water paddling

Begin this paddle on the Schroon River at the put-in on Alder Meadow Road. Enjoy a slow and winding paddle downstream before entering the northern end of Schroon Lake. End your paddle at the Schroon Lake boat launch on the west side of the lake. If you are completing this paddle for the Schroon Paddle Challenge, only one way of the trip is required. Consider spotting a car at the Schroon Lake boat launch, or plan to take the return paddle to the put in on Alder Meadow Road. Boats with motors are allowed on Schroon Lake.


On a nice day, stop at the sand beach opposite the Marina for a swim and a picnic.


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Henderson Lake

Henderson Lake is located in the High Peaks Wilderness and is wonderfully wild, despite having fairly easy access! 

How to get there

From exit 29 off I-87, turn west onto Blue Ridge Road (CR 84) toward Newcomb. Follow this route for 17.4 miles to an intersection with Tahawus Road (CR 25). Turn right on Tahawus Road and stay on it for 6.3 miles then turn left at a sign for High Peaks trails. Pass by the old blast furnace at 2.8 miles up this road. From the blast furnace, it is less than one mile to your destination. The road dead ends at the Upper Works parking lot. This is also the access point for hiking trails into the High Peaks; it may get crowded during peak season. 


Our friends at Open Space Institute have announced that effective June 18, 2021, please use the new parking lot adjacent to the MacNaughton Cottage. The old parking lot (terminus of Upper Works Road) will be closed for construction. Unauthorized vehicles in the old parking lot after June 18, 2021 will be towed away at vehicle owners expense. Signage has been placed throughout the old parking lot. They, and we, do not want any surprises for anyone. Thank you and Happy trails! This new parking will not add significant milage to your trip.


The mirror-like waters of Henderson Lake so perfectly reflect the towering mountains and cliffs it's almost dizzying! But don't let that stop you; this is a great spot to paddle, especially if you're looking for something wild. There are views in any direction.

We recommend a canoe cart, if you have access to one. There is a small, slightly uphill carry of 0.3 miles to the put in. However, the path is very cart friendly.

Oliver Pond

Oliver Pond is a quiet body of water where the fish are plentiful and the wildlife is abundant! 

How to get there

South of Schroon Lake on Route 9, turn right onto Hoffman Road (County Road 24). Follow this for 8-miles to parking on the right.


There is a short carry to the water, but once there, you'll find perfect flatwater for paddling. It's only 44.50 acres, so get ready for small pond paddling and solitude. There are also two campsites accessible via a short paddle.


Fishing from a canoe or kayak is the best option here. The pond contains brook trout. Use or possession of baitfish is prohibited.

Boreas Ponds Tract

Views of the High Peaks dominate the scene from the shore of Boreas Ponds, the 320-acre waterbody for which this region is named. LaBier Flow, Boreas River, LeClaire Brook, Casey Brook, Slide Brook, and White Lily Brook can also be found on this tract.

This tract is a new addition to the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve and the Department of Environmental Conservation is in the process of adding new features, such as trails, campsites, and maintaining roads. Please check their website for the most up-to-date information.

Getting there

Gulf Brook Road is the main route to Boreas Ponds. It's located off Blue Ridge Road, about 16.5 miles east of Newcomb and about 7 miles west of Exit 29 on I-87. Visitors are permitted to drive on Gulf Brook Road as far as the fourth parking area, after which it's an easy 3.5 mile walk or bike ride to the pond.

Hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing

Gulf Brook Road is currently the main route to Boreas Ponds, but a number of other trails are in the works that will lead to ponds, mountains, and existing trails in the High Peaks Wilderness.

Hikers can park at the first lot to walk the entire 6.7 mile Gulf Brook Road to reach Boreas Ponds, or they can park at one of the other three lots along the road to shorten the trip. From the fourth lot, it's about 3.5 miles to the pond. The road travels through a dense, young forest for most of its length and doesn't really get scenic until it reaches LaBier Flow, a mile or so from Boreas Ponds. Shortly after that is a four-way intersection — take a right to pass by a cabin and another view of LaBier Flow before reaching the shore of Boreas Ponds.


The views from the ponds themselves make for a fine distraction while padding. Venture onto the Boreas Ponds themselves or head into LaBier Flow for a quick paddle.


Bicycling is permitted along Gulf Brook Road, from Blue Ridge Road to Boreas Ponds Dam. Bikes are not allowed past the dam.

Fishing, hunting, and trapping

The Boreas Pond Tract is open to fishing, hunting, and trapping.

Essex Chain Lakes

The 19,600-acre Essex Chain Lakes Complex opened to the public in the summer of 2014 as a prime destination for Adirondack paddling, camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. The region contains the eight lakes in the Essex Chain as well as numerous other lakes and ponds. The Hudson River forms the eastern boundary of the complex, and small hills and mountains dot the entire area.

Getting there

The Essex Chain Lakes Complex spans three towns and two counties – Minerva, Newcomb, and Long Lake in Essex and Hamilton counties.

In Newcomb, there is a sign for the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area at the intersection of Route 28N and Pine Tree Road. Take Pine Tree Road for a couple hundred feet to a right turn on Goodnow Flow Road. Take the Goodnow Flow Road for 4.3 miles to a right turn on Woody's Road. Travel on Woody's Road for 1.5 miles to its end. Woody's Road is paved for three-quarters of a mile before becoming a seasonal use dirt road from April 1 to November 1. At the end of Woody's Road, turn left onto Cornell Road (there is a sign indicating a left turn for the Essex Chain Lakes at this location). Follow Cornell Road for approximately 4.4 miles to the parking area for the Essex Chain Lakes. Cornell Road is a one lane dirt road with a speed limit of 15 mph. High clearance vehicles are recommended, but low clearance vehicles can make it in with great care!

Paddling and portage

Paddlers can spend the day or camp at one of the designated sites. Campsites along the lakes and ponds are first come, first served and do not require a permit.

From the parking area, a quarter-mile carry begins on a dirt road with a right turn onto a short trail that leads downhill to the shores of Deer Pond. Paddle directly across Deer Pond, and carry an additional half-mile to Third Lake. The half-mile carry begins on a trail that leads uphill from Deer Pond to an old dirt road. Most of the carry is along this dirt road before a left turn on a trail leading downhill to Third Lake. At 216 acres, Third Lake is the largest lake in the chain. Heading southwest takes a paddler to Second Lake. A short carry is required to reach First Lake and an additional carry of four-tenths of a mile is needed to reach Grassy Pond.

Heading northeast from the put-in at Third Lake, a paddler can traverse Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Lakes without any more carrying. There are future plans to add a carry to Eighth Lake. There is ongoing work to improve the carry trails.

Additional information

All the lakes have wooden signs that indicate what number lake you are entering. There is a dirt road between Fourth and Fifth Lakes with a large culvert underneath that paddles can use to change lakes. A rope with knots is hung along the length of the culvert so paddlers can pull themselves through! In high water, it may be necessary to get out and take your boat over the road.

The campsites are primitive with wall-less privies. There are no fires allowed at the campsites located along the lakes and ponds.


There are a number of plans underway to add winter recreational opportunities in this newly opened area, so stay tuned for additional announcements.

Find out more

Read the blog post, Paddling the Essex Chain Lakes.

Lower Schroon River

The Lower Schroon from Schroon Lake to the Hudson (27 miles) is a mixture of long flatwater stretches punctuated by whitewater. Adjacent roads provide easy access at points along the way, but go unnoticed while on the tree-lined, secluded river.


It's never a dull moment here. For example, there is the exciting Class III whitewater, such as "The Big Drop," which you may want to scout before running.


The stretches of flatwater are a relaxing medium between the big water on Schroon Lake and the whitewater rapids.

Find out more

Read about this paddle in the blog, Return to Schroon River.


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